Decentralization: It’s not just for cryptocurrencies anymore.
Despite bitcoin’s notorious associations with drugs and cybercrime, the party line for defenders of the digital currency has been that it’s “actually about the blockchain,” the decentralized database that acts as public ledger for bitcoin transactions. Concrete examples of what this line meant were formerly hazy, but Ethereum, a bitcoin-like cryptocurrency with its own special blockchain, is starting to point it out to us more clearly.
Ethereum is like bitcoin with a few more tricks up its sleeve: In operating as a blockchain-style currency, it also serves as the foundation for a virtual machine, becoming a decentralized software “computer.” This computer’s capabilities are pretty cool, considering it occupies no physical space and only exists because people around the world opt in to run it in small pieces on their own computers.
A decentralized virtual machine allows for the development of decentralized apps. Even though a software’s code is never hosted anywhere truly central, it is signed and verified with Bitcoin-style precision. This establishes an