Cloud Provider Xunlei Launches Blockchain File System

Chinese technology company Xunlei Limited, known to some as the BitTorrent of China, announced Friday that it has launched a new distributed file system aimed at supporting blockchain platforms.



The ThunderChain File System (TCFS), as well as three ThunderChain Request for Comments (TRC) standards, will help support blockchain development, the company said in statements. The new file system, in particular, aims to combine features of existing platforms like IPFS and filecoin, while adding new security and flexibility tools.
The news came out during a ceremony hosted in Shenzhen, China, right before the company unveiled the winners of an international blockchain application competition it also sponsored.

Xunlei first announced it was launching ThunderChain in April, when the company claimed its new blockchain would be able to provide “processing capacity in the millions of transactions per second,”

The new TCFS, according to Friday’s release, is built specifically for blockchain platforms like ThunderChain. The TRC standards are aimed to help build up the ecosystem by allowing third parties to build upon the company’s blockchain.
Xunlei CEO Lei Chen said in a statement that the company “is committed to amplifying the power of individuals through technological innovation.”

He added:
“That is why we introduced ThunderChain File System and other new initiatives as we continue to help developers unleash the real value of blockchain. We are also delighted to see a large number of practical blockchain projects developed during the challenge and would like to thank everyone for their great contribution.”

Notably, the company entered the blockchain industry last October, but also has since been subject to two ongoing class action lawsuits over an alleged initial coin offering (ICO) from its investors.


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How Blockchain Can Make Forgeries A Thing of the Past

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Fake diplomas are big business. Said to constitute a billion-dollar global industry, they present the world with an unfortunate problem, insofar as many of the buyers of such diplomas are people in positions of acute responsibility.

In fact, forgeries aren’t only a concern for the professional and academic world, since they manifest themselves in the form of fake tickets (to sporting and music events), fake IDs, fake house sales, fake cheques, and also forged artworks. There is, in other words, plenty of money to be made out of imitating documents and certificates, yet it would seem that the global ‘fake industry’ has its days numbered.

That’s right, blockchain technology is coming to get it, and despite blockchains being hastily championed as the saviour of everything from vegetables to cars, its use in sniffing out forgeries is a very natural and logical fit. But while it will make confirming the source of diplomas and tickets much easier, widespread adoption and public education will be necessary if its effects are to maximised.



Learning Machine, an American specialist of blockchain-based digital identity and credentials, launched its Blockcerts open standard in 2016, which provides organisations with a means for verifying that documents (e.g. degrees) have really been issued by the institution someone claims it has.

As CEO Chris Jagers explains to Cryptonews.com, “Blockcerts provides a standard way of creating and verifying official records, using any blockchain, in a digital format that is tamper-proof, instantly verifiable, and owned by recipients.”

“Because Blockcerts are represented by a unique string of numbers and letters (a hash), and this unique hash is stored on the blockchain,” Jagers continues, “any attempt to alter the document means that it can no longer generate that unique code for later verification.”
This system will also help to detect fraudulent universities, in that it will “allow people to check the signing keys of the issuing institution.” However, given that take-up is still very limited, Jagers notes that “public registries of signing keys” – such as the one Learning Machine is building in collaboration with Malta’s Ministry for Education and Employment – will be necessary if disreputable institutions are to be caught out.

Limited signup is perhaps the main issue affecting other blockchain-powered attempts to combat forgery, although the early signs yield hope that usage will become much more widespread in the future.

For example, Aventus is a Jersey-based non-profit that has recently signed a deal in the UK to sell 10,000 tickets to the upcoming World Cup. These tickets will be recorded on the Ethereum blockchain via the organisation’s Aventus Protocol, which is an open-source, blockchain-based ticketing and smart contract ecosystem.

“The Aventus Protocol has been designed to ensure only legitimate events and unique tickets can exist on the blockchain,” explains Aventus’ chief technology officer, Andy Grant.

“The technology [is] used to deliver tickets to fans and the way tickets are validated to allow access to an event make it very difficult to pass off forged tickets as genuine.”
However, Grant tells Cryptonews.com that, even with blockchain-based validation of tickets, forgeries may still continue to exist off-chain. “Someone could still carry out off-chain activity (for instance, sending someone a faked PDF of a ticket), that could dupe a consumer,” he says.

In view of this possibility, he asserts that the success of blockchain technology in reducing fake tickets and documents will depend on more than the technology itself. “The Aventus Protocol Foundation considers consumer education a key part of its responsibility to improve security and reduce fraud and counterfeit tickets.”

Education will indeed be an essential part of virtually every blockchain-powered attempt to reduce forgeries, whether it comes from Verisart, Slatix, Cheque Chain, ChromaWay, or MasterCard (to name a few). In particular, users will need to be taught about what blockchain records actually prove and don’t prove when it comes to suspicious documents, since as Jagers suggests, the mere fact of being on a blockchain isn’t necessarily enough to prove that an organisation is genuine.

“Simply being on a blockchain does not make a claim legitimate,” he warns. “It simply verifies that a digital file has not changed since it was originally issued.”

However, this warning aside, Andy Grant expects a significant reduction in forgeries once adoption becomes widespread. “Once consumers get used to blockchain tickets then there’s no limit to eliminating fake tickets,” he predicts.


