How blockchain technology can prevent the next financial crisis, disrupt Uber, and give us control of our data

You’ve probably heard about “the blockchain” recently. A lot. The technology underpinning bitcoin has attracted billions in venture capital funding, the interest of almost every global bank, and the attention of governments around the world. Essentially a digital distributed ledger that anyone on the internet can access, the system has the ability to keep information secure, create a permanent record of transactions to avoid fraud, and instantly transfer assets. But for all the talk, it’s simply not that useful yet. For now, the technology is stuck in the back offices of financial firms, an area that the average person doesn’t care about or really benefit from.

A new book, Blockchain Revolution, envisions a future where the technology doesn’t just change finance, but bring more people into the global economy and disintermediate startups like Uber and Airbnb. Quartz spoke with Alex Tapscott, the founder and CEO of blockchain advisory firm Northwest Passage Venture, about some of the more novel ideas in the book he coauthored with his father Don, and how blockchain could shape our future. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

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Photo: Some think blockchain tech could have prevented the demise of Lehman Brothers. (Reuters/Alex Grimm)

Blockchain: the next internet revolution?

Nora Young talks about Bitcoin, blockchain and the next internet revolution on CBC Radio’s Spark.

She begins with a robust explanation of Bitcoin and blockchain, and interviews Alex Tapscott to delve deeper into the possibilities of blockchain. Nora asks what they mean by calling blockchain “trustless” and what “Trust Protocol” is. Alex says that in the first generation of the internet, we’ve had to use intermediaries to establish trust and identity. In this next generation of the internet, businesses, institutions and individuals can transact in a peer-to-peer way that’s decentralized.

They talk about the music industry, and how songwriters and artists are making less money because of digital streaming services. Imogen Heap is working to fix that with Mycelia, which uses the Ethereum blockchain.

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Tech Savvy: How Blockchains Could Transform Management

Re-architecting the firm with blockchain: Is Craig Wright really Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious creator of Bitcoin? Who knows — and really, who cares? The bigger issue is blockchains, the distributed ledgers that underpin cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

Blockchain technology has so many uses that trying to summarize them can make veteran tech experts sound like PR hacks. “As such, it holds the potential for unleashing countless new applications and as yet unrealized capabilities that have the potential to change everything,” write Don Tapscott and his co-author and son Alex Tapscott in their new book, Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World.

That might sound like hyperbole, but it seems like everywhere you turn these days you run into blockchains. Banks are trying to harness blockchain before its blows up their business models. IBM is betting on blockchains to give its revenues a bump. Disney has a blockchain team doing … well, who knows what.

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Fortune Editorial CEO Daily “The Biggest thing since Double-Entry Bookkeeping”

If you are still wondering why so many investors are going ga-ga over bitcoin, we suggest you read the excerpt Fortune published yesterday from a new book called The Blockchain Revolution, by Don Tapscott and his son Alex. The elder Tapscott is a prolific book writer – his works include The Digital Economy (1994) and Wikinomics (2006) – and a popularizer of technology topics. The Tapscotts’ enthusiasm for the latest tech craze may strike some as over the top, but they make the bulls’ case in clear and compelling terms.

Tapscott sees the blockchain technology that underlies bitcoin as solving one of the most fundamental problems of the Internet age – that of trust. The Internet allowed for instant exchange of information, but the exchange of value has been hampered by the absence of trust, and a need for trusted intermediaries – banks, credit card companies, PayPal, etc. – to certify value transactions. The blockchain’s distributed ledger solves that problem, and could, in the Tapscotts’ view, be the biggest boost to capitalism since double entry bookkeeping.

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What you need to know about blockchain technology

Alex who, along with his father, Don Tapscott, is the author of the upcoming book Blockchain Revolution, explains how the technology can change lives.

Q: Blockchain seems to have come out of nowhere to become a hot topic in technology and finance but few people seem to truly understand it. What is blockchain?

A: We have spent two years researching this technology and have concluded, unequivocally, that blockchain technology is the second generation of the digital revolution. The first generation brought us the Internet of Information. The second generation — powered by blockchain — is bringing us the Internet of Value. So what is it? Blockchain is the ingeniously simple, revolutionary protocol that allows transactions to be simultaneously anonymous and secure, peer-to-peer, instant and frictionless. It does this by distributing trust from powerful intermediaries to a large global network, which through mass collaboration, clever code and cryptography, enables a tamper-proof public ledger of every transaction that’s ever happened on the network.

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The Blockchain Revolution, an excerpt from Don and Alex Tapscott’s upcoming book

In an excerpt from their upcoming book, Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business and the World, Don Tapscott, the bestselling author of Wikinomics, and his son Alex Tapscott, explain why blockchain technology — an open, distributed, global platform — will fundamentally change what we can achieve online, how we do it, and who can participate.

It appears that once again, the technological genie has been unleashed from its bottle. Summoned by an unknown person or persons with unclear motives, at an uncertain time in history, the genie is now at our service for another kick at the can—to transform the economic power grid and the old order of human affairs for the better. If we will it.

Let us explain.

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Bitcoin Is Just The Beginning

One of the great mysteries of modern life is the time it still takes for a check to clear. Every other financial transaction is being reduced to the tap of a phone or the press of a key. But checks take days to rumble their way from payee to the originating bank, days of lost interest and presumably fees for the intermediaries passing them around behind the scenes. Transactions and data management are supposed to be slicker these days, and yet time and again all of us run into situations where it’s as though technology never…

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How The Blockchain Will Transform Everything From Banking To Government To Our Identities

Laura Shin writes:

Father and son duo Don and Alex Tapscott have impeccable timing.

Just as their new book, “Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, And The World,” came out, ventures centered on blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin, were in the news — including the DAO, the most funded crowdfunded project in history, which had raised $147 million as of press time.

But the seeds of their book were first planted back in 2013 when Alex began hearing about Silk Road. “I approached it with some level of caution, but the deeper I got the more convinced I became that this technology held the potential to be a really big deal and to transform a lot of industries,” he says.

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