Blockchain simplified: How it eliminates the middleman

What's the big promise of blockchain in business? Its ability to eliminate the middle man.

TONY SALDANHA: Blockchain is most commonly known because of bitcoin, the cryptocurrency. And by the way they're very different things. So blockchain is the underlying programming on top of which cryptocurrency, bitcoin, has been developed. Let me distinguish the two. Bitcoin is just one little application of blockchain. It is something that most enterprises will shy away from because it is speculative and I'm not here to preach that companies go out and start trading using bitcoin. That would be a mistake. Blockchain is basically, you know, think of it as an excel spreadsheet. It is basically a big, big ledger in which everybody can put transactions but none of the sales, none of the values of those transactions can be messed around with, can be changed without, you know, everybody else saying oh, wait a minute. That particular sale was changed.

And because of that it is known to be unhackable. Now, the value of having an underlying platform that is available to the entire world to see if you have the appropriate kind of authorization and is known to be secure is obvious, right, because we know one of the biggest challenges when it comes to technology is somebody changing the values of my data. If you have an underlying platform that's known to be unhackable that provides a huge competitive advantage for most people. So potential users of blockchain could be everything from, you know, let's take a voting mechanism. By the way blockchain is being used for voting in places like Dubai for their stock exchange or even Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia for their actual people voting processes.

But there are more mundane uses of blockchain. You could use blockchain, for example, for intracompany financial transactions between the companies and both within companies as well. So instead of having your money go from your company to a bank to another company what if there was a common platform where you could actually have the best information that could not be hacked. That would eliminate the middleman. That is the promise of blockchain. It has the ability to eliminate the middle person because everybody has equal access to one version of the truth.

  • Blockchain is basically a ledger of people's transactions. It is the underlying programming on top of which the cryptocurrency bitcoin was developed.
  • Blockchain doesn't allow for people's transactions to be hacked because everyone has access to a record of the values exchanged. Because of this, it is said to be unhackable.
  • Blockchain has many potential uses, such as in accounting systems. This is already the case in Dubai, where its used for the city's stock exchange, and in the Baltic states, such as Latvia and Lithuania, for their political processes.

‘Designer baby’ book trilogy explores the moral dilemmas humans may soon create

How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.

Surprising Science
  • A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
  • It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
  • While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Keep reading Show less

These are the world’s greatest threats in 2021

We look back at a year ravaged by a global pandemic, economic downturn, political turmoil and the ever-worsening climate crisis.

Luis Ascui/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs

Billions are at risk of missing out on the digital leap forward, as growing disparities challenge the social fabric.

Keep reading Show less

Columbia study finds new way to extract energy from black holes

A new study explains how a chaotic region just outside a black hole's event horizon might provide a virtually endless supply of energy.

Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Surprising Science
  • In 1969, the physicist Roger Penrose first proposed a way in which it might be possible to extract energy from a black hole.
  • A new study builds upon similar ideas to describe how chaotic magnetic activity in the ergosphere of a black hole may produce vast amounts of energy, which could potentially be harvested.
  • The findings suggest that, in the very distant future, it may be possible for a civilization to survive by harnessing the energy of a black hole rather than a star.
Keep reading Show less

Archaeologists identify contents of ancient Mayan drug containers

Scientists use new methods to discover what's inside drug containers used by ancient Mayan people.

Credit: WSU
Surprising Science
  • Archaeologists used new methods to identify contents of Mayan drug containers.
  • They were able to discover a non-tobacco plant that was mixed in by the smoking Mayans.
  • The approach promises to open up new frontiers in the knowledge of substances ancient people consumed.
Keep reading Show less

A psychiatric diagnosis can be more than an unkind ‘label’

A popular and longstanding wave of thought in psychology and psychotherapy is that diagnosis is not relevant for practitioners in those fields.

Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images for Sotheby's
Mind & Brain
When I was training as a clinical psychologist, I had a rotation in a low-cost psychotherapy clinic.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast