I still remember the very first time I saw this photo. I was completely, for lack of a better word, awestruck. How could this be possible....? Us humans are so incredibly small, fragile and insignificant in the grand scheme of the universe!
This photo was taken by NASA's Voyager 1 Space Probe on the 14th of February 1990, and is the most distance photo EVER taken of planet Earth - Voyager 1 was about 6 billion kilometres from Earth. Everything I have ever known - from my memories, my current knowledge, my experiences and my relationships, have all occurred on this dot, a dot that barely takes up a pixel on the camera lens. How trivial to think that Earthly worries are really worries at all. How could anything occurring on this micro scale really matter?
Despite the overwhelming sense of humility that this one image continues to bring me, I can't help but also feel a great sense of inspiration. So far mankind has only travelled as far as Earth's moon - a dot itself so small that it is probably taking up the same pixel space as the Earth in the image above. Yet for thousands of years us humans have gazed longingly to the stars in not only complete wonder but also in acceptance of a challenge - an inevitable challenge to continue our feat of adventure and exploration. Yes, we are only occupying the tiniest amount of space and in terms of size we really are insignificant. However, it motivates me to know that on this dot there are also dreamers, adventurers and explorers.
And it is these above three things alone which makes our pixel space not only important but also of extreme value.
“People are more difficult to work with than machines. And when you break a person, he can't be fixed.”
― Rick Riordan
Imagine a world where machines are able to directly communicate with each other - high accuracy, validity and reliability - a machine to machine economy (M2M).
This world isn't actually too far away, probably less than a decade. Automation has always played a big role in factories. But, now we are on the cusp of reaching a whole new level. As Artificial Intelligence and IoT increases in sophistication business processes at all stages can be combined with machines and allow for optimisation of micro to macro decisions that humans have traditionally made. For example, take the idea of a 'smart supermarket'. All the shelves would have sensors and immediately inform the back storeroom when an item is running low or has reached its expiry parameters. However, here is the trick. In the back storeroom there is no people or human employees that receive the request for a refill or replacement - it is more machines! And these machines will also be able to communicate directly with the machines located across the country/world which supply all of the grocery items. So when a new order needs to be filled it will be filled by the machine! To add an additional layer, the machines at the supermarket will also be able to connect directly with your fridge/pantry. If it is decided that you are running low on a certain item or your 'smart home' records that you need ingredients to make a chocolate cake, without you even thinking twice you will have the ingredients directly delivered to you, hassle free! And mind you, by this stage, it will probably be the machines in your kitchen making the chocolate cake too!!!
The opportunities this field will create are only limited by our imaginations. The more creative we are the more exotic and ultimately exciting the outcomes.
Although not very well known currently, the compound word 'blockchain' will soon be one of the most commonly and widely acknowledged terms across all industries in all societies.
In the most basic form, a blockchain is a decentralised and public ledger that is used to record transactions. These transactions are not just monetary but can involve any data transaction. The transactions are verified by the nodes in the network and added to the blockchain through a variety of different consensus algorithms.
The transparency and safety of this system comes through the use of asymmetric cryptography and also the fact that every block in the chain is specifically linked to the previous one i.e. block number 3 contains the address and hash of block number 2. This means that if there was ever a malicious attack and someone tried to change the information/data stored in a block they would also have to subsequently alter all the other blocks in the chain on every single node (there are thousands to millions of nodes across the world!).
This revolutionary technology does not only mean that at its core the data stored on the computer is extremely safe and protected but also can help quash those sci-fi A.I. conspiracies that hypothesise robots eventually taking over the world. With the blockchain this will almost be impossible. And so with that in mind, the ability for machines to integrate further into our society and help create a better civilisation will bring much larger positivity and efficaciousness.
Blockchain technology has applications across all aspects of society and soon will be incorporated almost everywhere.
So to pose the question one last time - why is blockchain technology so revolutionary? Because it is innovative, visionary and the first platform to propel us humans into the next stage of technological evolution.