The following is from an interview between myself (Sarah Mancinho) and Sohelia Yalpani, Editor of Thinkstr.com, published on February, 1, 2017. It has been published here with permission.
The technology that may have the greatest power to transform our world is not social media or big data, but technology arguably still in the infancy of its development - Blockchain. Blockchain is known as the technology that underpins digital currencies like Bitcoin. However, the capabilities of blockchain go far beyond the trade of online currency.
I spoke with Sarah Mancinho, a Washington, DC-based cybersecurity researcher who was named one of LinkedIn's 2016 Top 10 Voices in Technology, to understand why blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the world; disrupting everything from healthcare to the financial industry and government itself.
This is an exciting realm to explore, as Sarah explains, "We don't fully know what problems or processes blockchain is capable of addressing yet. We are still trying to understand what the limitations and uses of this technology are."
The cost of the middlemen.
Currently, we rely on intermediaries to perform transactions on our behalf. These intermediaries are necessary because they establish trust in the transaction. The middle men include banks, credit card companies, government, and social media. The list goes on. They perform functions like establishing identity between two parties in a transaction, performing record keeping, and more.
There is a cost to performing transactions with a middleman, however. These intermediaries slow things down (a simple transaction such as buying a coffee with your credit card can take weeks to settle), they take commissions on the movement of money between parties, capture personal data, undermine privacy, and exclude billions of people from the global economy. Not only that, these intermediaries are centralized, making them susceptible to hacking - as companies like Morgan Stanley recently found out when millions of customer records were compromised.
In this environment, says Sarah, "There is a huge opportunity for blockchain to revolutionize these institutions and the way we process transactions."
How Blockchain works
Blockchain is a new digital medium for value. As explained by Don and Alex Tapscott in
their book, Blockchain Revolution, “The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of
economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions
but virtually everything of value.”
What does this mean? It means that the blockchain database is not stored in any single
centralized location. Information on a blockchain is duplicated countless times across