By Cynthia Wang
Bitcoin, a revolutionary form of crypto currency, has transformed ideas of the way currency may be handled. From bitcoin came the commonalities of WeChat Pay and AliPay that we see today. The golden digital coin independent of government or state control has dominated world news; a single Internet search would turn up thousands of high-end news articles. Yet, many still do not know of bitcoin’s record, storage, and transaction system called Blockchain.
Blockchain is a public distributed ledger that underlies bitcoin. A transparent and secure growing list or records stored as “blocks” of information, Blockchain stores information across networks of personal computers. No one owns the system, yet all who use it can help build to it. The security of Blockchain is definite with strings of cryptography preventing the information within such “blocks” to be counterfeited by anyone else.
Each “block” of Blockchain consists of three major components: data, hash, and the previous block’s hash. Data contains the details about the transaction made, whether it be money or information. A hash, like a fingerprint, is a line of code identifying the block. However, if the block is damaged or changed in any way, the hash is changed. Lastly, with the hash of it’s previous block, a connected and secure chain of blocks. If one were to tamper with any of the blocks of a Blockchain, then all of the following blocks would be rendered invalid due to the hash of the tampered block changing. Even though hackers could quickly add new blocks to fix the chain and cover up their tracks, the developers of Blockchain created a method called proof-of-work to inhibit this. The proof-of-work mechanism slows down the speed of creating new blocks, hence creating a situation where hackers wouldn’t be able to cover up their tracks fast enough, securing Blockchain from disruption even further. This fixed yet transparent network of transactions has forced modern technology a great leap forward.
However, Blockchain isn’t just used to transfer money with bitcoin, it could also potentially be used for the transfer of political documents, critical information, amongst many other forms of information. In the future, not only could Blockchain conduct secure transactions, but it could also create companies run by algorithms, safer self-driving cars, and protect our identities with its anonymity. A revolutionary currency, paired with an equally innovative system of exchange is most definitely in the process of transforming the future as we know it.