Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin lanced a “tweet storm” on December 10, 2018, and briefly noted the non-financial applications of blockchain technology, such as academic degree verification and determining the “integrity of processes.”
Alternative Use Cases
Starting with the increase in the economic functions of blockchain as the technology develops, Buterin believes a mixture of scalability, user interface, and low fees would help augment all processes and applications linked to the rising disruption. Blockchains can greatly help in basic investigations of what datasets were published on a given block and what wasn’t, giving rise to a sustainable and accountable economy.
The 24-year-old used the issuance of university degrees as a possible use case for a successfully deployed blockchain project:
Next, Buterin noted blockchains can find significance in the process of auctioning, which forms a global trillion dollar market and extends from seized goods, artwork, telecommunication, and government tenders, to energy contracts. Using a distributed ledger means verification of the process’ integrity is a publically-viewable feature and can unmask late bids, failed bids, and absent bids in the auction process.
Other categories of potential use cases include bringing different applications on a single distributed ledger. Buterin believes the process could prove to be more convenient as “credibly neutral” platforms can form a system wherein all participants trust the published data more than other sources. He further pointed out that public blockchains are more credible in this regard due to their inherently neutral status:
Save Social Costs at a Sacrifice
The developer’s latter part of the tweet storm spoke about potential “blockchains of the future” that are a thousand times more efficient than currently-used systems such as sharding and proof-of-work will gain precedence. Buterin called out critics that compare blockchain costs to centralized servers, stating the former is strictly not about cutting computation costs but are a “sacrifice” for decreasing “social costs.”
While not explained in his tweets, the term attends to an economic concept that states individuals typically analyze daily costs relative to themselves, but fail to include the cost to externalities such as the environment. For example, a person driving to work gauges his daily expenses by fuel costs while failing to include the societal costs of increased traffic congestion, road maintenance, and other factors.
As one of his final tweets, Buterin shed light on the concept of true ownership if blockchains became the norm:
Concluding his brief narrative, Buterin noted institutional investors and engineers must deploy non-financial applications of blockchain technology as there is relatively less risk at stake compared to use in the finance industry.