If you talk to young libertarian men passionate about technology, it is only a matter of time before the conversation turns to cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, and their potential to disrupt the entire concept behind fiat currencies. Bitcoin is powered by blockchains, a complicated computer technology that records transactions in a way that is currently considered to be unalterable.
While the technology originated in relation to digital currencies, modern technology experts like Evgeniy Novitsky say there’s no reason that blockchain can’t be use to record any sort of transaction. With the new partnership between Bauman MSTU (of which Novitsky is the chair of the Board of Trustees) and Imperial College, Novitsky hopes to see new uses of blockchain to the general market.
One of the reasons that blockchain technology is considered so powerful for information storage is that it stores information in long series of “blocks” which cannot be altered. With Bitcoin, for example, each transaction adds a block to the chain, creating a permanent record of the transaction. Novitsky says that the security of this technology “creates a fundamentally new method of organization and operation of many industries.”
Blockchain is sometimes referred to as the technology of distributed registry. Understanding what this means is crucial to understanding the potential of blockchain.
For example, in cloud storage. Right now, storing your information in the cloud means having it all in one place with a centralized provider. With blockchain technology, it may be possible for information to be stored across a wide variety of locations, distributed and decentralized. If a group were to gain access to one particular storage area, they would be unlikely to gather enough information to create a coherent picture.
Since people began to conduct transactions online, keeping identity secure has been a priority, with varying levels of success. Individuals rely on companies to collect data responsibly, and secure it carefully. Not all companies have the ability to do that, however, and major hacks—like those at Target, Sony, and Equifax—expose individual information to a wide variety of negative possibilities.
Hacks and identity theft are said to cost over $18 billion annually, with that figure likely to continue to rise as thieves get more sophisticated and more people use online tools to manage their lives.
Blockchain technology could be used to create more sophisticated and secure login technology. It could create chains of all identity related documents which could create an online profile for each individual, keeping their information securely stored and unalterable.
Novitsky says that one key feature of the new partnership between Bauman and the Imperial College is the potential it offers to students. Students have access to the international playing field of technology, which Novitsky says enables the school to “provide a close connection to the developed prototypes with real-world context.”
Time Stamping and Verifications
Some countries have begun using blockchain technology to allow online votes to be cast in elections. One of the main arguments against online voting has been vulnerability to the election process; if hackers can steal identity information and credit card numbers from incredibly secure databanks, how much work would it really take for them to break into election servers, especially given that government technology is unfortunately not always state of the art?
With blockchain technology, however, some experts suggest that voters could see that their vote has been properly cast, and computers could more accurately tally votes while limiting the possibilities for interference.
Talking about the new partnership, Novitsky is clear that he is excited to see what the new relationship between the two universities can bring. Novitsky himself is a graduate of Bauman MSTU, though the school was called the Moscow Higher Technical School at the time. The new partnership with Imperial College in London, which Novitsky calls a world leader in the development of cryptocurrency, will enable students to establish a wide range of possible contacts within the international business community. “Such opportunities are fundamentally important to guide the creative and scientific initiative of young engineers in today’s most demanded technology track.”
While blockchain technology is most commonly known as the building blocks of cryptocurrencies, and continues to be used to create and develop decentralized digital currencies, the technology is likely to expand and be used in multiple spheres within just a few years. Some experts suggest that disruption within the digital cloud storage world may occur in just three years. Businesses outside of the sphere of cutting edge technology may not see those changes directly affecting them for a few years after that, but changes are likely to be on the horizon for many, many industries.