Featured Article: The Proliferation of Decentralized Trust Technology
The Proliferation of Decentralized Trust Technology
by Alexander G. Mullin
We will use sophisticated investigative tools to disrupt the ability of criminals to use online marketplaces, crypto-currencies, and other tools or illicit activities.
— U.S. National Security Strategy, December 2017
The inclusion of the quote referenced above on page 12 made the December 2017 National Security Strategy (NSS) the first United States strategic level document to acknowledge the powerful technology underpinning cryptocurrencies – blockchain. This excerpt from the NSS is particularly important because it acknowledges the illicit use of cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, but it fails to mention anywhere else in the document the landscape altering potential of blockchain technology. This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of blockchain technology at the strategic level, with a failure to grasp the potential applications and threats of the rapidly evolving decentralized trust technologies emerging throughout the world.
Decentralized trust technology (DTT) has characteristics utilizing cryptography and consensus algorithms across dispersed network participants to create verifiable relationships. DTT is a term coined in this paper to represent the current and future collection of ideas, applications, and protocols created using, or inspired by, blockchain technology. In this ecosystem there is currently much debate over terminology ranging from trust vs. trustless, what decentralized and distributed each really mean, and the varied use of “distributed ledger technology” (DLT), “shared ledger technology,” “consensus ledger technology,” and “mutual distributed ledger technology” as descriptions for blockchain technology. The most popular, DLT, is conveniently used interchangeably with the term blockchain, but in reality blockchain is a subset of DLT, while DLT is an umbrella term to describe applications that distribute data in consensus…
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Major Alexander G. Mullin is a U.S. Army officer currently assigned to the School of Advanced Military Studies. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Georgetown University, a B.S. in Economics from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and is a graduate with honors from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.