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From Jesus to Bitcoin: The history of modern economy

Shortly before Passover, young Jesus arrived in Jerusalem. There, in the courtyards of the Temple, he saw merchants offering their wares next to money changers and his heart filled with rage. He turned their tables and scattered the market in an act that would shape Christian morals about money. In the face of the holy poor ideal of the New Testament, the Catholic theocracy has always worked to strengthen its political-economic position. However, the spirit of the Renaissance changed the rules of the game to establish a society whose values are based on rational, logical, and systematic inquiry. Meanwhile, the mathematician, Luca Pacioli, formulated an accounting system called “double bookkeeping” and laid the foundations for modern accounting. Money was no longer a form of divine reward or punishment, and its use must be studied patiently and thoroughly.

Alongside the cultural-political-economic developments of the Enlightenment, there were those who challenged Catholic hegemony and laid the foundations for the division of Christianity. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther published the theological paper, “Ninety-five Theses“, which inspired the spirit of the Protestant Reformation. Protestant ethics left no room for confessions and prayers and replaced them with the morality of work and diligence. In the Protestant world, business success is a greater honor than a religious or aristocratic heritage and is evidence of God’s will and love. Protestant ideology spread throughout Europe and is considered a central factor in the development of capitalism and the wealth of Protestant states such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Scotland.

In Scotland, in 1776 the philosopher-economist Adam Smith published “The Wealth of Nations” in which he describes his theories on how economies grow and determines a number of key principles that will shape modern economics. The most important and well-known principle is the principle of the “invisible hand,” according to which a free market is a necessary condition for the economic development of a nation, and government intervention undermines the ability of the market to reach the optimal balance between supply and demand. Smith’s premise was that the aspiration of a person to promote his personal desires contributed to society as a whole. Indeed, the golden age of Europe was characterized by unprecedented growth and alongside the great revolutions of Europe Smith’s theory spread to what later became known as – capitalism.

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From Jesus to Bitcoin

However, along with the praise Smith received, he was also criticised. Among the many critics of Smith and capitalism, the most prominent of them, Karl Marx, provided his own political, economic theory. The history of society argues Marx is the history of class struggle. In his historical analysis, Marx diagnoses the ailments of human society and points an accusing finger at capitalism as the source of all evil. According to Marx, economic gain is a laundered word for exploitation and inevitably comes at the expense of someone else. The capitalist system, in his opinion, makes the society individualistic, competitive, stressed, and unequal. Marx also criticizes the consumer fetishism of capitalist societies and the laborious work ethic, which leaves no time for freedom of thought which, in turn, leads to alienated bureaucratic conformity. Thus, the Marxist utopia aspires to free the masses from its false consciousness within the framework of a political coup and to take over all the means of production of the economy. There is no more private property. There is no inheritance. Everything belongs to everyone. An end to oppression.

Is that so?

Although Marx was good at describing the ailments of modern society, its vague and baseless solutions succumbed to human nature as it is manifested in reality. Lord Acton, a British historian, and politician is best known for saying, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Big people are almost always bad people.” Indeed, the tendency of psychopaths to adopt the Marxist narrative imposed unbearable disasters upon humanity. Mussolini, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao Zedong – all hid behind socialist collectivism and dropped the ground from under the romantic illusion of Marxist theory.

1907: Shortly after Stalin’s men stormed the Tbilisi bank to finance the Bolshevik socialist revolution (and killed 40 people in passing), in America the trigger was squeezed for the opening shot of the 1907 panic. A deep economic crisis pointed to the alleged irresponsible conduct of the banking system at the time, which led Uncle Sam to examine whether a central bank was needed. In late 1910, a clandestine committee of government officials, academics, and some of the greatest bankers of the period met in Jekyll Island. Three years later, in the wake of political struggles and conspiracy theories, the Federal Reserve was established – a new era in the American economy.

