Tech 12 November 2018

Paul How

IBM patent to place scientific data on blockchain

IBM is looking to use blockchain technology for the recording of data used in scientific research.

The company filed a patent that will involve “integrating a blockchain and data collection and analysis for open scientific research.”

“Currently, problems exist because there are limited platforms that allow for sharing information about scientific research and showing transparent data collection and analysis steps. As a result, various contributors to research and/or publications may not receive accurate and/or full recognition for work performed,” the application read, adding that among existing platforms, there were inadequate “requisite controls and mechanisms to allow for trustworthy data, as there are few options for ensuring that data will be resistant to modification.”

Cited was a paper by Eric Topol entitled ‘Money back guarantees for non-reproducible results,’ published in 2016, that suggests blockchain as a solution to issues of data transparency, specific descriptions of which were lacking, according to the company.

IBM said the inability to modify data on the blockchain could be applied “to analyze the reliability and provenance” of information being presented. It said that a log that traces research and analyses could be added with “summary blocks and correction blocks” that “can also be added to the blockchain representing the post analysis of the research results.”

The system will make peer reviews and reproduction of results easier, with one database accessible to all researchers and analysts, “without worrying whether the data or results had been manipulated by the original researchers or at any other step during the process,” according to IBM.

The tech giant has been at the forefront of the use of blockchain in various industries, in association with other companies and organizations. With Maersk, it launched TradeLens to tackle supply-chain problems. Last month, its patent for a blockchain-powered network security system was approved, allowing for monitoring of data that remains unchanged.

IBM has collaborated with Singapore shipping company Pacific International Lines for the digitizing of the process for which bills of lading are used.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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