Blockchains. Decentralized protocols. Distributed ledgers. Cryptographic hash functions. Consensus algorithms. The sheer amount of terminology around cryptocurrencies can make you feel like someone transported in time from the 18th century. Not only are you trying to familiarize yourself with some of the more mind-bending concepts in computer science, but you also have to deal with a great dose of economics jargon.
Blockchains are bringing together two opposites of the scientific mindset, which may initially seem to be at odds with each other. On one side of the ring, we have the extreme unforgiving rigor of cryptography: a math-heavy branch of computer science that used to be the exclusive domain of dusty academics. At the other side of the ring stands the brash superstar of social sciences, the economist; ready to pounce, competitive, possessing what some would describe as an abrasive personality. In this situation, however, opposites attract! When two such discrete sciences meet, there is unique opportunity in the air — but also ample room for misunderstanding and misdirection by bad actors. Read more