Blockchain: the revolution we’re not ready for – freeCodeCamp

Blockchain: the revolution we’re not ready for

Imagine you didn’t need to trust a stranger to make a deal with them. Imagine you didn’t need to trust your bank to deposit your money there. Imagine you didn’t need to trust your government to know it was being just and fair.

What would happen?

It would switch the world.

This is precisely the promise of blockchains.

Cryptocurrencies, which are built on blockchains, are all over the press these days, mostly because of the high prices, volatility, and sensational narratives surrounding debacles like Mt. Gox and The Silk Road.

But there’s something much fatter going on than just digital currencies.

While the mainstream media has been busy speculating about prices and black market intrigues, they’ve missed the fact that underneath it all, cryptographers had calmly invented an entirely fresh set of technological primitives.

Blockchains (and the consensus protocols that support them) were invented as a result of developers attempting to solve a bold problem: how to create digital, untraceable money. By combining cryptography, game theory, economics, and computer science, they managed to create an entirely fresh set of devices for building decentralized systems.

But what they created will switch much more than just how we exchange money. It’s going to switch the entire world. And hardly anyone seems to notice.

Edward Witten, the famous physicist, once said of string theory that it was “a part of 21st century physics that fell by chance into the 20th century.” In other words, the physics community was not ready for string theory.

Blockchain is a 22nd century technology that fell by chance into the early 21st century.

It’s badly visible that we’re not ready for it.

What is a blockchain?

At its core, a blockchain is a remarkably elementary and elegant data structure. It’s basically just a linked list with one significant augmentation — each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block. This creates an effectively unalterable chain of blocks and their fingerprints, spreading back to the original block.

If everyone in your system replicates this linked list (and verifies its legitimacy by repeating the cryptographic hash functions), it will implement a slow and somewhat crude distributed database that’s resistant to tampering.

And that’s a blockchain. Doesn’t sound that amazing, does it?

Of course, to actually build a functional protocol, you need a lot more than that — you’ll need authentication (public/private key cryptography), a consensus mechanism (Nakamoto consensus via proof-of-work or various kinds of proof-of-stake), space and time optimizations (Merkle trees and Merkle proofs), and a bunch of fancy peer-to-peer networking stuff. But that’s a subject for another, more technical blog post.

The point is this: blockchains are a genuinely fresh implement for organizing sophisticated systems. And we are only beginning to understand how to integrate them into the real world.

The promise of blockchains

If everyone works off the same blockchain, and everyone openly shares what the current state of the blockchain is, and it’s computationally intractable to tamper with it, and everyone agrees on rules of how fresh data is committed… then all of a sudden everything switches.

Abruptly you can build entirely decentralized systems that require no trust among participants. So long as enough actors in the system go after the rules of the protocol (in the most primitive case, at least 50% of them are good), then you can imbue the system with provable security ensures. Conspiracies or bad actors can’t censor or vandalize the system.

You can even engineer the right incentives straight into the protocol, and then have every actor in the system enforce them.

Using blockchains, a lot of massive coordination problems simply vanish. Conundrums that plague global financial infrastructure, voting, international remittances, insurance policies, custodial records, and even government corruption can simply be designed out of existence.

By creating the right system with the right assures, you can fix bad incentives. You can eliminate corrupt middle-men and rent-seekers. You can create entire fresh societies that can coordinate better, more transparently, and more efficiently than ever before considered possible.

It’s indeed hard for most people to take hold of the significance of this.

I’ll put it this way: if John Locke knew about blockchains, it undoubtedly would’ve compelled him to write a third treatise on government. It would’ve been a revolutionary idea in how to coordinate a society.

The future of the future

Most people I know right now in Silicon Valley are focused on deep learning and AI as the most promising technological revolution. And I share their enthusiasm! Deep learning is going to upend industries and give us fresh capabilities that we only imagined in high science fiction.

But blockchain — blockchain is going to upend entire societies. It’s going to enable fresh kinds of governance systems that were before only the daydreams of utopians and philosophers.

And yet, when you look at the cryptocurrency world right now, you’re not necessarily going to recognize that.

Most of what’s going on right now falls into two categories.

The very first are the crypto-anarchists and hackers who are building low-level protocols. They’re racing to build what will become the decentralized TCP/IP stack for future builders.

The 2nd category are the profiteers who attempting to make a quick buck off the unaware and the optimistic.

Unluckily, this 2nd category is getting most of the attention.

The tower of Blockchain

Imagine stumbling across the world broad web in 1995, browsing through dinky fan sites catering to eccentrics, and thinking: “Hah. Wow. This weird little ecosystem is going to be truly significant someday.”

That was blockchain a few years ago. In other words, blockchain has securely crossed the Angelfire chasm.

Now that it has proven its very first glimmer of usefulness, the next act is inescapable.

You may have heard about the ICO mania, or the latest rallies of the prices of Bitcoin and Ethereum. The wise and the wily have taken notice and have realized blockchain’s tremendous potential. And they’ve already made and lost fortunes speculating on the potential future of cryptocurrencies.

It’s unfortunate that right now, blockchain-as-speculation is predominant most people’s attention. The signal is getting drowned in the noise.

But that’s to be expected. We’ve seen this before.

When people very first realized the extreme potential of the internet, tons of money was pumped into random dot coms. Anticipating mass adoption and astronomical value creation, speculation fed speculation, until the madness ultimately crashed in 2001.

What’s going on right now is comparable. There will eventually be a comedown.

But when the dust is cleared, like after the dot com crash, those who were serious — the Microsofts, the Amazons, the Googles — will have to come in and do the graceless work of building the future.

There’s much work to do.

I recently left my job at Airbnb. I was working on payments fraud for a little over a year. It was fascinating and impactful work — Airbnb is an awesome company — and I left on good terms. But the more I’ve been learning about crypto and blockchains, the more I’m persuaded that this stuff is going to switch the world.

And that’s why I’m going to be working on the blockchain. (And very likely keep blogging about it!)

And if you’re a developer wondering how you can get involved and help build this future, check out this link and embark getting your forearms dirty.

Blockchain: the revolution we’re not ready for – freeCodeCamp

Blockchain: the revolution we’re not ready for

Imagine you didn’t need to trust a stranger to make a deal with them. Imagine you didn’t need to trust your bank to deposit your money there. Imagine you didn’t need to trust your government to know it was being just and fair.

What would happen?

It would switch the world.

This is precisely the promise of blockchains.

Cryptocurrencies, which are built on blockchains, are all over the press these days, mostly because of the high prices, volatility, and sensational narratives surrounding debacles like Mt. Gox and The Silk Road.

But there’s something much fatter going on than just digital currencies.

While the mainstream media has been busy speculating about prices and black market intrigues, they’ve missed the fact that underneath it all, cryptographers had calmly invented an entirely fresh set of technological primitives.

Blockchains (and the consensus protocols that support them) were invented as a result of developers attempting to solve a bold problem: how to create digital, untraceable money. By combining cryptography, game theory, economics, and computer science, they managed to create an entirely fresh set of instruments for building decentralized systems.

But what they created will switch much more than just how we exchange money. It’s going to switch the entire world. And hardly anyone seems to notice.

Edward Witten, the famous physicist, once said of string theory that it was “a part of 21st century physics that fell by chance into the 20th century.” In other words, the physics community was not ready for string theory.

Blockchain is a 22nd century technology that fell by chance into the early 21st century.

It’s badly visible that we’re not ready for it.

What is a blockchain?

At its core, a blockchain is a remarkably ordinary and elegant data structure. It’s basically just a linked list with one significant augmentation — each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block. This creates an effectively unalterable chain of blocks and their fingerprints, spreading back to the original block.

If everyone in your system replicates this linked list (and verifies its legitimacy by repeating the cryptographic hash functions), it will implement a slow and somewhat crude distributed database that’s resistant to tampering.

And that’s a blockchain. Doesn’t sound that amazing, does it?

Of course, to actually build a functional protocol, you need a lot more than that — you’ll need authentication (public/private key cryptography), a consensus mechanism (Nakamoto consensus via proof-of-work or various kinds of proof-of-stake), space and time optimizations (Merkle trees and Merkle proofs), and a bunch of fancy peer-to-peer networking stuff. But that’s a subject for another, more technical blog post.

The point is this: blockchains are a genuinely fresh contraption for organizing elaborate systems. And we are only beginning to understand how to integrate them into the real world.

The promise of blockchains

If everyone works off the same blockchain, and everyone openly shares what the current state of the blockchain is, and it’s computationally intractable to tamper with it, and everyone agrees on rules of how fresh data is committed… then all of a sudden everything switches.

All of a sudden you can build totally decentralized systems that require no trust among participants. So long as enough actors in the system go after the rules of the protocol (in the most primitive case, at least 50% of them are good), then you can imbue the system with provable security ensures. Conspiracies or bad actors can’t censor or vandalize the system.

You can even engineer the right incentives straight into the protocol, and then have every actor in the system enforce them.

