Most people consider blockchain the underlying technology behind digital currencies like Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum. However, blockchain technology is finding its way into increasingly more industries thanks to its secure and transparent nature.

Despite the digital currency industry recovering from a particularly brutal “crypto winter” and the collapse of the FTX exchange, there’s no shortage of interest in blockchain technology as developers continue improving the infrastructure. Below, we’ll explore some of the year’s most notable blockchain trends and the most interesting use cases.

World ID 2.0 levels up Web3 digital identity solutions

December brought a lot of interest towards Web3 digital identity solutions, following the decentralized identity protocol Worldcoin‘s announcement revealing World ID 2.0—a digital passport that proves your identity without sharing personal data.

World ID, also known as a universal proof of personhood, is an open protocol designed to help people regain ownership of their data. The new upgrade has already been implemented by some popular consumer mobile apps, including Reddit, Shopify, Discord, Telegram, and Minecraft.

Web3 identity solutions are becoming a necessity as artificial intelligence (AI) protocols like ChatGPT creator OpenAI are developing at such a rapid pace. This is because AI-generated images are already difficult to distinguish from photos of actual humans, and it’s only a matter of time before they become indistinguishable.

World ID aims to address this with its biometrics-based digital identity, which provides a future-proof human verification method. The protocol’s zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) allows individuals to keep their data anonymous during verification, which will be necessary with all the emerging AI developments.

Blockchain is becoming a key technology for AI protocols

Artificial intelligence has captured a lot of interest and capital this year, no doubt about it. In fact, 26% of U.S. dollars invested in startups have been captured by AI firms, according to Crunchbase data. This shows that AI investment share grew more than double, from just 11% in 2022.

Despite the growing capital, AI tech is far from perfect on its own. The best protocols still require a significant amount of human oversight to validate the generated input and adjust the algorithms accordingly.

Another pressing concern is that today’s AI algorithms cannot verify the validity and authenticity of their data. This is where blockchain technology comes into play.

Since blockchains are immutable, tamper-proof ledgers of information, they could be used as a highly secure, decentralized database for AI protocols—hence guaranteeing the authenticity of the information.

Decentralized, blockchain-based databases could also lower the cost of data collection and storage for AI protocols, making them more cost-efficient and scalable.

Moreover, blockchain can make the “decision-making” process of AI algorithms more transparent, hence helping researchers further understand the shortcomings of the technology.

A prominent project combining blockchain and AI is SingularityNet, which aims to decentralize the creation of AI algorithms through its decentralized marketplace. SingularityNet’s full-stack AI solution is powered by a decentralized blockchain protocol that enables inherently siloed AI applications to collaborate— advancing the scalability and development of AI algorithms.

Ocean Protocol is another significant project showcasing the synergistic value of blockchain and artificial intelligence by enabling businesses and individuals to exchange and monetize data and data-based services. Built on the Ethereum network, this open-source project utilizes data tokens that users can redeem to gain access to the actual data.

Ocean Protocol leverages AI to unlock access to large data sets, essential for developing today’s Large Language Models (LLMs). The more data an AI protocol has, the higher quality output it can generate, which is why similar data monetization protocols will remain relevant in 2024.

TrackHR is another promising AI-powered startup, that uses the technology to solve the inefficiencies of the recruitment industry. TrackHR’s AI algorithms are deployed during the first contact between the recruiter and talent, to analyze their conversations, and applications documents—even including video material—in order to systematize and streamline the process.

Thier is another promising AI-powered mobile platform built to prevent obesity and type two diabetes. The app will track the caloric consumption and output of each user to generate AI-powered health recommendations. According to Thier founder Kofo Are, obesity costs companies $3,000 to $15,000 per employee per year, meaning that there’s a big opportunity for health apps.

TrackHR and Thier are two of the most exciting startups to graduate from Block Dojo, the London incubator program for startups building on the BSV blockchain.

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Blockchain is securing medical record management

Healthcare providers also recognize the benefits of implementing blockchain technology, especially for storing highly sensitive medical records. Since our medical records are continuously expanding, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for healthcare providers to store and manage them safely.

Blockchain provides a highly secure, encrypted database that can be used to store a patient’s data securely. Moreover, patients would have true ownership of their medical data and who they choose to share it with, benefiting patients’ data privacy.

