The concept of a Blockchain, this unforgeable ledger freely available to all over the internet, provides the framework that allowed the crypto currency Bitcoin to emerge and operate. This is a tremendous innovation because the network of miners that secure the blockchain is in theory totally insensitive to any pressure, and the theoretical cost of attacking this network is very high (one million dollars per day is a frequently seen figure, not including many more other difficulties).

The idea of an autonomous peer to peer system has proved its resilience in the past. The BitTorrent protocol is a good unstoppable example. The idea of protecting data using cryptographic computations also proved its usefulness, as illustrated by BitTorrent again, and the Git version management system. Bitcoin validates its underlying blockchain in the most spectacular way : the system operates since 2009 with a market capitalization that tops $8.5B at the time of this writing. Bitcoin may well be the most attacked cryptographically based solution on earth.

It has become common to compare Bitcoin with electronic gold, since this currency is by design limited in volume, and its blockchain is more adapted (today) to a limited number of large transfers rather than to many micro transactions. However, with its robustness, this blockchain is also suitable for recording unforgeable proofs of existence, registered for eternity.

Every identifier, every code representing a virtual or real item may find its way to the blockchain, at the date given by the worldwide consensus of blockchain miners.

One may thus notarize (smart) diplomas, bills, contracts, pictures, proofs of insurance claims, identity, ownership. The applications are numerous to environments structurally devoid of trusted tiers. For instance, geographic areas having no land registry can be equipped straightforwardly. The blockchain allows for absolute confidence between individuals who do not know each other.

So, the most positive look that we can have on this technology is naturally ethical. The blockchain not only appears as an enabler, a source of savings, but also as a foundation for pacified relationships, within the economy, the industry, with official administrations, and for the respect of individual rights. This is so because, by granting a proof of existence to an entity, contract, signature, decision, agreement… at a given time, and without any risk of fraud, the blockchain eliminates up to the temptation of bad faith or lies.

The blockchain hence becomes an immaterial handshake, a man to man agreement even in a distance. A simple chat, once notarized, becomes an indisputable contract. The blockchain turns the virtual world again into the village that it had ceased to be.

 

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