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Do You Recall The Sound Of Dial Up?

‘What the world wide web was to communication, Blockchain is to transacting.  Only it’s going to be WAY more powerful and far-reaching.’”

JP Parker

CEO of IBM Ginni Rometty says the same thing: “What the internet did for communications,” said Rometty, “I think Blockchain will do for trusted transactions.”

Do you recall the sound of dial-up?

The long beeps and shrill twwwwweeeeeeeeee until a screen appears or a wee message pops up telling you you’re in?

Now we’re digitally connected 24/7 and being without the internet means our vital communications are affected, our banking is pretty much dependent on it and probably even our movie options once the kids are in bed…

We rely on the world wide web now more than ever.  Just 20-odd years ago, try telling backpackers they could write home and hear back from their folks in mere seconds, book their next hostel immediately and order their train tickets online in a jiffy.

Personally, as a light-hearted, heavy-backpack traveller back then, I recall a friend telling me about how I could open an email address so I could write home instantaneously.  It did my head in.  Yet within a few short months, in every city, town or group of dwellings, the first thing I did was seek out the internet café to see if my lover had replied.

You see, we develop new habits and dependencies very easily, quickly forgetting the cumbersome (if quaint) ways of the past.  I mean, who writes a letter these days?  When’s the last time you got a 3 page finely hand-written blue-papered letter? Hmmmph.

What about those circa 70s dial-up telephones?

Who wants to show their age admitting to having used those during childhood?

So what will we be taking for granted in a few years due to the innovations and influences, help and hindrance of Blockchain technology?

At this point we can gaze into the future and imagine how it might affect us: only the unfolding of time will let us delve into the actual details. One can imagine and foresee however how Blockchain will influence humankind in ways related to the unalterable and uncensorable storage of data.

That sounds pretty bloody dry and boresville.

What are some real-life examples of how Blockchain tech can help us?

  • Storage of legally recognised personal identification which cannot be forged, lost, stolen or altered (one would hope) so that refugees with no legal documents from their country of origin can ‘exist’.
  • Keeping our food and personal care companies honest. How many times have you read a label on a product for misleading, unintelligible ingredients that will probably give you cancer but which are called all manner of fluff like ‘parfum’ or ‘fragrance’ which sound innocuous enough, but when you get down to the nitty gritty (usually due to some terrible physical condition which is befalling you or a loved one), you realise in dismay that the companies we trust to keep our best health interests at heart are actually lying thieves?  Imagine keeping them accountable with FULL DISCLOSURE (meme of the day), with all true ingredients listed on blocks in the Blockchain, every step of the production from seed to sealing of the final product, accessible to all to witness? (No wonder they call it a trustless system.)
  • Avoiding the lengthy, costly transaction times and fees associated with sending money overseas or even between banks in the same city, and cutting out altogether that greedy pin-striped banker unfurling his (invisible) chubby hand for bank fees, squeezed since the industrial ages and before, in the middle? Imagine sending digital money via the Blockchain, and seeing it arrive in the chosen account just minutes or even seconds later?
  • Victims of abuse having an anonymous reporting system on a Blockchain ledger where they can bring to justice perpetrators who have long walked the earth apparently untouched by either conscience or the law?

You can think of blockchain as the “internet of value.” It’s a real-time ledger of anything that can be recorded (financial transactions, contracts, physical assets, supply chain info, etc.) but there is no one person or organization in charge of the entire chain. In fact, it’s open and everyone in the chain can see the detail of each record—what’s known as a block. Each block is time stamped and encrypted; the only person who can edit a block is the one that “owns” it. Owners gain access to their block through a private key that only they have. When there are changes to an individual block, everyone’s distributed blockchain is updated and syncs in real time.” – Bernard Marr, Forbes Contributor

If the “Blockchain is to transacting what the web was to communications”, then we can safely summise that we’re in for a mightily fast-paced, crazy-stations accountability ride: promoting us from an age of information-sharing to an age of information-full-disclosure.  Some call it Truth.

Listen to the full podcast with JP Parker here


By Abheeti Kathryn Pass

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