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However, despite the fact that the central bank represented great hopes, economic disasters were not long in coming. The main goal of the Fed was to monitor the changes in the money supply, to maintain an inflationary target, and to prevent a recession in the economy. Nevertheless, some of the deepest crises the American economy has experienced occurred under the Federal Reserve. The most famous of which was the Great Depression which started on a black Thursday in late 1929. The story is familiar: cheap credit flowing at low interest rates without adequate securities causing an accelerated surge of growth that broke on the shores of the real economy.

In the background of the Great Depression and the recession that followed, Uncle Sam again decided to “control the situation.” This time it was John Maynard Keynes who played the role of hero in the “World economy” drama. In contrast to Smith’s “invisible hand,” Keynes believed that governments had the power to solve the so-called diseases of capitalism. Keynes’ argument was that to ensure economic growth, state institutions must be actively involved in the market economy – readability, regulation, and money printing. Although Keynes is considered to be the architect of modern capitalism, his theory is a radical change from classical capitalism, and in fact can be seen as a trailer for socialism, since government intervention is, as we know, a slippery slope. Keynesian policy was adopted and transformed into a new economic religion that corresponded perfectly with the governmental desire for power. Ironically, Keynes’ pseudo-capitalist theories were particularly appealing to the political left that strengthened its position in those years. And if that was not enough, Keynes believed not only in the local planning of economies by government intervention but also in the central management of the global economy – the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were born, whose activities were yet to be controversial.

Keynesian economic critics, of course, dissent the market planning narrative. The basic premise of capitalism is that no person, committee or government is wise enough to know the needs, desires, aspirations, and caprices that lie in the depths of the minds of all the citizens of the free world. The Austrian school, therefore, argues that the principle of free choice of individuals is the principle that should guide the economy and that government intervention is destructive in any situation. In 1944, economist Friedrich Hayek published “The Road to Serfdom”, in which he described how the attempt to devise economic policy is a blind walk toward concentration  of power. Hayek believed that real freedom would come only from a policy that embraced market competition as a guiding principle, and his theories were rejuvenated in the 1980s by leaders such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, whom some see as a new stream of capitalism – neoliberalism.

However, despite privatization, reduction of regulation, reduction of welfare policies, contraction of the public sector, and the reduction of unions’ powers, the economy experienced additional crises. Criticisms were thrust from every direction at the neoliberals. At the same time, in their defense, it should be said that despite these measures, the institution of the central bank remained standing to manage matters from above the economic crises. While true capitalists such as Hayek, Milton Friedman, and others have called for the abolition of the Federal Reserve and its satellites, it appears that the genie of concent ration is already too big to return to its magical lamp.

While theorist’s debate who is right and politicians seek to justify themselves, bureaucracy continues to grow stronger. Unlike the authoritarian or charismatic political power in which the leadership has significance, in today’s bureaucracy elected officials are only the showcase of a modern plutocracy whose octopus arms delve into all – The Big Brother. In this background, it is possible to understand why anarchist groups are gaining momentum.

Unlike its perception of rioting in the streets, anarchism is a political philosophy that underlies the principle that human beings have the right to make their own decisions about their lives. While it is hard to see anarchism establishing a social consensus, one cannot ignore anarchist movements that express a natural emotional response to oppression and enslavement. Relevant to our case are the crypto-anarchists who championed the use of cryptography to protect privacy, political freedom, and economic freedom in the information age. In March 1993, Eric Hughes published the “Cypherpunks manifesto”. “We the Cypherpunks are dedicated to building anonymous systems. We are defending our privacy with cryptography, with anonymous mail forwarding systems, with digital signatures, and with electronic money.”

2008: The story is familiar. Financial crisis. Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. Unlike a human decision-making model that is subject to cognitive bias, political pressures, etc., Bitcoin suggests an alternative that is wrapped in neutral mathematics based on game theory to produce an organic antitrust model that requires all players to reach agreement at the interests balance point of the various players in the network. It can be thought of as a social contract backed by a mathematical constitution determined by all players on the net and shared by everyone, regardless of religion, race, or gender. Although it is a slow model, it ensures practical use of peer-reviewed professional knowledge and prioritizes the best interests of the network as a whole over those of individuals, smart or charismatic as they might be.

