How block-chain works

Best known as the immutable database that runs underneath cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, blockchain is poised to play a critical role in every industry imaginable as businesses seek ways to cash in on the distributed ledger technology’s promise of enabling a “trustless” consensus to validate transactions.

Earnings in the past year

Smart miners need to keep electricity costs to under $0.11 per kilowatt-hour; mining with 4 GPU video cards can net you around $8.00 to $10.00 per day (depending upon the cryptocurrency you choose), or around $250-$300 per month.

Chart shows our earnings in the past year.

Financial transactions are typically guaranteed by a trusted third party (such as PayPal) and blockchain can be used to automate that process, reducing overall costs by cutting out the middleman with autonomous smart contracts acting as trusted intermediaries between parties on the network.

An essential feature of blockchain is its ability to encrypt each “block” of data for a unique hash output that is also stamped onto the succeeding block, creating a chain of sequential information which is then verified through a consensus of activity across a network of participants. This works in conjunction with digital signatures to prove identity, authenticity and enforce data access rights.

Sharing those encrypted “spreadsheets” to every node or validator on the network creates a distributed system where each device can access the transaction data and make additions to the distributed ledger, which is then shared with everyone in real time (akin to Google Docs), acting as a form of data security/redundancy.

The process of encrypting blocks is best recognized as “mining” in cryptocurrency, which uses blockchain as a proof of work mechanism whereby people can participate in the network by performing “work” (your spare computing resources are used to encrypt and validate blocks).

Should a machine on the network attempt to alter an old block, the new data would result in a different hash for that block, breaking the chain of successively shared encryption outputs. The rest of the network participants would recognize this and reject the corrupt node.

Blockchain’s encryption, consensus mechanisms and auditable databases have many outfits considering its viability for storing personal data (legal, health, financial and property records), while others are looking at uses ranging from autonomous smart contracts to uploading mind files.

Who’s Interested in Blockchain?

Harvard Business Review sees a startlingly successful future for blockchain beyond cryptocurrencies, imagining a world in which “contracts are embedded in digital code and stored in transparent, shared databases, where they are protected from deletion, tampering, and revision.”

“…every agreement, every process, every task, and every payment would have a digital record and signature that could be identified, validated, stored, and shared. Intermediaries like lawyers, brokers, and bankers might no longer be necessary. Individuals, organizations, machines, and algorithms would freely transact and interact with one another with little friction.”

Text in the US government’s NDAA 2018 Modernizing Government Technology Act suggests the use of blockchain and smart contracts as part of a broad cost-savings upgrade/migration strategy aimed at replacing the aging, inefficient infrastructure for human records keeping.

As part of a continuing government assessment of the cybersecurity risks associated with blockchain, the NDAA 2018 requires that the Pentagon monitor government agency rollouts of the technology to survey the infrastructure’s security and then brief Congress within 180 days.

Amid the growing adoption of blockchain, DARPA is also funding efforts to determine if the encrypted and distributed nature of blockchains could help secure highly sensitive data pertaining to everything from nuclear weapons to military satellites.

Likewise, the medical industry is looking to surf the coming wave of blockchains, seeing a purpose for the technology in storing and sharing patient/doctor data throughout healthcare ecosystems. This could include bio-data feeds from wearable IoT sensors and smart apps for instance, and blockchains could even be used to house DNA sequences.

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