5 questions about blockchain technology
“Any blockchain strategy should focus on applications where the technology can deliver genuine benefits.”
Interview with Manfred Broy
Zentrum Digitalisierung. Bayern, and
Chair of the acatech HORIZONS Blockchain project group
1. How did you first come across blockchain?
Manfred Broy: The first time I came across blockchain was at a software engineering lecture in around 2010. On that occasion, the main focus was on the technology’s applications in the field of security.
2. What do you find interesting about blockchain technology?
I am particularly interested in blockchain’s potential to enable new ways of organising records, archives and transactions. High levels of transparency, decentralised processes and distributed consensus building are all important in these areas. It will be interesting to see how the initial hype surrounding blockchain technology eventually comes to be replaced by more realistic assessments.
3. What opportunities does blockchain have to offer?
At the moment, most public discussion of blockchain is focused on Bitcoin. However, we need to start thinking about other blockchain applications, not just Bitcoin shares. There are all kinds of different blockchain applications, many of which could also be implemented in a more centralised manner without blockchain.
Blockchains are particularly valuable in contexts where unambiguously traceable transactions are required, for example in logistics and especially in public administration. Another interesting idea is to use blockchain technology to verify people’s identity.
4. What misconceptions do you typically encounter when discussing this topic?
Everyone is talking about blockchain technology. But it is difficult to draw conclusions about it without a deeper insight into the IT side and a basic understanding of how it works. Consequently, acatech’s active engagement in this area should be welcomed. The aim is to provide objective analysis and recommendations for policymakers. Many decision-makers don’t know what the technology can and can’t do. This can be very dangerous, particularly when a topic is surrounded by so much hype. It is not uncommon to hear people debating applications for which blockchain technology is actually unsuitable.
5. What key points should the blockchain strategy announced by the Federal Government contain?
Blockchain isn’t a single technology, it is a group of several different technologies. The blockchain strategy announced by the government should therefore ensure that the basic principles of blockchain technology are communicated much more accurately. The individual components should also be documented in a scientifically precise manner. Any blockchain strategy should focus on applications where the technology can deliver genuine benefits.
It is also important that government should lead the way by pioneering blockchain applications in areas of its own work where the technology can make a real contribution.
Interview series „5 questions about blockchain technology“