I recently asked a good friend of mine to share his views on Blockchain and the applications built on this technology. After a couple of iterations, I realized that in the Caribbean a lot of people are still grasping to fully understanding this fairly new concept and what it stands for. Now, as a past Teacher and a person who is engraved in Technology, I believe it is my duty to pass on my understanding of this technology, why the current hype is around Cryptocurrencies and why I believe Blockchain is the future.
WHAT IS BLOCKCHAIN?
To begin I will do what I found works best with my students, and that is to always use practical examples when aiming to arrive at a solution for a problem.
A few years ago my dad started the process of acquiring a used pickup truck for work. The seller was sure that he was the first owner of the truck locally, which he shipped here from Japan directly and best of all he had all the paperwork to prove it. However, at the Tax Office, they told us a different story, which was that, the current seller was only the second owner. The obvious conclusion here was that the current seller had forged some papers, however, my dad is a very trusting guy plus he loved the truck, so he decided to find the first owner, according to the records on the tax title. After speaking with the so-called first owner we found out that he indeed imported a pickup of the same make and model however, his truck was sitting in his garage.
How does this fit into Blockchain?
First thing to note here is that a number of transactions occurred before my dad decided to acquire the truck. The problem is that the middleman in this case the Tax Office failed to provide the correct records to prove the validity of true ownership which in turn created a trust issue between all parties involved. This takes us to our first point:
* Blockchain exists to build trust between two or more parties by ensuring that proper records are always accessible, tamper-proof and reliable. If I were to fit Blockchain in my dad’s scenario it would play out like this; Toyota would have made the first transaction with their distributor, the Blockchain technology would then create a unique public and private key, the private key stays with the person that’s effecting the transaction, in this case, ‘Toyota’ and holds all the information required to access the record while the public key is shared with the other party ’the Distributor’. After the current seller bought the pickup from the distributor in Japan another transaction would have been created that holds all the information about the first transaction along with a newly generated public and private key, again the private key stays with the distributor while the public key is given to the current seller. After my dad later made the purchase the same process was repeated. He was given a key to a chain filled with blocks of past transactions, thus the name “Blockchain”.
* You may now be wondering that just as how the Tax office messed up with the records, some malicious hacker can go in and delete certain blocks from the chain. In theory this is possible, however Blockchain found a brilliant solution to this problem. Imagine that my dad’s pickup truck transactions are all sitting on millions of computers that are networked together and this transaction keeps validating itself against each other and continuously overwrites itself every 10 minutes. Now imagine the computing power a hacker would need to decode all of my dad’s transactions public and private keys, then access the millions of computer this transaction is on just to delete one block. A bit far-fetched I think.
Blockchain transactions remain secure because the same transactions are securely hosted on millions of computers, which keeps checking itself for inconsistencies every 10 minutes, therefore to disrupt you would have to access millions of computers simultaneously in a very short period of time.
In summary, I believe that it is safe to say Blockchain is the technology that would have saved my dad worlds of trouble by instilling in him trust that what he is buying is actually coming from where the seller says it’s coming from.
How does BitCoin and other cryptocurrencies fit into this?
It’s pointless at the moment to talk about Blockchain without talking about Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies. The first thing to note here is that Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies are just one set of applications that are running on the Blockchain technology. The application case for Blockchain is enormous and there are a lot of other applications built on it.
So what is Bitcoin and how does it work?
Earlier we spoke about how each transaction is stored on millions of computers. At the moment it takes a lot of processing power to hash and pull these records from all these computers. So groups of computers join together in what’s known as a cluster to pool their resources to pull, check and distribute records, this is known as mining. I would not risk destroying my computer and burning all that electricity to mine data and I’m also sure a lot of people wouldn’t either, so a token is created and issued to persons who mine data known as bitcoin. This token can then be used to buy and sell items over the web as a virtual currency which is then added to the pool of transactions for miners to verify.
Putting it all together, Blockchain technology is pretty cool and based on my analysis it’s here to stay. The biggest disadvantage so far is performance and this is probably the reason why it’s so cool. Blockchain does all the things a regular database does, however just not in one centralized location but on hundreds of computers. As technology advance, we will see Blockchain become faster and offer more security and transparency to adjust to our ever-changing society.
George Henry is the CEO of Tickkiz Limited
Tickkiz socially integrated learning and behavioural management system that allow schools to manage student’s behaviour, attendance and grades all while being able to connect parents Teachers, Students and administrators in a single integrated platform. At Tickkiz we pride ourselves as being one of the first integrated Social Learning platform.
He can be contacted at
T: 876 434-0989 | M: | E: firstname.lastname@example.org | Website: | tickkiz.com
Hill Side Close Manchester Jamaica