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A Beginners Guide to Blockchain - Steve Sammartino (Futurist Speaker) - 10 April 2018

A Beginners Guide to Blockchain - Steve Sammartino (Futurist Speaker)

Steve Sammartino is a business technologist who will blow your mind with his keynote. Uniquely combining anthropology and technology, Steve demystifies the rapidly changing rules of business. Your audience will leave inspired knowing exactly what they need to do next.

Here the Futurist Speaker talks us through Blockchain and explains what you need to know (in a very simple, non-techy way). 

Why Blockchain matters right now

Imagine it’s 1991 and someone just told you about the ‘Internet’. Back then, it would’ve been difficult to project the impact it was going to have on our lives. It changed how we connect, learn, work and reshaped the global economy. That time is now for Blockchain.

Given what we now know about the internet, we’ve been given a chance to get in early, on a life-changing technology - Blockchain technology. It’s the missing link, to transform the internet to be everything it should be. A technology which entirely decentralises the way business is done. For the first time in history, we’ll be able to transact peer to peer, with strangers, on a global scale without an institution in the middle.

Why was Blockchain invented & why is it important?

Blockchain is the technology which underpins the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, but it has infinite uses. If you likened Bitcoin to a ‘web page’, then Blockchain would be its ‘internet’.

To understand why Blockchain is important, we need to remember how the internet functions today. Whenever we send someone an email, data, share a photo or watch a video – it’s not the original, but a copy. But when it comes to assets like money, or anything we deem to have value (stocks, bonds, intellectual property to name a few), sending a copy is a pretty bad idea. If we send someone money, it can’t be a copy, we can’t keep the money too! Or say, we release a digital asset on the internet (like a movie) where people can make another copy of it, or share it without permission, the original owner of the asset has it compromised. This process has already decimated a number of industries. Blockchain technology allows us to exchange things of value without making copies.

The advantages over current networks?

To overcome this problem today, we go through intermediaries like Governments and Technology firms who identify, verify, facilitate and record transactions. They keep guard of digital asset in their centralised ‘warehouses’. This creates some big challenges. Firstly, the centralised nature of the data increases the risk of hacking, it excludes billions of people around the world who don’t have banking facilities, it slows things down, and often huge margins are taken for doing transactions which have a near zero cost to perform.

Worse, big technology firms ‘capture’ our data in the process and have created giant profits from our ‘data assets’ without sharing any of the financial benefit. The biggest wealth creation engine ever invented, the internet, has spawned a new class of data billionaire because our technology has had a missing link. Blockchain is that missing link, and it’s time to take the power back and create a more abundant ecosystem in which both firms and customers benefit from financially.

What is Blockchain technology?

Without going full nerd, here’s a simple way to explain how a Blockchain works:

A Blockchain is a distributed ledger, where everyone using the database, has a copy of it.  Everyone can see all of the transactions that have taken place. It is decentralised because instead of the transactions being stored on a big computer inside say, a bank, we all have copies on our own computers. The computers become a network who verify and record these transactions using cryptography and we can do this anonymously.

Each set of transactions verified and recorded become a block. The next block of transactions include the previous transactions, and each block forms a chain – The Blockchain. It’s more secure because in order to hack into any ‘block’, all previous blocks need to be hacked as well and this would be very difficult to do. And the risk of any single computer being ‘taken down’ doesn’t compromise the network.

In the future, Blockchains will be used to replace entire industries – they’ll become a trust protocol, we’ll use the technology wherever intermediaries exist today.

What’s the future for Blockchain?

In 10 years’ time, we’ll laugh and wonder how we ever managed to live in a digital world without Blockchain technology. We’ll lament how the digital goliaths became so powerful and be glad they’ve been usurped. Once we build out this new technology, we can go peer to peer with everything from ride sharing to house rentals to banking to supply chain management.

There is not a single industry this won’t touch. Importantly it will break up the centralised power structures who’ve abused our trust and data. I truly believe Blockchain will become an important means to improve social inequality, and be the fulcrum for building a truly global market where the people reign supreme.

If you’ve ever wished you were at the forefront of a moment in history when a new technology arrived and anything was possible, wish no longer. It’s here and it is blockchain. Together we can reframe industries and create inordinate value for people the world over, the 99%. Let’s build something great together.

Discover more about Steve here.

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