This is a guest post by a prominent Iconist who posts on Reddit under the handle ‘Aspected1337’, Adam.
There are several areas within the blockchain space that are constantly being discussed, ranging from privacy, transparency and interoperability to usability and scalability. Today’s post focuses on the first three, but the latter two are of equal importance in their own ways.
Privacy and Transparency: Can They Coexist?
The goal should be to involve both privacy and transparency at the same time, with as few compromises as possible for one or the other. But this is tricky.
For instance: if an organization holds a charity event and encloses all of the financial details, fewer people will likely show interest in helping out, as they would see first-hand how their money flies out the window, never to be seen again.
The opposite argument could also be made for transparency: if you make vital or dangerous information completely available to the public, you’re also giving it away to bad actors.
So now we know that both are of importance. Where do we draw the line? One analogy that makes sense is for us to refer to how we transfer assets in the real world: nobody knows how much money you’ve got in total, but you can still buy whatever you want as long as you provide enough proof that you have enough to afford it. It is a nice feeling of freedom to hold real life assets, but it doesn’t last long — when you put it back into the bank, you become exposed again. For example, in some countries it’s law that every citizen’s tax return be made public, which may cause the rich to become easy targets.
Other similar problems might arise too. How we do apply that analogy towards information-based events, for example, such as passengers boarding an airplane? What information should be available to external auditors evaluating the integrity of the airplane?
Interoperability: Beyond Bitcoin
This leads us to further issues that need solving. Bitcoin magically solved an important problem by letting data miners compute electricity and that was literally it. The miners never manage any payments themselves, they just mine Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is not perfect though. For instance, you can look up any address and check its amount. The only excuse is that it was the first of its kind, which gave us valuable insight more than anything. Bitcoin was meant to act as a cash protocol between peers, and it only does this same thing over and over again, which is a limiting factor.
Information, however, changes all the time. It needs humans to take over the wheel sometimes too, and since we’re built to adapt, this fits very nicely. One goal worth aiming for is having the same reach as Bitcoin does, but this time with information management, involving math as much as possible and cutting out a lot of the centralization.
But it does not stop there. The technology opens up many new doors that weren’t there before. Transparency and censorship resistance bring tremendous opportunities, allowing the so-called ‘consumer’ to stay interconnected with the company, maybe as an owner, but also as a maintainer. One day, we could very well have decentralized nodes run by people in a way that determines the integrity and safety of, let’s say, a building. But all of these mechanisms have to work together over a long period of time and all entities have to be compatible with each other in order for Blockchain technology to actually be useful.
Interoperability Without the Middlemen
Which leads us to ICON, and their intention to “hyperconnect the world”. Assuming interoperability is around the corner, we may be looking at an independent future where the safety of our citizens is ensured. Interoperability without middlemen is an important goal for us to work toward.
This has proven to be a real concern many times over. Let’s say a car company provides car spec data to a traffic management organization via the blockchain. The traffic center can now adapt toward how cars operate, and over time it can be automated and regulated. This would only be possible if they could exchange information seamlessly — having a third party to manage everything slows it all down and is cost-prohibitive.
This only goes to show some of the many problems with middlemen. The car company could also provide made-up numbers and we would just have to trust the middlemen to examine the company’s integrity that it is not killing the environment with CO2.