When it was first conceived in 2009, Bitcoin’s creators probably did not have an inkling of how this nascent technology would potentially change the world. Back then, it was meant as a fully decentralized cryptocurrency that would not be under the authority of any government or regulatory body.
Blockchain technology has since undergone leaps and bounds, and you may already be familiar with the multitude of blockchains that address different sectors and industries — from finance to legal, to real estate, and beyond. Blockchains have also evolved from simply offering financial transactions to also supporting smart contracts, which is the main feature of technologies like Ethereum.
In short, Ethereum is a blockchain technology that offers additional benefits over simply being a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. It gives developers the ability to build smart contracts that are publicly auditable and self-executing once certain conditions are met.
Here’s a real world scenario, where a bank can use smart contracts in trading derivatives:
– If X account has $Y balance
– and if date is January 1st, 2018
– then transfer 10X to Z account
– if not don’t do anything
You might be interested to know that public blockchains now have a total market capitalization of over $135 billion, and this excludes the multitude of private blockchain deployments!
Since last year, we have also seen the emergence of new asset classes that are blockchain-powered, including Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), exchange-traded fund tokens, and precious-metal backed tokens and derivatives, among others. In short, there’s no limit to what blockchain technologies can support.
If you’re still wondering about the potential of blockchains in dollar terms, the World Economic Forum predicts that 10 percent of the world’s GDP will be stored with blockchain tech in 10 years’ time — representing a $7.8 trillion value in today’s prices.
That’s pretty exciting stuff, I have to say. Step into the future.
Challenges faced by blockchain technologies
There are still challenges that need to be overcome by startups, regulatory sectors, and users. For one, there are the technical limitations that can potentially hinder us from maximizing blockchains.
For instance, while you might think that the current proof-of-work (POW) consensus mechanism used by Bitcoin and Ethereum is a benefit, it actually comes with a cost. There is an issue with the lack of finality.
Bitcoin transactions are final, you say? Not really. The protocol favors availability over finality — this means forks and lone blocks are a possibility, and we have previously observed how Bitcoin projects tend to “fork” whenever there are serious security concerns or when developers have disagreements regarding the standard.
POW is also very energy-intensive, which means nodes spend a lot of money on electrical bills.
Also, blockchains like Ethereum require that developers build smart contracts using their own programming language, particularly Solidity.
Ethereum also other disadvantages, to wit:
- Real-world verification: It does not support digital identity;
- Speed: It can currently do only 15 transactions per second.
Blockchains are the future, right?
You will be glad to know that blockchains are evolving. In a bid to address these limitations and also evolve the nature of blockchain technology, NEO, which is China’s first original blockchain project, announced the launch of its NEO Smart Contract System 2.0, earlier this month. This also comes along with a re-branding effort from its former identity as Antshares.
Evolving the blockchain with digital identity
The aim is to ultimately support and build a smart economy backed by blockchain technology. While a good number of fintech companies are capitalizing on smart contracts through the Ethereum blockchain, Da Hongfei, co-founder and CEO of NEO, says its technology shows better promise in terms of high certainty, high scalability, and better compatibility across applications.
I had a conversation with Hongfei to discuss the three areas where NEO is addressing the limitations of other blockchain tech:
Support for programming languages
NEO supports faster development and deployment of smart contracts and projects, as it enables developers to build on programming languages already familiar with them. “We provide various advanced languages in the form of compiler,” says Da Hongfei. “Besides .Net and Java, we will support Python and Go in the future which can cover more than 90 percent of developers. Compared with Ethereum, development has more smooth learning curve and shorter learning circle, allowing for fast introduction of projects on NEO.”
Digital identity and integration with the “real” economy
Developers of Bitcoin and Ethereum have highlighted anonymity as one of their platforms’ main features. However, this comes with an inherent disadvantage, which is the integrity of transactions. NEO addresses this by adding digital identity to its capabilities.
With its origins in China, observers believe that this particular feature is beneficial in wider adoption of the technology in the country. Moreover, NEO is said to have the support of regulatory agencies and the business community in general. Beyond China, the main potential is in how NEO can better integrate with real-world applications, particularly those that require confirmation of identity, such as smart contracts.
