1969 was a land mark year for the world. It was the year in which Internet was born.
In response to the launch of Sputnik by Russia, in 1957, US President D. Eisenhower created the ARPA agency, now known as DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) under the leadership of JCR Liklider, to regain the technological lead in the arms race and also to protect America against a space based nuclear attack from Russia.
Thus, internet as we know today, came into existence as an outcome of the constructive competition between the two super powersof the post- World War-II era, the USA and the Russia.
The birth of the Internet was facilitated by the confluence of many technologies and owes its existence to a collective vision many visionary technocrats such as Vannevar Bush was the first to envision the benefits of IT by describing “memex” automated library system. Similarly, Norbert Weiner, the inventor of Cybernetics, inspired the research to extend human capabilities through technology.
The use of the Internet exploded after 1990, causing the US Government to transfer management by first opening up to the world in 1993 as “World Wide Web” and later to independent organizations to manage the entire ecosystem.
The adoption of the World Wide Web grew exponentially through the late 1990s and the early 21st century with the development and adoption of cutting edge technologies like Digital marketing, Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, IoT, AI, Machine learning, Robotics and the like. These technologies helped the people across the world to dramatically improve their productivity and quality of life, but also gave rise to a number of side effects that intruded into the privacy of their lives and threatened security of the digitally influenced lifestyles.
This has resulted in the world searching for ways to protect themselves from the negative impacts of the technological advancements that exposed their vulnerabilities due to the oligopolistic tendencies of the digital giants exposed to the “Internet villains” that focused on cyber-attacks and unauthorized information leaks.
Blockchain that came into existence in the year 2009 through the launch of the cryptocurrency by name bitcoin, promise to offer answer to many of these problems.
Most people across the world still think that blockchain is nothing but bitcoin! Such is the impact that bitcoin has created on people and systems across the world. It is ‘Disruption” at the very best indeed ! Shaking the very roots of convention and centralization, being mystical, yet building trust, being process driven, yet boosting entrepreneurial culture, being mostly limited to transactions yet impacting every possible business one can think of, not being run by any owner but still creating enormous value and economic activity. The story of blockchain without us ever knowing what it is, who started it all, is nothing but a Whodunnit Mystery that continiues to impact us in many ways. While it is unknown that who is the inventor of the blockchain, it is indeed heartening to note the collective power of the giant centralzed organizations like microsoft, IBM, Cisco, Intel, Oracle, Huawei, Amazon, SAP throwing their weight behind this movement even though this could disrupt their business models in many ways!
The birth of the blockchain, through the birth of bitcoin coincided with the inception of Big Data and the growing power of & vexation against the powers of centralization.
By putting the power back in the hands of the individual users and also the connected devices, while protecting their identities to a large extent, blockchain has spurred an era of empowered customers and entrepreneurs while promising to mitigate the risk to the organizations.
Blockchain being a new domain is rapidly growing in adoption across the world in the form of crowd funding and launch of cryptocurrencies, aided by the increasing trend towards decentralization, open source technologies and cloud computing enabled pay-as-you-use approach sweeping the world.
While currently there is no structured program across the global educational system, offering blockchain related courses, this rapidly growing field has to be learnt through experience, where new approaches are discovered every day while old myths, approaches and realities are challenged.
It is important to learn about the blockchain paradigm in the context of the various technologies that are operating in tandem and to understand the impact of blockchain beyond the use of cryptocurrencies, currently dominated by bitcoin.
It is important to explain this concept in a way which facilitates proper understanding by all concerned including the users and enterprises who are supposed to fund its adoption, not just those technologists who are executing these projects.
Most importantly we need to examine the potential impact of blockchain beyond the bitcoin.
Those who can embrace the change, are able to harness the enormous power that a well-conceived and executed blockchain platform can offer, while the rest could well transition their way into the oblivion.
So embrace the new paradigm and welcome to the new religion!
Dr. Vishal Shukla