IBM has filed a landmark patent which explains how Blockchain can be used to power open scientific research. The patent filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office claims that the process of conducting scientific research can benefit immensely from blockchain technology. A group of researchers at IBM’s Watson Research Center remarks that the patent will set the stage for a dynamic collaboration- where researchers can track their work across institutional borders and overseas. It’s a great example of a non-financial application of blockchain’s distributed technology, which IBM has been experimenting and endorsing for the past few months.
The patent application, titled as “Blockchain for Open Scientific Research” can be regarded as an elaborate log file or a changelog, but for scientific research activities. The filing considers the system as “a tamper resistant log of scientific research.”
How it works
According to the filing, the application is able to form a blockchain that represents a research project, where in the blockchain comprises a first block of research data, followed by a second block of analysis data which includes a log of analysis performed on the research data. Summary blocks and correction blocks can also be added to the blockchain representing the post analysis of the research results. Currently, there are only limited platforms that allow for sharing data related to scientific research, and displaying transparent data collection and analysis steps. The existing platforms lack the requisite mechanisms and controls to permit trustworthy information, as they have only fewer options left to ensure that the information will be change resistant.
The petition lists out the major inventors as Jae-wook Ahn, Maria Chang, Patrick Watson and Ravindranath Kokku- all researchers at IBM. Like IBM, there are many groups working to apply distributed ledger technology into the realm of science. IBM is second only to the China-based internet giant Alibaba in the number of blockchain-related patent filings.