Earlier this week IBM announced the completion of a shipment tracking trial that recorded the bill of lading on a blockchain. The trial consisted of a shipment of 28 tons of mandarin oranges that originated in China and were delivered to Singapore. The trial appeared to demonstrate that a blockchain-based shipment tracking system can cut costs by speeding up document processing, improving the handling of information and providing a traceable and tamper-proof record of maritime shipments. In related news, this week the Food and Drug Administration of the Chinese Chongqing Yuzhong District announced that it intends to apply blockchain technology to improve its operations. The proposed blockchain system will be used to strengthen the supervision of food and drug quality assurance, ensure there is better traceability of the product life cycle, and improve anticounterfeiting measures.

In Mexico this week, Medici Land Governance, a subsidiary of a major U.S. online retailer, signed a memorandum of understanding with a municipality to develop a blockchain-based digital land records platform. Also this week, the United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world a blockchain patent relating to a system that uses a combination of artificial intelligence and blockchain technology to establish the authenticity of unique physical objects. The technology will seek to use machine learning to link physical objects to a blockchain through their own unique identifiers or fingerprints (e.g., chemical signatures, DNA or image patterns). The goal of the technology will be to increase the security of supply chain systems.

Blockchain ETL, a project of one of the world's largest technology companies, made the news this week in an article in Forbes. The Blockchain ETL project is seeking to make blockchain more accessible by loading the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains into a big-data analytics platform and developing the ability to conduct searches of the data. Finally, a Canadian financial services firm reported its findings this week that Bitcoin is becoming more decentralized. Citing statistics relating to Bitcoin's hashrate distribution, the company noted that increased competition among mining chip manufacturers has led to no single mining pool controlling more than 20 percent of Bitcoin's hashrate. According to the report, this is an improvement in decentralization from a time in mid-2014 when a single mining pool controlled approximately 50 percent of the Bitcoin hashrate, creating potential for a 51 percent attack. Reasons cited for the improved decentralization include the increased commoditization of bitcoin mining chips.

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