Using blockchains, a lot of massive coordination problems simply vanish. Conundrums that plague global financial infrastructure, voting, international remittances, insurance policies, custodial records, and even government corruption can simply be designed out of existence.

By creating the right system with the right ensures, you can fix bad incentives. You can eliminate corrupt middle-men and rent-seekers. You can create entire fresh societies that can coordinate better, more transparently, and more efficiently than ever before considered possible.

It’s indeed hard for most people to capture the significance of this.

I’ll put it this way: if John Locke knew about blockchains, it undoubtedly would’ve compelled him to write a third treatise on government. It would’ve been a revolutionary idea in how to coordinate a society.

The future of the future

Most people I know right now in Silicon Valley are focused on deep learning and AI as the most promising technological revolution. And I share their enthusiasm! Deep learning is going to upend industries and give us fresh capabilities that we only imagined in high science fiction.

But blockchain — blockchain is going to upend entire societies. It’s going to enable fresh kinds of governance systems that were before only the daydreams of utopians and philosophers.

And yet, when you look at the cryptocurrency world right now, you’re not necessarily going to recognize that.

Most of what’s going on right now falls into two categories.

The very first are the crypto-anarchists and hackers who are building low-level protocols. They’re racing to build what will become the decentralized TCP/IP stack for future builders.

The 2nd category are the profiteers who attempting to make a quick buck off the unaware and the optimistic.

Unluckily, this 2nd category is getting most of the attention.

The tower of Blockchain

Imagine stumbling across the world broad web in 1995, browsing through dinky fan sites catering to eccentrics, and thinking: “Hah. Wow. This weird little ecosystem is going to be truly significant someday.”

That was blockchain a few years ago. In other words, blockchain has securely crossed the Angelfire chasm.

Now that it has proven its very first glimmer of usefulness, the next act is inescapable.

You may have heard about the ICO mania, or the latest rallies of the prices of Bitcoin and Ethereum. The wise and the wily have taken notice and have realized blockchain’s tremendous potential. And they’ve already made and lost fortunes speculating on the potential future of cryptocurrencies.

It’s unfortunate that right now, blockchain-as-speculation is predominant most people’s attention. The signal is getting drowned in the noise.

But that’s to be expected. We’ve seen this before.

When people very first realized the extreme potential of the internet, tons of money was pumped into random dot coms. Anticipating mass adoption and astronomical value creation, speculation fed speculation, until the madness ultimately crashed in 2001.

What’s going on right now is comparable. There will eventually be a comedown.

But when the dust is cleared, like after the dot com crash, those who were serious — the Microsofts, the Amazons, the Googles — will have to come in and do the graceless work of building the future.

There’s much work to do.

I recently left my job at Airbnb. I was working on payments fraud for a little over a year. It was fascinating and impactful work — Airbnb is an awesome company — and I left on good terms. But the more I’ve been learning about crypto and blockchains, the more I’m wooed that this stuff is going to switch the world.

And that’s why I’m going to be working on the blockchain. (And very likely keep blogging about it!)

And if you’re a developer wondering how you can get involved and help build this future, check out this link and commence getting your forearms dirty.

Blockchain: the revolution we’re not ready for – freeCodeCamp

Blockchain: the revolution we’re not ready for

Imagine you didn’t need to trust a stranger to make a deal with them. Imagine you didn’t need to trust your bank to deposit your money there. Imagine you didn’t need to trust your government to know it was being just and fair.

What would happen?

It would switch the world.

This is precisely the promise of blockchains.

Cryptocurrencies, which are built on blockchains, are all over the press these days, mostly because of the high prices, volatility, and sensational narratives surrounding debacles like Mt. Gox and The Silk Road.

But there’s something much fatter going on than just digital currencies.

While the mainstream media has been busy speculating about prices and black market intrigues, they’ve missed the fact that underneath it all, cryptographers had calmly invented an entirely fresh set of technological primitives.

Blockchains (and the consensus protocols that support them) were invented as a result of developers attempting to solve a bold problem: how to create digital, untraceable money. By combining cryptography, game theory, economics, and computer science, they managed to create an entirely fresh set of devices for building decentralized systems.

But what they created will switch much more than just how we exchange money. It’s going to switch the entire world. And hardly anyone seems to notice.

Edward Witten, the famous physicist, once said of string theory that it was “a part of 21st century physics that fell by chance into the 20th century.” In other words, the physics community was not ready for string theory.

Blockchain is a 22nd century technology that fell by chance into the early 21st century.

It’s badly demonstrable that we’re not ready for it.

What is a blockchain?

