Letter: What blockchain owes to Kubrick’s masterpiece


Because the originator of part of Gillian Tett’s article (“Bankers quietly mould crypto improvements”, Opinion, December 17) I want to appropriate a misrepresentation of our reporting. Tett cited BP’s Karen Scarborough as saying “blockchain just isn’t a wonderful instrument for monitoring and tracing” including her personal “but” to the quote.

In reality, as we reported in Oil IT Journal in August 2021, Scarborough truly added “in actual fact, there are many legacy applied sciences that do that higher”.

This was music to my ears as I’ve been a blockchain sceptic since my “Blockchain is bullshit!” editorial of 2018 after I reported a basic flaw in blockchain functions that purport to authenticate real-world artefacts like artworks or, as has been recommended in our business, metal pipeline segments and different provide chain objects.

The argument goes as follows. Think about a murals bought with an authenticating register on the blockchain. The customer, it seems, is missing in scruples, and has a forgery made which she or he sells to somebody, together with the “authenticating” blockchain token. The unique is then bought to a real artwork lover who would moderately have the unique than any of the blockchain nonsense. This mechanism, with an authentic altering fingers as copies are licensed as genuine (maybe on different “darkish” blockchains), could possibly be repeated many instances in a grand “shell sport”.

Whether or not it’s a murals, inexperienced electrical energy, stuff within the provide chain or anything, it’s not possible to unambiguously tie a token in a pc with a real-world artefact.

The truth that the blockchain has bought such traction is as a result of it performs to the IT business trope of being in cost. Simply consider HAL, the pc that took over command of the spaceship in Stanley Kubrick’s movie 2001: A Area Odyssey.

Our “Blockchain is bullshit” piece has had a superb reception within the oil and fuel business though individuals are understandably reluctant to return out and admit that among the stuff carried out by their IT departments might not be fairly as helpful as they hoped.

The blockchain initiatives possess one other facet of a lot IT work in that they’re hammers on the lookout for nails, novelties looking for to switch stuff that works simply high quality — “legacy applied sciences that do that higher” in actual fact.

Neil McNaughton
Editor, Oil IT Journal, Sèvres, France


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