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As the underlying architecture of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, the blockchain distributed ledger’s value for securely recording transactions of any type has led to an explosion of projects and a staggering amount of investment over the last few years. Even just adding the word “blockchain” to a company name can have a significant impact on its valuation, such is the level of hype around blockchain’s capabilities.

But beyond the initial coin offerings (ICOs) — a fundraising process, similar to an IPO, in which blockchain companies sell crypto tokens instead of shares — and myriad science projects, is there anything substantive occurring with blockchain, or is this simply a digital gold rush where the money is being made not by prospectors, but those selling the mining tools?