Is An Economical Revolution Upon Us?

A Look at SLASSCOM’s Tech Talk Event on the Blockchain

The delightful people over at SLASSCOM recently organized a Tech Talk Event, which was held at the Dialog Axiata Auditorium on the 31st of January 2017 and the topic of discussion was the Blockchain. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with road traffic blocks, although it might be a great idea for someone to organize a discussion on that topic too. To the uninitiated, ‘Blockchain’ probably sounds rather dull, but the truth is that it has the power to really change the way the global economic system works, for the better.

What exactly is Blockchain? It’s a distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of records with each of these records called blocks and each block containing a time stamp along with a link to a previous block. Put simply, Blockchain is an open, distributed ledger that records transactions between parties efficiently, permanently and in a verifiable way. The technology has become such a hot topic because of its robust ability to prevent the data it stores from being modified. This ability gives Blockchain the power to revolutionize the way we store data about transactions.

The panel of experts at the SLASSCOM Tech Talk were Conrad Dias – Group CIO for LOLC, Jayamin Pelpola – Managing Partner of Alfiniti Ventures, Tharindu Dissanayake – Vice President of Millennium IT and Omega Silva – Software Architect at Virtusa Polaris.

Conrad Dias began the discussion by outlining the nature of Blockchain and its implications. Jayamin Pelpola then expounded on how best people could innovate around the distributed Blockchain. After that, Omega Silva went into detail about the Blockchain and how double spending problems are prevented and touched on how and why it’s almost impossible for Blockchain to be hacked. This was followed by a brilliant presentation by Tharindu Dissanayake on building decentralized applications using Blockchain based distributed networks like Ethereum. This was followed by a lively panel discussion.

Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies are all powered by Blockchain. The beauty of the Blockchain is that applications built for it are server-less, meaning that they can be run jointly on the client-side and within Blockchain based distributed networks. The client device then manages the front-end and user credentials, while the backend runs on a distributed network of computers that provide for the processing and storage requirements.

All of this makes Blockchain extremely secure and resilient to attack. Best of all, it’s a decentralized system, which makes manipulation exceedingly difficult, if not impossible. So particularly for currencies and things of value, this is especially useful. The system also calls for and demands high levels of credibility and provides users with a significant amount of control over their data, communications and credentials. The technology is so powerful that even financial giants like Visa are looking into adopting the technology.

While there is endless benefit to be had with the use of the Blockchain and crypto-currencies, there also are, inevitably, some concerns. Of particular concern is the ability to conduct cross-border transfers of value with almost complete anonymity, which has resulted in crypto-currencies becoming a haven for some rather unsavoury characters. Surely, everyone has heard of the Silk Road website. Still, we feel that with widespread adoption the system will self-regulate and resolve these problems on its own. What is a concern, though, is that if the Blockchain becomes the backbone of modern economic transactions in the future, it will also become the best target for those with malicious intent. While it now seems like the system is virtually ‘un-hackable’, history suggests that at some point, it is very likely to be compromised.

Nevertheless, for the foreseeable future there is nothing but benefit to be had from the technology and it’s great to see it being discussed and even being adopted in Sri Lanka at this early stage.

Checkout this video explaining more about the Blockchain and visit SLASSCOM’s YouTube channel to see footage from the event itself.

Do tell us what you think about Blockchain in the comments below.

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