Chatham House Primer: Blockchain

Members event Recording
28 March 2018 — 6:00PM TO 7:00PM
Chatham House, London

Although the mechanics of blockchain are extremely complex, the basic idea is simple: to decentralize the storage of data so that such data cannot be owned, controlled or manipulated by a central actor.

The recent surge in and subsequent collapse of the value of Bitcoin has brought renewed attention to the blockchain architecture that underpins cryptocurrencies. However, blockchain’s uses go far beyond virtual money. The technology could change the way that ownership, privacy, uncertainty and collaboration are conceived of in the digital world, disrupting sectors and practices as diverse as financial markets, content distribution, supply chain management, the dispersal of humanitarian aid and even voting in a general election.

Dr Garrick Hileman explains the basic concept of a blockchain, outlining some of the technology’s current uses as well as suggesting a number of these potential future applications that could revolutionize the global economy.

The talk covers:

  • The basic idea: Blockchain and distributed ledger technology
  • Origins, development and popularization
  • Cryptocurrencies and cryptoassets
  • Other current applications: Smart contracts, DApps, DAOs, Stablecoins
  • Future disruption: The potential of blockchain
  • Areas for potential abuse and misuse: Are blockchains really ‘unhackable’? Are there other reasons to be cautious of the evolution of blockchain?

About Chatham House Primers
The Chatham House Primer Series is a unique programme of talks designed to bridge the gap between introductory level subject knowledge and a more advanced understanding geared towards practical application, higher-level discussion and policy debate.

With each talk hosted by a leading expert, the Primer series aims to provide the audience with a solid grounding in topics of academic curiosity, key international affairs concepts and the issues behind the news.


Dr Garrick Hileman, Researcher, University of Cambridge and London School of Economics; CEO and Head of Research,  

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A member takes the opportunity to ask the panel a question at our event on the digital revolution.
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