Meeting Notes – Blockchain – February 23, 2017

Topic: The Blockchain – and the future of the Internet and your data

Guest facilitator Dave Bladwin provided a lot of thought-provoking ideas on the subject of blockchain, and it impact in a variety of aspects of life – from the management of value (e.g., bitcoin) to the possible futures of politics, health care, education and more.

He offered a handout developed by Price-Waterhouse-Coopers describing some basic ideas and markets of blockchain.

He also recommended Don Tapscott’s Ted Talk as a good introduction.

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Coming up on 25 years of the Internet, and it’s within recent memory that most people knew little about it, were afraid of it, were fascinated by it – but couldn’t even spell HTML, or www.

For all the change the Web has brought to our lives, one thing has remained an unresolved obstacle – the ability to transmit a secret securely and reliably.  We all have secrets – financial , data health data, personal and professional and corporate and government data of all descriptions.  With only flawed technology to work with, we have accepted a certain amount of risk in exploiting the Internet in spite of its insecurity.

A few years ago, however, a a new kind of money appeared on the web.  Not based on any country’s currency, not dependent on banks or any of the traditional financial infrastructure – a thing called Bitcoin came on the scene, and became the first Internet tool of wealth.  The thing that made Bitcoin possible was a new approach to the “secure transaction” – a technology known as the blockchain.

Both Bitcoin and the blockchain are abstract concepts, steeped in highly geeked-up technology, and implemented by people who are challenged to communicate with common consumers and data users.  But it turns out that the blockchain is not simply a currency-related tool.  It can in fact be generalized, and used in many environments for a wide – and wild – variety of transactions and and interactions that have never before been seen as “transactions” at all.  Securing medical records, education records, financial records of all kind – and a host of additional applications that appear weekly.

The blockchain might be – all hyperbole aside – the key to the next level of exploitation of communication and Internet services.  While nothing is without risk, it may reduce the risk of storing and transmitting secrets online – and that could change the face of commerce and interaction for everyone.  Thus important to now about, so we are going to explore it in this edition of the Columbus Futurists.

The list of this topic’s resources is longer than usual, because this is a topic that can be elusive if the explainer comes at it from a direction the reader/hearer can’t identify with.  So this list represents and attempt to provide multiple doors and windows for our Futurists to get a handle on one of the latest, most exciting developments in technology.

Late-breaking story about the perceived importance of blockchain:

Check out these resources for background on the blockchain:

TED talks on the subject:

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