Argo Blockchain and FT Letter

An announcement appeared this morning from Argo Blockchain Plc (ARB). It was well timed as I was going to write something on the hype surrounding blockchain technology soon. ARB has received a requisition to remove two of the directors, and appoint others. The company has been focused on providing a cryptocurrency mining service and floated on AIM at a price of 16p – it’s now just over 3p. But a few weeks ago it gave up the “mining-as-a-service” business to focus on other things such as mining for its own account. I guess the falling price of Bitcoin, et al, meant that folks did not see any profit in paying for such a service.

But the company does have considerable cash remaining which equates to more than the current market cap. It has not been disclosed what the purpose of the aforementioned requisition is but perhaps it is to encourage a return of the cash to shareholders. It would certainly make some sense to do so and wind up the business perhaps.

Blockchain has been hyped as the solution to many business problems. But there was a very interesting article by Patrick McConnell in the latest edition of the magazine IT NOW (a publication of the British Computer Society of which I am Member). It was a pretty damning appraisal of the technology behind blockchain and its usability. One paragraph says “It is possible that the technical architecture underpinning blockchain may be adequate for supporting certain classes of narrow business problems, but none have emerged yet”. It also describes how the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) decided in 2015 to replace its CHESS equities settlement application with blockchain technology but has since effectively given up with only vestigial remnants of that architecture remaining. There have been other reports of the very high overheads involved in using blockchain for high-volume transaction processing systems. It would seem blockchain is a technology promoted by those who do not really understand it.

Lastly, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Financial Times published a letter from me on the subject of statistical significance this morning – see https://www.ft.com/content/5717e868-5203-11e9-9c76-bf4a0ce37d49  . This was a follow up to a report that scientists would like to abandon the use of such measures in the publication Nature. So I thought it best to try to put a stop to this irrationality before we see too many spurious claims and charlatans appear.

Roger Lawson (Twitter: https://twitter.com/RogerWLawson )

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