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In summary, the evolution of various political theories is bound up and influenced by cultural transformations and unstoppable technologies. Therefore, there is no dogmatic and static theory that can fit the global economy. In a changing world, economic principles must also change, because when reality changes, new conclusions are required. Modern states are a mosaic of ideas that turn political terminology into a smokescreen through which politicians manipulate the crowd with populist agendas in the name of justice and equality, but the reality is that governments still spy, enslave, and oppress – that must be changed.

Bitcoin is also an idea. And like all previous ideas, it is here to stay. No matter how the establishment relates to it, Bitcoin remains a Swiss clock of blocks. It has the potential to be the pulse of the future economy. The show has just begun.

*** The above is an opinion article, it represents the author’s point of view.

The post From Jesus to Bitcoin: The history of modern economy appeared first on CryptoPotato.

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Proof of Use? Civil Believes This ICO Model Lets It Sell Anyone Tokens Legally

Civil, the blockchain startup looking to disrupt media, will be offering its crypto token to investors of all kinds – both accredited and unaccredited – next week.

As a spoke of ConsenSys, the ethereum startup incubator and business all its own, that decision runs counter to most of the common wisdom about token sales these days.

The much maligned initial coin offering (ICO) has come under intense fire recently for everything from sinking ethereum’s price to scuttling whatever hard won credibility the industry managed to gain before mania built up around tokens.

The original idea, funding a new decentralized platform by pre-selling crypto tokens to anyone who wanted to buy them, is being looked at more skeptically in many circles, especially as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other regulators debate what rules (and make some rulings) need to be put in place to protect investors.

Because of that, this year, founders, especially U.S.-based founders, have stuck to only raising money from people defined by securities regulators as accredited investors, that is, people wealthy enough to take on some serious risk.

That’s why Civil’s choice to open their token sale to anyone and everyone could seem like a good way to get them in trouble.

“There’s a lot of things that keep me up at night but when you work in a space as uncertain as this, there’s a lot of uncertainty that goes beyond just regulatory uncertainty,” Matthew Iles, the CEO of Civil, told CoinDesk.

This statement could have something to do with the fact Civil thinks it’s got the right framework – the consumer token framework created by the ConsenSys-initiated Brooklyn Project – for running open token sales.

The framework was announced on September 7 and has already been used by the hotly-anticipated decentralized world map project, FOAM.

It’s very explicitly not a how-to so much as recommendations and discussion points. Based on its guidelines, Civil is, for example, demanding participation in the network before token holders can sell their coins.

Speaking to this idea, Iles told CoinDesk:

“We’re going to be providing ways, easy ways, for people in the first days of the network launch to essentially learn how to vote with their token, use our dapp and become trained. And in that process of training, they will prove use and unlock those tokens.”

Use not speculation

The first way Civil is gearing its token sale towards an actual use beyond speculation is by explaining within the registration that the sale is for “reach” users.

Participants will have to complete a quiz that demonstrates their knowledge of how crypto tokens and blockchain works as part of the onboarding process through Token Foundry.

Plus, buyers won’t be able to sell their tokens from a wallet until that wallet has shown some level of use, which Civil calls “proof-of-use.” In this way, the holder then demonstrates some level of understanding of the protocol. Small-scale purchasers will have to use 25 percent of their tokens on the platform and large purchasers will have to use 50 percent in order to unlock their tokens to sell or giveaway.

And it shouldn’t be tough for token holders to participate since the Civil protocol will be ready soon after the sale. This is different from many token entrepreneurs who raise money on token sales without a protocol built, seeing the money as a way to pay for the development.

But for Civil, according to Iles, the real focus is on creating a new business model for journalism.

And that means not just inviting everyone who cares about journalism to participate in the project but also having a platform for them to participate on from day one.

Iles said:

“I think what drives us most is I’m trying to create the right kind of community to power this thing and for us that meant necessarily finding a way for us to allow average people to participate.”

