Blockchain engineers create and maintain the decentralised digital databases that store and share information in blocks that are connected together to make up chains. A blockchain is formed by a global network of autonomous computers communicating with one another to reach a consensus on the contents of a database or ledger. The computers compete to be paid to validate the ledger by solving the cryptographic equations that describe a series of transactions. The requirement for the global distribution of autonomous computers means that a blockchain is not lodged at a single location or managed by a single entity or group of entities. This decentralisation makes the blockchain both almost incorruptible and expensive in terms of time and energy. Digital or crypto currencies, such as bitcoin, are based on blockchains as are non-fungible tokens (NFT) which are unique digital identifiers that define the ownership of an item, usually a digital file, and are recorded in a blockchain. Engineers in a range of fields are starting to use blockchains to authenticate digital information and update it during engineering processes in a way that allows it to be shared with regulators, clients and consumers.
Source: Matthew Ball, The metaverse: and how it will revolutionise everything, London: W.W. Norton & Co Ltd, 2022.
Image: ink drawing by Zahrah Resh owned by the author.