Joey Bertschler is a growth marketer and a contributor to #OpenToWork. He works with Forbes, Bitgrit, UniWorld.io, Hacker Noon, Thrive Global, Blockchain Magazine, and more.
Blockchain started in 1940. During the war, communication was everything and so coding secret messages (and of course decoding) meant the difference between victory and defeat. Atlas, the world found itself in a cryptography world cup and some of the seeds for what would later become Blockchain were laid.
Fast forward a couple generations and you find yourself in a world where magic internet money, virtually immutable ledgers, decentralized organisations and huge puzzle solving computer farms are a thing.
It started relatively simple. The first version, Blockchain 1.0, is the Bitcoin blockchain. It was the first use case of this recording, book-keeping – or simply – ledger technology. You can send money around. Recorded are amount, sender, receiver. Simple enough.
Of course there is a plethora of things you can do even with just that, but it’s still limited. A new Blockchain with extra features got created, namely the smart contracts. A if-else statement that executes automatically. When A = X, the program runs. Otherwise, not.
Nothing fancy, but now you can do far more with it. For anything after Blockchain 2.0, it gets complicated. Side-note: Here is a well crafted 6 minute video that got you covered if you want to know more about the details of how Blockchains work (or if you need to freshen up your memory).
For more technical details, you can always google them – except you can’t. There are a lot of Blockchains and concepts around by now and all of them claim the world, but only few are even just a fraction as functional as they claim.
Blockchain has a fair share of weaknesses and if you can solve those, or if you added some new major strengths, surely you could call that the Blockchain 3.0.
Despite nobody really pulling that off yet, there is already a Blockchain 4.0, 5.0 and so forth. There are great projects and progress is being made, but it’s simply not a big enough leap to justify calling it 3.0. More akin to 2.1 or something of that nature.
So without further ado, here is a quick overview on how this version game continues:
The last of the legitimate version-terms. These projects claim to be either highly scalable, offer more privacy, more interoperability, more decentralization, fix some other weaknesses Blockchains have or all of these things. Had there been a seismic shift, this article wouldn’t be.
To give an example: The Bitcoin Blockchain can only handle roughly 5 transactions per second while VISA thousands.There are ways to improve that, but they come at the cost of decentralization, increased fees or some other drawback. Trade-offs are rarely mentioned by “3.0” projects.
Nonetheless, everyone is building and crafting to become the next big thing. This is also where our project, UniChain.World, would be positioned. A new foundation layer type of interoperable muli-chain to build on top of. While complex and technical under the hood, it’s designed neatly and in a way that even your grandma could use it. It connects every participating Blockchain to make the most of each individual Blockchain’s assets and create a system greater than its parts. On top of that, it comes with an entire ecosystem of chatbots, it’s own social network and various other things built on top of it – all of which are up and running.
Mostly, these projects talk about the same things the Blockchain 3.0 guys were talking about and then add something random or they aren’t even Blockchains anymore. Promising the world, these chains often compromise what made them Blockchains in the first place. They are centralized or no longer immutable and it gets quite a bit comical at times.
Let’s look at the first google result for Blockchain 4.0, which at the time of writing is this Quora post advertising Multiversum. Or Meta-hash. Hard to tell.
We read “The fourth generation blockchain is aiming to resolve all the issues with the previous three generations” pretty sure Blockchain 1337.0 will do that too “use complicated data kinds as well as the organization in multidimensional structures” fancy, are we traveling actual dimensions now? How complicated are these ‘kinds’ exactly? Intriguing! Or “The new technology will help in transferring the funds in 0.2 seconds from one wallet to another” not an issue. Any Blockchain can do that. The transaction happens in an instant. The problem, and what takes so long causing all these scalability issues, is confirming/verifying it.
Blockchain 5.0 (& 6.0,…) – It’s basically Pizza Sand
Basically the same as 4.0. At this point really just a keyword to be found with (i.e. SEO optimization). The general concept of 2.0 is to signify a major change (See also: “semantic versioning”).
Sadly, in the realm of Blockchain, it’s often just a label to make technology look fancy. Similar to the questionable use of English on Japanese products.
So, where are we currently at?
To answer this question, let’s have a quick (and overly simplified) look at the timeline:
1991First Blockchain, Stuart Haber and Scott Stornetta
2008Bitcoin white paper, Satoshi Nakamoto
2010First Bitcoin purchase, Laszlo Hanyecz
2012 New consensus mechanism Proof of Stake (PoS), Sunny King and Scott Nadal
2013Ethereum, Blockchain 2.0, Vitalik Buterin
2017 ICOs raise $20 billion, 80% were scams, Ruja Ignatova
2019 Blockchain Ecosystems, Daika Ginza
At best, this means in 2020 we are somewhere between Blockchain 2.1 and 2.9 with the .1 symbolizing minor improvements and the .9 referring to new technology about-to-be-released.
This could be UniChain, Ethereum 2.0, or arguably a significant increase in adoption such as Paypal turning into Coinbase for the Boomer Generation or Nasdaq releasing their own crypto exchange (crypto being added to existing ones).
Just like any other industry, a valuable business consists of a problem solving service or product. Utility. Supply and demand. Sadly, there are still many projects that are essentially empty promises trying to raise a fortune.
That is not to say that raising money first and building the product later is intrinsically bad, but in the Blockchain space regulations are still catching up (though a lot of progress has been made especially since the 2017 ICO scam scandals over 75% of ICOs were scams!) and it takes but a nice webpage and some SEO to trick thousands of innocent people. – sadly.