From unknown, to renowned, to unknown again, blockchain technology’s past year has been tumultuous. Optimism abounded at the beginning of 2018. A technological revolution was happening. However, the outcome of that revolution was much more sobering. Today, in the aftermath of a ravaged digital assets market, which is the most publicly recognized use of blockchain technology, we are left with more questions than before. While the debate over blockchain’s future rages on, we must ponder what purpose decentralization serves and whether it is truly necessary?

This answer is clearly demonstrated by global historical trends. It’s been shown that highly valuable systems must be decentralized. Whether politically decentralized via democracy, or economically decentralized via capitalism, the historical trend shows clearly that decentralization by way of the majority is the only way of preventing tyranny by the minority. The questions that remain after the recent crypto-crash are not whether decentralization is valuable, but rather what industries and systems should be decentralized, and what technological hurdles must still be overcome? The answers to these questions will define the coming age of Decentralized Ledger Technologies (DLTs), transform the digital landscape, and guide waves of entrepreneurs and investors.

These questions serve as a guide for the upcoming BOLD Awards: Boldest Blockchain Platform. The projects that will define the coming era of DLTs will offer solutions that transform struggling industries, solve the existing challenges plaguing DLTs, and innovate effectively. The following projects are unique in their visions, approaches, and technological innovations.

Boldest Blockchain PlatformsEthereum – Ethereum has continued to lead the development of DLTs. Ethereum’s recent release of the Plasma testnet with zero-knowledge proof integration proves that Ethereum is dedicated to solving its existing scalability problems. Plasma provides an effective scaling solution and zero-knowledge proofs enable advanced privacy features. With by far the largest community of developers and corporate partners, Ethereum continues to offer bold innovations to overcome today’s decentralization challenges.

Chainspace – Chainspace offers unique approaches to privacy, scalability, and reliability. Chainspace makes use of a state shared infrastructure, distributing processes to independent shards within the network. These shards (collections of nodes), maintain a history of the network state and execute processing commands. This effectively solves the common bottleneck problems with current blockchain systems where the entire network must process every transaction. Chainspace’s unique S-BAC atomic commit protocol allows transactions to utilize multiple shards and ensures that they only ever execute smart contracts together. Led by an accredited team of researchers at University College London, Chainspace is bringing forth a customizable, highly secure system for decentralized application development.

Cartesi – One challenge of decentralized technology is balancing between the reliability of on-chain transactions and the cost-effectiveness of off-chain ones. Take Ethereum for example, while computations performed by the Ethereum network are incredibly reliable, they are impractically expensive for computationally intensive demands. Cartesi bridges this divide, offering an effective way of validating and confirming off-chain computations for their eventual inclusion onto the blockchain. This will ultimately enable cheaper off-chain computations with the security of blockchain immutability. Cartesi’s support of verifiable external computations and ingenious validation process make all this possible.

Sovrin – Sovrin approaches the issue of digital identity, offering a blockchain solution to a widely problematic industry. Sovrin offers a self-sovereign identity system that will put individuals in control of their digital identity. Sovrin utilizes a network of trusted validation “nodes” which include some of the world’s most influential companies, including Cisco, IBM, Telekom Innovation Laboratories (T-Mobile’s innovation unit), and Absa Group – Barclay’s Africa. In other words, the Sovrin solution will allow individuals to maintain their digital identity, backed by numerous international corporations.

Dfinity – Dfinity is a blockchain platform tackling central questions such as how to safely and effectively reach consensus based on randomness. Randomness ultimately ensures that the process is unpredictable and thus, trustworthy. Dfinity’s use of a random beacon and its threshold signature scheme ensure that its core consensus system is both safe and verifiable. Additionally, Dfinity’s Blockchain Nervous System is an A.I. system that can make network changes to protect against abuses and issues. And with research centers at Palo Alto and Zurich and in Stanford University, Dfinity has the talent to cement itself as a DLT leader and the features to support complex applications.

Solana – Solana has a similar goal as Chainspace, namely, to create a verifiable way of tracking transactions without requiring the whole network to store every transaction. It accomplishes this through a unique, Proof of History system. Proof of History, when combined with Solana’s Proof of Stake consensus variation, allows the network to scale efficiently and securely.

As we advance towards a more decentralized future, exceptional innovations and talented leaders will guide the way. Projects will need to navigate a complicated landscape of technological tradeoffs, obstinate established industries, and scalability challenges. Bold approaches will be needed to overcome these obstacles.

Entries to the BOLD Awards are being accepted now in 12 categories, including Boldest Blockchain Platform. The power of the crowd through public voting from February 8 will reduce entries to a shortlist of five in each category, at which point an international panel of judges will be involved in selecting the category winners. Awards will be presented at a ceremony orgnised by our event partner H-FARM in Venice, Italy, on 5 April 2019. Please take a look, enter your project if you’ve worked on one (or more), and be ready to vote for your favorites from February 8.