Recently, I have made it a habit to attend tech conferences in New York city when the topics being talked about could supply me with useful information to stay ahead, or stay on top of my industry. But sometimes I attend to just to learn about emerging technological trends that show promise. As of late, I have taken notice of how artificial intelligence, blockchain, and smart contracts, have seemed to occupy the space of tech conferences going on in the city. Even some of our business and tech leaders such as Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Mark Cuban have voiced their opinions on the up and coming trends that will disrupt so many industries.
Talk about blockchain has been trending recently and I believe that it will be one of the largest shifts in our world in the up and coming decade. From what I have learned, blockchain was created for the digital currency known as bitcoin. It can be pictured as having a spreadsheet distributed among thousands of computers, and every 10 minutes this spreadsheet updates itself. Blockchain is essentially the new internet in a lot of ways because of this general, overriding concept. What it creates is a database that cannot be centralized, and thus creates a truly public and verifiable source of information for a number of uses.
One of its biggest uses is for financial institutions. The way financial intuitions currently work is that when two parties, in this example being you and the bank, make a transaction, say a transfer, the bank will temporarily lock your access to the account so that they may decrease those funds, and then re-open access to the account, in the form of the updated balance. But with blockchain, there would only be one version of the account, and both parties would have access to the constantly updated information on the account at all times. Blockchain thus helps to guarantee the validity of a transaction by having it recorded on a connected distributed system which is connected through a secure validation mechanism.
The greatest advantages in discussion, are the facts that blockchain is both transparent and incorruptible. Blockchain is so much like the internet in the sense that it cannot be controlled by one single entity and that there is no single point of failure. It is a network that lives in a state of consensus, and is a self-auditing ecosystem of a digital value. Thus the problem of manipulation becomes a thing of the past. For example Vitalik Buterin, inventor of Ethereum believes that blockchain’s opportunities are the highest in the countries that haven’t reached a high level of trust for the major organizations in their country.
This year has been a big year for blockchain as we have seen many start-ups begin to arise to take advantage of this wave that will come. These technologies will not seem all that visible from a customers point of view, even as its features improve the functionality of people’s and businesses’ lives. But this is the year for the skeptics, believers, and those who are simply curious, to see the practicality of this technology and not just the hype of the impact that the mass adoption of this technology will have in the upcoming years.