Sometimes, when we think about the world of intelligent contracts, it is inevitable to also think about cryptocurrencies and online transactions. Thanks to the popular mythologies of cinema and television, it is easy to see these technologies as part of a world that is reserved for hackers and for all kinds of experts in information technology, law, and finance. When we think like this, we feel that this world is far from us, in its own sphere.
Today we speak with Gutemberg Dos Santos, an authority on technologies such as Blockchain and cryptocurrencies, who tells us about the enormous impact that this new way of exchanging goods and services will have on almost all strata of our society.
We share here the result of the interview. Questions, comments in the margin and other elements have been deleted, for a more agile reading.
From necessity to vision
Like many new technologies, Blockchain arose to solve a need: the possibility of making secure, regulated and unalterable transactions. But, with its use, its enormous possibilities began to be visible. It was possible to understand that this technology could have repercussions in many areas of society, not only for what it was designed for. Its impact, now we see it, will be historic. What Blockchain can achieve is to eliminate the control and cost of the intermediary organizations that, until today, have controlled this type of exchanges. Banks, legal offices, notaries … Any transaction between two individuals has always had to go through them, and leave them a piece of the cake. Today, direct transactions between individuals are within our reach. Blockchain is, in essence, the great step towards the democratization of transactions.
For everyone, in all fields
Actually, not all of our transactions go through third-parties, because many of them are not willing to give us a service for minimum transactions, which are below an amount of money. And in significant transactions, they have to take a piece. That is, there is a cost, but the service is restricted. With Blockchain, as there is no cost per transaction, it is possible to charge very small amounts -even, in theory, fractions of cents- without limit and without cost. That makes it ideal for services that are now controlled by subscription firms. Musicians, artists, service providers, intellectual owners, teachers, can now receive, directly, the payment for their services, and maintain their prices, without charging their users or customers the cost of the transaction.
With this technology it would also be possible to acquire goods or services without going through online agencies or stores. This is because, in the very essence of Blockchain, there is the concept of decentralization: it is about exchanges between individuals, without a centralizing entity that controls all transactions (and charge for doing so). At the same time, the regulation and monitoring of the compliance of each transaction is the responsibility of a community made up of thousands or, occasionally, millions of users, interconnected, each with a copy of the intelligent contract. Even if someone took the trouble to make a change to the contract, it would be impossible for them to make the same change in each of the thousands and thousands of copies that are stored on the computers of people around the world. In sight, with total transparency, without closed drawers.
Decentralization, transparency and immutability.
It is difficult for us, for our culture and for lack of real options, to imagine a really decentralized world. We have always resorted to central organization schemes for all types of operations. Banks, notaries, government agencies, large companies that control goods and services … It is the way we know to feel security and to obtain results. Although, also by experience, the limitations are clear to us: when a central body controls everything, what affects that organism will affect all users, who have no mechanism to intervene. The centralized institution can be corrupted, intervened, attacked or simply collapsed by market forces or by historical events. When that happens, there are no answers. They had the information, the control, the resources, all the power. In a decentralized instance, all users are in charge of monitoring transactions. If one of them loses the information or is the victim of an attack or sabotage, there will be thousands or millions who will also possess the information and be able to restore it. Of course, intermediation fees and cumbersome procedures are eliminated. In addition, when you enter into an agreement for Blockchain, the agreement is open to everyone to be read and reviewed: accounts with anonymity, because instead of using names, individual codes are used. But all the terms of the contract are in plain sight, with total transparency.
And, given that each block in the chain has a time record and a set of data that makes it unique, it is immutable: no one can falsify it or alter it. Any attempt in this direction would be immediately detected and demonstrable.
A new direction
When thinking of Blockchain, we must think of a new world, which is possible: a revolutionary way of doing decentralized transactions, with absolute guarantee, regardless of numbers or amounts. A more open world, more democratic, more fluid. A world where ordinary people have more control.