Blockchain was hailed as the key that opened the gateway into the digital age. The consensus algorithms powering the technology were seen as the “perfect” mechanisms for solving the issue of trust, or rather the lack thereof, which had been underpinning societal functions since time immemorial. However, time has proven that the potential of blockchain in the democratic domain is questionable.
Trudging On To Democracy
The principle of a blockchain network’s operation is based on creating blocks in a general registry that cannot be altered once hashed. No block can be hashed until the mathematical equation tethered to it is confirmed as true by the rest of the network participants, thus ensuring consensus.
But as the blockchain network is distributed, the question that arises relates to which of the computing nodes will be responsible for deciding which change is valid. The need for complete synchronization of all nodes and the issue of privileges for the verifiers arise. At the same time, the failure of the verifiers places the synchronization and operation of the entire network in jeopardy. This automatically negates all semblance of equal opportunities for all network participants. In this manner, any participant can check the integrity of the database regardless of their position. MORE FOR YOUFrom Voting To Social Media: What Does The Future Hold For Digital Identity On The BlockchainPayPal Just Gave 346 Million People A New Way To Buy Bitcoin—But There’s A Nasty CatchHow To Track Official Election Results On Ethereum And EOS
The Hurdles On The Way
The slew of 51% attacks and other means of digital manipulation used by hackers to attack databases is documented proof that blockchain is not fully secure. In addition, the hailed anonymity of bitcoin and other blockchain-based coins has been disproved by the FBI.
The next issue relates to scalability and the fact that the system works on electricity. There are limits to the database and, should one of the nodes fail due to a power shortage during the data transmission and hashing process, there is a high chance that synchronization will be halted and the system will either skip a block or simply fail.
At the same time, there are industries, such as online communication and data storage, where ultimate security and anonymity matter.
To reach sufficient security and combine decentralization with well-established technologies, such as end-to-end encryption, multipath routing and a multi-relaying scheme, we need a better solution.
Alex Yang, one of the founding members of Tachyon Protocol, was recently quoted in an article on Medium describing a solution: “While centralized systems have risks of data manipulation, and decentralized ones may face the problem of scalability, the best solution for achieving democracy today is blockchain-based networks built on the principle of a decentralized autonomous organization, where users have equal rights not only to use the system but also to participate directly in its activities through voting and management.”
I believe the implementation of blockchain mechanisms will be gradual in the next five to 10 years, and, finally, they will become part of everyday life. The bottom line is that if entrepreneurs are working well now, people will use the blockchain without even realizing it.
Blockchain Still Needs Improvement For Mass Adoption
The given properties have allowed some governments to advocate the use of blockchain in their elections. For example, the complexity of the voting process in Indonesia lessened thanks to the use of blockchain in April of 2019, which was reportedly able to quickly verify 25 million of the 193 million votes.
According to blockchain expert and the founder of ONFO J.R. Forsyth, blockchain is just another technology that will backfire without proper tuning and constant study. It’s not a secret that blockchain has great applications, but it is still some way off before it can be organically integrated into human society for solving problems.
Under the auspices of ONFO, there is work on the blockchain network seeking to expand into a world-spanning digital environment that would allow participants to freely operate their assets without any initial investments and exchange information in a peer-to-peer (P2P) format and without resorting to any centralized authorities or third parties.
Given that mining is the fundamental principle behind blockchain operation, this network aims to incentivize users to connect others to the service and reward them accordingly. Such an approach negates the need for power-intensive traditional mining, and it benefits both network participants and the environment in a sustainable manner through direct P2P interaction.
The Democratization of Finance by Blockchain
In the same way that the internet democratized information, blockchain can democratize finance. The bank account of the future won’t require you to sign up at a physical branch and pass a screening. Everyone will easily make investments, take out loans and access complex financial services as they proliferate in the same way that apps have proliferated on the internet.
I believe that decentralized blockchain-based networks have a bright future and all chances to solve current issues, including anonymity, scalability and security. Already now, there are several open-source blockchain technologies implementing a decentralized version of a Domain Name System (DNS). Among the main benefits of such an approach are security, censorship resistance, efficiency and privacy in a standardized verification model.
One more interesting decentralized blockchain application is the integration of blockchain to the electric power sector to turn the electricity grid into a peer-to-peer network for prosumers trading electricity with each other, allowing reduced costs and improving the environment. One way or another, the mass adoption of any technology takes time and requires large resources, and it also undergoes a long check by the state.
Blockchain is still far from being the ideal tool for implementing perfect democracy in its elusive form. However, the technology is already being supported by states and experts creating blockchain-based applications in various fields. The process is slow, but it is inching society toward the era of democracy on the blockchain.
This article was first released on Forbes Communication Council