Was Satoshi Nakamoto onto something?

Dr Nick Tate1

1The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, n.tate@uq.edu.au



The legendary, and possibly mythical, inventor of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, actually came up with something far bigger than Bitcoin. It is called the blockchain and is a distributed ledger of transactions which is tamper proof and effectively immutable. Essentially it provides a trust mechanism between people who don’t know each other and it does it without any centralised guarantor of trust. Bad news for banks in the currency business.

Excellent for cryptocurrencies you might say and you would be right, but many others have also recognised its potential. From exploiting its value for Fintech to guaranteeing the provenance of diamonds or organic food, there are numerous projects under way to develop the potential of the blockchain. As a result, there are substantial amounts of money being spent on development of the blockchain.

But what about eResearch, could the blockchain be used, for example, in managing the provenance of data or in disrupting academic publishing? How could eResearch take advantage of the significant commercial investment in the blockchain?

This talk will explore the possibility of exploiting the characteristics of the blockchain to support the eResearch endeavour and will pose the questions; “where should we start?”, “who could do this?” and “how can we leverage the investment already made by others?”



This is the first conference at which blockchain development has been mature enough for this topic to be reasonably discussed. Many groups are now working on the blockchain not only to develop it further but to consider how to develop standards for it. For example, the Australian Computer Society (ACS) recently established a technical working group on blockchain. If this is not discussed now, others will continue to develop the blockchain without input from the research sector.


Dr Nick Tate is an Author, CEO, Managing Director of Haroldton Associates and Adjunct Professor at the University of Queensland (UQ). He spent over 4 years as Director of the RDSI project, forerunner of the current RDS project and is co-founder of the eResearch Australasia conference, which he chaired or co-chaired for a decade. Nick has over 40 years’ experience in IT including 16 years at CIO level in UQ and 2 London banks, as well as 17 years’ experience as a Company Director in 11 Australian and 2 US companies. He is a former Chair of CAUDIT, Director of AusCERT and President of the Australian Computer Society (ACS). He has a PhD in Cybersecurity and is co-author of “A Director’s Guide to Governing Information Technology and Cybersecurity”, a book published by the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). Nick is currently President of the South-East Asia Regional Computer Confederation (SEARCC) and Director of SEARCC’s project for developing a Common Skills Framework for the Asia-Pacific Region.

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