Our bizarre future of Bitcoins, Blockchains and Smart Contracts

Tuesday 11th October 2016 @ 19:00

Non-Member: £12.00 ; Staff: £5.00 ; Student: £3.00

Professor William Knottenbelt, Director of Imperial College Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering

This talk explores the potential for Bitcoins, Blockchains and Smart Contracts to revolutionise the way we live, work and do business.

The meteoric rise of cryptocurrencies, and Bitcoin in particular, has received global attention, not least from governments, entrepreneurs and researchers. Cryptocurrencies provide an attractive alternative to traditional fiat currencies via a distributed, trustless and self-governing framework which not only enables low-friction financial transactions around the globe but also preserves the freedom and privacy of spending inherent in cash transactions.

Having shed their image as a niche cyberlibertarian hobby, cryptocurrencies and their underlying technologies have clear potential to not only disrupt the world of financial payments and services - in the same way that the VoIP technology behind Skype has disrupted the world of telecommunications – but also to dramatically increase opportunites for global financial inclusion.

The key innovation is the blockchain - a distributed but verifiable and permanent ledger of transactions, whose integrity is protected by a mathematical proof-of-work scheme. The latter is backed by the computing power of so-called cryptocurrency "miners" who compete to be the first to exhibit solutions to one of a series of hard cryptographic problems in return for currency units (mining rewards). For the Bitcoin network, this computing power currently dwarfs the computing power of the top 500 supercomputers.

Recently it has been recognised that blockchain technology - with suitable protocol modifications such as ''coloured coins" and ''side chains" - could be applied to domains beyond financial services. That is, far from merely enabling the ''Internet of Money", the blockchain could enable a wide range of next-generation internet services beyond money.

Indeed, what is on offer is the ability to support a general notion of trustless, verifiable decentralised ownership and the ability to transfer and process information in a decentralised but programmable way. It is hard to begin to comprehend the significance of this development but suffice to say it has the potential to fundamentally change the way human society deals with contracts, identity, patents, copyright, votes, and more.
Realising this potential, Imperial has provided seed funding for the Imperial College Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering. The goal of the Centre is to become a leading international centre for ongoing research and application activity related to cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

Come and learn about this brave new world from Professor William Knottenbelt, Director of Imperial College Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering.




Optionally followed by supper (this can be booked on the event booking form).
After the lecture a Friends' Table has been reserved at a local restaurant to entertain the speaker and for any of the audience who would like to join us to continue the evening's discussion. A two-course fixed price supper is served including wine, coffee and service charge.

Venue: SAF Building, Imperial College London

Campus Map reference 33
on the Imperial College London Map