After raising $5 million in venture funding from ConsenSys Ventures last year, the token sale aims to hit a hard cap of $24 million, selling 34 million of its 100 million tokens to the public. The sale will run from September 18 to October 2 (or till the hard cap is reached), with the Civil protocol going live shortly after.

The soft cap – the amount the company needs to hit to even go through with the ICO – is $8 million.

Building newsrooms

The new framework will debut under harsh market conditions.

With the crypto markets down, and more specifically ETH (the native currency of ethereum, where the Civil token is being housed) down dramatically, it’s unclear whether buyers are still eager to snatch up crypto tokens.

Although, because of the token’s immediate utility, Civil might still prove attractive.

Once users have the tokens, there are a number of things they can do with them.

For one, they could start a newsroom. Users need to stake 1,000 tokens to start one. Newsrooms that are created on the protocol all have to adhere to Civil’s constitution for ethical journalism, and must be listed on its token-curated registry.

Already, a bunch of newsrooms have already been announced, with everything from local journalism to cultural reporting.

In perhaps the biggest news for the startup so far, it is partnering with the AP to license content.

After a newsroom is started, token holders can challenge any newsroom’s adherence to the constitution at any time, but they’ll have to stake a lot of tokens, which they might not get back should they be proven wrong, to do so. Other token holders will be able to vote their tokens in these challenges.

And soon, users should be able to tip writers or pay for other services from newsrooms in civil tokens.

Underneath the hood, the Civil protocol will also help with archiving and establishing the origin of any given piece of content, since it’ll be posted to the ethereum blockchain. This mechanism is touted as being a solution for the messy licensing environment of the internet.

That said, any experiment needs a pretty large sample size to understand whether the hypothesis works, which is why Civil needs to sell to the wider public. As of this writing, TokenFoundry shows 1,510 interested parties listed on the Civil sale.

Useful and compliant

While the Civil white paper was released last summer, Iles told CoinDesk, the company waited to raise money until it had something – the protocol – to show for it.

According to Iles, the last year of building felt like a “dead sprint.”

At the same time, another ConsenSys-affiliated project, the Brooklyn Project, was studying securities law and trying to find an argument, an approach that it believed could justify a sale of crypto tokens to regular people.

Pat Berarducci of Consensys Legal, who was one of the attorneys that helped craft the guidelines, told CoinDesk:

“Traditionally security laws typically don’t apply to sales of a kind of consumptive goods for consumptive purposes.”

Yet, it’s one thing to use precedence to predict that, but it’s another thing to convince regulators that the logic applies.

It’s unclear whether regulators will agree with the approach. And this means that Civil (and others that use the framework) is taking quite the risk, since entrepreneurs will not know if regulators are going to let the idea fly until they sell some tokens and either wait to see if regulators do anything or if courts side with entrepreneurs when regulators pounce.

Still, Iles said, “Hopefully through approaches like ours and others we can start to demonstrate that not only is this stuff compliant, but, more importantly, useful and valuable to people.”

And if nothing else, the oft repeated lawyerly line that everything comes down to “facts and circumstances” will have something to point back to in the Brooklyn Project framework.

Berarducci said, “It’s been about an eight-month process of trying to develop a framework that allows, I think projects – as well as lawyers and perhaps regulators and policymakers – to kind of think through the important issues and important topics when it comes to a token project.”

Telling CoinDesk he sees a path to compliance even if some of the loudest voices in the industry don’t, Berarducci concluded:

“There’s still a lot to learn. There’s still lots of experiments left.”

Hanging light bulbs image from Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Open Heart Surgery: Inside Ethereum’s Crucial Replacement of the EVM

At the heart of ethereum lies a virtual computer.

Stored across tens of thousands of nodes that make up the platform, the ethereum virtual machine, or EVM, is responsible for executing the countless tokens, dapps, DAOs and digital kittens of which the blockchain is comprised of.

It’s an engine on top of which the entirety of ethereum operates, and it speaks in a language named “EVM bytecode” — raw, 256-bit strings of information that can deliver any conceivable equation (providing it falls within the platform’s self-imposed limit, gas).