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The Auto Industry Is Gearing Up for a Blockchain-Powered Future

We’re all excited for self-driving, even autonomous, cars, and many tout blockchain as the technology needed to make that happen.


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But while that conversation is an exciting one today, CoinDesk’s Consensus 2018 conference played host to an array of esoteric use cases for the mobility space that showcase how many executives in the automotive space are currently taking a more conservative approach to applying blockchain technology to the industry.

Sebastien Henot, manager of business innovation at Renault Innovation Silicon Valley, is such a pragmatist, opting for the low-hanging fruit of using the technology to better manage carmakers’ supply chains.

“Blockchain can bring cost savings to supply chains thanks to new levels of transparency and auditability, which would be of vital help in the unfortunate event of recalls,” Henot told CoinDesk.

And that process could also mark the birth of automobiles with their own unique digital identity.

“If you have an Audi and you want to sell it to buy a Renault, it would be very useful for the Renault dealer to be able to access the Audi birth certificate and see a standardized history,” Henot said.

But it’s still early days, and the process for what kind of data will be shared and how that data will be coded still needs to be standardized.

That’s one of the reasons the Mobi consortium, a kind of standards body for decentralized mobility and data sharing, was launched earlier this month with founding members including BMW, Ford, General Motors and Renault, as well as technology providers like IBM, ConsenSys and IOTA.

And while the futuristic use cases made possible by tokenized incentive structures is indeed what interests many members of the consortium, Henot said:

“My philosophy is let’s start small.”

Blocks of miles

According to Henot, starting with the little things, such as certifying the mileage on a car, highlights a very simple, yet beneficial proof-of-concept.

Odometer fraud, or “clocking,” whereby vehicle sellers or dealerships tweak the odometer to make it seem that the car has been driven less miles than it actually has, which can increase the value of a vehicle, is not a new problem (other blockchain-based startups have begun developing systems for just this use case).

In fact, around 450,000 vehicles are sold each year with falsified odometer readings, resulting in a cost of more than $1 billion annually, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study.

As such, Henot believes the blockchain could eliminate this issue around mileage, “so nobody can tamper with it.”

The team at UK-based Dovu, a startup part-owned by Jaguar Land Rover, agrees. The startup raised more than $13 million, according to current metrics, in a crypto token sale in October 2017, which it will use to incentivize users to behave in a virtuous manner, such as capturing mileage of their vehicles on a regular basis.

Dovu began a mileage capture pilot three months ago with BMW, which enlisted its employees to carry out the test using a simple Dovu-developed crypto wallet.

Explaining the benefits of the system, Dovu CEO and founder, Irfon Watkins told CoinDesk, “If, like BMW, you own a lot of cars under a fleet management arrangement, it’s really useful to know how many miles those cars are travelling every week or every month – rather than every three years.”

He added:

“By which time you might find you have an asset on your books worth a lot less than you thought.”

Crypto for the environment

Another small step the automotive industry could take to harness the power of blockchain revolves around electric cars.

Dovu is at the forefront of this application as well, using its token as a way to nudge drivers to charge their battery in an optimum way, “that doesn’t degrade the battery, as if it were a mobile phone,” said Watkins.

This use case could potentially push blockchain technology into the mainstream narrative, since so many people, especially millennials, are interested in electric cars for their positive environmental impact.

Spherity, a startup founded by a former technology innovation lead at the largest German utility company, Innogy, is also looking at applying blockchain to electric vehicle charging. The company wants to use the technology to provide an audit trail for “greenhouse gas accounting,” so users can trust their vehicles are using green energy (hydroelectric, wind farmed or solar) as opposed to energy generated by burning coal.

Just like people might want to track and trace sustainably-produced food from farm to fork, so too will environmentally-conscious users want a “guarantee of origin” on the electricity their car is using, Spherity founder Dr. Carsten Stocker said.

He added:

“Someone who spends $150,000 to buy a Tesla would probably like to have proof they are charging with green energy.”

More than just cars

Still, even while some are starting small, many are fascinated by the future as imagined with blockchain.

For instance, Henot said the future of mobility is not only about making vehicles physically autonomous but also economically autonomous, whereby automobiles “speak together, negotiate rights of way, parking and so on, using their wallets.”

One such group working towards those cutting-edge applications is the non-profit foundation, Decentralized Autonomous Vehicles (DAV), which describes itself as “the TCP/IP of connected mobility.” But according to John Frazer, a co-founder of DAV, one of the reasons the foundation is able to inspire such excitement is because it doesn’t think about autonomous vehicles only as cars and trucks.

“There are many other examples such as autonomous drones, autonomous rovers (a drone that stays on the ground) and autonomous marine vehicles – some are already here, the rest are coming,” Frazer said.

Among its notable advisers are the former CTO of General Motors, Dr. Alan Messer, as well as the technical lead on the Ethereum virtual machine, Dr. Greg Colvin.

Similar to Mobi, DAV is proposing a commons, a standard of sorts, in the form of a free and open-source decentralized mobility network.

And with this, the foundation hopes to see the full potential of blockchain bring about social change within the mobility industry.

According to Frazer:

“Big players are controlling a lot of what is going on right now, but as new and open networks roll out, the silos will be shared and the gatekeepers will become irrelevant.”


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