link4410 link4411 link4412 link4413 link4414 link4415 link4416 link4417 link4418 link4419 link4420 link4421 link4422 link4423 link4424 link4425 link4426 link4427 link4428 link4429 link4430 link4431 link4432 link4433 link4434 link4435 link4436 link4437 link4438 link4439 link4440 link4441 link4442 link4443 link4444 link4445 link4446 link4447 link4448 link4449 link4450 link4451 link4452 link4453 link4454 link4455 link4456 link4457 link4458 link4459 link4460 link4461 link4462 link4463 link4464 link4465 link4466 link4467 link4468 link4469 link4470 link4471 link4472 link4473 link4474 link4475 link4476 link4477 link4478 link4479 link4480 link4481 link4482 link4483 link4484 link4485 link4486 link4487 link4488 link4489 link4490 link4491 link4492 link4493 link4494 link4495 link4496 link4497 link4498 link4499 link4500 link4501 link4502 link4503 link4504 link4505 link4506 link4507 link4508 link4509 link4510 link4511 link4512 link4513 link4514 link4515 link4516 link4517 link4518 link4519 link4520 link4521 link4522 link4523 link4524 link4525 link4526 link4527 link4528 link4529 link4530 link4531 link4532 link4533 link4534 link4535 link4536 link4537 link4538 link4539 link4540 link4541 link4542 link4543 link4544 link4545 link4546 link4547 link4548 link4549 link4550 link4551 link4552 link4553 link4554 link4555 link4556

How Encrypted Weather Data Could Help Corporate Blockchain Dreams Come True

How Encrypted Weather Data Could Help Corporate Blockchain Dreams Come True

Banks and investors have sunk millions into the idea that blockchain programs called smart contracts can make finance and other industries more efficient.

  

In the era of fake news,

professor and cryptographer Ari Juels is preparing to launch an online service designed to provide the most trustworthy information on the Internet. But Town Crier, scheduled to launch Monday, is for the benefit of machines, not humans. The downside is that a smart contract is only as trustworthy as the data it draws on. JJules a professor at Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute in New York, says that is limiting progress on making the concept practical. Smart contracts can’t simply scrape data from the Web, because existing systems don’t provide a way to verify that the data a contract is acting on hasn’t been tampered with, he says: “Because you don’t have good sources of data, there’s not a lot you can do right now with smart contracts.”

The Town Crier service launching next week is designed to showcase software of the same name that Juels and colleagues at Cornell say offers a solution. Their system pulls in data such as weather reports over an encrypted connection, and repackages it into feeds for use by coders building smart contracts. Town Crier’s feeds wrap data in cryptography that allows outsiders to verify the data’s source and confirm that it hasn’t been altered. Smart contracts are a favourite idea of the banks and venture capitalists that have ploughed millions into blockchain technology, an approach to managing data and money inspired by the digital currency Bitcoin. Town Crier is built to integrate with Ethereum, a cryptocurrency and smart contract platform with a total value of $8.4 billion, which has been endorsed by corporate giants including UBS and Microsoft.

Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, hopes Town Crier can help translate more of the enthusiasm about smart contracts into action. “The lack of data feeds from the outside world is definitely a large impediment, and Town Crier could go far in mitigating this issue,” he says. The Cornell researchers plan to release Town Crier as open-source software for others to use. The demonstration service launching next week will provide feeds of data including stock prices, weather reports, flight information, cryptocurrency exchange rates, and UPS package tracking. Longer term, a commercial version is planned.

Town Crier’s design also allows smart contracts to hide the data they are using for everyone but the parties to the contract. The default on blockchain systems like Ethereum is generally for all transaction data to be visible to all.

Do you think blockchains will really catch on?

David Yermack, chair of the finance department at New York University, says those privacy features could help address another challenge for financial companies interested in blockchains. “Privacy is a huge issue for people looking into distributed-ledger technology,” he says. “The clients, banks, and regulators put a very high premium on secrecy.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member