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Special Interest Group

New Hyperledger Media & Entertainment SIG Launches with Welcome to All Comers

By Blog, Special Interest Group

We would like to extend a very warm welcome to anybody and everybody interested in permissioned blockchains for both media (writ large) and entertainment. The launch of the Hyperledger Media & Entertainment Special Interest Group (ME-SIG) is designed to be maximally inclusive: we would like to the see the widest possible range of engineers, developers, in fact all manner of professionals, together with artists, academics, students, experts, and—of course—amateurs.

Here’s how to navigate our initial resources: following a recent, virtual meet-up in Los Angeles, the Media and Entertainment SIG has started to build a landing page on the HL Wiki where you’ll find links to our:

  • Mailing list sign-up
  • Rocket Chat channel (while we ponder the pros and cons of Slack)
  • Proposed debut project
  • And other initiatives or aggregated info that will naturally grow over time.

In simple terms, the ME-SIG will be using decentralized, permissioned HL blockchains to discuss and build user-friendly apps that respond to the relative disorder of permissonless environments, where artists’ interests are significantly harder to safeguard.

Following comparative analyses of the technical challenges (and hypothetical solutions) facing filmmakers, musicians, novelists, poets, photojournalists, etc., these DLT apps/dapps will be created for content-creators and their publishers, irrespective of location or socioeconomic status. This implies a focus upon UX/UI concerns over command-line tools, all in the name of access and inclusivity.

The ME-SIG will focus on the application of Hyperledger DLTs to media-specific and entertainment use cases. Such activity will automatically foreground topics such as decentralized metadata, digital distribution, copyright protection, royalty payments, value chains, NFTs (non-fungible tokens), tokenized content, counterfeit reduction, and registered digital ownership. By logical extension, these same themes will lead to real-world scenarios or solutions for cinematic, literary, audiovisual, and photographic publishers, to name but four.

Following the established activities of the Social Impact and Trade Finance SIGs, the TME group can then hope to:

  • Collaborate with other core Hyperledger working groups and project in the areas of architecture

           —performance and scalability identity
           —smart contracts
           —and integration

  • Build user-friendly DLT ME applications on Hyperledger, focusing on UX-UI goals over command-line tools alone, thus simplifying the workflow of Hyperledger Fabric—for easier adoption by both artists and arts-related communities
  • Research different protocols—to build standardization across different parties and projects
  • Identify related reference architectures (business/integration or technical/infrastructure)
  • Work with businesses and non-profit or NGO communities alike
  • Share stories of civic success, failure, opportunity, and challenge
  • Encourage the equal involvement of both early adopters and student newcomers, looking to examine careers beyond the (barely existent!) academic job market.

So what of an initial project? Here’s where we are keenest to involve colleagues and collaborators from outside the worlds of media and/or entertainment. Our initial proposal notes can be found here. It is increasingly revisited and reworked by members of the SIG. We’ve called it a “Distributed Media Curation Platform (DCP) on Hyperledger Fabric.” Please add to those notes with help, criticism, or constructive abuse! Community input is—and will remain—vital. The more we know about your desires and needs, the more a finished product will be useful for you.

The DCP will curate, document, and fairly manage media assets—eg., music, ebooks, photojournalism, gaming figures, digitized artworks, etc. on the blockchain. It will accurately establish the provenance of an asset (its past) and assure that the asset’s creators or rights holders are properly acknowledged and remunerated in the future. For this reason, the DCP is suitable for museums, galleries, labels, and publishers on one hand, while proving equally helpful to artists or content creators on the other. In both environments, the watchword will remain fairness. The following paragraphs outline a plan to build the DCP in a modular fashion, together with definitions of the relevant and manageable technologies.

  • Hyperledger Fabric 2.X
  • Fabtoken
  • NFT
  • ISCC
  • OCCP
  • vLEI
  • DAO/DAC
  • Custom UI and Player (PHP/JS, HTML/CSS).

Early curatorial enterprise on the blockchain was celebrated in 2017 by Consensys’ own Engineer of Societies, Simon de la Rouviere. In his overview of P2P distributed curation markets (DCMs), de la Rouviere quoted Umberto Eco’s equation of curation or list-making with culture itself.

The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries.

The benefits offered by a blockchain DCP, de la Rouviere claimed, are not only decentralization and related systems of accountability. They also include the “the [cultural] wisdom of a crowd sharing at scale “ and micro-transactions or tokenized payments. Both will be addressed by the ME-SIG..

