Edward Snowden on why blockchain matters, and the importance of Bitcoin transactions…
by Manoj Sharma for CNR
In a recent interview with Ben Wizner, Edward Snowden has been chatting about blockchain, and why businesses should be looking to implement the technology.
Snowden said that “imagine an old database where any entry can be changed just by typing over it and clicking save. Now imagine that entry holds your bank balance. If somebody can just arbitrarily change your balance to zero, that kind of sucks, right? Unless you’ve got student loans”.
“The point is that any time a system lets somebody change the history with a keystroke, you have no choice but to trust a huge number of people to be both perfectly good and competent, and humanity doesn’t have a great track record for that. Blockchains are an effort to create a history that can’t be manipulated.”
Blockchain technology is recognised across the world for its ability to create irrefutable evidence of an event between two different parties, thanks to its distributed ledger foundations. And Snowden added that “the reality is that blockchains can theoretically be applied in many ways, but it’s important to understand that mechanically, we’re discussing a very, very simple concept, and therefore the applications are all variations on a single theme: verifiable accounting. Hot.”
In addition, he talked about the power of blockchain technology to impact the world. While he is confident about the ability of the technology, he doesn’t foresee blockchain overtaking companies like Google or Facebook.
He also talked about his interest in Bitcoin transactions, describing them as “impartial” which adds to the trust factor of the crypto arena. He states:
“[Bitcoin transactions] can’t really be stopped or reversed without the explicit, voluntary participation of the people involved. Let’s say Bank of America doesn’t want to process a payment for someone like me. In the old financial system, they’ve got an enormous amount of clout, as do their peers, and can make that happen. If a teenager in Venezuela wants to get paid in a hard currency for a web development gig they did for someone in Paris, something prohibited by local currency controls, cryptocurrencies can make it possible. Bitcoin may not yet really be private money, but it is the first ‘free’ money”, Snowden said.
It’s ‘free money’ that’s been hitting a fair amount of problems of late, of course, not least the crash in the markets and the increasing hostility from many regulators. But on the blockchain side? Things do seem to be improving, with more and more big companies embracing the technology.