When Satoshi Nakamoto, whose true identity is still unknown, released the whitepaper Bitcoin: A Peer to Peer Electronic Cash System in 2008 that described a “purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash” known as Bitcoin, blockchain technology made its public debut. Blockchain, the technology that runs Bitcoin, has developed over the last decade into one of today’s biggest ground-breaking technologies with potential to impact every industry from financial to energy to educational institutions.
At its essence, blockchain is a decentralized software mechanism that enables a public distributed ledger system. It allows the tracking and recording of assets and transactions without the presence of a central trust authority such as a bank. More importantly, it relies on public key encryption, or cryptography that makes it hard for hackers and other cyber bad guys to change or steal data. It enables peer-to-peer exchange of data, assets and currencies in a fast, transparent and cost-effective manner.
Someone with a unique insight and understanding of Blockchain is Oliver Isaacs– early investor and proponent of Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Ripple. With a following of one million followers across his social channels, Isaacs is one of the world’s leading blockchain advisors and influencers –indeed he has worked with and advised some of the founding and most successful companies in the sphere such as Dragon Coin, Coinbase, Nauticus, and Ripple.
Isaacs is often invited to speak at major tech events around the world on topics ranging from what investors should look for when considering investing in an Initial Coin Offering to how blockchain technology will make the world a better place.
Recently appearing on CNBC NIKKEI in Japan, Isaacs emphasises that Blockchain is not only here to stay but that it will change the world for the better. Blockchain will change the world because of three key issues it addresses: Decentralisation, security and incentives aligned with outcomes.
Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, asserts that Blockchain will transform society. Buterin, a programmer from Toronto, first grew interested in Bitcoin in 2011. He co-founded the online news website Bitcoin Magazine in the same year, writing hundreds of articles on the cryptocurrency world. He went on to code for the privacy-minded Dark Wallet and the marketplace Egora. Along the way, he came up with the idea of a platform that would go beyond the financial use cases allowed by Bitcoin.
Speaking to TechCrunch, Buterin highlighted several areas in which blockchain and Ethereum will play a major role in the future: Generally speaking, a blockchain application could be built for anything that: (i) needs some sort of decentralization and (ii) needs some sort of shared memory. Ethereum was first described in Buterin's white paper, in late 2013. Buterin argued that bitcoin needed a scripting language for application development. But when he failed to gain agreement, he proposed development of a new platform with a more general scripting language.
Indeed, it's clear there is a growing concern in society related to the dominance and influence of central big business. Across many industries, people are warming to the idea that a decentralised governance and delivery model may be a better option. It’s seen as more inclusive, transparent, fair and inherently aligned with stakeholder interests.
Companies are facing growing challenges in relation to data security, ownership and privacy. On a global scale, it only gets harder as governments adopt varying positions on these topics, and compliance costs compound. Already in Europe, interesting movements are underway as the market reacts to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which kicks off on May 25. The GDPR will replace the Data Protection Directive as the primary law regulating how companies protect European Union citizens’ personal data. For any business, protecting customer data is paramount. And, as our world becomes more connected, robust systems will be needed to manage ownership of physical or digital assets over time. These systems should be aligned with taxation requirements, payments, trade, commerce, law and the fabric of nearly all societies globally.
The internet was a fundamental shift in communication and the distribution of information, but it reframed our concept of ownership. In business, most of what happens involves multiple parties transacting with one another, with these transactions dictated by a series of rules and regulations. Lawyers have employed contracts for decades to try and manage these arrangements, along with the evidence that is needed when things change. This is all managed via bits of paper, or their digital equivalents, PowerPoint slides and email. The static and hands-on nature of this is expensive and inherently inefficient. Blockchain aims to solve these core issues.
Finally, society’s desire for incentives, rewards and a stake in anything we do is a powerful force. In society, companies are valued on their ability to bring people together, invest, and benefit from an increase in the company value or a share of the company’s profit. There’s typically a demarcation, however, between the incentives and benefits gained by the shareholders, and the customers of the business. It’s a common problem — aligning incentives with benefits and utility across diverse stakeholder groups. If you can create that link, the opportunity for growth to more organically accelerate is huge.
For the blockchain benefits to kick in, one first needs to think about how one can use it to make things easier, more affordable and more accessible. The technology will have to undergo a further fundamental shift in business and the quality of people’s life and confidence in the systems that make things easier day-to-day. The internet changed the world, but it took a while for the building blocks to fall into place, and for business models and our way of life to change. Blockchain will be much the same. The blockchain impact will be even bigger if it succeeds in solving major challenges and points of friction in the world today. Some issues are on track to be addressed, while others need an intervention — a sudden and more deliberate change in tack. One thing is clear nonetheless; blockchain technology will change the world.
Alexander Martin is a senior tech writer, where he covers the development of the internet, technology, and startups.© Japan Today