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The Blockchain Immutability Myth (Op-Ed)

"The highest good, than which there is no higher, is the blockchain, and consequently it is immutably good, hence truly eternal and truly immortal."
— Saint Augustine, De natura boni, i, 405 C.E. (with minor edits)

Dr Gideon Greenspan is the founder and CEO of Coin Sciences, the company behind the MultiChain platform for private blockchains.

In this opinion piece, Greenspan attacks the idea that true immutability can be achieved in blockchain systems, arguing a more relative definition of this feature better encapsulates what's the technology can achieve.

If you ask someone well-informed about the characteristics of blockchains, the word 'immutable' will invariably appear in the response.

In plain English, this word is used to denote something which can never be modified or changed. In a blockchain, it refers to the global log of transactions, which is created by a consensus between the chain's participants. The basic notion is this: once a blockchain transaction has received a sufficient level of validation, some cryptography ensures that it can never be replaced or reversed.

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