June 12: Bitcoin and blockchain: essentials and impacts

Blockchain is best known as the technology that gave us the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, but in recent years the technology has evolved rapidly. The blockchain ecosystem is now so complex it can be difficult to grasp the essentials elements and its impacts. What are the core components, recent developments and impacts of the blockchain technology?
What started as an alternative currency has applications way beyond economics. Illustration: Cryptocurrency360.

The blockchain technology is essentially a distributed, and append-only ledger system in which the data stored is immutable, traceable, decentralized and transparent to all participants. Since its inception in the Bitcoin 2009, the blockchain technology has been in rapid developments and shown promising applications prospects. By a genius combination of techniques in modern cryptography, game theory, and distributed computing, the blockchain technology, for the first time, realizes distributed trust in a trustless environment. It is therefore deemed a revolutionary technology like the Internet and has been expected to be a game changer in many areas.

With its origin from the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, the potential benefits of the blockchain are more than just economics. They could extend into political, humanitarian, social, and scientific domains. The technological capacity of the blockchain is already being harnessed by specific groups to address real-world problems: E-healthcare record keeping,  intellectual copyright, food supply chain, diamond exchange, etc. The application of blockchain technology has a  broad field, but also certain limitations. Some scenarios see little benefit of utilizing this emerging technology. Besides, the security and privacy aspects of blockchain technology need to be further investigated. The impacts of blockchain to other fields are in general not well understood.

Chunlei Li is currently an associate professor at the Selmer Center, Department of Informatics, University of Bergen. He completed his Ph.D. in 2014 on information security. Chunlei’s research has been focusing on different aspects of information security, such as cryptography, coding theory, and blockchain. His interests in blockchain include the design and analysis of distributed consensus in blockchains, security enhancement and application of the blockchain technology.

The lecture will take place Wednesday June 12, at Café Christie, starting at 17:00. The event is open to all, and free of charge.