Blockchains

There has been an explosion of interest and investment in Blockchain Technology with a great many companies and government organisations, large and small, proposing applications of this technology across a range of social, financial, industrial, and governmental sectors. Blockchain Technology is seen as providing opportunities to disrupt traditional products and services due to features such as the absence of a single trusted third party, the permanence of the Blockchain record, the distributed, decentralised nature of blockchains and the ability to run smart contracts. A number of features make Blockchain technology based products or services significantly different from previous Internet based commercial developments.

What are blockchains?

Blockchain technology integrates networks with databases resulting in a peer-to-peer based distributed database spread across multiple entities, with no single owner or single point of failure. Blockchain technology removes the need for trust because immediate synchronisation (“near real time”) across entities means no single trusted third party is needed to guarantee that the transaction occurs. Blockchain technology also guarantees a permanent record because no data is ever deleted only appended. Blockchain technology makes extensive use of cryptography in order to prove identity and authenticity using digital signatures. Blockchain technologies were first developed as part of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency but are now believed to offer many other capabilities. The recent development of Ethereum (and similar initiatives like Hyperledger) envisage the blockchain as a distributed computer capable of running (relatively simple) programs called “smart contracts”. Key predictions include the opportunity to develop “distributed autonomous organisations” (DAOs), run by software and entirely outside of the control of any individual or institution, and effectively impossible to “stop”. Putting these characteristics together has made many researchers, entrepreneurs and pundits predict that the technology will revolutionise a large number of different commercial sectors from finance and insurance, through health records and tax collection, to supply chains, the music industry as well as the gambling industry.

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Blockchain security by design: innovation and security hand in hand

14 July 2017
Blockchain is a wonderful and highly promising technology. But given the seriousness of incidents in recent years, it is no surprise that questions about security are being asked. Read more
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Blockchain: from automatic energy bill settlement to payments without banks

06 June 2017
Buying a house without a notary, safely transferring money without a bank, and paying your taxes without having to fill out any forms: Blockchain promises to make all this possible. TNO is playing an important... Read more
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Blockchain gives container transport in the Port of Rotterdam an added boost

29 June 2017
Closed and sealed containers spend one-third of their journey time aimlessly waiting around. And because berths are scarce and costly, that is a regrettable state of affairs. Blockchain appears to be a... Read more

Dr. ir. Oskar van Deventer

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