There are certainly lots of existing content aggregation tools, operating with human or artificial intelligence. Given, however, that DCPs rely on both the filtering of information and an attribution of value to those selected assets, AI is (thus far) less likely to to attribute lasting or accurate cultural worth to any resulting list than a known, human entity within a relatively small and permissioned environment. Culture is a profoundly human and abstract activity, revolving around what many blockchain/DCP scholars like to term a “Schelling (i.e., focal) point” of consideration. Some DCPs that have arisen around such foci are

In all cases, a relatively small and specialized community creates worth in a permissioned or walled environment, within which individuals determine a value-system. We will move along the same lines, so please help to guide our passage—and inform us of your needs in the process. Then we can be sure of building something you will want and use! 

Thanks for your attention!

David MacFadyen
Professor, Comparative Literature / Musicology / Digital Humanities, UCLA
https://www.davidmacfadyen.com

Solution Brief: Decentralized ID and Access Management (DIAM) for IoT Networks

By Blog, Special Interest Group, Telecom

The Telecom Special Interest group in collaboration with the Linux Foundation’s LF Edge initiative has published a solution brief addressing the issues concerning the centralized ID and Access Management (IAM) in IoT Networks and introducing a distributed alternative using Hyperledger Fabric.

The ever-growing number of IoT devices means data vulnerability is an ongoing risk. Existing centralized IoT ecosystems have led to concerns about security, privacy, and data use. This solution brief shows that a decentralized ID and access management (DIAM) system for IoT devices provides the best solution for those concerns, and that Hyperledger offers the best technology for such a system.

The IoT is growing quickly. IDC predicts that by 2025 there will be 55.7 billion connected devices in the world. Scaling and securing a network of billions of IoT devices starts with a robust device. Data security also requires a strong access management framework that can integrate and interoperate with existing legacy systems. Each IoT device should carry a unique global identifier and have a profile that governs access to the device.

In this solution brief, we propose a decentralized approach to validate and verify the identity of IoT devices, data, and applications. In particular, we propose using two frameworks from the Linux Foundation: Hyperledger Fabric for the distributed ledger (DLT) and Hyperledger Indy for the decentralized device IDs. These two blockchain frameworks provide the core components to address end-to-end IoT device ID and access management (IAM).

The Problem: IoT Data Security 

The ambitious IoT use cases including smart transport infer a massive volume of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-road communications that must be safeguarded to prevent malicious activity and malfunctions due to single points of failure.

The Solution: Decentralized Identity

IoT devices collect, handle, and act on data as proxies for a wide range of users, such as a human, a government agency, or a multinational enterprise. With tens of billions of IoT devices to be connected over the next few years, numerous IoT devices may represent a single person or institution in multiple roles. And IoT devices may play roles that no one has yet envisioned.

A decentralized ID management system removes the need for any central governing authority and makes way for new models of trust among organizations. All this provides more transparency, improves communications, and saves costs.

The solution is to use Hyperledger technology to create a trusted platform for a telecom ecosystem that can support IoT devices throughout their entire lifecycle and guarantee a flawless customer experience. The solution brief includes Reference Architecture and a high-level architecture view of the proof of concept (PoC) that IBM is working on with some enterprise clients. This PoC uses Hyperledger Fabric as described above.

Successful Implementations of Hyperledger-based IoT Networks

IBM and its partners have successfully developed several global supply-chain ecosystems using IoT devices, IoT network services, and Hyperledger blockchain software. Two examples of these implementations are Food Trust and TradeLens.

The full paper is available to read at: https://www.hyperledger.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/HL_LFEdge_WhitePaper_021121_3.pdf

Get Involved with the Group

To learn more about the Hyperledger Telecom Special Interest Group, check out the group’s wiki and mailing list. If you have questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to post messages to the list.  And you’re welcome to join any of the group’s upcoming calls to meet group members and learn how to get involved.

Acknowledgements

The Hyperledger Telecom Special Interest Group would like to thank the following people who contributed to this solution brief: Nima Afraz, David Boswell, Bret Michael Carpenter, Vinay Chaudhary, Dharmen Dhulla, Charlene Fu, Gordon Graham, Saurabh Malviya, Lam Duc Nguyen, Ahmad Sghaier Omar, Vipin Rathi, Bilal Saleh, Amandeep Singh, and Mathews Thomas.

Introducing the Social Impact Ecosystem blog series from Hyperledger’s Social Impact Special Interest Group

By Blog, Special Interest Group

The Hyperledger Social Impact SIG (SI-SIG) is a global community focused on how blockchain technology can be leveraged for a greater social impact. We are working together to identify use cases and opportunities, share feedback and lessons learned, and ensure blockchain is implemented where relevant and in a way that maximizes positive impact. 

