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Aion Network Launches First Blockchain Virtual Machine on Java – CoinDesk

Aion Network, a non-profit aiming to “rebuild an internet that puts users first” through broadening the use of blockchain, announced a new virtual machine built on top of the popular Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

This marks the first blockchain virtual machine available to Java developers.

The Aion Virtual Machine (AVM) is not a modification or rewrite of the underlying JVM, but a supplementary software layer that can interact with the JVM as developers build decentralized applications and smart contracts above it.

Java provides a secure, transparent, scalable, and easily-deployed environment for those unacclimated to the crypto-landscape. This is fits Aion’s mission statement to promote more extensive use of blockchain.

By employing a commonly used language like Java, Aion CEO Matthew Spoke hopes to surmount one of the largest barriers to widespread blockchain adoption: terra incognita.

“We made the strategic decision to leave the JVM intact so we could fully leverage the mature ecosystem around it,” said a company representative in a blog. “Leaning on a hardened language like Java was crucial since a major obstacle for a business interested in Blockchain is the cost and time needed to train their teams on unfamiliar frameworks, languages, and tools.”

To this end, Aion also provides blockchain education and onboarding through Aion Learn and Aion University. Billed as a collection of engineers, academics, designers, and entrepreneurs – aligned with a singular, altruistic mandate – the network provides a catalog of developer tools and application templates, as well as mobile API’s and software development kits.

“We have a unique opportunity to build a foundation for the future economy. Aion is our contribution to that future; and we need the best and brightest to work alongside us to make it real,” said Spoke, on the network’s website.

The Aion blockchain utilizes multiple tools already popular on the mainnet, which provide accessibility and redundancy in the public network.

“Aion aims to become the common protocol used for these blockchains, enabling more efficient and decentralized systems to be built. The Aion protocol enables the development of a federated blockchain network, making it possible to seamlessly integrate dissimilar blockchain systems in a multi-tier hub-and-spoke model, similar to the internet.”

The native currency, AION, facilitates transaction fees for miners of the network. It has a current market cap of $60,495,358 USD, according to CoinMarketCap.

Code image via Shutterstock

Source: Aion Network Launches First Blockchain Virtual Machine on Java – CoinDesk

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Why Use a Blockchain? By Maria Kuznetsov

As the implications of the invention of have become understood, a certain hype has sprung up around blockchain technology.

This is, perhaps, because it is so easy to imagine high-level use cases. But, the technology has also been closely examined: millions of dollars have been spent researching blockchain technology over the past few years, and numerous tests for whether or not blockchain technology is appropriate in various scenarios have been conducted.

Blockchain technology offers new tools for authentication and authorization in the digital world that preclude the need for many centralized administrators. As a result, it enables the creation of new digital relationships.

By formalizing and securing new digital relationships, the blockchain revolution is posed to create the backbone of a layer of the internet for transactions and interactions of value (often called the ‘Internet of Value’, as opposed to the ‘Internet of Information’ which uses the client-server, accounts and master copy databases we’ve been using for over the past 20 years.)

But, with all the talk of building the digital backbone of a new transactional layer to the internet, sometimes blockchains, private cryptographic keys and cryptocurrencies are simply not the right way to go.

Many groups have created flowcharts to help a person or entity decide between a blockchain or master copy, client-server database. The following factors are a distillation of much of what has been previously done:

Is the data dynamic with an auditable history?

Paper can be hard to counterfeit because of the complexity of physical seals or appearances. Like etching something in stone, paper documents have certain permanence.

But, if the data is in constant flux, if it is transactions occurring regularly and frequently, then paper as a medium may not be able to keep up the system of record. Manual data entry also has human limitations.

So, if the data and its history are important to the digital relationships they are helping to establish, then blockchains offer a flexible capacity by enabling many parties to write new entries into a system of record that is also held by many custodians.

Should or can the data be controlled by a central authority?

There remain many reasons why a third party should be in charge of some authentications and authorizations. There are times when third-party control is totally appropriate and desirable. If privacy of the data is the most important consideration, there are ways to secure data by not even connecting it to a network.

But if existing IT infrastructure featuring accounts and log-ins is not sufficient for the security of digital identity, then the problem might be solved by blockchain technology.

As Satoshi Nakamoto wrote in his (or her) seminal work, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”: “Merchants must be wary of their customers, hassling them for more information than they would otherwise need. A certain percentage of fraud is accepted as unavoidable.”

Private key cryptography enables push transactions, which don’t require centralized systems and the elaborate accounts used to establish digital relationships. If this database requires millions of dollars to secure lightweight financial transactions, then there’s a chance blockchains are the solution.

Is the speed of the transaction the most important consideration?

Does this database require high-performance millisecond transactions? (There is more on this point in our guide: “What is the Difference Between a Blockchain and a Database?”).

