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Finding a million reasons why blockchain would fail has proven to be one of the most important innovations in the previous 500 years.
You're about to read a humorous half-fiction narrative based on Stuart Hylton's critique of "The Making of Modern Britain" and my perception of the blockchain's impact on today's world. I was struck by how closely the description of the industrial age's front-runner technology mirrored the modern-day awe and horror of blockchain. Some quotes are so pertinent that substituting "blockchain protocol" for "railroad corporation" yields the same result.
Following multiple "bubbles" (so far eight) and some major announcements — remember Libra and TON? — I decided now would be a good moment to coin (pun intended) the history of the new technology that has the potential to be the most significant innovation in the last 500 years.
A fascinating comparison
What's the point? It's difficult to comprehend or even believe the influence that the construction of railways must have had at the turn of the nineteenth century from a distance of two centuries. A common observer is similarly caught between a Bitcoin (BTC) advocate preaching the dollar's Doomsday and a major bank's crypto skeptic. In truth, there is no clear picture of what distributed ledger technology will look like in the coming decades.
"Great mechanical horses, breathing fire and smoke and hauling impossibly huge trains at unbelievable speeds, across a landscape altered by the embankments and cuttings, viaducts and tunnels their passage needed," said one author. Stuart Hylton portrays the strong impact that growing industry, which is frequently frightening and speculative, has had on Britain, a subject chosen for a detailed examination.
The author kept me involved in an instructive and fascinating story that looked to be a paralleled flashback into the blockchain sector. As railways "changed the way war was fought and peace was kept," blockchain has the potential to destabilize authoritarian regimes and propaganda operations. Early railroads were essential in the "dramatic industrial boom of the nineteenth century," and blockchain has the potential to change finance, which is the main artery pumping blood into the contemporary economy. Railways prompted "the state to reconsider the laissez-faire philosophy that had been its default position," whereas blockchain is yet to emerge as the primary force in liberating people all over the world and restoring their possessions.
Using the railway analogy, here is a summary of what crypto performed for us (and the structure for my future articles on this topic).
The first crypto and the shock
Bitcoin came before electronic money and triple-entry accountancy. The blockchain property of a recent block employing hashing to link to the prior one dates back to at least 1995. Then, scholars Stuart Haber and Scott Stornetta proposed a method for settling intellectual property rights by timestamping digital documents. In 1991, they devised a chronological chain of hashed data to authenticate its authenticity, which was later utilized in four New York Times issues.
While the cryptographers had no intention of launching such a large project, Satoshi Nakamoto was inspired by a series of findings to develop the Bitcoin protocol as a response to unjust and opaque global finance. As Burniske and Tatar point out in their book Cryptoassets, crypto steadily captivated the minds of a wide range of people, from cyberpunks to dealers and traders, until a curious journalist posed the question: What exactly is proof-of-work (PoW)?
In his white paper from 2008, Satoshi never mentioned "blockchain." In 2014, the Bank of England claimed that a "distributed ledger" was "the core innovation of digital currencies." The next year, Bloomberg Markets and The Economist ran articles headlined "Blythe Masters Tells Banks the Blockchain Changes Everything" and "The Trust Machine," respectively, to enhance awareness of the concept.
"What could be more ludicrous than the thought of locomotives traveling at double the speed of stagecoaches?" The Quarterly Review, a conservative publication, published an article in 1825.
Similarly, many people did not understand blockchain at first. Some welcomed it as Bitcoin's basis, focusing on the cryptocurrency component of the technology. Others came up with reasons why it wouldn't work. Banks, on the other hand, have been ignoring and later aggressively fighting the idea of sharing their ledgers with third parties. It wasn't long before they fully embraced the concept and joined groups like We.Trade and R3.
"We witness, in this wonderful creation, a well-spring of intellectual, moral, and political blessings beyond all measurement and all price," wrote The Quarterly Review, now on the other side of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway opening in 1830.
The first railways were built long before George Stephenson and were primarily used to transport commodities, such as coal from mines. Because there was already a well-established canal network, people saw the railway as a bulky, sketchy, or even deadly "solution without a problem" when the steam engine unlocked the new powers. The Rainhill trials of 1829 were necessary to pave the way for steam locomotion in the future. It reminds me of blockchain proponents' fight to persuade VISA and SWIFT that their days are numbered, or Andreas Antonopoulos' victory before the Canadian Senate.
In 1864, King William I of Prussia declared, "No one will pay good money to travel from Berlin to Potsdam in one hour when he may ride his horse there for free in one day."
"High-speed rail travel is not practicable because passengers would die of suffocation if they were unable to breathe," wrote Dionysius Lardner in The Steam Engine Familiarly Explained and Illustrated, 1824.
Despite widespread pessimism, railways continued to progress because few risk-takers could see the enormous potential of the new technology and were willing to risk their money and careers to expand on it. Suddenly, railways posed a threat to time and space: people whose region was limited by horse speed could be exposed to a far larger continent. In the midst of the Third Industrial Revolution, blockchain has the potential to challenge the entire concept of value exchange and human nature by presenting a brand new world. It's unavoidable. So, what'll happen next?
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