At its core, a blockchain is a remarkably elementary and elegant data structure. It’s basically just a linked list with one significant augmentation — each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block. This creates an effectively unalterable chain of blocks and their fingerprints, spreading back to the original block.

If everyone in your system replicates this linked list (and verifies its legitimacy by repeating the cryptographic hash functions), it will implement a slow and somewhat crude distributed database that’s resistant to tampering.

And that’s a blockchain. Doesn’t sound that amazing, does it?

Of course, to actually build a functional protocol, you need a lot more than that — you’ll need authentication (public/private key cryptography), a consensus mechanism (Nakamoto consensus via proof-of-work or various kinds of proof-of-stake), space and time optimizations (Merkle trees and Merkle proofs), and a bunch of fancy peer-to-peer networking stuff. But that’s a subject for another, more technical blog post.

The point is this: blockchains are a genuinely fresh contraption for organizing sophisticated systems. And we are only beginning to understand how to integrate them into the real world.

The promise of blockchains

If everyone works off the same blockchain, and everyone openly shares what the current state of the blockchain is, and it’s computationally intractable to tamper with it, and everyone agrees on rules of how fresh data is committed… then all of a sudden everything switches.

All of a sudden you can build fully decentralized systems that require no trust among participants. So long as enough actors in the system go after the rules of the protocol (in the most primitive case, at least 50% of them are good), then you can imbue the system with provable security ensures. Conspiracies or bad actors can’t censor or vandalize the system.

You can even engineer the right incentives straight into the protocol, and then have every actor in the system enforce them.

Using blockchains, a lot of massive coordination problems simply vanish. Conundrums that plague global financial infrastructure, voting, international remittances, insurance policies, custodial records, and even government corruption can simply be designed out of existence.

By creating the right system with the right ensures, you can fix bad incentives. You can eliminate corrupt middle-men and rent-seekers. You can create entire fresh societies that can coordinate better, more transparently, and more efficiently than ever before considered possible.

It’s indeed hard for most people to seize the significance of this.

I’ll put it this way: if John Locke knew about blockchains, it undoubtedly would’ve compelled him to write a third treatise on government. It would’ve been a revolutionary idea in how to coordinate a society.

The future of the future

Most people I know right now in Silicon Valley are focused on deep learning and AI as the most promising technological revolution. And I share their enthusiasm! Deep learning is going to upend industries and give us fresh capabilities that we only imagined in high science fiction.

But blockchain — blockchain is going to upend entire societies. It’s going to enable fresh kinds of governance systems that were before only the daydreams of utopians and philosophers.

And yet, when you look at the cryptocurrency world right now, you’re not necessarily going to recognize that.

Most of what’s going on right now falls into two categories.

The very first are the crypto-anarchists and hackers who are building low-level protocols. They’re racing to build what will become the decentralized TCP/IP stack for future builders.

The 2nd category are the profiteers who attempting to make a quick buck off the unaware and the optimistic.

Unluckily, this 2nd category is getting most of the attention.

The tower of Blockchain

Imagine stumbling across the world broad web in 1995, browsing through dinky fan sites catering to eccentrics, and thinking: “Hah. Wow. This weird little ecosystem is going to be truly significant someday.”

That was blockchain a few years ago. In other words, blockchain has securely crossed the Angelfire chasm.

Now that it has proven its very first glimmer of usefulness, the next act is unavoidable.

You may have heard about the ICO mania, or the latest rallies of the prices of Bitcoin and Ethereum. The wise and the wily have taken notice and have realized blockchain’s tremendous potential. And they’ve already made and lost fortunes speculating on the potential future of cryptocurrencies.

It’s unfortunate that right now, blockchain-as-speculation is predominant most people’s attention. The signal is getting drowned in the noise.

But that’s to be expected. We’ve seen this before.

When people very first realized the extreme potential of the internet, tons of money was pumped into random dot coms. Anticipating mass adoption and astronomical value creation, speculation fed speculation, until the madness eventually crashed in 2001.

What’s going on right now is comparable. There will eventually be a comedown.

But when the dust is cleared, like after the dot com crash, those who were serious — the Microsofts, the Amazons, the Googles — will have to come in and do the graceless work of building the future.

There’s much work to do.

I recently left my job at Airbnb. I was working on payments fraud for a little over a year. It was fascinating and impactful work — Airbnb is an awesome company — and I left on good terms. But the more I’ve been learning about crypto and blockchains, the more I’m coaxed that this stuff is going to switch the world.

And that’s why I’m going to be working on the blockchain. (And very likely keep blogging about it!)

And if you’re a developer wondering how you can get involved and help build this future, check out this link and begin getting your arms dirty.

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