Blockchain technology explained in layman terms

September 16, 2020

The word Blockchain is either a mystery or entirely unknown to most people. Yet this technology shows all signs of transforming the world as we know it, akin to the internet or the industrial revolution. But what exactly is Blockchain? At our recently held Unthinkable Coffee Break, Amos Mburu, Blockchain researcher and founder of DLBRT sought to explain it in the simplest terms possible.

Just as you know of the current Internet where we share information in form of data from our mobile devices and computers, Blockchain is a new technology that runs the same way as the internet but now what is exchanged is value. That’s a fundamental difference that you should keep in mind for a start.This value exchange only happens when certain rules have been met by the users in that network. Self governing Computer algorithms check if the rules have been adhered to for the exchange to happen. This value, be it an asset or actual money like Bitcoin, is stored together with other values in what is known as a Block. These blocks are tied to each other using what is called a chain, which basically provides the link that enables the whole network to function, hence the term Blockchain.

But who makes sure all this works? Well think about it. What makes the internet work? There’s no internet administrator sitting somewhere ensuring everything you are searching for on Google is legitimate, or that item you are buying off instagram will make it to your door. Many systems of trust have been created around the internet, from security certificates to customer reviews to brand building you name it. As a user of the internet, it’s your job to decide who to trust. Blockchain seeks to fix this in a revolutionary way that can guarantee 100% trust without you having to worry about certificates and reviews and stuff.

The self governing nature of the Blockchain network means that no user can create a block without the whole network accepting that that block fits the chain. This is akin to those olden days during election time where everyone used to make a queue to the ballot box and any one coming into the ballot station has to line up behind the last person. If you cut the line, people will shout and yell and send you to the back. And you cannot just drop any random paper into the ballot box when you get to the front, it has to be the form you were given by the voting official, otherwise it won’t be a valid vote. So if you are a candidate and want to win you encourage your voters join the queue from behind and vote. It is (sometimes) a trusted process as everyone can see the queue and you cannot not lie about your votes. Not a perfect example but it tries to explain Blockchain. In same way, that’s how blockchain ensures that value is not tampered with.

Amos Mburu was a guest on Un.thinkable Coffee break, our monthly talk show on future skills which are changing the world as we know it.

Watch the video recording below

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