Who Do You Trust?

I was reading an article today about blockchain in 5G and it got me thinking about how this type of blockchain system would actually work.  We have written in the past about a new type of blockchain system that is optimized for systems at scale such as the IoT.  This post is not about that type of explanation. Instead, the focus in this post is about the inherent complexity that is represented by the multitude of parties involved in a given 5G network.  The article I read describes numerous use cases between companies, consumers, government and providers and how all of these parties have their own requirements and needs for any given transaction.  The author correctly states that only a blockchain approach – although I will state that traditional blockchain will fail – can possibly handle these requirements. The question, however, is who is the Point of Authority (POA) for these transactions?  Sure a business will take precedence over a consumer but how about between two businesses?  Or a business and a provider?  Who wins this battle between different government agencies – especially when at state and federal levels? When it comes down to trust, who wins?

The Nonobvious Choice

I would assert that the devices themselves become a distributed POA.  I know, I know – devices?!? Hear me out. The reality is that modern devices are smart and not the dumb terminals from the 1990s.  Properly protected and verified, these devices can become autonomous points of authority and handle any disagreements between any parties.  At the end of the day, all transactions can be reduced to device communications.  Those communications can be held as atomic units of any transaction and, collectively, can authenticate and even authorize any given transaction of record. This is, of course, the entire premise of the blockchain. It is interesting that the foundational definition of blockchain empowers device-based POA but the principles in charge do not use it to this end.  Despite blockchain-based transactions, different parties still vie for control over the authority of those transactions.  At the scale of a 5G network – wherein billions of transactions occur every second – this contention simply cannot survive. I will go further and suggest that the system that controls the authenticity of devices has to be separate from the system making the recordings of transactions but that is a discussion for another blog post. For now, I think it is clear that the only real option for POA has to be the smart devices involved in all of these transactions and that an independent standard has to be supported that empowers these devices accordingly.