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Written by Jackie Whiting
on September 16, 2020

It seems as if every year there's a new technology emerging that's poised to "revolutionise" the way we do business. It can be challenging to separate the noise from reality, let alone understand which complex topics are worth investing your time - and potentially your organisation's money -  into understanding more about.

But trust us when we say that blockchain is absolutely capable of changing everything about the way we live, with use cases stretching across the real estate market, voting systems and of course the banking industry. There will, and already are, huge implications for the future of many industries thanks to blockchain, so it's safe to say that you owe it to yourself to get acquainted with how it works. In this way, your organisation will be ready for its eventual widespread adoption. 

To help explain how blockchain works, we've put together a list of our five favourite Ted Talks on the topic. Watch them and begin demystifying how this world-changing, trust-building technology can change the way we live our lives. 

Once you feel you've grasped the basics, watch our CEO Russell E. Perry chat about the future of blockchain technology

1. How the blockchain is changing money and business with Don Tapscott

 

Don Tapscott, a Canadian business executive who specialises in business strategy, organisational transformation and the role of technology in business and society,  breaks down the concept of blockchain and defines it as "nothing less than the second generation of the internet." 

Highlights:

  • his explanation of the relationship between cryptocurrency and its underlying technology, blockchain
  • the real-world uses cases for blockchain, including the protection of land rights through blockchains creation of immutable records 
  • simple description of smart contracts with examples of how it's being applied on the Ethereum blockchain

2. How the blockchain will radically transform the economy with Bettina Warburg

 

Bettina Warburg, a blockchain researcher, entrepreneur and educator, describes how the blockchain will eliminate the need for centralised institutions like banks or governments when it comes to things like facilitating trade and evolving age-old models of commerce into "something far more interesting: a distributed, transparent, autonomous system for exchanging value."

Highlights:

  • Her recap of the evolution of our economic system and Nobel award-winner Douglass North's economic perspective "new institutional economics" 
  • The example of Wikipedia as a loose comparison to blockchain 
  • The current state of vulnerability with user identity 

3. How Smart Contracts Will Change the World with Olga Mack 

 

Olga Mack is a lawyer and Adjunct Professor at UC Berkeley who is passionate about the meeting place between law and blockchain. In her talk, Mack quickly begins with a simple explanation of blockchain before taking it one step further and exploring the concept of smart contracts, describing how they work and why they matter. 

Highlights:

  • Clear explanation of the difference between traditional contracts and smart contracts
  • Provides four applications of smart contracts with practical examples
  • Tables the idea that once countries fully embrace the use of smart contracts, they'll be able to attract the world's top talent to leverage their creativity and knowledge 

4. New Kids on the Blockchain with Lorne Lantz 

 

If you've watched the previous videos and are still having trouble wrapping your head around blockchain, you may find it helpful to see the digital ledger in action. In his Ted Talk, Lorne Lantz, an O'Reilly Bitcoin expert, explains how transactions are accepted and added to the digital ledger with a live example of Bitcoin's blockchain working its magic. 

Highlights: 

  • Live example of Bitcoin's blockchain adding blocks of transactions in real-time
  • Simplified breakdown of how blockchain can improve the process of international money transfers 
  • Introduces the idea of blockchain as "infrastructure in the background" with a consumer-friendly layer on top 

5. How the US government is using blockchain to fight fraud with Kathryn Haun

 

Last but not least, if all other means have failed to adequately introduce this concept to you, here's a story of extortion, fraud, corruption and ultimately, justice - all thanks to blockchain. Kathryn Haun, a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice and is its first-ever coordinator for emerging financial technologies explains the first case of the US government using blockchain to fight fraud.  

The explanation is perhaps the least technical on our list but the description of its use case for fighting fraud will surely help you wrap your head around how this technology can be used for good. 

Highlights:

  • Perfectly proves the irreplaceable value of blockchain's immutability
  • Marks the first case of the Government of the United States using blockchain to solve a crime
  • Birth certificates are considered "breeder documents" for fraud related crimes, blockchain would be a highly reliable substitute 

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