blockchain (Immersion Imagery/


DARPA looks to 'less-explored' blockchain uses

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to get a better handle on what it calls the "distributed consensus protocols" behind blockchain to see how they can improve security, storage and computing in the Defense Department.

In a Nov. 19 request for information, DARPA said it wants feedback on three "less-explored avenues" of the technology that might inform a future program:

Incentivizing participation without money. Whereas Bitcoin miners are paid for their work verifying the accuracy of transactions, DARPA is interested in ways to analyze participants' contributions and fairly reward them with something of value besides currency.

Economics-driven security models. The research agency wants insight into approaches that support the idea that participants -- such as Bitcoin miners -- work to make money (an economic notion), rather than for the either honest or malicious reasons that computer science literature traditionally subscribes to participants.

Centralized aspects. Although consensus protocols operate as large-scale distributed systems, there may be some centralized aspects -- such as codebases, network topologies or pool of developers -- that could influence the security of the entire system.

Responses are due Dec. 20. DARPA intends to hold a workshop in mid-February 2019 based upon responses to this solicitation.

Read the full RFI here.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at [email protected] or @sjaymiller.

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