“NEO aims to integrate itself better with the real economy. Only with the introduction of digital identity can we map offchain assets in a complaint manner,” says Da Hongfei.
Better efficiency and reliability
The numerous security issues that have plagued Bitcoin and Ethereum have led to multiple forks in their blockchain systems, which also necessitated other workarounds to de-bloat the blockchain and fend off DDoS and spam attacks. In addition, the proof-of-work consensus algorithm is very energy-intensive, which is a limiting factor for startups that deal with Ethereum-based smart contracts.
In contrast, NEO uses a delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance (dBFT) consensus mechanism, which ensures finality of transactions and which supports more transactions at any given time.
“dBFT ensures finality, with availability compromised.” Da Hongfei describes the comparison. However, he says that for purposes of smart contracts, this is more essential than availability.
“POW has strong availability, but it also has a big disadvantage, because it cannot ensure finality. Forks and lone blocks will occur easily. dBFT ensures finality, which means that once a transaction is confirmed by a block, it is confirmed permanently without being rolled back or revoked. In our point of view, finality is far more important than availability in an important financial system. And in practice, dBFT has been running for more than one year without serious network crash.”
In addition, compared to Ethereum’s 15 transactions per second, NEO supports up to 10,000 transactions per second, which is very energy-efficient compared with Ethereum.
What is the future for blockchain tech?
NEO is positioning itself, (alongside Ethereum), at the forefront of blockchain tech with its innate support for digital identity-backed smart contracts, ability to communicate with other blockchain through a cross-chain protocol, quantum resistant cryptography, distributed storage protocol and secure communication protocol. The aim is to build a globalized smart economy, wherein the trust factor between participants is enhanced through digital identity.
Still, Da Hongfei argues that a lot can still happen in blockchain tech, which is particularly exciting for both developers and users who can all stand to gain from the benefits. “Blockchain is still a quickly developing frontier,” he says, adding that NEO will continue to work closely with “developers, our community and even the institutions with whom we work.”
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author’s own and not necessarily shared by TNW.
Don’t Eat These Foods on Diwali
నరకాసురుడు అనే రాక్షసుణ్ణి చంపినా సందర్భంగా జరుపుకుంటున్న పండుగ దీపావళి భారతదేశం లోనే హిందువులు చేసుకుంటున్న పండగలలో ఇది ఒక్కటిగా చెప్పుకోవొచ్చు.దీపావళి నాడు లక్ష్మి దేవి ని పూజిస్తే ఐశ్వర్యాలు సిద్ధిస్తాయని,విజయం సాధిస్తామని చెడుని ఎదిరించి దైర్యం వస్తుందని అంటారు పెద్దలు.దీపావళి మహా లక్ష్మి కి చాలా ప్రీతిపాత్రమైనది గ చెప్పుకుంటారు.ఆ రోజు భక్తి శ్రద్దలతో తల్లిని పూజిస్తే ఎలాంటి కోరికలు అయిన తీరుతాయని నమ్మకం.ఇక దీపావళికి భక్తిగా నోముకుంటే ఆ సంవత్సరం అంతా శుభం కలుగుతుంది.అయితే ఇప్పుడు దీపావళికి అర్ధం మార్చేశారు దేఎపావలి అంటే పటాసులు కాల్చడమే పండగ అనుకుంటున్నారు
ఇక మరికొందరు దీపావళి పండగ అనగానే పొద్దున్న లేవటం మటన్ లేదా చికెన్ వంటి మాంసాహారం తెచ్చి వండుకొని తింటుంటారు.దీపావళి మహా లక్ష్మి కి ప్రీతిపాత్రమైన రోజు అందుకే ఆ రోజు మాంసాహారం తీసుకోవడం మంచిది కాదు.దీపావళి నాడు పూర్తిగా ఉపవాసం చేసి కేవలం శాఖాహారం అది కూడ ఆకు కూరలను తీసుకున్నట్లైతే మంచి జరుగుతుందని చెబుతున్నారు పండితులు.ఎంత పూజ చేసి ఎన్ని కొబ్బరి కాయలు కొట్టిన కూడ ఆ రోజు మాంసాహారం తింటే ఫలితం ఉండదు.లక్ష్మి దేవి పూజ చేసిన రోజు మాసాహారం తీసుకోవడం మంచిది కాదని అలా చేయడం వల్ల అష్ట దరిద్రాలు చుట్టుకుంటాయని అంటారు.అలా చేస్తే ముఖ్యంగా ఆర్ధిక ఇబ్బందులు ఎదురు అవుతాయి.డబ్బులు వచ్చినట్లు వచ్చి ఖర్చు అవుతుంటాయి అందుకే ఆ రోజు ఎత్తి పరిస్థితుల్లో మాంసాహారం తీసుకోవోద్దని చెబుతున్నారు