Sounds powerful and important huh? Something not to be messed with too much?

Yet, that integral part of ethereum’s infrastructure is gearing up for a complete rewrite.

“I would make the case there wasn’t an enormous amount of design thinking put into it at the beginning,” Lane Rettig, an ethereum developer, told CoinDesk about the EVM. “It was kind of like a tool – a swiss army knife is the way I would describe it – it does a bunch of things but not incredibly well.”

As such, the current EVM will be replaced by a new virtual machine called eWASM.

EWASM is just ethereum’s version of the WASM (which stands for WebAssembly) code, created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the team of developers responsible for maintaining and standardizing the web.

“There are many highly paid, very experienced engineers, and many thousands of professional engineer hours that went into the conception of [the WASM] construction set – compared to EVM,” Rettig, who contributes to eWASM development, said.

Indeed, eWASM will allow developers to code in multiple programming languages — not just the ethereum-specific language, Solidity — and is said to come with a host of performance enhancements as well.

And leading credence to the decision, ethereum will join several competitors, including EOS, Tron and Cardano, who have each deployed (or plan to deploy) project-specific virtual machines to handle decentralized computation using the WASM code.

For ethereum, the switch is set to execute alongside a couple other updates now nicknamed “Shasper,” which includes scaling solution sharding and mining rewrite Casper, in the next few years. And while an exact timeline for the switch isn’t fixed, eWASM development is making rapid progress, and is gearing up to the launch of its testnet at Devcon 4, the ethereum developer conference, in Prague in October.

Speaking to the decision to replace the existing machine, Rettig summarized:

“Ethereum is at the point where it’s transitioning from a clunky homebrew custom build job that we’ve been riding around our farm to a real racecar that we can take out on the highway and open up.”

A ‘warty’ way

Underlying the switch is the realization that while the EVM is an innovative technology — for the first time, providing a solution to attack-resistance decentralized computation — it’s not as clean as it could be.

Case in point, most dapps developers program in ethereum’s Solidity, a high-level programming language which automatically compiles into an EVM bytecode compatible form.

Because the EVM relies on “very large, wide instructions,” Rettig said, even the smallest kinds of computations, such as basic arithmetic, would need to be converted into 256-bit strings – a complex process for simple math – for the EVM to process them.

This is just one of several operations built into the system code that Rettig contends shouldn’t be there. Another includes the popular hash function SHA-3.

Because of this, Rettig describes the EVM as “warty.”

And Nick Johnson, an ethereum core developer, agreed, telling CoinDesk that when he joined ethereum, it was immediately obvious to him that the EVM was built by developers with a deep understanding of computer science, but without much experience building broadly useable products.

As a tool, Johnson emphasized, the EVM has been “optimized for theoretical purity, rather than practical use.”

“It has these enormous registers, but they’re all the same, and it’s very internally consistent and so on,” he said, “but it’s not built with real-world implementation in mind.”

‘Closer to the metal’

The WASM code, on the other hand, was built with production in mind.

For one, Rettig said, it’s built “closer to the metal,” meaning that the code it runs is close to actual hardware instructions, so there’s less effort spent on translating different coding logics.

“The instructions very closely mimic actual hardware instructions,” Rettig continued. “These instructions can map one-to-one directly to the instructions the actual devices run, so you can, in theory, get pretty exciting performance improvements.”

For instance, developers building on ethereum will be able to code using multiple languages – whatever they’re most comfortable with – including those with additional security benefits.

Another key advantage — which Rettig said some developers are citing as the “key motivation behind eWASM” — is that it potentially does away with what is called a “precompile.”

Because the EVM is comprised of unwieldy code, certain operations need to be built inside the system — otherwise, the operations would exceed the gas costs associated with them. Called precompiles, to make such operations available on a network, a system-wide upgrade, or hard fork, is required; and such upgrades have proved risky and complicated to orchestrate.

