Andreas Antonopoulos: Separating Blockchain From Bullshit
At the Blockchain Africa Conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa, bitcoin and security expert Andreas Antonopoulos introduced a major correction to the saying “blockchain is the technology behind bitcoin.”
Since 2016, the cryptocurrency industry has seen the emergence of the so-called blockchain industry, led by multi-billion banks and financial institutions that have funded startups and consortia with over $1 billion annually to develop blockchain-based platforms for the conventional finance industry.
Yet, the blockchain industry and its participating banks are still struggling to demonstrate the potential of blockchain technology in a large and commercial scale. The industry has introduced successful tests utilizing blockchain technology but none of those applications have been implemented to commercial platforms and operations.
During a talk entitled “Blockchain vs. Bullshit,” Antonopoulos shared the differences in characteristics and attributes between a genuine blockchain network and database platform. Moreover, Antonopoulos also clarified that blockchain technology is not the underpinning technology of bitcoin. It is simply one of many technologies that power bitcoin and the purpose of blockchain technology is to operate as a database or ledger to store transactions processed by the Bitcoin network.
“Blockchain is the technology behind bitcoin. Which is incorrect. Blockchain is one of the four foundational technologies behind bitcoin and it can’t stand alone. But that hasn’t stopped people from trying to sell it. Blockchain is bitcoin with a haircut and a suit you parade in front of your board. It is the ability to deliver sanitized clean comfortable version of blockchain of bitcoin to people who are too terrified of actually disruptive technology,” explained Antonopoulos.
Bitcoin and its blockchain network is based on many cryptographic technologies including Schnorr signatures, advanced elliptic curve applications and ring signatures. These technologies create a synergy with blockchain to create a complete cryptographic blockchain network that grants its users absolute financial freedom and independence.
Antonopoulos further introduced perhaps the most important talking point of his presentation. Blockchain has transformed into a technology described with a series of technical jargons with which even the developers or initiators of blockchain projects themselves have shallow knowledge of. During his talk, to the audience of the Blockchain Africa Conference, Antonopoulos asked:
“Can you define blockchain in such a way that i can’t do search and replace with the word database and still make that sentence work? Because that is the challenge. If what you’re doing is a database with signatures, it is not interesting. It is boring.”
Over the past few years, banks, financial institutions and tech corporations have perceived the blockchain as a technology they wanted to implement. The truth is, blockchain technology can only demonstrate its potential within a platform or network like bitcoin that is designed to operate in an immutable and decentralized manner. The trustless nature of bitcoin is what allows blockchain technology to operate as an autonomous and efficient ledger of transactions.
“The essence of bitcoin is the ability to operate in a decentralized way without having to trust anyone. The essence of bitcoin is to be able to use software to authoritatively and independently, without appealing to authority. Verifying everything yourself. You don’t trust the other nodes you’re talking to. You assume they’re lying. You don’t trust the miners. You don’t trust the people creating the transactions. You don’t trust anything other than the outcome of your own verification and validation.”