What is the Blockchain? The Blockchain Described in Simple Terms


Richie Etwaru, an adjunct professor of blockchain management at Syracuse University in New York, discusses the opportunity and implication of the blockchain in simple terms.

Trust is delicate but it is necessary for every monetary transaction to take place. Without trust, the economy that transacts over $1 trillion every year would come to a screeching halt. However, today there is a growing distrust among buyers and sellers within our society. This phenomenon is called the trust gap. Yet we can bridge this gap by utilizing the blockchain technology.

Throughout the history of the world there have been a number of major gaps and inventions to bridge those gaps. The printing press filled the knowledge gap, the engine bridged the power gap, and the internet is currently closing the distance gap. Now, it’s time to fill the trust gap by using the blockchain technology.

This trust gap exists because we cannot trust that all the claims made about the product being traded are completely accurate. Take, for example, a house. Information about a house, when it was built and repairs done to the house, is stored on a ledger. This ledger is centralized and can easily be tampered with. This is why we need intermediaries (such as banks, title companies, and credit agencies) to intervene in the transaction procedure – so that the claims about the house can be verified.

When we transact using the blockchain ledger, intermediaries become obsolete because the ledger that was created using the blockchain technology is immutable and can be easily distributed to all parties. In other words, no one can tamper with this ledger because it is decentralized across multiple points and if someone does try to change a block in the chain, it can be easily spotted.  

It is easy to see that the blockchain technology will revolutionize our economy by providing a distributed, immutable ledger and doing away with intermediaries. In turn, the blockchain technology will bridge the trust gap which exists in our society.  

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.