Timechain : A Decade of Misunderstanding Blockchain

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Abstract: The term “blockchain” has caused much confusion and damage due to its failure to accurately capture the core characteristics of decentralized byzantine fault tolerant systems. In this article, a restoration of an older term is proposed as replacement.

A decade ago, on October 31 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto announced on The Cryptography Mailing List that they had been working on “a peer-to-peer electronic cash system,” named Bitcoin. It was gradually recognized that Satoshi had made a major conceptual and technological breakthrough. Their innovation allowed, for the first time in history, for actors across wide networks to exchange value without requiring trust in a centrally controlled entity. The underlying basis of the technology consisted of a ledger that could be appended but never retroactively modified. The lack of central control over the system and the immutability of the ledger form the core characteristics of this technology, which are more accurately categorized as byzantine fault tolerant systems (BFTs).

Over the years, there has been an explosion of experiments adopting Nakamoto inspired innovations to a wide variety of purposes. However, there have also been a number of unfortunate developments in the field. One of them has to do with the adoption of the term “blockchain” to describe the technology underpinning other supposed “distributed ledger technologies.”

In this article, I will explain why “blockchain” is particularly poor nomenclature. Rather then providing clarity, it obfuscates. Instead of accurately delineating a sphere of technological activity that has great promise, it allows charlatans to pretend major innovation even when there is little. At the same time, it excludes many emerging technologies that genuinely share the BFT ethos, if not their actual techniques. Explaining why the use of the term is not just a semantic issue but that of significant practical consequences, I will propose the rehabilitation of an older term that more accurately describes the underlying keystone breakthrough.

POD Research: Interesting Read: https://blog.goodaudience.com/timechain-a-decade-of-misunderstanding-blockchain-bcb56d7839a3

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