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Blockchain in healthcare updates

Aetna, Anthem, Health Care Service Corporation, PNC Bank and IBM announce collaboration to establish blockchain-based ecosystem for the healthcare industry
This press release cites a lot of use cases and just about every stakeholder in healthcare. So I have a lot of questions on what this is actually about.

CoinDesk got a quote from IBM and is running with the following lede: IBM is collaborating with a group of major players in the healthcare space to improve the way sensitive data is shared and make health claims and transactions more efficient – all in the form of a “blockchain-based ecosystem.”

The members are interesting. Aetna was a founding member of the Synaptic Health Alliance. As far as I'm aware it's the first time HCSC or PNC are doing anything with blockchain in the healthcare space as well. A collaboration to keep our eyes on.

Blockchain for Distributed Research | Frontiers Research Topic
The special topic issue in Frontiers in Blockchain has just gone live with a call for abstracts/manuscripts. "Blockchain for Distributed Research" submissions are due 24 Mar for abstracts and 22 Jul for manuscripts. Topics can be empirical or theoretical, and focus on the value and challenges applying this technology to any field of science.

I'd encourage you to apply and contact Sean Manion with any inquiries. 

A Minimum Viability Framework for Blockchain Alliances
Mark Jacobs, Senior Distinguished Engineer and VP of Blockchain Engineering at Optum, shares his framework for evaluating what is necessary for a complete blockchain MVP. Mark is one of the founding members of one of the industry's most successful use cases, the Synaptic Health Alliance, so his thoughts come from hands on experience.

The health care innovation bubble - ScienceDirect
Sachin H. Jain, CEO of CareMore Health System, offers his thoughts on the "innovation bubble" we have found ourselves in.

Sachin points out there is a “change layer” – the cloud in which visionary ideas about transforming health care resides. As well as a “reality layer” – the place where most care is delivered. And there is little mixing between the two.

I won't speak further for Sachin, but this should be a call to action for us all to focus on bringing more of the change layer to the reality layer. 

Announcing Hyperledger Grid, a new project to help build and deliver supply chain solutions! – Hyperledger
Grid is a "framework," or an interoperable ecosystem of technologies for supply chain use cases. It is intended to be modular and flexible for individual use cases, and provide reference implementations for a variety of business solutions. Hyperledger doesn't create projects lightly, and this demonstrates a certain level of commitment to the supply chain use case.

What I’m reading this weekend

What comes after open source? | Denis Nazarov
An exploration of code, services, state, and what's to come. Denis makes the useful distinction between internet stateservices and tools. We can think of state as data. Tools are building blocks, like databases, GPS, excel, wordpress, Python, etc. Services leverage tools and have persisting state. As an example, Google Maps combines a tool (GPS) along with state (our location data + search history) to provide a superior service than just a tool could.

Services thrive on network effects. Google Maps gets better at recommending routes the more people use it and the more state it accumulates. At some point the code of the service itself becomes less important than it's state. Code can easily be copied. State cannot.

The Internet today is dominated by services leveraging open source code but with closed state. Ultimately this stifles innovation and creates an inequitable distribution of value. Denis ends by pointing to his partner Chris Dixon's article and saying that blockchains will open up state and create open services. 

The Year in Ethereum – Josh Stark
An excellent and comprehensive review of Ethereum's year broken up into 6 parts:

Why 2019 Will Be The Year Of The DAO
An argument for why Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) will take the center stage in 2019. Would love to hear discussion on how this could be impactful in healthcare.

These Aren’t the Enterprise Blockchains You’re Looking For
John Wolpert, co-founder of IBM Blockchain and Hyperledger, gives an argument for why Ethereum is winning in enterprises.

Privacy in Cryptocurrencies: Zero-Knowledge and zk-SNARKs (1/2)
A great technical overview, written for those without background in cryptography, of Zero-Knowledge Proofs and zk-SNARKS. 

Against Szabo's law by Vlad Zamfir

For some context Nick Szabo is a long time scholar whose interest in digital currencies goes back decades. He created the concept of smart contracts, as well as bit gold, a precursor to Bitcoin. Some people think he's Satoshi himself. Szabo popularized "Szabo's law" which says "Do not implement changes to the blockchain protocol unless the changes are required for the purpose of technical maintenance."

On the other end of things Vlad Zamfir is a co-founder of Ethereum and is the lead researcher of Casper, Ethereum's switch to proof-of-stake. 

Vlad lays out (warning: it's a bit long) an argument against Szabo's law. Vlad argues that Szabo's law got us here but we must abandon it in order to stay flexible and manage disputes that might arise from blockchains. An example, I think, would be the DAO hack and subsequent fix.

This closes mirrors the arguments we have in our traditional political system about how much of a role of governments should have in society. One difference is that if you disagree with the governing philosophy of a blockchain you can stop using it, and even add pressure to it by selling the underlying token. My guess is that we're going to see a variety of blockchains (or perhaps sidechains) that suit different preferences on governing philosophies.