Dr. Nir Kshetri will tell you he was in the right place at the right time.
About five years ago, the world began to realize blockchain could be used for more than cryptocurrency. Kshetri, a professor in the Department of Management at UNC Greensboro’s Bryan School of Business and Economics, was in a prime position to begin researching that technology.
Now, Kshetri is one of the most prolific writers on the subject of blockchain research. The highly-reputable management journal, IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, recently ranked him the No. 1 contributing author on blockchain research worldwide. He was also tabbed as the world’s second-most cited and sixth-most published author in blockchain research by the Central University of Tamil Nadu in India. Kshetri has published more than 150 articles in various academic journals, written several books, and can be found in the pages of Forbes, Fortune magazine, and The Wall Street Journal.
“I try to learn from the industry in the real world,” he said. “I try to write what can have an impact on the real world.”
Blockchain is essentially an open ledger or digital list for transactions. It is designed to be resistant to hacking or the modification of its data.
“It’s more attractive than any other technology to make sure information is closest to the truth, the real truth,” Kshetri said. “In many cases, if you combine it with other technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things rather than humans putting in the data, you can read even closer to the truth.”
Kshetri says that can apply to anything from tracking down the source of contaminated food or discovering the origins of certain minerals in your smartphone’s battery.
Blockchain, for example, could allow someone to track whether goods came as a product of forced labor.
“It doesn’t guarantee the info we get from blockchain is a bastion of truth, but it is the closest thing possible compared to any other technologies that exist. It is not one centralized actor like a government that has access to your information or my information — anyone sees this information of all of the shipments in that blockchain network. You cannot change anything without being noticed,” said Kshetri.
A lot has changed since the early days of blockchain. Kshetri says there was a time when it was primarily known to be used for cryptocurrency transactions on the dark web. Blockchain is now used by Fortune 500 companies, and in his eyes keeps them honest.
“It makes sure companies are responsible,” he said.
Kshetri’s writing has helped UNC Greensboro land at No. 2 on the IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management list of top contributing institutions on the topic of blockchain research. Looking ahead, he plans to continue his research, recently receiving a contract to write another book.