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Blockchain is a growing list of records, called blocks that are linked using cryptography. Each block contains a hash of the previous block, a timestamp and transaction data forming a chain of blocks that is resistant from everyone. This is because in order to change a block, you'll have to change the next block since it's using the previous block's hash and it goes on for all the next blocks. In order to generate blocks, you need computational power. As long as honest people are working on generating new blocks, the blockchain is considered secure and any attackers are outpaced. The blockchain has been described as an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.

Blockchain was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto and its first implementation was on bitcoin. Since then, a lot of people have been inspired by that brilliant idea and created lots of projects that use it.

Why brilliant?

By storing data across its peer-to-peer network, the blockchain eliminates a number of risks that come with data being held centrally. Peer-to-peer blockchain networks lack centralized points of vulnerability that computer crackers can exploit; likewise, it has no central point of failure. This is called decentralization. It is brilliant because human, for the first time in history, created something that is not owned by anyone, but everyone has the same rights to use it.

Blockchain security methods include the use of public-key cryptography.

It's difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.
Variously attributed to Mark Twain, Niels Bohr and Yogi Berra - used with permission

Blockchain may be best known as the information technology upon which cryptocurrencies are built. While this is a prominent application of blockchain, it isn't the only one.

So, what other uses exist for blockchain? It appears to this writer that the potential uses are too numerous to list here. Examples include, but are definitely not limited to, the following: A digital wiki encyclopedia which rewards contributors via public EOS blockchain technology. A blockchain-based system to enhance the protection of intellectual property for artists. There may even be the beginnings of a blockchain based system for consumers to verify that producers' claims as to the safety and nutritional value of the food they grow is legitimate.

So this raises the question, what do these widely disparate applications have in common? Good question. The common thread that seems to be addressed by blockchain applications is the need to securely identify all parties to any transaction. This is also a strong factor in the utility of blockchain in the kaleidoscope of cryptocurrencies that are currently available, as well as (potentially) a seemingly inexhaustible number yet to be "coined". This capability of blockchain to verify identity of individuals or groups in transactions is at the heart of smart contracts.

Although news about cryptocurrencies, both old and new, may dominate the media that mentions blockchain, I will make the bold prediction that, going forward, other uses based on the identity verification feature, which is the essence of blockchain, will become at least as ubiquitous. Hold me to that.

How Blockchain Can Help to Protect Intellectual Property in the Age of the Internet of Things
An ecosystem of knowledge. On the blockchain.
Delivering the blockchain foundation for your applications
Blockchain for Organic Food Traceability (in-depth research summary)

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