This article attempts to cover the missing things in both articles and the explanations of the 4th and 5th generations of the blockchain networks. Before diving into the main matter of discussions, here is a brief description of the root of this ground-breaking technology.
The evolution of foundational technologies such as the computer, mobile, and internet was not a rapid process. The first generation of computers (1940–1956) was started from a large size vacuum tube.
Over the time, the evolution of computer can be systematically studied by classifying into the five generations:
Today, computers are far more advanced with the features like less expensive, powerful, high working efficiency, smaller size, etc. According to the pace of technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled powerful machines are coming into the existence to make human lives easier.
All the foundational technologies(mentioned earlier) in the digital world, were the backbones to give the birth of blockchain technology i.e.another breakthrough in the digital world.
The era of blockchain technology started once Satoshi Nakamoto re-invented this technology to introduce Bitcoin in 2009. The five generations of blockchain technology are classified as below:
The Bitcoin blockchain network was the 1st generation blockchain technology that follows the Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus algorithm. Bitcoins paved the road to inspired so many altcoins like Ethereum, Litecoin, etc. to evolve in the cryptocurrency world.
Basically, the Bitcoin blockchain network was created to make the transactions of Bitcoin by forming the immutable data across the distributed ledger but over time, the blockchain technology was not just limited to a financial instrument.
The voluntary technologies like the smart contract, Proof-of-Stake (PoS)-based blockchain, Mixed Bag: BC2BC, and AI-enabled blockchain networks have proved blockchain technology is more than just a financial instrument.
The Bitcoin blockchain itself has so many downsides like disputable energy consumptions to run the mining equipment, adjusting mining rigs need expensive hardware setups, and notorious scalability problem.
Despite some disadvantages of the Bitcoin blockchain network, it has unique advantages too.
After Bitcoin, the next generation of blockchain technology was started from the Ethereum blockchain network in 2015. For the first time, developers introduced Smart Contracts(self-executing and fully automated programs) through the Ethereum Blockchain network.
Ethereum was the first blockchain network to help the evolution of Decentralized Finance( DeFi) as MakerDAO was the first DeFi application to offer fully smart contract-based financial services which were the next level's practice to give financial freedom to everyone.
Image: Ethereum Smart Contract Working Mechanism; Source: ResearchGate
Apart from the financial sector, use-cases of Ethereum blockchain network are as follow:
The Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains are based on the PoW consensus algorithm and both have notorious problems: scalability and overpower consumption to run the mining equipment. Other blockchain networks like ETC were suffered from the majority or 51% attack.
The third generation of blockchain networks like NANO, Banano, Cardano, etc was capable of solving the persisting problems in second generations blockchain networks like scalability, 51% attack, high power consumptions, interoperability, sustainability, etc.
The most important point is Proof-of-Stake consensus algorithm-based blockchain networks like Cardano fall in this generation. If Cardano is taken as a reference, it has attempted to create a stable blockchain ecosystem.
The first three generations have helped to increase the use cases and applicability of blockchain technology but still failed to help the mainstream adoption of the technology in the financial, industrial, institutional, and governmental sectors due to the cost and complexity of their implementations.
The fourth-generation blockchains have solved the major problems seen in the blockchains of the previous generations to the bigger extend and the things which are done by 4rth generation blockchains are as follow:
For a better understanding of the fourth generation blockchain technology, here are some references of the game-changing blockchain networks:
EOS blockchain is based on Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS) model and DPoS uses the real-time voting coming from the EOS holders to determine the validators to add the new block into the blockchain.
The latest release of the EOS blockchain was in June 2018 which is capable to process millions of transactions per second. The most remarkable achievement of this blockchain network is, it eliminates the transaction fees for miners. The feeless transaction feature of the EOS blockchain helps to run real-world applications.
Image source: LeewayHertz
The following are the key features of the EOS blockchain network which help to distinguish the EOS blockchain from the other blockchains from the previous generations.
The Polkadot network protocol is another level blockchain that has made things possible to transfer both tokens and arbitrary data across the blockchain.
The decent multi-chain supporting features of Polkadot have helped to allow cross-chain computation and the cross-chain registries which are the genuine features in the blockchain sphere.
The blockchain has followed the PoS BFT consensus algorithm and capable of processing 1000 transactions per second. There are four basic roles: collator, fisherman, nominator, and validator in order to upkeep the blockchain.
Image: Polkadot blockchain
Here are some unique features of the Polkadot blockchain:
Currently, so many experts may deny considering the fifth generation of blockchain technology. They might argue based on the existence of fully AI-enabled blockchain but according to the pace of technology to back the rapidly advancing blockchain, it may not be the problem to raise the concerns even for 5th generation blockchains for a systematic study of the technology.
Developers of some blockchain projects like Free TON, Propersix, and Relictum Pro have independently claimed that they have brought the AI-enabled 5th generation blockchain technology into existence, and the crypto community can conduct the discussions whether they meet so many parameters to be 5th generation blockchain technology or not.
Despite the vast improvements in the blockchains of the fourth generation, there were still notable challenges like Interfacing complex data to provide them across the blockchain, back-end full control over the system integrity and security, high scalability based on the sharding, and the tightly-coupled blockchain(Almost all blockchains from 4th generations are not tightly-coupled).
The Free TON blockchain attempts to solve the mentioned challenges faced by fourth-generation blockchains. Let's have a dive into the Free TON blockchain.
The open-source and Telegram abandoned blockchain project TON is claimed to be the first 5th generation blockchain technology as Dr. Nikolai Durov(Creator of TON blockchain) describes TON as the first fifth-generation blockchain technology.
Recently, the independent group of developers, members, and validators have introduced the multi-blockchain Free TON in 2020 that is based on the original TON blockchain protocol and its ecosystem refers to DAO. The Free TON uses the BFT PoS consensus algorithm and it is the mixed homogeneous/heterogeneous multichain smart-contract enabled systems.
According to the developers, the Free TON is the cluster of supercomputers to offer various services, and virtual machines developed by Telegram are also integrated into the Free TON in order to provide a wide range of real-world applications to millions of people worldwide.
Here are some unique features of Free TON that are helpful to distinguish it from the other blockchains from the previous generations:
Developers are working to introduce new and advanced blockchain technologies. In the future, the next era of computers is more likely to start with quantum computers having huge computing powers.
If quantum computers are the mainstream adopted computers in future, the vast improvements are also required in encryptions and the AI-powered system of the blockchains.
So what are the expected blockchain features in the future?
Without being skeptical, blockchain technology is the ground-breaking technology to solve so many business problems, finance-related problems, data security, and many more but still, it has not a substantial transformational impact on this world as expected no matter how far blockchain technology has gone so far from the first generation blockchain to the present blockchain technology.
Cybersecurity has always been a significant challenge to impact the advancement and the mass adoption of blockchain technology. Not to get worried at all, let's see how developers will face all the challenges to invent other advanced technologies in the future.