While most people only started learning about “blockchain” because of Bitcoin, its roots – and applications – go much deeper.
Blockchain is a technology in itself. It makes Bitcoin more efficient, and that’s basically the reason why * so many * new ICOs have flooded the market – creating an “ICO” is ridiculously easy (no barriers to entry).
The purpose of the system is to create a distributed database – which in practice means that instead of relying on data storage like “Google” or “Microsoft”, a computer network (usually run by individuals) can function in the same way as a larger company.
To understand the implications of this (and thus where technology can take the industry) – you need to look at how the system works at a basic level.
Founded in 2008 (1 year before Bitcoin), it is an open source software solution. This means that anyone can download its source code with modification. It should be noted, however, that only certain individuals can modify the centralized “data warehouse” (so “developing” the code is not, in principle, free for everyone).
The system works with the so-called Merkle tree – a kind of data diagram that was created to allow versioned data to be used on computer systems.
Merkle trees have been used with high efficiency in several other systems; the most significant “GIT” (source code management software). Without going too technical, it basically stores a “version” of the data set. This version is numbered, so it can be downloaded at any time the user wants to revert to an older version. In software development, this means that a set of source code can be updated on multiple systems.
The way it works – that is, storing a huge “file” with updates to the central data set – is basically what gives power to people like “Bitcoin” and all other “crypto” systems. The term “crypto” simply means “encryption,” which is the technical term for “encryption.”
Regardless of its core business, the real benefit of deploying a broader “chain” is almost certainly the “paradigm” it offers to industry.
The idea called “Industry 4.0” has revolved around for several decades. Often confused with the “Internet of Things”, the idea is to introduce a new layer of “stand-alone” machines to create more efficient manufacturing, distribution and delivery technologies for businesses and consumers. Although this has often been the focus of attention, it has never been introduced.
Many experts are now looking at technology as a way to facilitate this change. The reason is that the interesting thing about “crypton” is that – as evidenced by people like Ethereum in particular – the various systems built on it can actually be programmed to work with the logic layer.
This logic is really what IoT / Industry 4.0 has so far missed – and why many are looking for a “blockchain” (or similar) to provide a basic standard for new ideas to move forward. This standard enables companies to create “distributed” applications that enable intelligent machines to create more flexible and efficient manufacturing processes.