If high performance, millisecond transactions are what is required, then it’s best to stick with a traditional-model centralized system. Blockchains as databases are slow and there is a cost to storing the data – the processing (or ‘mining’) of every block in a chain. Centralized data systems based on the client-server model are faster and less expensive… for now.

In short, while we still don’t know the full limits and possibilities of blockchains, we can at least say the use cases which have passed inspection have all been about managing and securing digital relationships as part of a system of record.

Authored by Nolan Bauerle; images by Maria Kuznetsov

Source: Why Use a Blockchain? – CoinDesk

Boston Fed Announces Plans To Design a Blockchain ‘Supervisory Node’ – Anna Baydakova

The Federal Reserve of Boston is starting a new blockchain experiment this summer.

The Massachusetts state regulator has been one of the earliest and most involved government bodies to dip their toe into the new technology. It has been quietly developing blockchain systems since 2016 but has said very little about their plans.

Now the first results of those trials are out and the Boston Fed published a white paper on its proof-of-concepts on ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric. Now it’s getting ready for the next stage, Boston Fed’s vice president of IT Paul Brassil told CoinDesk.

The team is going to look into possible opportunities to set up a “supervisory node,” a regulatory surveillance tool that should be able to connect to various banking blockchains in the future. This node will watch the money flows and settlements between different banks, Boston Fed’s senior vice president Jim Cunha said.

“If you look at the future, there might be one blockchain that is holding securities, one that is holding derivatives, one is holding cash or interbank transfer — how do you as a supervisor watch the traffic on all these platforms that also will be on different technology?”

Cunha adds, that Boston Fed is not looking at these explorations from a policy standpoint and that is expects to work with the central Federal Reserve on these rules. But in the meantime monetary authorities have to keep apace with the technology development.

“We are surrounded by very large financial institutions and banks and we know that all of them are experimenting with the blockchain technology. So the more we can work with them and understand their roadmap, the more we know that we’re moving in a right direction,” Brassil said.

First, the Boston Fed plans to set the agenda and determine the main direction of this experiment and the work on this ideological part will start as early as this summer. Cunha said there are no plans yet for the publicly releasing the project.

“Right now there is very little research on it, so our next goal is to look into what an audit node look like,” Cunha said. “What kind of data we should have access to, how to interact, how to update nodes, can you create operational problems with it? What kind of coding you will need to do to store the information about the movement of funds, so you can do analysis of the flows. We are really starting from scratch.”

In the future, it could be possible that we will see multiple blockchains by various banking institutions, Brassil said, so the Fed’s supervisory node should have a technical capacity “broad enough to cover all the platforms.”

“Startup in the basement mentality”

Boston Fed started blockchain technology trials back in 2016 by experimenting with ethereum. At that time, there were no specialized blockchain developers on staff, so the team of coders educated themselves watching relevant videos on YouTube. Cunha and Brassil called it their “startup in the basement.”

During that period, developers tried to put depository institution balances under the Boston Fed supervision on a blockchain and create mock transactions — a kind of a blockchain-powered back office model. They conducted the testing first on the ethereum blockchain and then on Hyperledger Fabric. In the end, the latter was considered a more suitable option.

Why did they pick Fabric? first of all, a permissioned blockchain is preferable for a government entity. Among other challenges, the necessity to maintain a supply of ether to pay gas in transactions complicated the task and they were also worried about speed limitations.

“The time necessary to create a block was slower than could be tolerated in a production environment,” the white paper said.

Now, with the project of the blockchain back office on hold and the “supervisory node” experiment in the pipeline, Boston Fed is hiring some professionals to ramp up its blockchain testing, Cunha told CoinDesk.

“We are trying to add stuff to do something more robust internally, we need more dedicated resources,” he said. The new blockchain team will not be large, though, only “a handful” of people.

Boston Fed is also actively talking to other monetary authority bodies, though Cunha and Brassil won’t name the particular institutions. That said, they are excited to spread the word about the project.

“We have to share information because the whole industry needs to educate itself,” Cunha said.

Image of the Boston Fed office — courtesy of the Boston Fed. 

Source: Boston Fed Announces Plans To Design a Blockchain ‘Supervisory Node’ – CoinDesk

Columbia University, IBM Launch Two Accelerator Programs for Blockchain Enterprises – Marie Huillet

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IBM and Columbia University have announced two blockchain accelerator programs that aim to help startups in the space innovate at scale, according to an IBM news release Nov. 19. Both programs form part of the Columbia-IBM Center for Blockchain and Data Transparency, a joint innovation center that was established by the tech giant and U.S. ivy league school this summer. According to the release, each program will support ten startups, offering them a network of business mentors, technical support, access to Columbia’s student talent and “research community,” design assistance, and IBM cloud technology resources………….

Read more: https://cointelegraph.com/news/columbia-university-ibm-launch-two-accelerator-programs-for-blockchain-enterprises

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