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Blockchain Dapps as a Model for Traffic and Nodes

https://www.economist.com/special-report/2018/06/30/blockchain-technology-may-offer-a-way-to-re-decentralise-the-internet

The article linked above is one of many special reports by The Economist; this edition covers the sudden advent of decentralized applications (dapps) upon the invention of blockchain. Dapps, while not as of yet a household name, are among the up-and-coming trends made possible by blockchain and crypto-currency technology. Our current status quo for applications/online services adheres to the following convention: the user-interface, code, and data is all clustered under a large company name. Dapps are an attempt to modularize these components, making it easy for any given user to move from one service to another, salvaging their data in the process. In a service like Facebook, for example, friend connections and links would be lost once a user decides to terminate his/her membership. A major advantage of these dapps is that they eliminate the burden of a user having to go through an intermediary in order to interface with others. With dapps, business is settled using the Internet and two parties only, no big middle-man needed. Having one central system of servers for constant throughput and millions of transactions spells proneness to bugs and delays, along with placing too much control in the hands of the main company.

Blockchain is significant due to its status as a robust decentralized database with an ability to track every past transaction, making it clear who owns what. Pre-programmed code snippets fire off automatically, in the response to certain events. This precludes the need for a central administrator; only “miners”, or maintainers of the ledger, are necessary. Although this trend is yet to really gain traction, numerous dapps of the approaching “Web 3.0” age are out there and being used as an alternative to mainstream tech giants.

For the record, I’m not really a big fan of these things. I don’t think they have too much long term potential, as some of the ideology just seems a little backwards. Sure, it’s great to not have one almighty administrator that may take advantage of the system, but isn’t that what the miners will become eventually? If the projects are open source, then couldn’t a miner just come into the system one day and program into it according to how it would suit his/her own desires? Out of many decentralized services, wouldn’t people inherently gravitate towards the best one, and then eventually make it the salient service for that purpose and end up making it very powerful (just like the major corporations today)? I could go on.

I chose to talk about this because of how aptly it speaks to our discussion of nodes and traffic. When we covered it in class, I couldn’t help but to think of each user and Internet services as nodes. Innumerable small nodes want to communicate with each other, but must first traverse through the big central node in order to do so. This also related to homework problems, as in many of the traffic node problems we spoke about placing a node in between other nodes as an intermediate step. In this model, dapps do indeed look favorable and tempting. We spoke about how we look at a network of nodes and want to optimizer the efficiency of the system given a certain amount of nodes (users) and cars (data). Not needing a clunky central node would accelerate transactions and make things less complicated since they are just between two users.

 

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