Writing in WIRED magazine, ex-White House senior advisor Brian Forde explains how the technology underlying bitcoin, the blockchain, has taken own a life of its own, with institutional interest in blockchains almost reaching a frenzy.
Although bitcoin was initially thought of in narrow terms as an alternative currency to the dollar and other fiat currencies, Brian notes that experts in other fields are now actively looking at how the blockchain can be used for non-monetary uses. For example, entrepreneurs and developers are building applications on top of the blockchain that could publicly and immutably record everything from the birth of a child to a transfer of property ownership.
Brian points out that timestamps, ledgers and digital signatures have been around for many years, but this combination unlocks the opportunity for many new and consequential innovations. He argues that – in a similar fashion to the internet’s facilitation of instant, global communication – a combination of time-stamped and digitally signed transactions hosted on an accessible ledger could play an important role. They could help governments reduce friction and increase transparency associated with important transactions.
Since being brought in to head MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative (DCI) in 2015, Brian has made great strides in highlighting the benefits of bitcoin and the blockchain to those both inside and outside of the prestigious university.
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Peter Diamandis, the co-founder and executive chairman of Singularity University and the X PRIZE Foundation, has singled out 11 of the most exciting new technologies moving from deceptive to disruptive this year. Here are his top tech picks for 2015:
- Virtual Reality: Expect a lot more action on the virtual and augmented reality front. Watch out for game changers like Magic Leap (in which Google just invested over $500 million.
- Mass-market robots: 2015 is going to see the introduction of consumer-friendly robots in a store near you.
- Autonomous vehicles: Beyond Google, many major car brands are working on autonomous solutions.
- Drones everywhere: They’re getting cheaper, easier to use, more automated, and are now finding more useful and lucrative applications.
- Wireless power: Companies like uBeam, Ossia and others are developing solutions to charge your phones, laptops, wearables, etc. wirelessly as you go about your business.
- Data & machine learning: There is gold in your data. This year will see data collection and mining that data becoming more turn-key.
- Large-scale genome sequencing and data mining: In 2015, we will see explosive, exponential growth in genomics and longevity research.
- Sensor explosion: The combination of sensors and wearables, increased connectivity, new manufacturing methods (like 3D printing), and improved data mining capabilities will create a smart, connected world.
- Voice-control and “language-independent” interaction: The Star Trek universal translator is just around the corner!
- 3D Printing: The number of applications is increasing, and printers, scanners, and CAD modelling software will become more accessible, cheaper, and easier to use.
- Bitcoin: Emerging smartphone markets in developing countries, better “interfaces”, and more commercial adopters who accept bitcoin as a form of payment will all play a role in a brighter bitcoin future.
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