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Oregon Pushes Ahead with “Blockchain State” Plan

With many states in the US beginning to push various blockchain projects through state legislature, Oregon state in the country’s Northwest has also made a claim to the “blockchain state” handle.

The Oregon Blockchain Venture Studio in Portland has been set up to further this aim, with a number of companies and organizations from the fields of education, business, and technology linking their know-how to push the new tech in the state.

The aim is to specifically target 20 to 30 companies in the state over three years, hosted by digital agency R/GA, while forming a partnership with two state universities, Intel and sports giant Nike. The Venture Studio will also benefit from a USD 250,000 commitment through Business Oregon and the Oregon Growth Board.

The main idea of a studio is to give local companies opportunities similar to those that venture capital might offer. Jeff Gaus of Oregon Blockchain Venture Partners suggests that the “Oregon ethos exactly maps to what is required for blockchain to work”, adding that the state could become “what Pittsburgh is to steel or Detroit is to autos or Seattle to manned flight”.

Selected investors in the studio will contribute USD 3 million a year, each receiving investment capital of USD 100,000. Potential investment dollars will also be available from studio partners.

Although other US states are pushing their own blockchain plans to elevate their profile around the nation, Business Oregon spokesman Nathan Buehler claims that no state has really staked its claim as yet. He feels that Oregon is well placed through its established hardware and software industry to “establish an advantage” over other states.

Governor Dannel Malloy of Connecticut has recently signed off on a law in that state that will employ a blockchain working group, in order to further study the technology and how it can be utilized in state legislation. It is reported that the governor’s intentions are to make Connecticut “a leader in blockchain technology”.

It appears as though the United States is undergoing radical changes at institutional and governmental levels; in late July, blockchain technology in public sector projects also received a guidebook from a US-based IT industry trade association called CompTIA.

 

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Tech Giants Take on Opioid Addiction with DLT

IBM has announced that it is now planning to use a blockchain-enabled health surveillance system in order to collect data on antibiotics and opioids prescriptions by doctors.

Opioid prescription abuse is becoming a problem worldwide with figures showing that their illicit use has now overtaken heroin. Globally, prescription opioid pain relievers are now among the most commonly misused and abused medicines.

IBM’s blockchain system is now making it easy for public health agencies to track both medical practitioners and their patients in order to try and stem this new epidemic of drug misuse. The healthcare industry is seeing several attempts at developing secure digital platforms for the exchange of patient data, believing that blockchain-based solutions may have the potential to vastly improve current data sharing systems in national hospitals.

Healthcare and clinical research is an expanding area as doctors and hospitals increasingly need secure access to a patient’s entire health history. This new, rapidly evolving field provides fertile ground for experimentation, investment, and proof-of-concept testing.

The implications for the industry are endless. New platforms are emerging almost daily such as a diagnostic blockchain infrastructure aimed to host, train and use artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare, and a blockchain-powered platform designed to track and protect pharmaceutical data.

Prominent healthcare professionals are also growing increasingly confident that DLT has what is required to vastly improve the security of current centralized forms of data storage, which have been vulnerable to hackers attempting to steal patient data for sale on the black market.

IBM has, for some time now, been looking at applying blockchain solutions to the healthcare industry through its work with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At the end of last year, its chief science officer Shahram Ebadollahi acknowledged how relevant blockchain and AI was becoming in the industry.

“Blockchain is very useful when there are so many actors in the system… It enables the ecosystem of data in healthcare to have more fluidity, and AI allows us to extract insights from the data. Everybody talks about big data in healthcare but I think the more important thing is long data.”

Since then, CDC has run several pilots and is urging the healthcare community to take up the mantle. Another computer giant, Intel, has done exactly that, working with McKesson and Johnson and Johnson to use DLT to trace the pill supply chain. Intel’s Director of healthcare privacy and security commented that the tech could “vastly reduce the opioid epidemic” adding, “I would not say this will eliminate the opioid problem, but this will help.”

Another player in the healthcare space, the leader in blockchain healthcare solutions, Hashed Heath, maintains that blockchain’s most significant asset apart from the obvious tracking advantages, is that a “decentralized database of test results with free access to this data” prevents global duplication and enhances research by others moving forward.