Our SIG has put together several helpful resources to help new members find their way around. Our landing page gives a general overview of who we are and what we do. Those new to the SIG can visit the New Member Center to learn what we do and how they can participate. The Social Impact SIG Resource Center provides information on where to find resources for different sectors of the community, such as Financial Empowerment or Governance and Democracy. Our Community Presentations page is where you can find the latest discussion topics and presentations for our upcoming meetings as well as recordings and notes from past meetings. 

Since July 23, 2019, our meetings have been recorded and archived with the meeting notes, which makes them an excellent learning resource for new members and researchers alike. Highlights include talks by

If you would like to speak at a future SIG meeting, please reach out to us at the email list below.

We are excited to announce the launch of our blog post series “Social Impact Ecosystem,” which will feature blog posts from community members, guest writers and beyond on the various ways in which blockchain can be leveraged for social impact. The series will give members a chance to share what they are working on with others who are interested in our focus, and readers will be able to learn about different ways blockchain is being used to create positive changes in our world. Here is a quick glimpse of the blog posts that are in queue:

Shawn Wilborne will author a four-part series aimed at tackling the issues plaguing human consumption. From the food we eat to the clothing we purchase, we must maximize the value from every product and extend its lifecycle beyond single use. First, we’ll look at how blockchain can provide recycling and composting rewards to the masses to drive consumer adoption. Next, we’ll analyze hazardous and toxic materials to track them from the point of purchase through their proper disposal. This is vital to keeping our air, water, and soil free from contaminants that cause chronic diseases and shorten life spans. Then we’ll look at how the government can expedite the adoption of recycling and composting programs and use blockchain to verify accuracy, traceability, and program participation. Lastly, we’ll analyze how businesses and facilities can go Zero Waste and use blockchain to verify their entire supply chain. Cutting carbon not only benefits the environment and human health, but also increases brand recognition. We hope to inspire blockchain applications to preserve precious natural resources for future generations. 

Bobbi Muscara will share a series on how to develop a blockchain project to benefit your community. This will feature a series of guided checkpoints to help you identify the current needs of your community and how blockchain could be used to help.  

I will write a series addressing the varied ways blockchain is being leveraged in agriculture. While most readers will be familiar with the idea of using blockchain to track food along the supply chain to reduce food fraud and foodborne illness, there are a wide range of initiatives around the world that are focused on human rights and reducing human trafficking in our food and agriculture supply chains, environmental impact, and helping smallholder farmers and other producers access capital.

Would you like to add your project to our series? Would you like to present at a future meeting? Please reach out to social-impact-sig@lists.hyperledger.org to contribute. 

Get Involved! 

The SI-SIG is community driven. We are always looking for fellow social impacters to join our mission. To start, simply subscribe to the Hyperledger Social Impact SIG mailing list and introduce yourself and/or join our bi-weekly SI-SIG discussions every other Tuesday at 10:00am EST. Meeting details can be found here. Visit our Wiki page to learn more as well: https://wiki.hyperledger.org/display/SISIG.

Examining DLT Solutions for Trade and Finance, with a China Focus

By Blog, Finance, Special Interest Group

2020 will be remembered as the year the world was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with severe health, economic and societal consequences for many. The lockdown experience many nations faced was a chance for some to rethink and reflect on the events that were changing the lives of billions of people. 

As a volunteer with both the Hyperledger Capital Markets and Trade Finance Special Interest Groups, I took this opportunity to research developments in Distributed Ledger Technology in China. After the turmoil of this pandemic, I believe a large-scale adoption of Distributed Ledger Technology is indeed possible and could lead to the development of ecosystems that will contribute to a better future for our society. 

I captured my research in a paper that highlights the efforts at the national level in China to embrace the integration of DLT into a comprehensive ecosystem that could potentially bring value for the world, focusing particularly on finance industry applications. Read on for some of the highlights from the paper:

China is building the first DLT interoperability project within a cross-cloud, cross-framework, cross-chain architecture over a number of smart cities in China and in strategic locations internationally. This project, called the Blockchain Service Network or BSN, aims to connect the different DLTs of public entities, private corporations and permissionless-permissioned chains.

The vision is to create a cross-industry DLT ecosystem that could be integrated by IoT and AI-powered smart cities to totally reshape data management practices and society.

