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【英翻】当考古学遇见区块链:社会科学的数据革命?

2017-12-11  RK588

来源:英国《卫报》

作者:Peter B Campbell

时间:2017年10月2日

翻译:严小呆

校对:瓢虫

整理:zznny

链接:https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/oct/02/archaeology-and-blockchain-a-social-science-data-revolution


区块链技术正在彻底改变金融系统。它是否也将带来考古学数据的变革?


未来,区块链技术将可用于博物馆和数据储存。

本月,世界第一枚“考古学币”问世。尽管这只是来自某个小团体的喧闹,却可能是即将到来的社会科学数据革命的一部分。币种的名称叫卡普币(Kapu),是一种和比特币相似的数字货币,专为考古学设计。卡普币和比特币基于区块链技术,该技术或将改变数据存储和文化遗产保护。当下公众尚不适应区块链,不过有理由相信,未来十年它将成为一种标准技术,而我们也许正在目睹这第一步。

从金融市场和政客到自由主义者和末日拯救者,人人都对区块链感兴趣。他们中的大多数,关注点并不在货币,而在于区块链在储存和分享数据中的运用。区块链能创建无法篡改的资产记录,已试用于房、车等资产和有机食品、可持续捕捞,当然还有文物。

区块链如何运行?虽然在技术上复杂,但是它的基本理念却很简单。不同于银行或政府机构持有的账簿,区块链是公共的分类账簿。“币”持有人可以拥有他人全部资产和交易的副本,创建对等的资产和交易登记网络。这带来了透明度,避免了中心化的“可信任”机构,如银行。其结果是形成“分布式”网络,使授权代表或用户可以通过网络在电脑中复制全部账簿和交易信息。数据操作因网络限制而被阻止。

任何经历过硬盘坏死或是服务器故障的人都能理解数据存储无单点失效【1】的价值。全面分布的区块链无单点失效,且不会被单个实体控制。好消息是区块链可以存储的数据比金融账簿多,几乎可以存储任何数字信息。

区块链是开源技术,允许进一步创新。例如,数字货币体系以太坊 (Etherrum)创建的“智能合约”可以自我监督履行。想象一下,货车的GPS定位刚到你家,你的运货款就被支付了。作为最新的货币之一,卡普币正在整合先前数字货币的创新。它基于数字资产代币ARK。这是一种有影响力的数字货币,通过建立平台智能桥(SmartBridge)连接不同的区块链(例如比特币到以太坊),创建“数字生态系统”。

当前,相关应用正处于爆发阶段。艺术家通过Mycelia系统保护和销售音乐,该系统运用区块链创建更公平的分享和支付方式。英国公司Provenance利用区块链追踪食物生产供应链,例如追踪鱼,从其产地追踪到世界各地市场和餐馆的消费者,以避免非法捕鱼和强迫劳动。

对于考古学和其他研究领域,区块链意味着什么?把一枚货币看作一个可以存储数据的区块,每个区块可以无数次细分以创建小块,如此可以作为博物馆或高校目录。“区块”记录是公开的,但是内容是经过加密的。数据通过网络存储,永恒不变,除非所有者做出添加。

卡普币是一种运用了区块链技术的新的数字货币,专为考古学设计。(供图:马蒂诺·麦罗拉(Martino Merola))

 

卡普币首席执行官马蒂诺·麦罗拉(Martino Merola),生长于意大利卡普亚,出于对这座城市(卡普是卡普亚的旧称)文化遗产保护的关心,创建了卡普币。他关注数字货币数年,看到了区块链在考古学中的潜力。我们谈起时,他说卡普币旨在“变革考古学与遗址数据的存储、保存和访问方式。”因为许多国家对考古学资助有限,麦罗拉说,区块链为加密数据存储提供了一个廉价又简单的办法,实现不同程度授权接入。麦罗拉和他的团队已经创建了框架,不过正在寻找高校和博物馆合作,试运行数据的存储和信息的共享。

