I’m Convinced: The Blockchain Is The Future
I’ve spent the last year shitting on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency advocates, and during that time have seen, much to my chagrin, the prices of cryptos rip higher on a daily basis. Ethereum, which started the year at $9 is now trading at $300+, and bitcoin is now through $6000. Rather than just hating on these crypto folks without reason, I decided to take time to dig deeper into the technology to understand what really they are all about. What I found most fascinating is not the cryptos themselves, but the underlying technology that they are founded on; the Blockchain.
Advocates of the Blockchain have been touting it for years, but like any disruptive technology have been met with audiences that either don’t care, are skeptical, or have more interest in seeing it fail as it puts their businesses in jeopardy. Most cryptocurrency dissidents, myself included, have heard of the blockchain before but dismiss it as part of the whole cryptocurrency scheme, and are indifferent to how it works. What a lot don’t realize, however, is that although the Blockchain is technology upon which many cryptos are built on, it can also be applied to many other aspects of life besides cryptocurrencies – including real fiat currencies.
Now I am by no means an expert in the Blockchain, but the argument endorsing the proliferation of the technology is compelling, and in many ways inevitable. Essentially, data on the blockchain – it could be anything from money transfers to personal information about you – is solidified in time and made unalterable. This data becomes a block in the blockchain, and is processed not by a particular supercomputer located somewhere, but through the collective work of millions of computers all around the world, as it requires immense computing power to create. The people or organizations that dedicate their computing power to build this ecosystem, a term dubbed ‘mining’, is generally rewarded through some kind of cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc. – there are hundreds). As a matter of fact, you can contribute your excess computer power to this cause quite simply and earn some cryptocurrencies yourself.
Cryptocurrencies for one thing, are complete speculation. They fluctuate up and down (mainly up) with supply and demand, and are filled with degenerate traders fixing to get rich quick. The Blockchain, on the other hand, is a foundation for security and identity. Imagine a scenario where you walk into a bar, with your personal info on a blockchain, and with a simple fingerprint tap can confirm your legal age without needing anyone to check. In order for even a small bit of that information to be hacked or altered, hackers would have to hack the entire blockchain, of which a single link was produced by the collective computing power of the entire world.
That’s the gist of it, but the experts at TED can give a much better explanation of how it really works. I can see this technology replacing many segments in the financial services industry in the not too distant future.