Focusing on finance applications, China aims to complete the digitalization of assets and transactions for the digital transformation of financial markets. The People’s Bank of China is taking the lead by issuing technical and operational standards for the industry. It is currently running national pilot projects based on assets digitalization by the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), the so-called Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP), a solution that could potentially replace M0 “cash” in 10-15 years as a ground layer for financial operations.

The aim of the Hyperledger Capital Markets Special Interest Group (CMSIG) is to focus on the transformation of capital markets through the use of blockchain technologies, specifically the DLTs in the Hyperledger greenhouse. Hyperledger Fabric and its derivatives are core components of BSN. Capital markets are a way to connect investors and borrowers to facilitate the production of goods and services. Such markets are venues where creation of tradeable representations of assets of various duration and the safe exchange of these assets through the medium of a fungible, legal, safe asset like a currency takes place. Provenance and durable claims on the assets are important and so is interoperability between the assets through the medium of a safe currency. 

BSN and DCEP, by integrating a national digital marketplace, tackle friction inherent in these processes. The effects will be felt far beyond China. Non-China markets will have to use BSN and DCEP to engage with China markets. Reverberations from such a vast socio-technical transformation will reach even those who are not directly engaged with China. The Hyperledger CMSIG is following these developments and has hosted several presentations on BSN and DCEP. The paper on DLTs focusing on China is an important addition to the corpus, contributing to our understanding of China’s blockchain stack and its strategic implications for Trade Finance and Capital Markets. 

The People’s Bank of China is also leading a national project involving Distributed Ledger Technology for trade and supply chain finance, the national harmonization of account receivables, financial bill rediscount, tax filing and international trade information collection. The pilot project is working in strategic locations supported by special regulations and sandboxes applications. Key municipalities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, are developing long-term DLT strategic plans, integrating free trade areas with the goal to support a national pilot project application at a larger scale.

Trade and supply chain finance, especially in cross border operations, represents a perfect case scenario where BSN and DCEP, despite them being separate projects, could potentially find common ground for integration based on the high level of internationalization and the large number of players involved in transactions. International trade is a fragmented environment made up of banks, insurers, logistics and transportation operators, buyers and sellers: it may greatly benefit from inclusive projects like BSN and DCEP.

One of the areas the Hyperledger Trade Finance Special Interest Group (TFSIG) focuses on is technical and business operational practices for achieving interoperability and the creation of a comprehensive ecosystem between networks. Hyperledger Project Cactus could help achieve this higher purpose, standing as a turnkey solution for a new approach to “DLT-based ecosystem projects.”

To conclude, BSN could be seen as an institutional marketplace for DLT applications in different areas, where each solution will find its place and challenge each other for a new “network” of DLT cloud, framework and applications. In the long run, BSN can be considered a pivotal strategic architecture, capable of reaching businesses stretching from China to overseas strategic locations, under a secure and distributed network. Financial DLT national projects therefore represent a way to safely drive overseas investments in terms of political orientation and economic accountability over the Digital Silk Road.

For more details and updates, please see the full DLT solutions for trade and finance – China focus paper on the TFSIG and CMSIG wikis.

Trade Finance SIG: https://wiki.hyperledger.org/display/TFSIG/DLT+solutions+for+trade+and+finance+-+China+Focus

Capital Market SIG: https://wiki.hyperledger.org/display/CMSIG/DLT+solutions+for+trade+and+finance+-+China+focus 

Written by:
Eugenio Reggianini, Business Development Manager, CarbonBlue Innovations Limited; Member, Hyperledger Trade Finance & Capital Market Special Interest Groups

Curated  by:
Andrea Frosinini, freelance trade finance consultant; Chair, Hyperledger Trade Finance Special Interest Group   

Vipin Bharathan, Technical Strategist and Founder, dlt.nyc; Chair, Hyperledger Capital Markets SIG

#RadicalCollaboration | Hyperledger CA2 SIG leading a working group at Open Climate Collabathon

By Blog, Special Interest Group

When looking at climate change, it seems like there are thousands of factors that need to be considered. The truth is, there is really just one: human collaboration. No matter if looking at behavior or trying to find a solution, human collaboration makes all the difference.

The question is how can we collaborate? How do we come together to work on a shared cause? How do we scale? How do we sustain the effort? 

There are many possible answers to these questions. In this article, we will explain what true collaboration looks like for us. We share the same vision, value each other, and each of us is solely here because of an intrinsic motivation: to tackle climate change. “We” are the Hyperledger Climate and Accounting (CA2) Special Interest Group (SIG).

