Introducing Mr Dominik Zynis - (Former) Head of Communications at Mastercoin
@dominikz said: “Certainly not if you expect to be competing with the likes of IBM and Samsung, who apparently have admitted they like Ethereum over MaidSafe”
Update** From twitter response to @dominikz (@chloregy ), this tweet makes it sound like IBM (via @pbrody) have been working with ethereum for some time.
@dominikz said: why not fork @Maidsafe? have the best of both worlds
Paul Brody @pbrody Sep 17
@chloregy at some point, you have to pick a platform and go with it. @ethereumproject have been great partners
Blog Post: Adept: IBM, Samsung, Bitcoin?
Yesterday, I included a quick blurb about IBM’s Paul Brody and his discussion with Gigaom regarding his company’s new open source, blockchain-dependent internet of things infrastructure project, called “Adept.” Last night, I had the chance to listen to the full podcast. (His interview starts at 22:10.)
The topic deserves its own post.
I was surprised at the subdued response from the rest of the Bitcoin community on this one. Granted, this has been a huge news week so far. Apple Pay’s Tuesday announcement was seismic and the ensuing punditry from both the mainstream media and bitcoin community buried the IBM story initially. And Coinbase’s announcement yesterday that they were launching in 13 new European countries and today’s news from the Bank of England all but ensured that Adept would stay below the fold.
But I think Gigaom (and later CoinDesk) omitted a pretty significant detail from their written coverage of the podcast. Brody says (at the 34:15 mark):
“I’m really proud to be able to say that we’re going to work with Samsung to have a prototype physical network based on this technology — ready (we hope) in time for CES in January.”
So IBM, one of the top five technology companies in the world, and Samsung, literally the largest technology company in the world, are working on a block chain product in time for CES this January. And no one else thinks it’s a big deal?
Fortune’s Dan Primack (the go-to source of news in the PE/VC scene) seems to be the only person in the mainstream media to have caught the significance of this understated announcement, writing yesterday:
“Yesterday’s most consequential tech announcement had nothing to do with watches. Instead, it was IBM saying that it will use bitcoin’s block-chain technology to build a distribution platform for the Internet-of-Things. As I’ve previously written, the real promise of bitcoin is the underlying technology itself, rather than its various applications for stored value or payments. And this appears to be the first time that a large tech company is putting serious resources behind trying to achieve that promise.”
When I made similar suggestions last night on twitter, some folks immediately objected that this was not truly “Bitcoin” news because it wasn’t clear that IBM would immediately use the Bitcoin block chain. Shocking. This may be the biggest endorsement of Bitcoin’s underlying protocol yet — from not one, but two major global technology companies. Not to mention, Adept may use the Bitcoin block chain itself.
Whey I reached out to IBM’s Brody for clarification on this point, he told me that the company “hadn’t finalized the [Bitcoin] side chain / alternative chain decision yet.” He wouldn’t comment further (for now), so I reached out to a couple of experts from the bitcoin community to solicit their thoughts.
“Tagging something to an existing block chain is relatively easy to do from a technical standpoint,” says Anders Brownworth, a bitcoin technologist and founder of the Cambridge Bitcoin group. So even if IBM chose to create its own block chain for the Adept proof of concept, it could always opt to “attach” that chain to bitcoin’s at intermittent points in the future. According to Brownworth, “Inserting a SHA of the Adept block chain into the bitcoin block chain would be a stronger guarantee that you have the correct Adept chain, and that what you see in the Adept block chain is very likely accurate.”
The question then is whether Adept could be built a) on top of the Bitcoin protocol, much like Mastercoin or Counterparty; b) as a separate framework, much like NXT or Ethereum; or c) as a “side chain” which could have a two-way relationship with the block chain.
The most exciting outcome for bitcoin would clearly involve some type of close integration with the Bitcoin protocol — either as a new protocol built on top of Bitcoin, or as a new protocol which utilized side chains. Yet IBM seems to be shying away from touching the bitcoin currency in any way, and unfortunately, side chains don’t actually exist yet.
Chain co-founder Adam Ludwin explains, “Side chains remain a conceptual, unproven technology today, as there aren’t yet in any production that you can point to. This requires some changes to the core bitcoin protocol.” That leads Ludwin to believe that IBM could ultimately choose to go their own way, innovating “at the protocol level to release a new distributed consensus algorithm” rather than relying on a true block chain per se.
However, both Ludwin and Brownworth agreed that if IBM were to build a true block chain infrastructure, the company’s best bet would be to leverage Bitcoin. Brownworth speculates that Bitcoin’s block chain has a higher chance of survival in the long-term than IBM’s own fully maintained block chain given the infrastructure investments that both networks would require. Big Blue could, at any point now or in the future, rely on the longest publicly running block chain in history - bitcoin’s.
As Brownworth asks, “Why reinvent the wheel?”
[Important caveat: Adept hasn’t even released its white paper or source code yet, so keep that in mind. Anders and Adam were gracious enough to talk conceptually about the possibilities for Adept, not the likelihoods.]
An anonymous commenter on the Gigaom post argued that Adept is essentially a carbon copy of Ethereum, but I don’t know how to respond to that.
The raw combination of ideas does seem similar, though. Adept will use the block chain, BitTorrent and secure messaging tech Telehash, while Ethereum plans to use a block chain, Swarm (similar to BitTorrent?) and Whisper (secure messaging).
But Ethereum comes from the early Bitcoin crowd, so it’s obviously going to be better.