Blockchain: what it is and some of its uses

By: Antonio Juan Benítez Rojas

Léalo en español

In this article we will explain what the blockchain technology is, which is the one that supports cryptocurrencies, and you will know how it is applied by companies from different sectors to increase their production.

Blockchain and cryptocurrency

Blockchain and cryptocurrency
Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum

The issue of cryptocurrencies has been very much in vogue in recent years in various social media. We have witnessed how Bitcoin, the main reference for cryptocurrencies, went from being an ethereal concept managed by a group of enthusiasts to the last gold rush.

Like everything in life, cryptocurrencies have their defenders and detractors. The former argue that these are the inevitable evolution of money since its maximum exponents, Bitcoin and Ethereum, are safe, do not require banks or intermediaries in general, but the most important thing is that there is a limited number of them (21 million in the Bitcoin case) and no government worldwide has any interference in that sense, which is a guarantee that these currencies will not lose their value over time as it’s been the case of many currencies, including the american dollar, each time a central bank decides to print more of them.

Now, Bitcoin initially worth cents when it hit the market reached $ 20,000 in 2017, and although while this article is being written said cryptocurrency costs are about a third of that sum, some experts predict it could reach $ 100,000.

The detractors of the cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, estimate that it is a bubble and that it is only a matter of time before it explodes, as Warren Buffet pointed out , in addition to the fact that after the Bitcoin phenomenon, thousands of cryptocurrencies were created that did not have a good performance, or were mere scams created to enrich its creators.

However, the broad consensus is that these digital currencies have attracted a lot of attention and the blockchain technology , their heart and guts, has innumerable uses today. But, what exactly is it really about?

What is blockchain ?

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain means «chain of blocks» and is a technology that was created by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 in order to encode and support its cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.

This technology allows the transmission of digital data in a totally secure manner and works as a kind of accounting book in which all the income and expenses of money are settled, but in this case what they record are digital transactions, with the peculiarity that it has not one but multiple independent nodes that together certify that the information is true, after which this information can not be deleted, it is only possible to add new records.

In addition, having multiple nodes, if any of them fell (i.e., if it were hacked), with only one of them working, the service would continue.

Blockchain technology cases of use

Although this technology is precisely what allows cryptocurrencies to have all the features and functionalities that have given them their fame, Blockchain is used in the most diverse contexts. These are just some of the many examples that exist:

Blockchain in the food industry. Blockchain in the cold chain
Blockchain in the cold chain

It has a spout, wings and now also a blockchain !

The European company Carrefour will use the technology to sell the chickens of their line «Quality Line of Auvergne» and plans to include it in the sale of other food products by the end of 2018, all with the purpose of leaving a record of each of the processes and stages that go through their products before reaching the final consumer, who can access this information by scanning a QR code that will be included in these foods.

Rough Blockchain

Blockchain in the diamond industry
Blockchain in the diamond industry

The sale of diamonds is often plagued by fraud and therefore the verification as to the authenticity of these precious stones used to be extremely slow. At present, De Beer and Everledger, incorporated the blockchain technology to list and track their diamonds, with the guarantee that if anyone tried to alter the records of one of their diamonds, the community would notice it immediately, so it would be impossible to commit any fraud.

Miles and miles of blockchain

Blockchain and frequent traveller programs, Blockchain and loyalty programs
Blockchain and frequent traveller programs

The wonderful frequent flyer programs have a limitation: you have to «get married» to the airline that offers them. If only there was a way to combine them to be able to use them at convenience. Wait, there is! The company Sandblock produced a platform based on blockchain that allows the creation of loyalty tokens, which can be exchanged not only for specific rewards of a brand but also for money and even cars.

Blockchain for president 2018

Blockchain during Election Day, Blockchain for voting
Blockchain during Election Day

No more paper or theft of ballot papers, because with the Polys system, which is also based on blockchain , it will be impossible to alter the results in a voting process, which will still be anonymous. Also, this system allows to perform an easy recount of the votes.


For everything else there is blockchain

Blockchain in the credit cards sector, Blockchain Mastercard
Blockchain in the credit cards sector

Although to this date Mastercard still does not accept cryptocurrencies as a valid payment method for its cards, it is certainly working with blockchain technology . In fact, according to a published article , it is hiring 175 people with IT experience (among them blockchain specialists ) to carry out innovations, and has already filed a patent application for an identity verification system based on this technology.

Did you like this article? Leave us your comments and share it on social networks. In our next post you will learn how blockchain technology could be the final solution to the fake news problem.



Benefits of technology in education

By: Antonio Juan Benítez Rojas.

Léalo en español.

It often happens that when hearing in the same sentence the words «technology» and «education», many parents raise an eyebrow. It is not necessarily a resounding no to the idea, but an alarm that is lit to question the true use given to technological tools in this area.

This state of alert is natural, the use of smart devices opens the door to a sea of information and connectivity that, without proper supervision, can put a child’s integrity at risk, but that does not always have to be the case. Indeed, the use of technological tools in the classrooms, under the proper control of responsible schools, has proven to have numerous benefits throughout the world. Here are some of them:

Benefits of technology in education

Benefits of technology in education
Smart classroom

Benefits for students

On the one hand, students increase in their efficiency and effectiveness in the studies, due to the fact that they are able to obtain information quickly on any subject, and can do team work using tools of collaboration in real time, as is the case of Google Docs.

While it is true that these tools may be used to facilitate plagiarism, when students limit themselves to a copy & paste of the researched information, this can be countered with the use of anti-plagiarism tools such as Copyscape, compares in a matter of seconds the originality of a text with billions of others that are on the web. In addition, regardless of the use of technology, teachers – and parents at home – will always have the task of verifying that, in fact, learning has taken place, through the different types of evaluations carried out by students.

Benefits for teachers

The importance of technology in education
Student using a VR device

Teachers can be more instructive by using tools such as virtual or augmented reality, including devices of this type in their classes. For example, in a Universal History class, they could show three-dimensional images of the pyramids – which is a difference from traditional classes that have only chalk and blackboard!  In addition, there are programs that allow teachers to adjust the exigency in the instruction of each student, in a personalized way; such is the case of Dreambox , a software that is used for the teaching of mathematics and has been very well received .

Likewise, according to an article published by Forbes magazine, use of artificial intelligence makes it possible for professors to delegate to machines the performance of burdensome activities such as the correction of exams, thus significantly reducing their workload.

General benefits

technology and education
Access to education

Probably, the greatest benefit that technology in the educational area is greater access to education. It is no longer necessary to be physically present in a certain place to study a discipline, because of the existence of the Internet, there are countless distance education programs, endorsed by renowned institutions, that allow anyone to educate themselves in the area or discipline of their choice.

In this same sense, the current technology has allowed the less fortunate to receive equal education. Because of the implementation of programs such as  Samsung Smart Schools, which are provided with a digital board, tablets, a server, Internet connectivity and solar panels, these individuals are able to have access to the same tools. These smart schools, of which there are already more than three thousand worldwide, provide a real-time learning platform in rural areas that do not have electric service.