IBM is continuing its effort to democratize blockc

IBM is continuing its effort to democratize blockc

first_imgIBM is continuing its effort to democratize blockchain technology for developers. The company announced the availability of the IBM Blockchain Platform Starter Plan designed to give developers, startups and enterprises the tools for building blockchain proofs-of-concept and an end-to-end developer experience.“What do you get when you offer easy access to an enterprise blockchain test environment for three months?” Jerry Cuomo, VP of blockchain technology at IBM, wrote in a blog post. “More than 2,000 developers and tens of thousands of transaction blocks, all sprinting toward production readiness.”RELATED CONTENT: Unlocking the blockchain potentialIBM has been focused on bringing the blockchain to enterprises for years. Earlier this year, the company announced IBM Blockchain Starter Services, Blockchain Acceleration Services and Blockchain Innovation Services. The platform is powered by the open-source Hyperledger Fabric framework, and features a test environment, suite of education tools and modules, network provisioning, and $500 in credit for starting up a blockchain network. Hyperledger Fabric is an open-source blockchain framework implementation originally developed by Digital Asset and IBM.According to the company, the Blockchain Platform was initially built for institutions working collectively towards mission-critical business goals. “And while Starter Plan was originally intended as an entry point for developers to test and deploy their first blockchain applications, users also now include larger enterprises creating full applications powered by dozens of smart contracts, eliminating many of the repetitive legacy processes that have traditionally slowed or prevented business success,” Cuomo explained.Other features include: access to IBM Blockchain Platform Enterprise Plan capabilities, code samples available on GitHub, and Hyperledger Composer open-source technology.“Starter Plan was introduced as a way for anyone to access the benefits of the IBM Blockchain Platform regardless of their level of blockchain understanding or production readiness. IBM has worked for several years to commercialize blockchain and harden the technology for the enterprise based on experience with hundreds clients across industries,” Cuomo wrote.last_img read more

In Colombia biodiversity researchers seek relief from regulatory red tape

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) MEDELLÍN, COLOMBIA—In 2011, when biologist Jean Paul Delgado set up his laboratory at the University of Antioquia (UdeA) here, he was eager to help his home nation learn more about its extraordinary biological wealth, including some 800 species of salamanders, frogs, and other amphibians. Delgado’s enthusiasm soon turned to frustration, however, and he’s largely abandoned his efforts to study Colombia’s biodiversity.Sitting in his office recently, he displayed the reason: a huge folder stuffed with the paperwork needed to get government permission to collect native species or just sample their DNA. It can take a year or more to obtain approval from Colombia’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Delgado says. And, “If you deviate from the contract, there will be consequences” that could include fines and research restrictions.Many Colombian researchers say the cumbersome, stressful process has prompted them to give up on studies involving the nation’s more than 62,000 native species. Delgado, for example, is no longer planning to sequence the genome of Colombian salamander Bolitoglossa ramosi, which regenerates lost limbs. And UdeA chemist Alejandro Martínez dropped his effort to extract useful chemical compounds from marine sponges found along the nation’s Caribbean coast. “My scientific productivity was sadly affected,” Martínez says. By Andrew J. 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Country Colombian biologist Jean Paul Delgado dropped plans to sequence the genome of Bolitoglossa ramosi, a native salamander that can regenerate lost limbs, because of burdensome regulations. In Colombia, biodiversity researchers seek relief from regulatory red tape Such setbacks, however, moved Delgado to action. Two years ago, he launched a campaign to persuade the government to reform the permit process. Now, after traveling the nation to forge alliances with university leaders and elected officials, Delgado is cautiously optimistic that this could be the year his efforts produce results. One reason for hope: President Iván Duque Márquez, who took office in August 2018, has made biodiversity preservation a “matter of national security,” and signed off on creating the nation’s first science ministry. “The creation of the ministry is an opportunity to make slow processes faster,” says Iván Darío Agudelo Zapata, a member of Colombia’s Senate who championed the creation of the ministry.The problem, researchers argue, is that there were unintended consequences from Colombia’s implementation of international agreements, such as the 1993 Convention on Biological Diversity, designed to give nations greater control over their biologial wealth. In general, those pacts require researchers to explain how they plan to collect and study organisms, and aim to ensure that the nations where those organisms originated share in any profits from valuable discoveries. The rules aren’t supposed to hamper research, but there is often “a lack of understanding of the basis and intentions of international treaties … by the national-level bureaucrats,” says Kamaljit Bawa, a conservation biologist at the University of Massachusetts in Boston who has written about the issue.In Colombia, the result has been red tape that is unecessarily strangling studies, researchers argue. Under current rules, for instance, scientists at Colombian universities need a permit even if they just want to sequence ubiquitous lab organisms such as yeast or fruit flies found within the nation’s borders, notes microbiologist Javier Correa Álvarez of EAFIT, a private research university here. And despite help from his university’s three full-time lawyers, Correa says it recently took him a year to obtain a permit for a field study, “and a year is an eternity in our field.”In order to streamline biodiversity research, the lobby effort is urging the government to end contracts on genetic access, to ease sampling restrictions, and to make the permit process quicker and easier. Such changes “would take a lot of stress and pain away,” Delgado says. Reformers are also thinking about asking the government to grant an amnesty to scientists who have already run afoul of the rules. (It is not clear how many there are; Colombian researchers are reluctant to discuss the matter, and the environment ministry did not respond to an inquiry about how often it has sanctioned scientists.)Change could require action by both Colombia’s Congress and executive branch. But the reformers are hopeful that the country’s increasingly science-friendly political climate, and the creation of the new science ministry, will produce action by the end of this year. “For the first time,” Agudelo notes, “science has a seat in the president’s Cabinet.”last_img read more