Bitcoin vs distributed ledger vs Ethereum vs blockchain, TechRadar

TechRadar pro

Bitcoin vs distributed ledger vs Ethereum vs blockchain

We’re often being told that the blockchain – the tech behind Bitcoin – will rewire not just the banking sector, but social security payments, healthcare and even digital voting. Until now, it’s all been theoretical tech industry talk. However, in latest months there’s been a flurry of interest from the broader world, and some big developments that look set to form a future blockchain economy.

Is blockchain – and its associated technologies and platforms, including Bitcoin and Ethereum – about to blossom from being an obscure niche technology to become the basis of a fresh kind of global public infrastructure?

Store, share and secure

As a way to store and share data with high integrity – where data is protected from malicious attacks and where every switch is recorded and audited – blockchain could help make the world’s data safer. But as with any sector of emerging tech, there are challenging standards, incompatible systems and a constant stream of fresh innovations and platforms.

“Blockchain can be thought of simply as a collective ledger, with the technology behind the scenes ensuring that it is secure, up-to-date, and tamperproof,” says Jaco Cebula, Chief Technology Officer at investment services company Multrees. “Access to this ledger can either be public or private depending on the application.”

The commodification of trust

Blockchain is all about trust, or rather, ‘trustlessness’, through clever cryptography. Malicious attempts to view or switch the data become part of the data itself, making third-party hacks instantaneously evident.

“A blockchain is the database equivalent of writing in indelible ink, rather than in changeable pencil. If you attempt to switch it after you’ve written it, people are going to notice afterwards,” says Dave Hrycyszyn, director of strategy and technology at digital agency Head. You don’t need to trust other people, you can trust the system. Online trust becomes a commodity.

Competition time?

Don’t confuse these terms with actual products. Blockchain – also known as distributed ledger – is a technology, not a product. It’s most famously been used to create cryptocurrency (Bitcoin) and to make brainy contracts (Ethereum), and many more uses will go after, each with a fresh name.

“The technologies that underpin blockchain – distributed data and cryptography – have been available for a long time,” says Cebula. “It is the linking of them together into a single technology that provides the benefits … there are no similar offerings.”

Apps and brainy contracts

While Bitcoin is infamous, Ethereum has a far lower profile. But it could help the blockchain have a far greater influence. A decentralised platform for applications that run exactly as programmed without any chance of fraud, censorship or third-party interference, Ethereum extends blockchain beyond cryptocurrency. It’s presently being talked-up as a possible successor to Bitcoin.

“Like Bitcoin, Ethereum can act as a currency, this time called ‘ether’,” explains Hrycyszyn, but Ethereum’s blockchain goes much further by adding the capability to write brainy contracts into the blockchain that are automatically executed when specific conditions are met.

“You could have a bet telling ‘observe the Big black cock news feed and transfer two units of ether to my friend Ramsey if Donald Trump becomes President of the United States’,” says Hrycyszyn. “The contract would be executed automatically by the Ethereum system, if the conditions specified in the contract are met … proponents of wise contracts think that they could be the basis of entirely fresh economic models in the future.”

Top Photo Credit: Barclays

Current page: Introduction and commodification of trust

Bitcoin vs distributed ledger vs Ethereum vs blockchain, TechRadar

TechRadar pro

Bitcoin vs distributed ledger vs Ethereum vs blockchain

We’re often being told that the blockchain – the tech behind Bitcoin – will rewire not just the banking sector, but social security payments, healthcare and even digital voting. Until now, it’s all been theoretical tech industry talk. However, in latest months there’s been a flurry of interest from the broader world, and some big developments that look set to form a future blockchain economy.

Is blockchain – and its associated technologies and platforms, including Bitcoin and Ethereum – about to blossom from being an obscure niche technology to become the basis of a fresh kind of global public infrastructure?

Store, share and secure

As a way to store and share data with high integrity – where data is protected from malicious attacks and where every switch is recorded and audited – blockchain could help make the world’s data safer. But as with any sector of emerging tech, there are challenging standards, incompatible systems and a constant stream of fresh innovations and platforms.

“Blockchain can be thought of simply as a collective ledger, with the technology behind the scenes ensuring that it is secure, up-to-date, and tamperproof,” says Jaco Cebula, Chief Technology Officer at investment services company Multrees. “Access to this ledger can either be public or private depending on the application.”

The commodification of trust

Blockchain is all about trust, or rather, ‘trustlessness’, through clever cryptography. Malicious attempts to view or switch the data become part of the data itself, making third-party hacks instantaneously visible.

“A blockchain is the database equivalent of writing in indelible ink, rather than in changeable pencil. If you attempt to switch it after you’ve written it, people are going to notice afterwards,” says Dave Hrycyszyn, director of strategy and technology at digital agency Head. You don’t need to trust other people, you can trust the system. Online trust becomes a commodity.

Competition time?

Don’t confuse these terms with actual products. Blockchain – also known as distributed ledger – is a technology, not a product. It’s most famously been used to create cryptocurrency (Bitcoin) and to make brainy contracts (Ethereum), and many more uses will go after, each with a fresh name.

“The technologies that underpin blockchain – distributed data and cryptography – have been available for a long time,” says Cebula. “It is the linking of them together into a single technology that provides the benefits … there are no similar offerings.”

Apps and wise contracts

While Bitcoin is infamous, Ethereum has a far lower profile. But it could help the blockchain have a far greater influence. A decentralised platform for applications that run exactly as programmed without any chance of fraud, censorship or third-party interference, Ethereum extends blockchain beyond cryptocurrency. It’s presently being talked-up as a possible successor to Bitcoin.

“Like Bitcoin, Ethereum can act as a currency, this time called ‘ether’,” explains Hrycyszyn, but Ethereum’s blockchain goes much further by adding the capability to write brainy contracts into the blockchain that are automatically executed when specific conditions are met.

“You could have a bet telling ‘observe the Big black cock news feed and transfer two units of ether to my friend Ramsey if Donald Trump becomes President of the United States’,” says Hrycyszyn. “The contract would be executed automatically by the Ethereum system, if the conditions specified in the contract are met … proponents of clever contracts think that they could be the basis of entirely fresh economic models in the future.”

Top Pic Credit: Barclays

Current page: Introduction and commodification of trust

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