Clack is Joint Field Chief Editor for the research journal Frontiers in Blockchain. Recent publications from Frontiers in Blockchain are given below:


  • Can decentralized science help tackle the deterioration in working conditions in academia?

    Can decentralized science help tackle the deterioration in working conditions in academia?

    Academic staff’s working conditions have been deteriorating for years. In particular, the reduced availability of both research funding and permanent research positions has continuously led to insidious competition and intense stress among academics. Whereas governing bodies have made significant attempts to narrow pervasive social inequalities in the distribution of research funding within the scientific community, they have not truly taken into account the importance of the academics’ overall well-being in the development of more sustainable financing of academic researchers. This originates not only from the complexity to develop comprehensive models reflecting staff’s overall well-being in the academic environment, but also from the limited access to reliable and immutable data that transparently account for the staff’s direct experience. In this context, blockchain technology can push further the use of more transparent survey data collection and record-keeping that can help mitigate the systematic bias inherent to the centralized nature of traditional auditing. We discuss how research institutions and governing bodies can build on blockchain technology and the early momentum generated by the decentralized science (DeSci) movement to implement the future-proof research funding chain that values overall well-being across academia in a transparent and coordinated way.

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  • Advancing sustainability with blockchain-based incentives and institutions

    Advancing sustainability with blockchain-based incentives and institutions

    Despite significant efforts over many decades, humanity faces daunting challenges in the governance, management and sustainability of natural resources. Perhaps the most obvious is our global inability to collectively act and control or reduce greenhouse gases that are warming the planet. Another example, occurring at finer geographic scales, is the overuse of groundwater aquifers. Institutions—defined in Political Science and Economics as formal and informal rules that guide and incentivize socio-economic activities—are humanity’s general approach toward addressing these and other environmental challenges. Institutional arrangements typically specify whom they apply to, under what circumstances, and what penalty the breaking of the rule involves. Effective institutional design requires the ability to properly incentivize human behavior in the context of socio-economic systems, and establish systems to monitor behavior and sanction when rules are broken. From time to time, technological advances come along that complement institutional designs and improve our ability to incentivize and monitor behavior. We believe that the invention of Blockchain or Distributed Ledger technology—increasingly touted as the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution–could provide new ways to incentivize behavior of resource users, establish innovative monitoring capacity, and help to avoid corrupt governmental behavior. In this Perspective article, we summarize Proof-of-Stake Blockchain technology and provide two examples—deforestation and groundwater management—to describe how this new revolution could provide new solutions for the sustainable management of natural resources at local to global scales.

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  • Off-chain trading for micro grid systems

    Off-chain trading for micro grid systems

    As micro grids and blockchain gained the interest and attention of both academia and the industry, the interaction between the two technologies seems inevitable. However, there are challenges to overcome in order to actually realize the integration between micro grids and blockchains. In this article, we review the solutions proposed to enhance micro grids with blockchains. We discuss the scalability challenges and the opportunities derived from the off-chaining computing techniques. In this context, we draft a design to implement a micro grid-based peer-to-peer local energy market, powered by an off-chain computing protocol called DIVERSITY. DIVERSITY aims to shift the computational burden from a main blockchain to an intermediate layer of nodes, aggregating data and executing smart contracts off-chain. We simulate different data logging approaches, and it is found that DIVERSITY allows an actual saving on fees and power consumption derived from using a public blockchain platform, such as Ethereum, in order to assure a truly decentralized renewable energy distribution at a lower cost.

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  • Digging into primary financial market: The issues of primary financial market issuance and investigations from the perspective of blockchain

    Digging into primary financial market: The issues of primary financial market issuance and investigations from the perspective of blockchain

    With the characteristics of anonymity, trust, tamper-proof, etc., blockchain technology can effectively solve some problems faced by the financial market, such as trust issues and information asymmetry issues. To deeply understand the application scenarios of blockchain in the financial market, the issue of securities issuance and trading in the primary market is studied. The authors conducted an empirical study to investigate the main difficulties faced by primary market participants in their business practices and the potential challenges of the deepening adoption of blockchain technology in the primary market. The authors adopted a hybrid method by combing interviews (qualitative methods) and surveys (quantitative methods) to conduct this research in two stages. In the first stage, authors interview 15 major primary market participants with different backgrounds and expertise. In the second phase, authors conducted a verification survey of 54 primary market practitioners to confirm various insights from the interviews, including challenges and desired improvements. The interviews and survey results reveal several significant challenges facing blockchain applications in the primary market: complex due diligence, mismatching, and difficult monitoring. The research shows that primary market participants have a positive attitude towards the application of blockchain technology to the primary market and are ready to adopt blockchain technology to solve some of the current issues.

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  • Blocked chains of governance: Using blockchain technology for carbon offset markets?

    Blocked chains of governance: Using blockchain technology for carbon offset markets?

