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Everyone knows about bitcoin, right? Well, sort of. We know that it is some kind of cyber currency, and a way for people to move money around without banks, check money wires, or any other sort of middleman.
The technology that allows crypto currency to exist is called blockchain and it is much more than just a system that supports bitcoin. In fact, bitcoin is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to blockchain.
But it takes some thinking and research to realize exactly what blockchain is. And bitcoin and all the uncertainty that comes with that has not helped un-muddy the waters
Like all new things, people are scared or at least wary of what this is all about. It reminds me of a video I saw recently of Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric on the Today Show 25 years ago trying to figure out what this new thing the internet was all about? Bryant kept trying to figure out what “@” was. And they were both wondering how everyone in the world could “talk” to each other on this “internet thing.” It’s hilarious, check it out on YouTube.
Speaking of YouTube, after reading this book I was inclined to watch videos to learn about blockchain; as you would expect there are dozens of videos talking about what it is.
From this book and from the YouTube videos, I learned that blockchain is actually an open and indisputably accurate ledger. It’s made up of a number of blocks, created whenever any sort of transaction occurs. The block records that transaction and is connected to the block before it and the block after it. The transaction is coded so that no one can change the date in that transaction.
Connecting all these blocks creates an open unchangeable ledger that is open for everyone to see, and to participate in.
The best example of the value of this open ledger would be the buying and selling of art. With this open ledger of the work of art you automatically get the provenance of that piece of work eliminating any chance of forgery. You can see everyone who had anything to do with this piece of art from the artist to everyone who bought and sold it over the year.
The key to blockchain, besides the open ledger, is the fact that it is open to everyone, it is a pure democratic system with the emphasis on everyone being equal. There is no hierarchy, no middleman that has to be paid for handling the transaction.
Research scientists are using blockchains for sharing their research for example. Actually, one of the reasons we got the COVID vaccine so fast was because of information sharing using a blockchain.
Space research and autonomous vehicles are technologies that use blockchain for their information sharing as well as consensus building.
The one thing this book gets across is that we have only just begun to understand what working with this incredible open forum will do for making the world a better place.
And please remember the bitcoin, no matter what you think of it, is not blockchain. It uses blockchain but it is just one of the many ways blockchain can be used, so do not judge it by bitcoin.
Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group. Click here to read an interview on blockchain by Nolan Johnson with IBM’s Michelle Lam and Christophe Begue, which was featured in the August 2020 issue of SMT007 Magazine.
Blockchain: The Next Everything
By Stephen P. Williams
Published by Scribner, an Imprint of Simon and Schuster, Inc.