Will The Blockchain Revolution Really Happen?
A new generation of blockchains is maturing. This time it is there, the promised revolution could indeed come. Ethereum, the star of these new blockchains, would finally do without intermediary to exchange between peers, in full transparency and security, and to reinvent democracy and the economy. Uberisation without Uber. Ethereum already seduces artists, banks and insurance companies. On the occasion of the publication of the book Big Bang Blockchain, the second revolution of Internet (Tallandier), the journalist Stéphane Loignon, let us take stock of the promises and fantasies of this technology.
Since its creation in 2009, concomitant with its first encrypted digital currency, Bitcoin , the blockchain is the object of speculation and fantasy of many perspectives on the lookout for the next major disruptive innovation. By guaranteeing ultra-secure, decentralized online transactions without a control organ, the blockchain seemed able to uberise banks and notaries. Better: with the new generation of blockchains, of which Ethereum is the figurehead, peer-to-peer exchange with a high degree of reliability opens up to a complete programming language. It becomes possible to do without intermediary to establish complex contracts, vote online, rent his apartment remotely.
With Ethereum (Electrum BTCP), you can do everything Bitcoin does, explains Simon Polrot, lawyer and creator of Ethereum France . But in addition, we have a total freedom of programming. A specific sequence of instructions can be programmed directly in the blockchain, programming the behavior of the assets, the conditions under which they can be transmitted, and even automating a particular transmission in advance. In other words, you can imagine renting your apartment by automatically unlocking the front door when the payment on Ethereum is made. Or automatically compensate a farmer if a sensor connected in his field detects weather conditions corresponding to the natural disaster criteria covered by the insurer.
Microsoft and JP Morgan move to Ethereum
Ethereum was specifically designed to carry out these operations, which are called smart contracts, says Stéphane Loignon, journalist and author of Big Bang Blockchain. The second Internet revolution (Tallandier, April 2017). These smart contracts are particularly suited to the announced boom of connected objects. For example, an automatic car could go charging itself to a terminal by placing an order and automatically paying the supplier. In February 2017, major economic players, including Accenture, Microsoft and the banks JP Morgan, UBS and Credit Suisse, created the consortium Enterprise Ethereum Alliance to establish standards of contracts placed on this blockchain. Perceived as more suited to business and less impregnated with the libertarian ideology that presided over the original creation of Bitcoin, Ethereum could succeed in imposing itself in the economic world and destabilize many sectors by immersing innovative players, cheaper and more competitive.
The disappointment could therefore be up to the excessive hopes placed in the liberating power of block chains. Especially since this technology still has several drawbacks, including the enormous energy consumption required for the miners computer network, to ensure the security of transactions that makes its reputation. At the current rate of growth of the Bitcoin network, it should absorb, by 2020, the equivalent of Denmark’s energy consumption Says Stéphane Loignon in his book. Out of the question, in these conditions imagine a generalization of the process to all Internet users and connected objects. The alternative solutions of existing blockchains fail for the moment to spend less energy without cutting corners on the decentralization of the network (in particular those using a system of proof of stake rather than proof of work to validate the transactions) .