More education for researchers about computational reproducibility and the basic techniques, rather than something sophisticated, may prove more fruitful.

Enhanced security Advocates of DLTs say that they enable better security between parties in the network by decreasing the chances of a malicious outside attack. For example, an automotive manufacturer stops becoming a single entry point; but, DLTs are not a panacea and must not be used in isolation. ‘It would be wrong to use a blockchain

to store data, for reasons of scalability and post-quantum security, so it is used rather as a synchronisation proof mechanism and user registry,’ said Lundbæk. These architectures can be used with

traditional centralised or decentralised databases to enhance resilience to hacks. However, any executable program running within that network could also be a security risk open to hackers. ‘A lot of the most impactful advances

are algorithmic in nature, instead of a matter of scale,’ said André Platzer, an associate professor in the computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania, US. His work focusses on the general principles for designing motion or other physical processes in cyber-physical systems, such as surgical robots, aircraft or self- driving car applications. ‘The most subtle but impactful challenges in all these systems is the identification of which actions can safely be taken under what circumstance and why,’ said Platzer. ‘For example, when should an aircraft climb and when it should descend instead; or, when can a car accelerate or coast, or even brake.’ Platzer and his colleagues develop methods that enforce safety in reinforcement learning algorithms. For example, they use programming principles with an automated pipeline approach called ‘VeriPhy’ (verified controller executables from verified cyber-physical system models). It provides a safe interaction between

the code and actual physics to generate executables that perform exactly in the same way that the original models and algorithms were supposed to execute. Platzer says that this is a more disciplined approach to address security concerns. ‘Privacy is another matter and, indeed, it’s not clear if the world is better off favouring privacy over exchange of information – in case only the latter can prevent collisions of cars. Privacy clearly is something to be thought about carefully,’ said Platzer.

28 Scientific Computing World October/November 2018

maintenance and training of distributed machine learning for autonomous driving. ‘We are working with Daimler and other

“If we look at distributed ledger technology, blockchain is just one... the majority of people and start-ups are focussing on Fintech, everything around finance and money. But there are a few industries with a higher potential that will disrupt sooner than others”

Privacy in a networked world The growth of automation and distributed data exchanges heightens the concerns of personal data threats and control. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect in May 2018 for 28 member states, including businesses. The GDPR’s main goals are stronger rules on data protection, so individuals have more control over their personal data and businesses have a level playing field on processing private data. The use of cryptography within DLTs can

also support GDPR principles. All personal data is encrypted and can be stored on individual file storage. ‘A GDPR-compliant process – specific

to a given use case – can then be defined, individualised and built into the user interface by mapping out or combining processes for consent, access, update and erasure policy,’ said Lundbæk. ‘The user can then decide whether or not to grant access of this data to the manufacturer or other parties.’ Now XAIN is testing other applications

with Porsche vehicles. These include real-time notifications for drivers about a third-party car access, granting remote access of a parked car for secure delivery of packages and unlocking or locking a car with a blockchain-powered offline connection, with no server connection. Porsche benefits from increased trust

in vehicle data, audited information for reports, local data access for predictive

automotive manufacturers, representing roughly 39 per cent of the world’s vehicle production, on integrations in their cars,’ said Lundbæk. ‘We are working with Infineon, a leading microcontroller manufacturer, to embed our protocol on their devices to make our solution easier to adapt in vehicles, and more secure using the trusted microcontroller environment as an accelerator.’ Based on these early adopters, could

a DLT approach make centralised approaches go the way of the minidisc or eight-track tape? ‘Traditional database will likely continue

to be the standard and have their role until these protocols are tested at production level,’ said Lundbæk. ‘This process has just started and it

is still very challenging for centralised businesses to think this way, but it is mostly the case that they fear that their business will end if they don’t change.’ According to Küfner, the rise of DLTs

compare with the TCP/IP protocol that underpins email exchanges. In the 90s, when people tried to explain to others how to create and use an email address, there was little knowledge available. Küfner sees DLTs moving much faster. As it progresses, blockchain suffers

from issues such as block response times and block sizes. Advanced Blockchain is focussed on implementing another type of DLT that is practical and scalable, called a Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG). ‘These issues are not sustainable and

blockchain will be replaced by a better version called DAG,’ said Küfner. ‘If you have a fully functional DAG, imagine all the energy that you can save. So DLT will be fantastic for climate change because it will reduce the amount of energy that is consumed by all the processes that are currently running.’ Large organisations or companies, like

large cruise ships or tankers, are floating on an ocean of possibilities. Some are actively directing their paths straight into the currents of decentralised data management streams more than others. The market is ambitious. ‘There is no one in DLT who is a

professional and has proven themselves to know what they are doing, because the industry is so young,’ Küfner said. ‘In fact, I would not call this an industry, rather a movement. Because it affects human interactions; that is why it is not a business. It is a beginning of a change to social-economic behaviour and will involve in the near future.’

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