What’s a blockchain or a bitcoin or an NFT?
What’s a “blockchain” or a “bitcoin” or an “NFT?” How can independent businesses keep records reliably synchronized without the need for a central authority or shared write access to a traditional database? Blockchain developer and technology researcher W. Ben Towne, PhD will provide an introduction to blockchain technology and discuss how this 21st century technology is transforming business, government, and more. Go beyond the headlines about price volatility of assets based on the technology and learn how it works, from the ground floor up: no prior knowledge on the topic is necessary! Understand more about what the technology is actually good for and how it can help support collaboration even between entities that don’t fully trust each other but can benefit from working together anyway. Along the way, we’ll also discuss some myths and realities about certain aspects of the technology, such as energy usage. Gain insight into how you may soon be managing your identity or property and tracing the origins of things you buy, and how businesses can do away with disputes stemming from having different copies of contracts and other documents. We’ll also discuss some ways in which you may be affected by this technology as a project manager already without even realizing it.
W. Ben Towne is a technology researcher focused on platforms and technologies to support large groups working together to solve complex problems. This scope has included a spectrum of technologies from microtasking to challenge-based incentivized prize platforms and beyond, such as technology for elections/democracy and blockchain technology enabling consortia of businesses & other organizations to collaborate in ways not previously feasible. Dr. Towne earned a BS in Electrical & Computer Engineering and a BA in Community Development (covering aspects of sociology, psychology, economics, etc.) from Lafayette College as well as an MS in Computation, Organizations, & Society and a PhD in Societal Computing at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), all in Pennsylvania, USA. While at CMU, Towne was active in Public Communications for Researchers, an organization focused on effectively communicating technical content to nonspecialist audiences. He is a member of the Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi, and Eta Kappa Nu science and engineering honor societies, and an author of several scientific publications. Dr. Towne leads the blockchain offerings practice at Sigma Resources, LLC (a Pittsburgh-based certified minority woman-owned small business tech consulting firm). He is a blockchain developer on distributed applications and has commits in blockchain repositories including ethereum/go-ethereum, ethereum/solidity, ethereum/ethereum-org, ChainSafe/web3.js, trufflesuite/truffle, trufflesuite/ganache, MetaMask/metamask-extension, MetaMask/eth-sig-util, EntEthAlliance/client-spec, and MyEtherWallet/MyEtherWallet.
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