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Our final seminar allowed us to discuss whatever topic we desired. As a class, we agreed upon the topic of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency. The title for this week was “The Internet of Value: Emerging Applications of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency.” This title poses an interesting question about the value of the internet. Is the internet just now becoming valuable with the emergence of cryptocurrency? Or has the internet always held some sort of value that doesn’t relate to cryptocurrency? With the net neutrality topic being discussed today, I see that the internet obviously does hold at least some value of importance and has held this value prior to cryptocurrency. However, the internet presents an interesting platform to create cryptocurrency and further develop blockchain uses.

Seeing the relation between the internet and cryptocurrency through this perspective, it appears that the internet gave value to blockchain. The actual way cryptocurrency works is still a bit confusing, but it was interesting to talk about and see how everyone tried to grasp the concept. Focusing on other applications of blockchain also interested me because the check and balance system seemingly implemented by this technology presents answers to current day issues such as fact checking. I can see a use in blockchain technology for verifying facts such as for news articles because facts must be guaranteed to continue the chain, and it would be hard to tamper with the facts after the primary event. These fact blockchains could be new, reliable primary sources.

When discussion turned to bitcoin, it always appears to me that people are either set on never investing in bitcoin or are unsure if bitcoin is good or bad. One of the appeals and faults in the bitcoin system is the anonymity. Bitcoin was built upon anonymity and it remains one of the central pulls similar to the internet. However, with the establishment of the internet, the founders just assumed everyone would know everyone while the founder/s of bitcoin remain anonymous and wanted the cryptocurrency to be the same. This could lead to many problems with the cryptocurrency though because if there is a malicious attack somewhere, the currency cannot be traced to who the attacker actually is.

A few weeks ago, we discussed cyber security. With regard to bitcoin, cyber attacks could take place. To protect against widespread and very harmful attacks, users must ensure that bitcoin remains decentralized. If bitcoin becomes more centralized, attacks will be easier to find a meaningful target and more harm will occur.

I think another flaw of blockchain is that it is not simple to understand and to understand it, people want to invest in it. I wonder what the future holds for bitcoin and other cryptocurrency technologies. I feel like something bad, such as an attack, will happen to bitcoin and a lot of money will be lost. I see the blockchain technology being used in a few applications here and there, but I am not sure how popularized it will become.

Looking back on the past few weeks, it is interesting how every topic and new development regarding the internet seems interconnected. For example, the Internet of Things can be tied to cryptocurrency because the internet is trying to digitalize currency while maintaining anonymity (connected to digital citizenship). This technology is also focused on being decentralized so that no singular organization or entity can influence the product (which connects to internet jurisdiction and governance). This raises cyber security concerns. I am excited, yet anxious to see how the internet will continue to change, especially for the next generation that will have grown up with the internet always at hand.

Hash This Out

2 thoughts on “Hash This Out

  • December 6, 2017 at 10:46 am

    I love your observation about the interconnectedness of all of these topics. The Internet was meant to connect machines, but it now connects people and lots of different ideas. The resulting networks are rich, but seeing the interactions can be difficult.

    Thanks for all you added to the seminar. Please stay in touch…

  • December 6, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    You continue to amaze me with your ability to take in the big picture, connect across topics, and categorize the many threads of discussion into a few conceptual buckets. It has been an absolute joy to have you in our seminar. As Jim said, please stay in touch and keep us updated on what you do and where you end up.

    On the topic of cryptocurrencies, I noted that you said, “This could lead to many problems with the cryptocurrency though because if there is a malicious attack somewhere, the currency cannot be traced to who the attacker actually is.” Certainly true. I was wondering if you also noticed that it also makes it impossible to know who to contact about the fact that they lost money. Even the “bank” (i.e., the bitcoin system) doesn’t know that you have the account that was just drained of money. I believe you’d only know when you went to use the cryptocurrency (or ran your own check of the blockchain. (It is hard to understand!)

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