Innovation - May 2016

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Blockchains: a beginner's guide

What is a blockchain ?

Blockchain is a decentralised database that cannot be retroactively modified and that can be used to run software programs. The blockchain is a transparent, secure technology for storing and transmitting data that operates without centralised oversight.

This is a secure, distributed database: it is shared by its users, without any intermediary, so that each individual can verify the validity of the chain. It has been around since 2008 (Bitcoin currency).
Unless someone were to gain control of the network (a 51% attack) and find a way to modify the execution of a program, you can be sure that it will always run the way it was defined in the Blockchain.

Why is this revolutionary ?

Because it allows individuals to coordinate and securely exchange data without the need for a "trusted" third party. This could transform the role of registries (as is the case in Estonia and Honduras), for instance, or change how elections are managed.
The revolutionary aspect is increased transparency
Implementing this technology demands greater optimisation in terms of usage and speed.

What are the potential uses for the blockchain?

  • Applications for transferring assets (money, titles, votes, shares, bonds, etc.)
  • Applications for registries (better traceability for objects and assets)
  • Smart contracts: these are autonomous programs that automatically execute the terms and conditions of a contract, without requiring human intervention once they are up and running.

More on this topic:
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