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We appear to be going through a ‘trust crisis’. Trust is a very important concept and every day we are asked to ‘trust’ something, whether it’s a bank note or a box of tissues. But it’s in short supply these days with so much ‘fake’ news around, and in this case, it seems to be a case of which side you’re on — Trump’s or the rest of the world.

Trust in the virtual world is something we are having to learn, because it’s products are not quite as tangible as the more concrete things we are used to. From posting on social media, checking a bank balance, or uploading pictures to the cloud, we’ve been conditioned to assume that we won’t get totally screwed over every time we use the web. But, now we know there are data breaches, misuse of personal data and all kinds of stuff going on behind the scenes. This has made us question the trust we have in them.

Data privacy and our digital rights are a more pressing issue now than ever. However, few of us understand all the cogs of the digital machine. The Internet is still a form of magic, and the whole point of magic is that you don’t know how it works.

This is the point at which to say: enter the blockchain.

Bitcoin was born out of the financial crisis of 2008, which was, for many, the first time we realized how unstable our entire financial infrastructure is. The concept eliminated a middleman, like the government or a bank. No need to trust an institution to take care of your funds or a government to decide the value. No one person or entity would be in charge. Instead, a network of hundreds or thousands of computers would run special bitcoin software, linking them together into a “distributed ledger” called “the blockchain.”

Ten years later the blockchain is being used for everything from health records to pharmaceuticals to music rights and food distribution.

In the end Blockchain may not be the Philosopher’s Stone, the legendary alchemical substance that could turn base metals into gold, but it may be one of the most important tools in rebuilding trust between consumers, companies and institutions.

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