区块链在考古学的运用上有哪些应用?通常,由图书馆和诸如考古学数据服务(ADS)这样的服务机构存档数据。区块链可以提供不可变的存档记录。这对博物馆尤为有用,博物馆可以使用区块链非公开地储存自己的文物目录,同时向员工、研究人员和公众提供不同程度的授权。如果博物馆遭遇失窃,可以向执法机构发布散列码【2】,制止与描述匹配的文物出口和售卖。考古学家格兰特·考克斯(Grant Cox)说:“卡普币团队正在研究存储不同类型数据的最佳办法,并将通过使用已开发的工具评估利用区块链形成分布式公共网络以维护和管理遗产内容的方法”。虽然这些工具仍处于试用阶段,但是Cox说,正在建设中的区块随时候命,为考古学应用做好了准备。

区块链可保有永恒不变的资产记录,因此有人提议可用于记录不动产。接下来可能是与文物所有权相关的应用。文物监管少于本地超市里的鸡蛋,形成的市场充斥着假货和赝品,以及以资助犯罪组织和恐怖组织而被人们所知的文物贩卖,尤为突出的是近期伊斯兰国的大范围文物掠夺。如果文物在区块链上有记录,它每次出入境或被转卖至另一位收藏者时,记录都会更新并显示它是合法的。相反,“涉案文物”(blood antiquities)将没有记录,且无法像现在常做的这样伪造记录。边境安全部门将比对海关申报的文物记录与国际刑警组织(INTERPOL)等的数据库。更进一步可能使用SmartWater或者编码DNA(coded DNA )等产品记录区块链信息,这些技术当前被用于文物隐形标记。一旦SmartWater或DNA上的散列码被移除,数据库就会提供文物记录。

卡普币是专门为考古学设计的数字货币,以意大利古城卡普亚命名。(供图:马蒂诺·麦罗拉(Martino Merola))

 

另一项与研究人类主体的研究人员有关的应用可能是自动执行的智能合约。道德准则要求保护来自人类主体的数据。民族志数据是典型的指定存储时间的数据(比如五年),之后这些涉密的记录将会销毁。区块链可以编码储存这些记录,并通过智能合约,在指定的时间销毁涉密数据。

在朱利叶斯·贝尔(Julius Bär)的《下一代》(Next Generation)节目的一段采访中,阿尔伯托·佩鲁奇尼(Alberto Perucchini)谈起区块链在金融投资方面的应用,说道“2016年,到处在炒作区块链……2017年是区块链开始推行的第一年。”卡普币和考古学是新成果之一。卡普币会成功么?没人能保证。但是,区块链在社会科学数据方面有巨大的潜力。

 

 

注释:

【1】单点故障(a single point of failure):单个点发生的故障,通常应用于计算机系统及网络。实际指的是单个点发生故障的时候会波及到整个系统或者网络,从而导致整个系统或者网络的瘫痪。

【2】散列码(hash code):hash code是一种编码方式,在Java中,每个对象都会有一个hashcode,Java可以通过这个hashcode来识别一个对象。

 

 

原文

Archaeology and blockchain: a social science data revolution?

Blockchain technology is revolutionising financial systems. Could it do the same for archaeological data?

Museum and data storage might both be aided in the future with blockchain technology. 

This month the world’s first “archaeology coin” launched to fanfare from a small community; however, it might be part of a coming social science data revolution. Named Kapu, the digital currency is similar to Bitcoin, but specifically designed for archaeology. The technology underlying Kapu and Bitcoin is called blockchain and it may change data storage and cultural heritage protection. While the public is unaccustomed with blockchain, there is good reason to believe we may be witnessing the first step in what will become a standard technology over the next decade.

Everyone from financial markets and politicians to libertarians and doomsday savers are taking an interested in blockchain. Many of these individuals are not focused on the currencies, but the use of blockchain as a means to store and share data. It can create a record of assets that cannot be tampered with and it is being tested for assets such as homes and cars, organic food and sustainable fisheries, and, of course, artifacts.

How does blockchain work? It is a complex technology, but the underlying idea is quite simple. Blockchain is a public ledger, unlike a ledger kept by a bank or government institution. Each person who owns a “coin” also maintains a copy of all other assets and transactions, creating a peer-to-peer asset and transaction registry network. This provides transparency and avoids centralized “trust” institutions such as banks. The result is a “distributed” network where all the ledgers and transactions are replicated on delegates’ or users’ computers throughout the network. Data manipulation can be prevented since it will not be approved by the network.