Thanks to blockchain innovations like ZKPs, patients can even choose to share part of their medical data or simply prove to a healthcare provider that they are prescribed a specific medication without disclosing their full identity or medical history.

Several companies are building blockchain-powered medical records, including MediblocPatientory, and Medicalchain. These patient-oriented platforms aim to empower users with a unified medical record stored on the immutable blockchain ledger.

Blockchain technology is also gaining prominence in the medical supply chain, thanks to the immutability and transparency of the shared ledger, which allows multiple stakeholders to monitor the process.

Modum is among the most interesting companies incorporating blockchain to create more efficient supply chain management. The firm’s supply chain proves that its pharmaceutical shipments haven’t been exposed to poor conditions, such as extreme temperatures. By recording the sensory data of the shipments directly on the blockchain, it assures all stakeholders of the quality of its shipment.

Blockchain is fortifying cybersecurity

Blockchain has emerged as a powerful weapon against cyber attacks since its decentralized ledger eliminates the single points of failure associated with centralized servers and databases.

Since all network participants hold a copy of the decentralized blockchain ledger, hackers would need to simultaneously override the information on thousands of computers. This inherent decentralization is what makes blockchain ledgers tamper-proof and secure.

A testament to blockchain’s utility in cybersecurity is Sentinel Node, a BSV blockchain-based cybersecurity tool that detects network anomalies in real-time. What makes Sentinel Node unique, is that it can detect cyberattacks within a few seconds, while the average detection time usually takes 221 days, according to IBM. This makes threat detection over 4,000 times faster.

Sentinel Node achieves this by taking a real-time snapshot of networks and continually monitoring changes. Each time a file is modified or accessed, Sentinel Node crashes a hash and publishes it on the immutable BSV blockchain, making the action instantly detectable by multiple stakeholders.

Sentinel Node generated over 10.9 million transactions in 2023, proving the institutional appetite for blockchain-based cybersecurity tools, that can fortify online data environments.

Besides offering more secure data environments, blockchain also offers additional cybersecurity benefits via smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts encoded on the blockchain. Smart contracts can be coded to trigger immediate defensive mechanisms during security incidents, which could reduce the response time to the attack and minimize the consequences.

The emergence of blockchain-powered domain name systems (DNS) is a growing initiative in the field of cybersecurity. These eliminate the vulnerability and single points of failure associated with centralized DNS software. What makes blockchain DNS so valuable is that it eliminates the risk of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks since the domain registration information is stored securely on a distributed ledger.

Some of the most notable blockchain DNS projects include the Ethereum Name Service (ENS), Blockstack, and Namecoin.

Looking ahead to 2024

While it’s nearly impossible to predict the next wave of blockchain innovation, a lot will depend on the digital currency regulatory developments in the world’s largest economy. While the European Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) bill is a positive sign of emerging regulation, the regulatory unclarity in the U.S. will continue pressuring the industry unless we witness an improvement in the attitude of U.S. banks towards crypto firms.

Regardless of regulation, the developments around World ID 2.0 will be interesting to follow since the upgrade will be gradually rolled out in the first part of 2024. Overall, decentralized identity solutions will become increasingly important, with the growing issue of AI-generated content becoming indistinguishable.

The continued advancements in AI will also benefit data monetization projects like Ocean Protocol since AI algorithms are only as good as the data they are trained on.

Last but not least, it’s hard to ignore the elephant in the virtual room, which is the 2024 Bitcoin halving and the widespread speculation that it will propel Bitcoin to new all-time highs. While the price appreciation wouldn’t necessarily benefit the advancement of blockchain technology, the potential approval of the first spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in the U.S. could award the digital currency industry more legitimacy and attract more mainstream adoption next year.

Watch: Blockchain tech will make gov’t more efficient and accessible

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New to blockchain? Check out CoinGeek’s Blockchain for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about blockchain technology.

Thank you for engaging with us at SmartLedger through 'Top blockchain trends of 2023—from AI to healthcare and digital ID' - https://smartledger.solutions/top-blockchain-trends-of-2023-from-ai-to-healthcare-and-digital-id/. We hope you found the insights valuable.

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