Evolving to a Distributed Blockchain Enterprise
November 7, 2016
At its inception, the web was supposed to be decentralized, open to all, and serve as a counter to the powers that be. However, as corporations and governments adapted to the new technology, that openness and democratizing potential were stymied by more powerful players.
Today, we are at the beginning of the blockchain revolution, a technological opportunity that can bring that power and potential back to the masses. One of the most exciting innovations underway is the movement toward a distributed blockchain enterprise.
Blockchains are distributed network systems that take advantage of the spread-out nature of the internet and its infrastructure to distribute and log transactions. Instead of bank statements, accountants, and currency systems that are complex and opaque, there is one open ledger for blockchain systems. All nodes can freely access this public ledger. Such a system is not owned or controlled by one party such as an investment bank or governmental department, but belongs to all of the users within the system.
This photo from the Wall Street Journal depicts the shared ownership of blockchain systems versus traditional ones
The benefits of blockchain systems are numerous. There is more transparency–and therefore accountability–within these systems as they are open for all participants to see. There is less interference into transactions by regulatory agencies, which increases freedom across the marketplace. And there is much less volatility than money based on ever-shifting currencies and exchange rates.
Speaking of currencies, I’d like to explain how value is exchanged through a blockchain. Blockchains use what are called “cryptocurrencies”, or digital assets that secure transactions and work with all nodes of the system to keep value stable. One example of cryptocurrency is Bitcoin. The nonprofit organization Blockchain Education Network explains Bitcoin as software that “enables a network of computers to maintain a collective bookkeeping via the internet.” This allows for trusted transactions without a third party. Don Tapscott further discusses digital assets and values in his TedTalk from TED Summit in June.
Empowering people across the globe to make more secure and transparent transactions through cryptocurrencies is only one application of blockchain technology. This global, distributed network has the possibility to revolutionize other aspects of our society, such as refugee and identification systems. I have written elsewhere about the creation of a Humanized Internet and Digital Identity, which could use blockchain technology to free people in war-stricken areas to move about without obtaining identity cards–an impossible task in some places–but rather by relying on a digital verification system.
The ultimate applications of blockchain enterprises are far and wide, but what is clear is that now we need to continue pushing and innovating towards that direction.