While at-home investors and big-dollar funds are keeping their eyes on Bitcoin during the unprecedented economic effects the global pandemic continues to cause across the globe, crypto-experts are contemplating the obvious: Could blockchain—the technology underlying Bitcoin—be the answer to the next big pandemic?
What Is Blockchain Technology?
A blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of transactions that can be programmed to record almost anything of value. Digital data is recorded in “blocks,” each of which is assigned a unique “hash.” The hash serves as an identifying “seal” that ensures the data on the block have not been corrupted. Each block also contains on it the hash of the preceding block, which is what allows for the formation of a “chain.” If one attempts to change the data residing on a given block, a new hash will be generated for that block and the chain will be broken, since the hash of the block coming after the tampered block will no longer reflect the correct hash. This is one of the features that make a blockchain virtually “unhackable.”
A key attribute of a blockchain is that the data is shared or “distributed.” Imagine a shared spreadsheet (like a Google doc) containing digital data (the digital ledger) that is duplicated thousands of times and distributed to numerous different computers (or “nodes”) on a vast network. A copy of that spreadsheet is updated every time a single item is changed. When a change is made to the document, a notification is sent to all the nodes and a new version of the spreadsheet is redistributed to those computers—each of which stores its own copy of the same spreadsheet, including every version of that spreadsheet from its creation. Because each node on the network stores its own copies of every single historical version of the entire spreadsheet, there is no one…