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New Hyperledger Project Reveals a Flaw in the Blockchain

The IBM’s Hyperledger blockchain landed another high profile adoption but revealed a shortcoming in the process. Keeping true to purpose, IBM will be developing a supply chain project for the mining industry using blockchain. IBM has been successful in matching Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) applications with industries that have actual needs for it. For example banking, logistics, shipping, healthcare, traffic management, and now mining. All of these fields require secure efficient recording, storage, and security of transactions. However, in doing so, it highlighted an inherent problem with the blockchain that remains unsolved.

Partnerships

IBM will partner up with the Ford Motor Co., Huayou Cobalt, LG Chem, and RCS Global as participants in this endeavour. The primary purpose of the partnership is to establish a supply line from a mining site in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to a refinery in China (Huayou Cobalt), an energy metal producer in South Korea (LG Chem), and a Ford facility in the U.S. RCS Global will provide audit support to ensure the veracity of the operation.

The Project

IBM will use its Hyperledger to track a shipment of Cobalt from a mine in Congo to a Ford plant in the U.S. The objective of the project consists of three goals: to achive capability, compatibility, and compliance.  The first goal is to ‘tag’ the shipment from its source of origin, track its journey through its partner’s facilities, and on to its final destination. The second goal is to provide all participants the ability to verify the integrity of the shipment records. And third is to ensure compliance with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The last goal aims to ensure ethical operations devoid of child labor during the mining and transportation process.

The Problem

The enterprise presents the opportunity to explore a significant weakness in the  Blockchain. And that is its dependence on human interaction.  The continued success of the Blockchain as an immutable log relies on the submission of acurate information by its contributors. In this case, RCS personnel will conduct on-site inspections of the mines and monitor that ‘responsible’ procedures are followed. In addition, the company will audit the listing to maintain standards. However, the bulk of the entries will fall on the mining personnel. The integrity of the blockchain will rely on truthful, ethical, terms-abiding people entering the data.

Analysis

The blockchain promotes an immutable account of transactions for a variety of processes. And IBM is advancing its use in strides. However, its application depends on trust and truthfulness from people. This is a major contradiction with the claim of it being a trustless system. And unless a method of recording is devised, one independent from human reliance, the whole concept of crypto will unravel. For now, IBM is taking the lead in implementation of several real case use of DLT. But in order for the technology to gain mass adoption as advertised, it must acknowlwdge this fault and work out a solution.

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