Fasttrack Blockchain Technology Introduction
This is an introduction to blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. It is an informational course over one day which will introduce the key concepts and give users an understanding of how this technology may impact IT and traditional businesses.
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PrerequisitesNo specific prerequisite knowledge.
Important terminologyThere are a lot of unusual terms used when discussing cryptocurrencies and blockchains this module will go through some of the key terms and will explain their significance.
What is a blockchain?The bitcoin blockchain is a trustless distributed ledger where there is consensus as to the order in which the transactions occurred. Understanding this definition and the significance of each of the terms used is a great start to understanding bitcoin and the blockchain concept.
Bitcoin - the original blockchainThe first blockchain is Bitcoin and it is still the main cryptocurrency today. It is important to know a little about the pioneers who were involved in this technology at the start.
Does Bitcoin satisfy the definition of money or currency?To understand cryptocurrencies it is important to know a little about the history of money and to have an understanding of what money really is and what constitutes a currency.
Cryptocurrency mining - proof of workThe key technological invention of the bitcoin protocol is proof of work. This is the process whereby transactions are added to the blockchain and the miners are rewarded for running the network in an efficient and transparently honest fashion. It is important to understand proof of work and its limits to scalability.
AltcoinsBitcoin is open source software and as such anyone can take a copy of the software and create their own cryptocurrency. Many people have done this and there are many many altcoins as a result. These altcoins can be broken into three loose categories, those that add nothing and are just clones of bitcoin, those that try to solve one or more problems with bitcoin and thirdly outright scams.
Privacy, anonymity, pseudo-anonymity, full anonymity with zero knowledge proofsBitcoin is anonymous up to a point and it is important to understand exactly what can be seen once you share your wallet address with someone.
Cryptocurrency wallets & exchangesIf you are going to obtain some cryptocurrency you will need to set up a wallet and deal with an exchange. We will go through both and actually go through creating a wallet and getting some cryptocurrency into it.
What is Ethereum and why is it different?Ethereum is often called the second generation blockchain as it builds on top of the bitcoin idea but adds a lot of extra functionality. If you think of bitcoin as the equivalent of a spreadsheet, Ethereum is a full powered computer. Ethereum allows you to write programs called Smart Contracts and has been used extensively by people who wish to create their own cryptocurrency tokens for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).
Blockchain challengesBlockchain technology is now proven and has enormous potential to affect everything about the way money is transferred and business is transacted. It faces a number of key challenges which will require solutions.
Scalability, how will the network handle all 8 billion people on the planet?
Interoperability, how will different blockchains interoperate and more importantly how will blockchains interoperate with existing banking, government and regulatory structures? Sustainability, how will these open source software projects be able to continue to operate and what kind of governance structures will they require to succeed.
And finally quantum resistance, as computing power continues to grow exponentially how will the cryptography on which all blockchains are based fare against brute force attacks by a quantum computer?