Successful information technology (IT) workers understand that change is one of the only constants in the industry. And to get the most out of this rewarding career path, it’s necessary to adapt and drive the next wave of innovation. Blockchain technology is the perfect example of how quickly the tech world can change. If you’re vaguely familiar with cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, then you’ve already been introduced to blockchain tech, perhaps without realizing it.
Basics of Bitcoin
It’s tricky to separate blockchain entirely from Bitcoin, since Bitcoin essentially gave birth to blockchain. Here’s a quick primer. Bitcoin grew out of the 2008 financial crisis, and was developed because of the widespread mistrust in banks. It called itself a peer-to-peer electronic cash system. In other words, currency can be transferred directly from one party to the next without using a financial institution as an intermediary. Bitcoin relies on cryptography to keep the digital information secure, and to verify the transactions. Bitcoin, with a capital “B,” refers to the decentralized ledger itself, and bitcoin with a lowercase “b” refers to a unit of currency. Because Bitcoin is decentralized, and because all nodes (or participants) have agreed to the rules of Bitcoin, a bitcoin or its transaction cannot be fraudulently altered because every node would know about it.
Basics of Blockchain Technology
Blockchain technology was developed in order to keep Bitcoin secure. It provides assurance to all participants that transactions are authentic. In short, blockchain tech allows two people to trust in the transaction because they have both agreed on their common digital history. Even though the people might not trust each other, they can trust blockchain to prevent duplicative or fraudulent bitcoin transactions.
Specifics of Blockchain Technology
Diving deeper into this innovative structure, you’ll see that the nodes of the blockchain act collectively to verify authenticity. Whenever a new transaction is made, the majority of nodes will use algorithms to verify that the digital history and digital signature are valid. The new “block” can only be added to the digital history chain when the majority of nodes agree it can be. This is how Bitcoin functions without a centralized authority, and how blockchain prevents any one node from committing an act of fraud.
Opportunities in Blockchain Engineering
Right now, skilled blockchain technologists are in high demand, and consequently, they are earning very lucrative wages. Even as more IT professionals become qualified blockchain technologists, however, the demand isn’t expected to slow down much. That’s because blockchain technology is transferable to other specialty fields, not just cryptocurrency. It’s still in its infancy, but some experts have theorized that blockchain tech may have uses in any situation in which parties need authentic records of ownership, yet wish to avoid third parties. One prime example is the establishment of personal identity. Blockchain tech may help thwart identity thieves in the future by giving strict control of a person’s identifying information to him or herself.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.