Babbitt Column | Gu Yanxi: Against Dogmatism in Blockchain Applications

Blockchain technology was born together with Bitcoin on October 31, 2008. Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin, was dissatisfied with the monetary policy of the West at the time. In his opinion, the protection of commercial banks and the excessive issuance of currencies by western central banks were the main causes of the financial crisis. He created Bitcoin in order to provide a better currency generation and circulation mechanism. In the Bitcoin system, the total amount of Bitcoin is constant, and its release mechanism is also constant. Anyone can join the Bitcoin system and obtain new Bitcoins through bookkeeping. The mechanism for obtaining Bitcoin is also open, transparent and equal. This system does not require real-name participation. Any user can join and leave at will. Any user can get the corresponding Bitcoin reward as long as he can get the right to record Bitcoin transactions. The Bitcoin network is not maintained by anyone and operates completely automatically.

After the advent of Bitcoin, the market gradually found the underlying blockchain technology supporting it to be very valuable. Especially after the emergence of Ethereum, people found that blockchain technology can actually be applied to many aspects of society, and it can solve many deficiencies in the current centralized computing methods. Around 2016, more and more blockchain technology was developed and applied in the market, following the ideas of Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchain technology.

With the increasing importance of blockchain technology in the market, different development paths have begun to appear in the market. One genre is a fundamentalist or dogmatist of blockchain technology. They believe that the development of blockchain technology should completely follow the development ideas of Bitcoin and Ethereum. In other words, the blockchain technology should be a public chain. Such a public chain runs automatically and does not require any manual maintenance. No organization or government can terminate its operation; it is free and anyone can join and leave anonymously; each transaction requires the consensus of a full node to be recorded on the account. This view even thinks that the alliance chain is not a true blockchain. At the same time, a more pragmatic development idea in the market has begun to emerge. This idea focuses more on the practical application of blockchain technology. In order to be able to get real practical applications, this idea believes that great changes must be made to existing blockchain technology. The most typical representative of this idea is Corda of R3. The developers of Corda explicitly proposed that Corda was developed under the inspiration of blockchain technology. But Corda is not a blockchain technology. It is more accurately referred to as distributed accounting. Corda is essentially an alliance chain. This distributed accounting network is made up of company nodes. Users on the network need to be approved to join. Because it is a physical company involved in operations, it must meet the regulatory requirements of the place where it operates. This is the biggest difference between Corda and traditional blockchain technology. Due to these characteristics of Corda, it gradually began to be adopted by financial institutions. For example, the newly established Swiss Digital Asset Exchange SDX. SDX was established by the Swiss Stock Exchange and is a compliant digital asset exchange. SDX uses distributed accounting technology as the basic component of its technical system. After evaluating solutions related to blockchain technology in the market, it finally decided to adopt Corda. Obviously Corda's technical architecture and its support for regulatory compliance were the main reasons for its selection. Products developed in this way include SETL and Clearmatics.

In contrast, in the past few years, the development of public blockchains based entirely on blockchain technology has been poor. Many technical solutions based on the idea of ​​public chain have been proposed, but they have not actually been applied. Blockchain-related technologies such as performance have been developed, but none has a public blockchain for practical applications. In my opinion, the main problem leading to this development is dogmatism in the blockchain community, which is also the fundamentalism of the blockchain. These dogmatists believe that the automatic operation of the blockchain, the free joining and leaving of nodes, the network-wide accounting, and the free joining and leaving of anonymous users are the true features of the blockchain and must therefore be maintained. Under the guidance of this kind of thinking, the public chain thus developed has limited uses. In addition, due to limited applications and promotion, the development of the public chain so far has not produced applications that can solve a lot of practical problems. Instead, entertainment applications such as gaming have added a new application platform.

The dogmatists of the blockchain only insisted on some functions and features of the Bitcoin blockchain technology, but misunderstood the original intention of Satoshi Nakamoto to invent the Bitcoin technology. The original intention of Satoshi Nakamoto to invent Bitcoin was to solve a problem in real society. This solution uses blockchain technology. But Satoshi Nakamoto didn't mean to use all the functions of blockchain technology to solve the problem. Ethereum's blockchain is much better than Bitcoin's blockchain in many ways, but Ethereum can't solve all problems. The market needs a better public chain than Ethereum, but it also needs to apply other types of distributed accounting technology. A completely pure blockchain technology (public chain) cannot really solve many problems in the current society. Some core components of the blockchain technology itself are indeed causing it to fail to be practically applied. Just this anonymous user will make it impossible to apply in the financial industry. No government will allow funds to circulate anonymously in the market. Without the addition of real funds, blockchain technology is just a technical tool that cannot support the circulation of currencies and assets, and cannot be truly used to improve existing financial markets and deficiencies in economic activities. I believe this is not the original intention of Satoshi Nakamoto. I believe Satoshi Nakamoto will not consider his solution to be the only and ultimate solution. In this case, why should later developers stick to some of the characteristics of blockchain technology instead of developing more practical solutions under the guidance of the ideas of this blockchain technology?

In the current economic activities, there are actually many problems that can use part of the blockchain technology to provide very good solutions. For example, the immutable and completely transparent features of blockchain technology can solve many problems in current economic life. Various professional qualifications of a person or an institution, its past professional experience, the evaluation of its related parties, and the various civil disputes or legal proceedings involved in it, if this information is recorded on the chain and is used by all users It is very convenient to find out, which can very well solve the problem of widespread mistrust currently. Credit levels in the market will increase significantly. A substantial increase in the level of credit in the entire market can significantly reduce transaction costs in economic activities. As a result, the entire economic system can operate more efficiently, and the profits of all participants in economic activities will therefore be greatly improved. In such a blockchain, real-name authentication is a basic requirement. If such a chain is popularized, the value it generates will not be less than the value generated by the Bitcoin blockchain.

The above application scenario is a specific application that is realized under the encouragement of blockchain technology. In fact, more and more practical applications will be developed. Although such technical solutions will not be completely anonymous and censorship resistant, they will actually generate value, not just a tool for tech geeks.

Author: Valley Yancey