CA2 SIG 

The CA2 SIG fosters and engages a multi-stakeholder network to exchange ideas, needs, and resources in order to develop and consolidate open source distributed ledger technology (DLT) solutions for common climate accounting mechanisms and frameworks. Our recent post Tackling Climate Change with Blockchain: An Urgent Need, Ready Opportunity and Call to Action provides more in-depth information about the CA2 SIG and our different working groups (WG).

One of the WGs to highlight in this blog post, which kicked off this summer, is the Carbon Accounting and Certification Working Group. The mission of this WG is to identify how DLTs could improve corporate or personal carbon accounting and make carbon accounting and certifications more open, transparent, and credible. By now, our first prototype is ready to calculate customers’ utility emissions according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Scope 2 and store the emission records immutably to a Hyperledger Fabric blockchain.

Purpose-driven

Our vision is to build an open climate accounting system that covers all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. A system like this would make real trust and transparency possible for the first time. We are convinced that only then do we have a true shot at tackling climate change as a human society. 

In case you are still wondering why we invest our time in CA2 SIG: we take our spot in the bottom-up approach of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement and prevent irreversible damage to our planet if temperatures reach a 1.5 degree warming.

To drive our vision at a larger scale, the Carbon Accounting and Certification WG is taking part in the Open Climate Collabathon from November 9th to 23rd, 2020. 

The Open Climate Collabathon is an international open source initiative to establish a global platform for climate pledges, action tracking, carbon mitigation, and finance, that reflects the current state of planet Earth (i.e., temperature increase, resilience, etc.). The project focuses on leveraging emerging digital technologies like blockchain & distributed ledgers and other innovations to create a globally shared digital hub for coordinating a timely climate change response, internationally.

Collabathon = radical collaboration + hackathon

Our process

The Carbon Accounting and Certification WG does not just stand for a purpose-driven team but also a multicultural community of experts, students, developers, and climate activists. Together we worked toward the idea of multi-channel data architecture and created the Open Business Application Framework over an iterative process during the past year. The Open Business Application Framework is a generic model with a layered architecture that can be applied to many scenarios in climate space. Especially to projects that need a distributed ledger as a common data layer and want to benefit from the Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) (Hyperledger Indy) as well as the Verifiable Credentials (Hyperledger Aries) standards defined by the W3C.

What we do

With this idea, we joined the Open Climate Collabathon to lead a working group with two different tracks – technical and non-technical – during the two weeks sprint to get more people involved.

From the technical side, we concentrate our resources on the Common ID & Agents as well as the Common Data Layer and the interoperability between them. The first stream implements the Hyperledger Lab TrustID to the existing Hyperledger Fabric deployment. The TrustID project develops a chaincode and an SDK that, together, enable identity management in Hyperledger Fabric as a decentralized alternative to CAs by using the DID standard specified by the W3C. In a second stream, we move our local Hyperledger Fabric deployment to a distributed, multi-cloud Hyperledger Fabric network consisting of three independent organizations. The private permissioned ledger would just be one part of the Common Data Layer. In the future, we strive for interoperability between additional ledgers like Hyperledger Besu or Ethereum Mainnet

Last but not least – maybe even most importantly – what we do is not only technical but covers the business issues of using DLT for climate action. During a breakout session at the collabathon focused on the business issues, we came up with follow-up tasks such as:

  • Explore how a Distributed Autonomous Organization (DAO) or digital currency could be used to motivate climate action.
  • Find reliable emissions factors for energy in other countries beyond the USA.
  • Develop a business plan for a virtual renewable energy network. This would allow members who can not get solar panels directly, because they rent, move frequently, or have houses that are not structurally eligible to get the benefits of renewable energy and offset their emissions as well.  
  • Develop a business plan for energy efficiency with blockchain

Start collaborating

Of course, we are always looking for further collaborators. If you feel addressed by one of the tasks, are an expert in one of the areas or you just want to experience radical collaboration to make a difference, join us at:

We are looking forward to welcoming you.

Tackling Climate Change with Blockchain: An Urgent Need, Ready Opportunity and Call to Action

By Blog, Special Interest Group

If blockchain is really going to change the world, then why are so many of us stuck in pilot purgatory? Is it because our distributed ledgers are too disruptive to the existing incumbents? Or that they already have solutions that are good enough, at least for now, so breakthrough ideas like blockchain could wait on the back burner?  

Is there a large scale, urgent business problem out there that requires massive collaboration and does not have existing incumbents?

We believe there is one: Climate change.  

