Do you want to know more about the technology behind cryptocurrencies? That even the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is exploring use cases for central bank digital currency (CBDC)? So this book gives a lot of information about the concepts behind blockchains.
Various industries, including insurance, are looking for ways to apply blockchains to their businesses. Therefore, current actuaries and student members looking into blockchain will benefit from reading this book. A bit of computer background might help you understand some computer networking concepts, but it’s not required, as the book introduces these concepts from the beginning as well
Daniel Drescher explains various blockchain concepts using analogies instead of mathematics. The analogies in the book helped me visualize the concepts and how they apply in real world settings. An analogy that got me thinking, “I never saw it that way!”, was the difference between authorization and authentication, which we usually see when logging into websites. So, I learned more than just what blockchains do, I also learned real world problems and how institutions solve them.
Do I think differently after reading the book? Yes. Before reading the book, I thought blockchain was:
- Purely math (specifically cryptography).
- Super technical and mathematical, so only cryptographers and programmers would understand even the basics.
- A completely new idea and it came out of nowhere.
After reading the book, I learned that:
- Blockchain is a type of ‘digital record technology’ and uses cryptography for verification, authentication, etc. But the cryptography itself is only one part of the whole system.
- The math and programming of cryptography itself can be complex, but the motivation behind it is simple, especially if we treat hashing as a ‘math-based digital signature’.
- Blockchain did not appear out of nowhere, it is part of an evolution to guarantee the integrity and authenticity of data. For example, signatures and in-person meetings were the oldest way to authenticate a user. Now, how do we do it without a physical signature or face-to-face meeting? That is where blockchain helps.
I highly recommend this book for actuaries and student members who:
are looking for a less technical introduction to blockchain;
acquiring additional computer skills; o
Interested in cryptography and its application.