The Tangle and the Blockchain
Has the conversation evolved already? Amid the blockchain technological push, another variation has emerged — the "tangle".
The tangle or Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) chain essentially means a collection of nodes or vertices, while allowing connectivity between nodes but with no circular edgings. In other words, you cannot start at one vertex and eventually loop back to that same vertex via a sequence of edges (connections).
A blockchain can be loosely defined as a ledger of transactions shared by participating nodes in the system operating under some kind of consensus protocol.
While blockchain technology will help automate contracts, the insurance industry, accounting, financial and others, there are critics that say such a robust framework is not ideal for machine-to-machine payments on a smallerscale.
Enter Iota, a micro-transaction cryptotoken said to be designed for the Internet-of-Things (IoT).
At a Bitcoin Talk, Iota stated: "Unlike the complex and heavy blockchains of Bitcoin and the like, which were designed with other uses in mind, Iota is created to be as lightweight as possible, hence the name "Iota" with emphasis on the 'IoT' part."
IoT wrote further, "these connected IoT devices must be able to automatically pay miniscule amounts to one another in a frictionless manner without having to compromise on product design by introducing additional hardware."
But will blockchain technology hinder this?
The IoT will permeate electronics, household items, bringing inanimate objects to life in a manner of semantics, granting selfless interaction to an estimated 20 billion connected devices by 2020.
IBM and Samsung's vision of appliances of the future sounds like something out of a Pixar film.
They see appliances, objects of the future as being connected instruments, able to retrieve updates, trigger self-diagnoses for debugging and various other functions. This is something they call the Autonomous Decentralized Peer-to-Peer Telemetry (ADEPT) system, a concept which surfaced in 2015.
The ADEPT system would be connected to blockchains that provide the backbone of the system, using a mix of proof-of-work and proof-of-stake to secure transactions.
The issue of scalability and the cumbersome aspects seen within cryptocurrency networks was addressed by ADEPT, with the team stating in 2015: "Multiple efforts like sidechains, treechains, and mini-blockchains are ongoing to address this problem."
"While each approach has its merits and demerits we are yet to see consensus on a common approach across the board. A blockchain to cater to hundreds of billions of devices needs to be scalable."
- Related: ADEPT: Practicioner Perspective
Queue Iota. The company stated it isn't seeking to replace the blockchain entirely.
Their technology will "also act as a supplementation to the current blockchain ecosystem by acting as an oracle for smart contract platforms like Ethereum and Rootstock."
Further, Iota claims since its technology enables the ability to include checkpoints for transactions it will increase the security of blockchains.
These "value-added" aspects are pivotal.
Bitcoinist.net published an article titled, "IOTA: Internet of Things Without the Blockchain?" Security Ledger, a different piece, "Blockchain or Tangle? Securing Transactions on the IoT."
The headlines suggest a one-or-the-other scenario.
Maybe Iota's perspective is currently accurate, that blockchains are too complex for micro-transactions of the IoT world system, but blockchains are also malleable and as projects like Tendermint exhibit, the goal is agnostic programming for versatile use case applications.
It's not the tangle versus the blockchain. It simply can't be.
As the projection of billions of connected devices within the next decade are tossed around, it seems most practical Iota, as a micro-transaction cryptotoken, must operate in conjunction with the myriad blockchains that will connect the myriad devices belonging to a diverse corporate world of things.