HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) – These days, the innovation known as blockchain is almost always mentioned in association with two things. First, as the technology that underpins bitcoin, and second as the brainchild of Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous person – or persons – who issued the white paper that supposedly spawned the crypto-currency.

In fact, the concept of a distributed record of digital transactions is older, and has many broader applications. That is easy to forget as bitcoin’s wild price swings seize headlines and startups raised almost $1.5 billion by issuing digital coins in the first seven-and-a-half months of 2017.

The decentralised aspect of the technology is the existential question where it begins, Michael Casey and Paul Vigna argue in “The Truth Machine: The Blockchain and the Future of Everything”. As early as the 1990s, proponents of what became blockchain technology began proposing an alternative status quo, in which individuals could control cryptography.

For these so-called Cypher-punks, the idea had revolutionary appeal. A database that can record anything of value across a peer-to-peer network of computers provides an immutable record that can’t be disputed or altered.

This was obviously attractive to libertarians eager for a world free from the shackles of big government and other central authorities. Casey, a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and Vigna, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, don’t simply tell the story of bitcoin. Read more from reuters.com…

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