Back to basics: Blockchain 101
Understanding the technology behind Centrality’s marketplace of applications
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We’ll start from the basics — what is blockchain?
A simple way to understand about how a blockchain works is comparing it to a modern-day cooperative. Internet applications like Facebook and Google run on servers and infrastructure that they’ve built into data centres. Everything is built on top of these data centres, which these companies own and control. Blockchain allows a community of people to add their own computing power to a network and create a community-driven resource that we can run applications on top of instead of a company. The technology isn’t perfect, nor is it for every use-case. But there are lots of places where it can add value.
The network is all-inclusive (as long as you play by the rules)
The great thing about blockchain is that you don’t need to know who is in the network. It’s effectively self-policing because in place is a protocol — a software that establishes rules for how the network operates. The software code can’t be changed without the community’s consent. The protocol is open, meaning everyone can see what’s going on and all transactions are recorded in an open database that’s transparent to everybody. The database is distributed, so you don’t have data sitting in a centralised place that can be hacked, sold or leaked. The protocol makes sure everybody follows the rules which makes blockchain trusted. In other words, we create trust in the community using these protocols. If you don’t abide by the rules, you lose the economic rewards for participating in the system.
The network puts people in control of their own data
When applications are built well in a blockchain environment, your data is stored in a vault which you control with your own private key. When you use platforms like Google and Facebook, your data is controlled by these companies. Sending emails and uploading photos seem pretty harmless, but this means companies can do what they like with your data. With blockchain-enabled applications, you get to control how your information is accessed and shared. It also opens up new doors of how data is accessed. Consumers will be able to take personal information, say health data, and store it in a way that researchers can make assessments without seeing the information itself or having access to who you are. That means we don’t have to disclose underlying data to researchers or other companies that might use it. Generally, you’re put in control of your own data because the infrastructure isn’t owned by a single entity, it’s owned by the community.
The system is also more fair and efficient
One of the great opportunities in blockchain is the prospect of creating more economic equality. Applications and big companies in the current economic model get a disproportionate share of the value that we create as a community in those networks. With blockchain, that can now be shared with the community itself. Users can be the owners of the next Facebook or the Uber or the next Google.
Blockchain is going mainstream
When the likes of big companies like Microsoft, IBM and Google are all putting resources into this space, it’s clear that blockchain is on track to become mainstream in the next five years. Privacy and economic inclusion are big drivers of the transition to blockchain. We can expect the next wave of technology to be privacy-oriented and privacy to emerge as the hero application in the near future.
We’ve gone through an economic stage where our digital identities are being traded on the web and subject to data breaches. As AI becomes more sophisticated, the technology is taking our data and doing things with it that we’re not even aware of to influence the way we think in imperceptible ways. That’s dangerous especially when it can be used to influence the way we vote, this can in turn undermine our democracy and then in turn the freedoms and protections we all expect from the companies who control this technology. You don’t have to look far to see this in action in the U.S with Trump and the subsequent erosion of the net neutrality laws.
One of our applications is called Sylo is a WhatsApp or a Facebook Messenger but totally confidential and decentralized — you’re totally in control of your own data applications like this allow us to have all the features we love about Facebook, without the annoying advertisements, to be in control of our own data and to participate in the economic rewards. If you had the choice why wouldn’t you switch.
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin aren’t where it all ends
Cryptocurrencies are an interesting, early used-case of the technology. Bitcoin has, if nothing else, proven that for 10 years a network can run very reliably. If we look at Bitcoin as an early example of programmable money, or digital money, that will be a forecast of how cryptocurrencies are set to evolve in the future. What we used to call paper money is now just money. Given we’re living in a digital society, in the future we’ll probably need digital money. The next generation will likely consider digital money as just, money.
Centrality has created its own token, CENNZ
The purpose of issuing CENNZ is to ensure that our community is involved in the applications and economic value that they create. It also serves as a way to maintain security in the network using a type of protocol called proof of stake. CENNZ has been designed to enable users to navigate Centrality’s marketplace, like how a postage stamp is a means for a parcel to traverse a postal network. It’s the way for developers and users access this network and transact across it, kind of like gas in your car.
Why is a decentralized company called Centrality?
Centrality is a feature of graph theory related to finding connections in a node of interconnected things. We like to say that we help applications connect to each other and that’s what a ‘centrality’ is.