Anyone who has had a hard drive die or server fail can understand the value of data storage without a single point of failure. Well-distributed blockchains have no single point of failure and cannot be controlled by a single entity. The good news is that blockchains can store more than financial ledgers- it can be used to store nearly any digital information.

Blockchain is an open source technology that allows for further innovation. For example, the digital currency Ethereum created “smart contracts” that are self-executing. Imagine that payment for a package going through once the delivery truck’s GPS signal arrives at your house. As one of the latest coins, Kapu is integrating innovations from earlier digital currencies. It is based on ARK, an influential digital currency that is building a platform called SmartBridge that links different blockchains (e.g. Bitcoin to Ethereum) to create a “digital ecosystem.”

An explosion of applications is occurring at the moment. Artists are protecting and selling music through a system called Mycelia, which uses blockchain to create a more equitable sharing and payment method. The UK company Provenance uses blockchain to track food production supply chains, such as tracking fish from source to consumers in the world’s markets and restaurants to prevent illegal fishing and slave labour.

What does blockchain mean for archaeology and other research fields? Think of each coin as a block capable of storing data. A block can be subdivided countless times to create subsections, so it may serve as a directory for a museum or university. Record of your “block” is public, but its contents are encrypted. The data is stored across the network and it is immutable except for additions by the owner.

Kapu is a new digital currency using blockchain designed for archaeology. Photograph: Martino Merola

 

The CEO of Kapu, Martino Merola, grew up in Capua, Italy, and created the currency out of concern for the cultural heritage in his city (Kapu is the ancient name for Capua). He has been involved in digital currencies for a number of years, but saw potential for blockchain and archaeology. When we spoke, he said Kapu would like to “revolutionize how archaeological and heritage data are stored, preserved, and made accessible.” Given the limited funding for archaeology in many countries, Merola says blockchain offers a cheap and simple solution for encrypted data storage that can be accessed through different levels of permissions. Merola and his team have created the framework, but are seeking universities and museums to collaboratively experiment with data storage and information sharing.

What are some applications of blockchain for archaeology? Currently, data is archived in libraries and services such as the Archaeology Data Service (ADS). Blockchain could offer an immutable record for archives. This is especially useful for museums who could store their artifact catalog with blockchain privately, but provide different levels of access to staff, researchers, and the public. If a museum were to be looted, it could release data using hash codes to law enforcement to prevent export or sale of artifacts of matching descriptions. Archaeologist Grant Cox says, “The Kapu team is investigating the best ways to store different types of data and will be evaluating ways to use the block chain to develop a distributed public network to sustain and host heritage content” through recently developed tools. While these tools are still being experimented with, the building blocks are in place, Cox says, and ready for archaeological applications.

Blockchain can maintain immutable property records, leading to proposals for real estate records. An application for antiquities ownership could follow. Antiquities are less regulated than the eggs in your local supermarket, creating a market that is rife with fakes, forgeries, and trafficked antiquities that are known to fund organized crime and terror organizations, as recently highlighted by Islamic State’s widespread looting of artifacts. Were an artifact to have a blockchain record, each time it crossed a border or was sold to a new collector the record could be updated to show it was legitimate. Conversely “blood antiquities” would have no record and faked records could not be manufactured as they often are today. Border security could then compare records of artifacts declared at customs to databases such as INTERPOL. A step further might be to store blockchain information with products like SmartWater or coded DNA which are currently used to invisibly tag artifacts. Once hashes are recovered from the SmartWater or DNA, the database would provide the record of the artifact.

Kapu is a digital currency designed specifically for archaeology and named after the ancient city of Capua in Italy. Photograph: Martino Merola

Another application for researchers working with living subjects may be self-executing smart contracts. Ethical guidelines require the protection of data from human subjects. Ethnographic data is typically stored for a set amount of time (e.g. five years) and then confidential records are destroyed. Blockchain could encrypt and store these records, then the smart contracts could destroy confidential data after a set period of time.

In an interview with Julius Bär’s Next Generation, Alberto Perucchini discussed applications of blockchain for finance and investment, stating, “2016 was hype around block chain... 2017 is the year of the first implementations.” Kapu and archaeology are one of these new implementations. Will Kapu be a success? No one can say for certain; however, blockchain has great potential for social science data.

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