 

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Intel and Filament Push for a Blockchain IoT Future

Enterprise blockchain developer Filament, which receives significant Intel investment, has released an Internet of Things(IoT)-optimized, USB Blocklet chip.

Filament chief executive Clift-Jennings explained, “Many products, not all, have the ability to connect to USB. These are for manufacturing lines – we have a version of a USB product that plugs into the onboard diagnostics port in vehicles. It’s very much trying to drive toward machines being transactive in nature.”

Blockchain can be used to increase transparency between designers, service providers, and end users, making license management safer, providing production-quality data and becoming resilient against counterfeiting via secure design storage.

Counterfeiting and product integrity

According to BusinessWire, the global total of counterfeited goods has increased to USD 1.2 trillion. Counterfeiting of clothing and textiles primarily affects profits, whereas fraudulent components for machinery, cosmetics, and consumables can have a more detrimental effect by risking health and safety. It is believed that up to 10% of aircraft parts are counterfeit. The outsourcing of services causes difficulty in tracking the source and quality of components, as well as where maintenance is carried out.

The global distribution of manufactured components, must take steps to guarantee the security of plans, and provide data that is tamper-proof and in line with regulations and production standards. This must be achieved while preventing the misuse of plans to manufacture counterfeit goods.

Blockchain IoT shaping the future

Data drives innovation so the ability to share or sell manufacturing data on a ledger could fast track other businesses. Autonomous cars are going to rely heavily on driver data to increase safety in their transition to level 5 (the highest level of autonomy). Having existing hardware produced by IBM or Filament with a variety of companies from Microsoft to Amazon offering blockchain API frameworks, this could quickly accelerate blockchain proof of concept in the industry and change how data is shared an analyzed.

Big companies such as Mastercard are already looking at the applications for blockchain to track goods, providing consumers with product integrity. This could then extend right through to the manufacturing level with the use IoT-optimized hardware.

Intel’s investment in Filament is part of their blockchain initiative for large-scale industrial IoT deployments. The vice president and general manager of Intel, Doug Fisher said, “At Intel, we believe the future of IoT will be enabled by smart, connected, secure edge-devices that drive a data-based economy.”

 

Image source: Saginaw Future Inc. – CIGNYS Corporation has three advanced manufacturing facilities in Saginaw County.
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Intel Pursues Patent for Bitcoin Mining Hardware Accelerator

Leading tech firm Intel is looking to patent a hardware development that would accelerate the process of Bitcoin mining chips, as revealed in recently published documents.

Accelerating Bitcoin mining

The application for the patent was submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office in September 2016, with the details made publicly available on 29 March 2018. The formal request seeks to patent specifically a “Bitcoin Mining Hardware Accelerator With Optimized Message Digest and Message Scheduler Datapath”.

Intel outlines the benefits of the mining hardware accelerator in the application, detailing the process by which the software can increase the efficiency of Bitcoin mining. The hardware is described as consuming less electricity than standard software used for mining, increasing the economic efficiency.

Acquiring a patent such as this addresses the problems associated with conventional Bitcoin mining. As addressed in the application, the hardware utilized in the mining process ”uses brute force to repeatedly and endlessly perform SHA-256 functions”. This results in the process of Bitcoin mining being both power-intensive and employing large amounts of hardware space.

The hardware accelerator reportedly offers to reduce the space used, as well as cut the amount of power consumed during mining by up to 35% against a general-purpose processor.

Intel’s links to Bitcoin

This latest event follows previously reported connections between Intel and Silicon Valley bitcoin mining startup, 21 Inc. Intel originally developed chips for the fledgeling company, although plans to incorporate these chips into other Intel products never reached the market.

In March 2015, Intel reportedly listed a job application citing they needed a researcher to “investigate hardware and software capabilities that advance the performance, robustness, and scalability of open, decentralized ledgers.”.

A patent applied for by Intel in December 2017 illustrates the company’s focus again on the energy-intensive process involved in genetic sequencing. This patent does not, however, focus explicitly on mining any form of cryptocurrency.

If a leading industry company such as Intel should choose to invest further in the development of Bitcoin or blockchain innovations, the potential impact could be significant.

 

 

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