While we as a society recognize that climate change is real and have the technologies to fix it, we lack a way to get all the parts of our economy — businesses, investors and banks, consumers, and regulators — to work together on it.  Part of the problem is we have to work across traditional boundaries of industries and countries and integrate vast supply chains around the world. And we have to do it without recognized central authorities because they don’t exist at this point.  

Fortunately, blockchain, or distributed ledger technologies (DLT), may be just the right tool for this challenge: It is designed for coordinating trust and collaboration across multiple parties, with greater speed and much greater scale than ever before. With blockchain, we could record trusted Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions for every type of economic activity and transfer them across supply chains as products and services are transacted.

The Climate Action and Accounting Special Interest Group (CA2SIG) of the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project is an open source effort to foster a collaborative network of climate, DLT, and other emerging technology organizations (i.e., universities, NGOs, government, startups, corporations, multilateral development banks, etc.) that can create a center of gravity around the role of DLT and open source software to address challenges in the global climate action, policy and digital accounting space.  

We hope that our work could act as a shared initiative where participants can contribute value to and share explorations in the use of DLT alongside other emerging technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things), big data, and machine learning to address the challenge of keeping a transparent climate accounting system towards the climate targets set in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The CA2SIG is currently comprised of the following working groups:

Carbon Accounting and Certification Working Group, which is working on automating accounting and transactions of emissions:

Consumer Disclosure Working Group, which is working on ways of making customers aware, in a meaningful, understandable way, of the impact they bring about on the environment while going about their daily life:

Climate Accounting Standards and Protocols Working Group, which is focused particularly on the protocols and standards that will enable consistent climate accounting :

Together, these working groups are building software for the following goals:

  • Implementing GHG emissions accounting using verified data and models, which could publish trusted emissions data for a wide variety of business activities.
  • Passing GHG emissions up to national and supra-national structures.
  • Making accurate GHG emissions available at the consumer level.

By making our work open source, we hope to enable more developers to build on our work and extend GHG accounting to every part of our economy around the world.  

What we’re asking is for people to help us integrate our software into more activities. Climate change is happening because every little thing that is happening is contributing to it just a tiny bit. We want to be able to get data on those activities, model their emissions, and start making people aware of their impact and work together to reduce emissions.  

Whether you’re an experienced developer, from the business side, or a private individual, we could use your help in linking real world activities to climate change and coming up with solutions together. Join us on the Hyperledger Wiki for more details and links to regular calls.

Hyperledger for the Blockchain Skeptic

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric, Special Interest Group

As an enterprise software developer, I’m used to thinking about solving real world business problems. So, naturally, I was pretty skeptical of bitcoin and the blockchain when I first heard about it.  

Yet the idea of a “distributed ledger” kept tugging at me. Since all the apps we’ve built, from ERP to CRM to e-commerce, revolved around a ledger of transactions, what could a global, distributed ledger allow us to build?  

It took me three years of off-and-on studying and a few very smart people to finally make me realize that the blockchain, or distributed ledger technologies (DLTs), is just a small step from what we’re already used to. But that little step could unlock a new world of possibilities.  

In this post, let me address some of the common skepticism I’ve encountered as part of the Hyperledger Climate Action and Accounting Special Interest Group. Then in a follow-up post, I’ll show you why I believe climate change is the killer app for the blockchain.

I Don’t Need a Blockchain

Are you sure? Because you’ve probably already started building a few.  

With enterprise software, we often have to prove that the data we’re using is authentic. So how would you assure someone that the data you’re using has not been altered or tampered with?  You know that the data provider might change its API or the data you get from it, so 

  • Did you make a local copy of the data you got?  
  • Did you record the date and time you got it?  
  • Did you record a hash of the data, so it could be compared with the data you used for your application?  
  • Did you store archival copies of the data and the hash so that you could prove that they are all correct?  
  • Did you store multiple copies just to be sure?

If so, then you’ve built much of what goes into a blockchain or distributed ledger. A blockchain is really a protocol to store data across multiple nodes while assuring their consistency. It follows all the steps outlined above, plus a few more, to make sure that once stored, data cannot be lost or altered.  

So if you’ve already been building your own “distributed” data records, then you obviously need what the blockchain offers. It addresses many of the pain points of data integration that we deal with every day in enterprise software.  

The advantages of an open source blockchain platform such as Hyperledger Fabric or Hyperledger Sawtooth, compared to a homegrown solution, are many: Most obviously, there is security and scalability of a developed solution. Then there is the support for the “unknown unknowns,” use cases you may not realize exist but would surface over time. Finally, there’s the chance to work with some very smart people and learn more about this emerging technology.

