How would you like to search for patterns in the blockchain of your choice in much the same way as you would search the Internet today? Believe it or not, Google just made search tools available that will perform that task for eight separate blockchain ledgers. Transaction datasets have been loaded upon its “BigQuery” platform with open source tools now live for public searches.
Much of what has been written about this new turn of events is steeped in technical jargon. Here is one “mild” example: “Dubbed Blockchain ETL (extract, transform, load), the software created by independent developer Medvedev, with support from the rest the team, now includes features such as integration with Google’s BigQuery ML (machine learning) tool, launched into a test, or “beta” version last year. By searching for patterns in transaction flows, the machine learning integration will automatically inform the user basic information about how a cryptocurrency address is being used.”
Forbes broke the story a few days back. In an interview with Google Cloud developer Allen Day, he said:
I’m very interested to quantify what’s happening so that we can see where the real legitimate use cases are for blockchain. So people can acknowledge that and then we can move to the next use case and develop out what these technologies are really appropriate for.
Google Cloud began experimenting with transaction datasets for both Bitcoin and Ethereum in the latter part of 2018. Data histories were loaded onto the system for public access, but the news today is that six other datasets have been added, along with powerful search tools. The other six coin programs are Bitcoin Cash, Dash, Dogecoin, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, and Zcash.
To the amazement of all, Google has been late to the crypto party. At a Blockchain Summit conference in 2018, Google co-founder Sergey Brin acknowledged that his firm had been slow to jump on board: “We probably already failed to be on the bleeding edge.” Some now reason that the tech giant has taken to heart that cryptos and the blockchain are disruptive technologies and that sooner, rather than later, they could reduce the company’s monopolistic control over the big data search domain.
Bloomberg had chided the giant’s reluctance to engage by suggesting that Google needed to “head off competition from emerging startups”. In some ways, Google could be accused of putting out a smokescreen to cover its tacks during 2018. According to a report by CBInsights, Google has been making moves in the background to be a material and “second most active” investor in all-things blockchain.
One reporter noted:
Under the radar, Google has been buying a number of startups that focus on digital ledger technologies. So far, Google’s parent company Alphabet’s venture capital arm GV has invested in wallet service Blockchain Luxembourg, financial transactions network Ripple, cryptocurrency asset management platform LedgerX, and international payments provider Veem.
Google soon disclosed on its blog that it was officially entering the blockchain space by partnering with crypto startups to engage them with the Google Cloud Platform. The company also had attempted to hire a few key crypto executives, which again added to the speculation that Google had big plans for the crypto ecosphere.
Is Google playing a game of catch-up or is it already well down the road to making major inroads into the crypto/blockchain landscape? Artem Chestnov, founder of Ubex, has no doubts:
Google will start moving to the blockchain space faster than we think and than their management thinks, they simply have no choice. They are already late and will try to catch up time by a number of serious acquisitions. We shall see a multibillion M&A activity from tech giants already next year.