Since the birth of bitcoin and, later on, the interest in the technology behind bitcoin, otherwise known as blockchain, has created many fantastical expectations with no demonstrable real world value.
When we look at the proposals and projects for blockchain usage, we are always presented with a highlighted problem, a fictitious proposal, and no real delivery of a solution.
We then find multiple crypto-coins backed by a few lines of code and, regardless of them being proof of work or proof of stake, all that changes is the difficulty levels for earning them, fancy websites, and shiny wallets to hold your coins in.
After Bitcoin the hype and media coverage has changed focus to Ethereum, which is now only second to Bitcoin in hype and market cap. The face of Ethereum is its creator, Vitalik Buterin.
Recently, while on trip to India, the organiser of the trip and the associated events across India hailed him to be a genius that should receive a Nobel Prize. The question that should be considered is whether there is any truth behind it, or should Mr. Buterin receive a Nobel Prize for the genius of the hype. We should look to the history of Ethereum with some hard questions asked about its hard forks since the DAO catastrophe.
The DAO debate includes questions such as why no-one checked the code the alleged hacker abused? Or conversely, was it a back door and the means by which Ethereum Classic (ETC) was created by splitting Ethereum into two? How much profit was made from this alleged hack?
There are many myth and legends of Blockchain Technology, compounded by the hype and over fifteen billion dollars invested into bitcoin and other blockchains. However, it has yet to prove a real game changer, to the point that Fintech players use the word loosely, perhaps simply for the media and social effect the term has. Unfortunately the term also disguises the often dubious solutions to imagined (or real) problems that are being touted. Focus must return to reality and evidence based solutions.
Which brings us back to why any government would risk its national security by using blockchain with transparency as a benefit. Does blockchain technology secure anything from hacking? Is its immutability absolute? Is it as decentralized as we may be led to believe? Our experience of Bitcoin and Ethereum shows that everything is not as black and white as we may have been led to believe, and a better grasp of the reality must be cultivated.
The single point of failure is most often the problem that leads to a lack of resilience. The conversations about digital identity, land registration, and all the other use cases for blockchain technology must be closely examined. Blockchain is not a panacea for all our problems, and must be considered as a single (albeit interesting) tool in a larger toolkit.
It is unlikely that entities such as the US, EU, China and Russia risking their national security with poorly considered and untried blockchain solutions anytime soon, especially when you factor in corruption and under the table dealing.
The conclusion is that it is much more likely that a very small country, with little risk of a loss of national security, would be the forerunner in exploring potential solutions, and thereby become a world leader. Which government will be forward thinking enough amidst the political and financial issues of today to take such a risk?