Databases Are Faster than Blockchains

This is certainly true, and nobody would suggest that you replace your database with a blockchain. The two have different but very complementary uses.

Databases are great for fast read and write access of data within an organization. Blockchains are great for making sure data is stored immutably, so that its authenticity could be proven across multiple organizations.  

Another way to think about it is that databases are for building applications, while blockchains are for building collaboration.

There Are too Many Competing Blockchains for Me to Use Them Now

This probably stems from confusing blockchain with Bitcoin, just like people once confused Compuserve or AOL with the internet.  

Remember that blockchain is a technology, while Bitcoin is a protocol and a cryptocurrency implemented with blockchain. There will always be many different protocols, cryptocurrencies, and frameworks implemented with blockchain technologies, just like there were many different websites implemented on the internet.  

Blockchains are Too Energy Intensive and Bad for the Environment

I get this from climate activists, some of whom actually got angry when I mentioned the blockchain.  Again, this stems from confusing blockchain with Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other implementations of the blockchain.

The early blockchain protocols such as Bitcoin and Ethereum used proof-of-work consensus mechanisms, which required a lot of energy-intensive “mining” of cryptographic puzzles. Their  creators probably never imagined them to become as popular as they did, or that they would consume as much energy as whole countries.

Fortunately, we’re all moving away from proof-of-work because it is so energy intensive and simply slow. Hyperledger Fabric, for example, is both fast and energy efficient because it does not use proof-of-work.

Blockchains are Too Immature Right Now

This may have been true five years ago but is definitely not true any more.  There are plenty of blockchain applications — Bitcoin, Ethereum, Compound to name a few — that have billions of dollars of stored value. On the enterprise side, Hyperledger platforms have been used in production for a range of interesting use cases for a while now.

The field will continue to evolve, but, as a whole, blockchain has probably reached the level of maturity of the internet around when Amazon got started, if not further.

There is No Killer App for Blockchain

Which brings us back to the original question: What could a global, distributed ledger allow us to build?

I believe it would allow us to create collaboration on an unprecedented scale, across traditional national and industry boundaries and over long time horizons. And there’s no use case better suited, or more urgent, than climate change. Stay tuned.

About the author
Si Chen has been developing open source enterprise software since 2005.  He is a part of the Hyperledger Climate Action and Accounting Special Interest Group, which is working on using Hyperledger and blockchain to solve the climate change problem. 

Cover image: https://www.needpix.com/photo/1214471/blockchain-block-chain-technology-computer-symbol-network-connection-web

Hyperledger Community on Camera: “How To Get Involved” Video Series – Part V

By Blog, Special Interest Group, Video

While the Hyperledger community was gathered in Phoenix at Hyperledger Global Forum, many members took the time to sit down, on camera, and explain what happens in the array of Hyperledger working groups, special interest groups (SIGs) and technology projects. These videos are great introductions to the community-driven activities in the Hyperledger ecosystem. Geared towards anyone looking to take on a more active role in the effort to advance open source enterprise blockchain, the “How To Get Involved” video series provides an overview of the goals, key initiatives and target use cases each for each group or project. The message in each case is that you are invited to join and all are welcome here.

In this final post, we are spotlighting four special interest groups that are hard at work applying blockchain to core infrastructure challenges. Learn more about how to help drive industry adoption in capital markets, public sector, supply chain and telecom with these videos:

Capital Markets Special Interest Group

Public Sector Special Interest Group

Supply Chain Special Interest Group

Telecom Special Interest Group

Community Spotlight: Meet Saptarshi Choudhury, Hyperledger Public Sector Special Interest Group Co-Chair

By Blog, Community Spotlight, Special Interest Group

Welcome to our Community Spotlight series, which highlights the work of those taking on leadership roles in our special interest and working groups. Meet Saptarshi Choudhury, co-chair of the Public Sector Special Interest Group and Director of Emerging Technologies for Paramount Software Solutions.

Tell us about yourself. Describe your current role, your current business and background, and your involvement in the Hyperledger Public Sector SIG.