    Information and communication technology (ICT) plays a critical role in environmental governance; however, research into power in governance has not focused on the impact of ICT. In this study, we analyze the use of blockchain in a voluntary carbon offset market using the “Four Faces of Power” (compulsory, institutional, structural, and productive) conceptual framework to determine how ICT can change the power dynamics within a network of stakeholders. Proponents have proposed that blockchain technology can solve several issues that carbon marketplaces and offsets face, such as cybersecurity, traceability, and financial liquidity. Despite these proposals, there is little scholarship on existing cases using blockchain in carbon offsets. We found that the use of blockchain technology by the company Veridium changed the compulsory and institutional power dynamics within the network of stakeholders it was a member of. Veridium’s choice to use blockchain technology was likely the result of structural and productive power dynamics surrounding the technology at the time. The power dynamics changed because the use of blockchain for Veridium’s carbon offset market caused additional stakeholders to join the network of stakeholders. The new stakeholders held greater compulsory and institutional power than Veridium. This research contributes to the limited scholarship focused on ICT and power in environmental governance. Empirically it contributes to the ongoing discussion around the possibilities of blockchain technology for climate policy.

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  • The dark side of crypto gaming guilds

    The dark side of crypto gaming guilds

    Crypto gaming guilds are an evolution of traditional gaming guilds, communities of players concentrated on mutual support. In the contrast to the scope of traditional guilds, crypto gaming guilds have been established as organizations focused on earning money. Crypto gaming guilds concentrate on players from developing countries, offering them a chance to earn income without the necessity to invest funds for playing play-to-earn games. The communication of these guilds is full of positive stories of people alleviated from poverty or raising through hierarchies of their guild. Yet this bright image has its dark side and crypto gaming guilds provide ample opportunities for criticism. While in the traditional gaming guilds players have a central role, in crypto gaming guilds they have become inferior compared to other stakeholders. The reason is that new stakeholder groups, investors and game studios, have risen to prominence as they bring in money to the guild. Given the fact that players often come from developing countries with low wages, this situation creates a potential for their exploitation. Yet even without exploitation, the content of their new jobs has characteristics very similar to infamous “bullshit jobs”, pointless and unnecessary employment. It remains open whether crypto gaming guilds will fulfill their publicly communicated promises or turn evil in the future. However, in both cases, they will face their dark side. And they will either overcome it or embrace it.

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  • To join or not to join?–A framework for the evaluation of enterprise blockchain consortia

    To join or not to join?–A framework for the evaluation of enterprise blockchain consortia

    Within the past years, enterprise blockchain solutions were frequently developed within different industry consortia. In most cases, this resulted in isolated solutions competing against each other due to similar approaches and goals. Today, decision makers do not necessarily need to establish entirely new blockchain consortia, as established ones already exist, and participation is a considerable way to avoid unreasonable efforts. In this paper, we apply an iterative literature review to identify different factors relevant for practitioners, who face the challenge of joining an existing enterprise blockchain consortium. In a second step, we discuss these factors utilizing supply chain management as a role model. As a main finding, we propose an evaluation framework for the purpose of enterprise blockchain consortium analysis. Additionally, we provide several questions relevant for practitioners during their evaluation stages. With our evaluation framework we contribute to blockchain research, where - despite its high relevance - the topic of consortium evaluation has so far been neglected. We also contribute to research in the field of technology evaluation by proposing and merging five different evaluation dimensions.

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  • Editorial: Establishing Self Sovereign Identity with Blockchain
  • A field test of a federated learning/federated analytic blockchain network implementation in an HPC environment

    A field test of a federated learning/federated analytic blockchain network implementation in an HPC environment

    The rapid upswing in interest in federated learning (FL) and federated analytics (FA) architectures has corresponded with the rapid increase in commercial AI software products, ranging from face detection and language translation to connected IOT devices, smartphones, and autonomous vehicles equipped with high-resolution sensors. However, the traditional client-server model does not readily address questions of data ownership, privacy, and data location in the context of the multiple datasets required for machine learning. In this paper, we report on a pilot distributed ledger and smart contract network model, designed to track analytic jobs in an HPC supercomputing environment. The test system design integrates the FL/FA model into a blockchain-based network architecture, wherein the test system records interactions with the global server and blockchain network. The design goal is to create a secure audit trail of supercomputer analytic operations and the ability to securely federate those operations across multiple supercomputer deployments. As there are still relatively few real-world applications of FL/FA models and blockchain networks in use, our system design, test deployment, and sample code are intended to provide interested researchers with exploratory tools for future research.

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  • A Shuffled Replay of Events on Uniswap

    A Shuffled Replay of Events on Uniswap

    In this paper we introduce a new zero-intelligence framework to analyse price formation in a cryptocurrency decentralised exchange (DEX) combining agent-based modelling and real trading history. We shuffle real Uniswap order event data and replay back into the automatic market maker (AMM) matching mechanism. We study how decomposing real markets down from bounded rationality to zero-intelligence markets in a controlled experiment affects liquidity provider’s impermanent loss, trade slippage and price efficiency.

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Christopher D. Clack
Department of Computer Science
UCL
Gower Street
London
WC1E 6BT

 clack@cs.ucl.ac.uk