New technologies are emerging that may help you to ensure that you are not buying ‘conflict diamonds' — or diamonds mined in war zones and sold to finance violence. Diamond producer De Beers, will use a digital ledger named the blockchain to track and verify the history of each stone, ensuring that the quality and origin is authentic.
Sputnik has discussed the issue with with Ashiq Anjum, a professor of Distributed Systems at the University of Derby. He explains how the only way to change a record in the blockchain is by adding something new to it; there is no way to change the historical record. That is why blockchain is valuable, it is a permanent, and incorruptible ledger.
Ashiq Anjum: So, a blockchain is essentially an incorruptible ledger of individual records. A blockchain allows mutually distrusting entities agree on transactions. Blockchain records transactions between two parties efficiently and more or less in a permanent way.
If someone wants to have a record of supply chain in diamonds, the whole process: where it came from, its ingredients, shape and size, and even the smallest marks and blemishes on each diamond would be input into the blockchain. Anyone, anywhere in the world, can go back and check the origin, the provenance, and the unique aspects to ensure that the diamond comes from ethical sources.
Each point of sale, modification, purification, or what other aspects there may be — they would all be uploaded onto the blockchain. Essentially it would become an immutable trail of all the transactions that have happened over the past months or years, related to that particular diamond.
Emerging technology such as blockchain, and bitcoin are still in their infancy. TBut it’s not just diamonds that can benefit from blockchain technology as it can be applied to almost any service or business that requires trust. Voting, pharmaceutical companies and the transfer of information are a few examples. One of the most important uses for blockchain is in the supply chain, which is where diamond producers DeBeers are applying the technology.
Ashiq Anjum: The blockchain can really benefit things like supply chain, especially in manufacturing. Rolls Royce, Bombardier, Airbus- they're all companies that utilize the supply chain. They are not manufacturing in house, so the block chain could record each stage of development, from their origin, to how were they manufactured, how they were transported, and assembled together. Any fault that developed could be immediately linked to a specific point in the supply chain.
Sputnik: So there are infinite uses for the blockchain, but there are still some downfalls. For one, it is expensive to run, energy wise, and scalability is an issue too as transactions are limited. Can we expect the blockchain to stick around?
Ashiq Anjum: It’s definitely not a fad. Obviously the shape and form of blockchain will change. The tooling and interfacing will evolve, and as a system, blockchain may not be the same as we have now- but as a concept it's unique, and I'm very confident it will find its way.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the position of Sputnik.