Evolve Into Blockchain
This bitfwd session gave the community a solid wrap up on the history of computing. All the way from Philosophy, Math/Logic to our modern day hyper connected world.
Human kind have been evolving technology in a step-wise fashion, always building on top of the previous step and hence linked to each other. What we see in the computing evolution are monumental developments that propelled the evolution forward: From the inception of computing to Alan Turing's remarkable invention of the general purpose computing machine or in it's more common name - Turing machine. After Turing machine was a clearly superior path to utilize computers, the challenge became that of scalability, while the original Turing machine allowed the British and their allies to crack the Nazi encryption and to shape history forever by winning WW2. The fact that those computers were largely based on mechanical components posed a significant limit that could only be solved with the invention of the solid-state transistor. Those solid state transistors were a major breakthrough which essentially is the basis for our entire electronics industries that are powering computing devices to this day. Later on High-Level-Programming Languages were introduced to allow us to program those now available Turing electronic machines. Then we've pushed it all the way to have operation systems and GUI through which we can consume and deploy programs/apps.
Computing stack - Part 1: Math/Logic - Task specific computing - Turing Machine - Transistor - Programming - OS
Having this understanding of how computing as we know it appeared in our world, we can take a slightly closer look at what happened over the recent few decades.
The 1990's (digital 60's :)
In the 1990's we saw the dawn of the communication revolution when home computers became a norm. Shortly after almost every household in developed countries has a computer network connectivity was added and this meant digital communication grew rapidly. However, the 1990's outlook was fairly naive as at the time, the potential the internet held wasn't clearly understood by everyone, hence it was more of an unstructured fun zone for the new generation.
The 2000's - Efficient Internet
The 2000's were already a different ball game. After instant messaging, video streaming, commerce and more were introduced the corporate driven efficient internet. After the market was educated by using services like AOL portal, ICQ messaging etc. came the late movers that got it right: Google, Amazon, Alibaba, Tencent, Facebook. The 2000's in that sense were characterized by a clear move toward User-Server network architecture, if during the 1990's we would host our own website or email service, the 2000's showed us that to do it more efficiently we need to entrust a service provider with our data and perform our communication through those service providers. This proved to be a great success we benefit from to this day. But hold on, there is something really wrong with this structure, it was suppose to enhance accessibility to information which it did, but it wasn't as clear that it will bring an unprecedented level of centralization.
The 2010's - p2p transaction network proof of concept
Around the time American housing market crashed and drove the world's economy into a global financial crisis ("the GFC") an interesting manuscript was published by an anonymous cryptographer. The paper was called Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. Many great entrepreneurs and academics attempted to create an electronic money. Peter Thiel's vision when founding Paypal was a form of money that is possible to send as an email attachment and isn't bound to any government, this didn't seem to be Paypal's product but they succeeded in what was possible at the time. What Satoshi outlined in his paper was a similar structure the p2p file sharing torrent network with added cryptography to secure against double spending and economic principles to incentivize contribution of computing power and users to participate.
Daniel Bar presents in MCIC. The killer-app of the Blockchain: Ethereum is a Turing complete distributed network:"Have Some Imagination Bro", you can build anything!
So what a Killer-App can be created using Blockchains?
While it's easy to see how speculative trading of cryptocurrency provides a great playground for early adopters and it sure does lure the millennial generation, this can't be all there is to it. So what's more to it? To think about it we need to look at what this network is actually capable of. For starter, it's clear why many early use-cases are revolving around financial use cases as the network is after all inherently designed as a transaction network, and bitcoin indeed is often viewed as 'digital gold' since there is a finite number of bitcoins to be mined and put in circulation and it isn't controlled by anyone, hence it has resource-like properties attributed to it. But when we're looking at Ethereum and some of the other Blockchains, they extend the p2p transaction network beyond only currency tokens transactions. These networks are designed as a Turing complete distributed environment. What it means is that just like the invention of the first computer, this network can be viewed as a computing network that can run programs on it without the need for a central server! The same ledger is shared across all nodes on the network. Those programs are called Smart Contracts. It's often a sequece of words that scares lawyers as they are afraid if contracts get fully automated and 'smart' it will render lawyers obsolete.
So what is the Killer-App??
Turing complete distributed environment is the basis for ANY unstoppable, uncensorable application we can think of.
The distributed network is actually the basis for a complete shift in the way we do things, if we think about it, despite the fact that the internet indeed revolutionized communications, we didn't change too a completely radical shape the way we do things, if we had brick and mortar shops, DVD rentals before we now have e-Commerce and streaming services, but essentially it's a replication of our older forms into a digital version of it. The potential to change things is in fact much larger, but perhaps it can't happen all at once, with Decentralized applications and smart contracts it's the dawn of the Cryptoeconomies. If the internet disrupted mainly the communication and commerce, decentralized economies can disrupt century old elements of our society such as finance, governance, legal and so on. This can reshuffle things completely, it feels in fact that it's impossible to foresee where will it lead, but, just as natural ecosystems thrive when there is more diversity, it makes sense that the tech space, the financial and legal space and governance will benefit a lot from the diversity that decentralization can bring.
Daniel Bar - Biosnap:
Daniel is the chairman of bitfwd, a community driven initiative that started as a workshop series in the MCIC UNSW. Daniel's engineering background comes from the microelectronic high-volume-manufacturing and technology transfer scale up projects in China. Daniel's primary focus is on Blockchain and cryptoeconomics.