I am the Director of Emerging Technologies for Paramount Software Solutions. Since July 2018, I’ve primarily worked on digital transformation in enterprises through blockchain. Prior to that, I worked for AMK Solutions exploring the values of human dynamics and correlation with digital adoption. I started my engagement with the public sector in December 2012 as an electrical engineer for the infrastructure unit of HSCL. I hold a Bachelors and Masters in electrical engineering and have had the opportunity to glimpse the diversity of the world from the lens of different challenging roles. Last year in February, the Hyperledger Public Sector Special Interest Group (PS SIG) intrigued me as it drew attention from people all over the world with diverse backgrounds in technical, business, political or socio-economic frontiers. I have been regularly attending the biweekly meetings for the last one and a half years and am presently hosting the meeting as a co-chair with Dr. Hanna Norberg.

Where do you hope to see Hyperledger and/or blockchain in five years? 

Hyperledger is expanding the width and depth of its efforts to promote decentralization for trust and transparency through its evergreen projects. Distributed ledger technologies like Hyperledger Fabric and Hyperledger Sawtooth are gaining global attention as platforms for private and permissioned ledgers for enterprise applications whereas Hyperledger Indy is revolutionizing how we perceive the fundamental concept of Digital ID. This year Hyperledger Besu was featured in the Coindesk 50. There are other exciting projects like Iroha and Burrow that are on track to help solve critical challenges of the world through blockchain. My hope is that we will be able to make progress on different aspects with tools like Hyperledger Cactus on interoperability, Hyperledger Avalon on trusted off-chain transactions and Hyperledger Caliper on performance benchmarking. In addition, thanks to the Hyperledger Ursa library, we will be able to avoid duplicating cryptographic modules for different projects. 

What do you see as the biggest barrier to widespread blockchain adoption?

My take is that the biggest barriers are lack of clarity in policies and regulations covering the different aspects of blockchain and the need for standardization and interoperability among the evolving solutions.

What are the biggest opportunities ahead for blockchain developers?

The Hyperledger projects are based on software languages that are popular among programmers, and so they can get started without specialized training. The underlying coding background could be JavaScript, Python, Go or even Java. Even if someone has limited skill in coding, they don’t need to shy away from working with the community as the starting point could be adding value to the documentation team. They can also review and contribute to the projects in Github.

What is the Public Sector SIG working on currently? Any new developments to share? 

The Public Sector SIG is presently hosting biweekly presentations by interested volunteers from different parts of the world. We proactively monitor all the governmental policies and initiatives associated with blockchain. In addition, we are creating a database of all the blockchain initiatives in the public sector globally. Recently, there has been a surge of interest among the members to address the Covid-19 pandemic. We are also seeing interest in the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

What’s the most important milestone for the Public Sector SIG to reach in 2020? 

The unending pandemic of Covid-19 has tilted the focus on healthcare. However, there are people who also want to explore and understand the regulatory frameworks and progressive stance for blockchain in different countries. We as a community collectively intend to foster collaboration among public agencies, private organizations and nonprofits with the aim of cutting away barriers to sharing specific blockchain work across borders to minimize siloed efforts and parallel initiatives.

Why should someone participate in the group? Why is it important for Hyperledger to encourage collaboration around adopting blockchain technologies for public sector use cases? 

From an individual point of view, open source meetings are a hotbed for nurturing leadership skills and working in a collaborative environment. From the standpoint of Hyperledger, active community participation means solutions are designed and developed based on shared values and joint philosophy. The Public Sector SIG emphasizes wider adoption of blockchain technologies that add value to all irrespective of who they are or what their worldview entails. 

What are a few ways people can participate in and contribute to the Public Sector SIG? (i.e., What type of support does the group need?)

People can join the Public Sector SIG meetings that occur via Zoom every other Friday at 10am ET. They can also subscribe to the mailing list to stay updated about the latest progress in the community and contribute to the Hyperledger Wiki. To get involved, it’s best to create a Linux Foundation ID. I would also recommend going through the short clip on “How to get involved in the Public Sector SIG.”

Hyperledger Community on Camera: “How to Get Involved” Video Series – Part II

By Blog, Special Interest Group, Video

While the Hyperledger community was gathered in Phoenix at Hyperledger Global Forum, many members took the time to sit down, on camera, and explain what happens in the array of Hyperledger working groups, special interest groups (SIGs) and technology projects. These videos are great introductions to the community-driven activities in the Hyperledger ecosystem. Geared towards anyone looking to take on a more active role in the effort to advance open source enterprise blockchain, the “How to Get Involved” video series provides an overview of the goals, key initiatives and target use cases each for each group or project. The message in each case is that you are invited to join and all are welcome here.

Today we are highlighting the important cross-industry work of three of our SIGs that are addressing topics that are top-of-mind topics these days: healthcare, climate and social impact. These videos will help you find a way to get involved: