Blockchain Technology and Cryptoeconomic Policy
Professor, GIST, Korea
Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer electronic cash transfer system without a bank in the middle. The e-cash can be sent to anyone in the internet as if it was an in-person transfer of money. To meet such an end, Bitcoin introduces a novel idea, blockchain. Blockchain maintains a group of “cryptographically chained” digital documents, a ledger. Cryptographic chain is required to record in an unforgeable way transactions such as coin transfers from one to the other. The ledger is published and left open in the internet. The open chained ledger makes electronic transfer of money possible over the internet without the authority in the middle. Since 2009 Bitcoin was introduced, it has made tremendous strides. Market value has been created, capitalization surpassing more than 20 Billion USD in 2017. Thousands of follow-up systems have been created. World Economic Forum has forecasted that 10% of global GDP will be stored in blockchains by 2025. In this tutorial, we aim to review Bitcoin and Ethereum for their program architectures and operations. Ethereum is believed to have made the e-cash system to the next level by inclusion of “smart contracts” in its function. Smart contracts enable formation of contractual relations between two or more parties and the terms specified in the contract are executed automatically when prescribed conditions are met. In this tutorial, we also aim to shed light on technical sides of blockchain technology such as privacy, security and autonomy which are sensitive to regulations and policies. Many initial coin offerings has been made amassing a large amount of crowd funding. While it is a revolutionary invention, blockchain and cryptocurrency systems are at its infancy stage. In order to foster continued healthy development, it is imperative for us to see the core of the technology and be able to evaluate the short and long term impacts of this technology based on scientific facts. This shall help us avoid any unwanted act of fear and road blocks to development. Regulations should be kept at its minimal. There are obvious ones: price manipulation practices and fraudulent investment operations should be prevented and punished heavily when caught. But more importance should be developing a policy to fostering researches, startups and funding to help uncover new opportunities. Blockchain can be useful in many future applications such as transfer of lands and houses, bank accounts to people in underdeveloped nations, and low cost maintenance of valuable records such as patents and copyrights. If some of them are indeed realizable, blockchain is sure to make the society clearer and more expectable. Protection of rights for underprivileged people can be improved; disputes and conflicts in the society lessened; transaction costs reduced and healthy interaction among people encouraged. Who knows that it shall lead us a step closer to the society of genuine trust!