Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Blockchain in Government

Steve Kelman at FCW has a long piece on a GSA trial of the "blockchain" technology.
In most primers on blockchain, three features are stressed again and again: verifiability, immutability and transparency. At least for blockchain entries that involve a transaction between two parties (such as buying or selling a house), the existence of the transaction on the blockchain itself verifies the transaction. This obviates the need for expensive and time-consuming involvement of intermediaries (e.g., banks or title companies) confirming that your assets are what you claim they are. This creates a powerful new way to create trust.
Immutability also creates trust, because it prevents parties from eliminating or altering information on a ledger to benefit themselves (such as by removing negative information about legal actions).
And transparency is a big benefit of the blockchain for a business process such as FASt Lane that involves the government's interaction with vendors -- all interactions, recommendations, and decisions are stored and viewable.
 It's an interesting subject.  I did initially think of Bitcoin as something of a scam.  I was wrong, though I'm still not investing any money there.    I do wonder about how many links there have to be in a chain in order to claim immutability?  Suppose a blockchain exists on 100 servers--couldn't a worm traverse all the servers and delete the data?  I'm reasonably sure that eventuality has been covered. 

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