With eWASM, though, developers maintain that operations can simply be written as smart contracts and deployed, skipping the hard fork scenario.

“With eWASM, it’s efficient enough at doing compute stuff that most of those precompiles could be done away with and replaced with just eWASM contracts,” Johnson said.

Broken heart

Still, like any substantial change in a decentralized ecosystem, the push to deprecate the EVM is not without its critics.

For one, ethereum core developer Greg Colvin, who’s been devoted to the EVM’s upkeep for years, is reluctant to let the old code go.

Colvin had been designing a newly improved version of the EVM code himself, named EVM 1.5, which was originally intended to be the future of the ethereum virtual machine. However, without warning, his funding was cut by the non-profit Ethereum Foundation.

“I was pissed,” Colvin, who helped form the Council of Ethereum Magicians, a discussion group devoted to furthering the technical proficiency of ethereum, after the experience, told CoinDesk. “I was like wait a minute, you won’t pay me $8.40 an hour when you’ve already decreased my hours to 20 from 35, so why am I doing this. And then for the rest of the year I could no longer afford to volunteer time.”

Yet, Colvin’s reason for opposing aWASM isn’t only pride.

According to him, there are technical issues with eWASM as well. For example, because eWASM allows multiple language support, the code relies heavily on what is known as “compilers” — something that Colvin maintains could be a single point of failure for attackers.

He’s also unconvinced that eWASM smart contracts could replace the need for precompiles.

Plus, Colvin has further design-orientated critiques that even Rettig agrees with. According to both the developers, for some reason more inefficient tech usually wins out. Take Javascript for example, which is one of the most widely used programming languages, but is known for being particularly ugly.

“There seems to be a pattern in technology and computer science where the best-designed things, not only do they not necessarily win, but they seem to not do very well,” Rettig argued.

Not to mention, according to Colvin, for all the development work behind WASM, the code is still relatively untested in the wild.

Colvin told CoinDesk:

“I didn’t understand why we wanted to be early adopters of an experiment, when we were already early adopters of our own experiment.”

Unpredictability

Conflicts aside, eWASM is gaining steam among many ethereum developers.

Indeed, the plan planning is to deploy it as a testnet prior to the ethereum developer conference, Devcon4, in November.

Yet, that doesn’t mean the new virtual machine will get deployed any time soon.

Because eWASM will first be brought out on a shard, or a sidechain, before replacing the EVM itself, the rollout of eWASM is closely bound to the Shasper upgrade. And in terms of timing, that means developers will need to attend to the research that underpins those changes, before moving on to eWASM.

Unfortunately, the progress of such research can be unpredictable.

Indeed, the ambiguity involved with code upgrades of this sort has been a source of confusion for a wide group of ethereum developers building on the platform.

“If you’re in the process of building a new client there’s a lot of confusion: Should I be building eWASM? Should I be building EVM? Should I be building both? Should I be building something else,” Rettig told CoinDesk.

The lack of clarity was one of the key frustrations for Colvin, because when it comes to the current EVM, there are some performance issues that would be easy to improve on, yet those have been side-barred by the sudden shift in the roadmap.

“It’s been a frustration of mine for a while, eWASM was clearly over the horizon, but without too much resources EVM 1.5 was on the near horizon. And now, it’s still doable, but it got pushed, a whole year got wasted,” Colvin told CoinDesk.

The more, the merrier?

Still, both Rettig and Colvin admit that this uncertainty is just a part of contributing to an open-source project without any central leadership.

“The community aspect is so important. If this was a company I’d be long gone,” Colvin told CoinDesk.

Plus, Rettig was quick to argue that when it comes to ethereum improvements, there’s no wasted work.

Indeed, he continued, because of the nature of the sharding upgrade — which splits ethereum up into smaller, more manageable chunks — multiple virtual machines could eventually be supported on ethereum.

On an updated ethereum, Rettig said, “There is no single ethereum, there is no single roadmap, there is no single authority, it’s a community, it’s a family of technologies, and I do not believe that the future is just one chain to rule them all.”