7 Haunted Hotels That’ll Scare
The idea of ‘ghosts’ has always been interesting but experiencing paranormal activity can lead to some indelible scars on one’s mind. People all around the world have felt spooky feeling in some hotels. Some fled while some stayed back to narrate stories. From icy sensation to weird sounds to haunting apparitions, some hotels of the world have really seen “too much”. Apart from celebrities, royals and common people, some hotels have also been visited by ghosts and spirits.
Here’s a list of spooky hotels from around the world:
#1 Stanley Hotel, Colorado
A hotel of paranormal activity has witnessed the ghosts of F.O. Stanley, the founder, and his wife passing through the lobby quite frequently. Also, the sound of children running and giggling down the halls is a common phenomenon in this spooky hotel. Opened in 1907, this hotel lost one of his housemaids, Elizabeth Wilson, in 1911. It is said her ghost once returned to assist the guest with their belongings in room 217. Chilling, isn’t?
#2 Hotel Roosevelt, California
This hotel is world famous for the celebrities it houses and also the lavish parties. Sadly, this lovely hotel has also witnessed some spooky happenings like the ghost of Marilyn Monroe viewing herself in the mirror placed in her former suite and also the ghost of the late actor Montgomery Cliff playing his trombone from room 928. How spooky is this!
#3 Langham Hotel, London
A very notable historical hotel in London, Langham hotel was established in 1865 and since then it has seen the coming and going of famous celebrities and some lavish parties. Other than celebrities and royals, ghosts also find respite in this hotel which has often heard guests complaining about seeing the apparition of Napoleon the third, a German soldier and a doctor who murdered his wife. If willing you can book room 333, the most haunted of all rooms! Willing, anyone?
#4 Hotel Raj Kiran, Lonavala
The authorities got so disturbed from constant complaints from residents of the room at the corner of reception area about bed sheets being pulled off forcefully, seeing a blue ray of light in midnight, that they have now stopped renting that room. It’s been vacant since many years. So scary!
#5 Ballygally Castle, North Ireland
The castle was built by Lord Shaw and his wife Lady Isabella in 1625. Sadly, Lady Isabella fell off from the top of the tower. Some say she jumped while some say she was pushed. Her ghost is seen wandering in the hotels, knocking at the doors and then disappearing. In her honor, the hotel has reserved a room as the “The Ghost Room”.
#6 The Savoy, Mussoorie
One of the most famous haunted hotels in India, The Savoy was built in 1902 but after the murder of Lady Garnet Orme in 1910, began witnessing weird paranormal activities in the hotel. Famous for its haunted corridors and walls, the hotel was visited by the Indian Paranormal Society who recorded a lady’s whispers. Wonder what she was trying to say?
#7 Hotel Burchianti, Italy
Built in Florence, the hotel is famous for its impeccable styled rooms and the opulent décor. But apart from these what makes this hotel a bit more special is a list of paranormal activities going on at a regular basis. Guests have often seen the ghosts of children skipping down the halls, a lady sitting in a chair and knitting and a maid doing her cleaning jobs early morning. Visitors of Fresco Room where once Mussolini stayed, complain of being watched continuously and feeling an icy breath on their faces. Haunting!
Featured Image Source: http://www.rebelsmarket.com
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