You hear it discussed everywhere, yet many people don’t really understand this new technology. Is is a fad or a phenom? Let’s break it down:
The blockchain is an undeniably ingenious invention – the brainchild of a person or group of people known by the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. But since then, it has evolved into something greater, and the main question every single person is asking is: What is Blockchain?
By allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied, blockchain technology created the backbone of a new type of internet. Originally devised for the digital currency, Bitcoin, the tech community is now finding other potential uses for the technology.
A blockchain allows the authentication of transactions without them needing to be administered or guaranteed by a central authority. Ballot boxes and current online voting platforms are vulnerable to manipulation; now a startup called Follow My Vote is developing a blockchain-based system to ensure security, transparency and mathematically accurate election results.
In Music and Photos
Prepare to have your listening habits disrupted again by blockchain-based music streaming services. Instead of a service such as Apple Music or Spotify taking a cut, a blockchain system called Voise is enabling artists to set a price of which they receive 100% when a user streams their music. Same goes for using images you find on the internet. They will be coded with blockchain.
A patient’s medical records are often scattered between GPs, clinics and labs. A blockchain-based health record could be read and updated from multiple locations or services and would contain a note of who made each addition to the record. The patient can opt to take charge of the data and choose whom to share it with. At MIT, researchers are developing such a system, called MedRec, that will integrate with current healthcare computer set-ups.
In 2012, the then secretary-general of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, estimated that 30% of development aid was lost to corruption. The UN has a number of blockchain-based projects looking to solve issues in delivering aid. Last year, in a UN world food programme pilot project, Syrian refugees in a Jordan camp were given an allowance in cryptocurrency. When making purchases at the camp supermarket, their identities were authenticated by iris scans and their spending deducted from their allowance. This cuts down on transaction fees for the UN and reduces the frequency of fraud and theft.