In line with that, eWASM will unlock new levels of interoperability as well. For one, it’s built in a language that has been standardized for the World Wide Web, so adding in-browser support for an ethereum light client would be trivial.

And it could pave the way for undiscovered interoperability between different blockchains as well.

“Maybe you have quadratic sharding over here, and Plasma over here, and maybe they overlap in places, and maybe we have a Dfinity chain talking to an ethereum chain talking to bitcoin through Cosmos and Polkadot,” Rettig said, suggesting:

“We just don’t know, so don’t get so caught up in the official canonical roadmap, whatever that may be.”

Paper heart image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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From Farm to Plate, Blockchain Is Revolutionizing Agriculture

Blockchain technology is increasingly being heralded as a solution to many of the problems plaguing today’s agricultural supply chain.   


Many of today’s farmers are keen on embracing cutting-edge technology to help solve a variety of issues in the industry.

A 2017 mid-year review from Ag Funder said start-ups related to farm management software, sensing, and IoT were already able to accrue $213 million dollars in funding due to interest.

However, despite a big market opportunity in the agricultural technology sector, a growing number of farmers are turning a wary eye to new technological trends due to an ever-revolving door of ‘miracle’ solutions that simply do not pan out.

Now, as consumers become more interested in food traceability and transparency from farm to plate, some think blockchain has much potential when it comes to solving major problems in the agricultural supply chain.

Applying Blockchain to Agriculture

So far, the marriage of blockchain and agriculture is still largely in the early stages ever since AgriDigital carried out the globe’s first sale of 23.46 tons of grain on a blockchain back in December 2016.

In subsequent years, initiatives like AgriLedger have worked to create bonds of trust among African farmer cooperatives by relying on a distributed crypto ledger and mobile applications.

Currently, blockchain is gaining mainstream attention in the agricultural world, especially since researchers funded by the Dutch government speculated the tech could be used to engender more consumer trust in the food system — and even lower costs for agribusinesses.

So far, the marriage of blockchain and agriculture is still largely in the early stages ever since AgriDigital carried out the globe’s first sale of 23.46 tons of grain on a blockchain back in December 2016.

The bulk of blockchain-based agricultural solutions revolve around improving food traceability. Some Chinese entities have used blockchain to keep track of pork and beef supply chains since food safety has been an issue in the country.

Pilot studies from the Blockchain Food Safety Alliance found blockchain was able to trace food from farm to store in just a few seconds This is a significant improvement over current food tracking systems.

Faster traceability would conceivably help cut down on food recall times, which then would reduce the risk of food poisoning or other sicknesses associated with tainted products.

Cutting Down On Agricultural Fraud

Blockchain is also being touted as a way to help keep tabs on bulk commodities and reduce instances of shipping fraud or illegal harvesting. According to the United Nations, food fraud costs the global economy an estimated $40 billion dollars per year due to illegal trades

The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) announced the Blockchain Supply Chain Traceability Project in January 2018, which was focused on using the technology to help put an end to illegal tuna fishing.

Some coffee companies are utilizing blockchain to make sure shipments and bean blending are being properly carried out. Providers of organic dairy, meat, and eggs are also looking into the technology as a tool to prevent illicit animal feed from making its way into the supply chain.

Providers of organic dairy, meat, and eggs are also looking into the technology as a tool to prevent illicit animal feed from making its way into the supply chain.

Many of these providers are specifically interested in the immutability aspects of blockchain, since supply chains of organic feed can be complex and multi-faceted because it is often sourced from foreign origins.

As a result, some think blockchain could be particularly useful in promoting the integrity of organic food supply chains, which would help consumers remain confident as they spend extra money on premium food products.

Do you think blockchain has a significant role to play in the future of agriculture? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Pexels, Shutterstock.

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Asian Countries That Have Adopted Blockchain

While cryptocurrencies are more accessible than ever before, there’s still a long way to go until cryptocurrencies are perfectly regulated in most of the world’s countries. While Europe and America… Continue reading “Asian Countries That Have Adopted Blockchain”

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