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专访美国康奈尔大学副教授Emin Gün Sirer:关于区块链我们需要知道些什么

  Q&A: What we need to know about blockchain

  数据观丨王婕(译)

  

  Emin Gün Sirer

  Although it emerged from the field of cryptocurrency, blockchain’s tamper-proof, decentralized technology has important implications not only for the financial industry but for real estate, insurance, the law and other areas. Blockchain functions like a constantly-updated database distributed among a network of computers, instead of being controlled by a single entity.

  尽管区块链兴起于加密货币领域,但其防篡改、去中心化技术不仅对金融业具有重要影响,还对房地产、保险、法律和其他领域也产生了重大影响。区块链的功能类似于分布在计算机网络中的不断更新且并不由单个实体控制的数据库。

  Emin Gün Sirer, associate professor of computer science and co-director of Cornell’s Initiative for CryptoCurrencies and Contracts (IC3), says the widespread adoption of blockchains and smart contracts is going to be an “extinction-level event” for many companies.

  计算机科学副教授、康奈尔大学加密货币与合约项目(IC3)联席主任埃米尔·冈·西勒(Emin Gün Sirer)表示,区块链和智能合约的广泛采用将成为许多公司的“毁灭性事件”。

  What is blockchain, and why is it important?

  记者:区块链是什么?为什么它如此重要?

  Blockchain is a set of technologies that enables a set of distrusting parties to collaboratively implement a system. It limits what any single party can do, it ensures that even an insider cannot bring the system down, and it provides assurance to the users that they can check the financial records and perform an audit themselves.

  Emin Gün Sirer:区块链是一系列能够让不信任方共同协作以使系统生效的技术。它限制了任何一方的权力,确保了即使是内部人士也不能让系统瘫痪,还向用户提供了保证,让他们可以自己检查财务记录并进行审计。

  For example, the country of Georgia recently placed all of its land records on a blockchain. There is great fear that people who are well-connected will falsify the records and pretend that some piece of government land actually belonged to their grandfather. It’s fairly easy to falsify records left in a locked room someplace, or kept on a single machine someplace. But if you are using blockchain you cannot do this.

  例如,格鲁吉亚最近将其所有土地记录都实施上链,人们因此非常担心那些人脉广泛的人会伪造记录,假装某些政府土地实际上属于他们的祖父。实际上,你可以很容易就伪造那些被锁在房间里或存储在某台机器上的记录,但是如果你使用区块链技术,你就无法做到这一点。

  Why are we hearing so much about blockchain right now?

  记者:为什么我们现在听到区块链相关消息的频率这么高?

  Part of the reason is smart contracts, which are a programmatic way to determine how money flows, made possible by blockchains. Think of them as free, standalone programs that can take money, compute things and send money out in a way that nobody can interfere with. This allows us to decentralize traditional corporate tasks, and it allows us to have financial programs that are capable of making their own decisions, independent of any human entity.

  Emin Gün Sirer:部分原因在于智能合约——一种通过区块链技术来确定资金流动方式的程序化方法。你可以把它们视为一种可以获取资金、计算事物并以一种任何人都无法干预的方式实现汇款的免费且独立的程序。这使得我们能够分散传统的企业任务,并做出能够自主决策且独立于任何人类实体的金融项目。

  For example, I can say I’d like to donate $5,000 to a new movie, assuming it can raise a million dollars, otherwise I want my money back. It’s very easy to do this with smart contracts; it’s impossible to do with the interfaces the banks give us.

  例如,我可以说我很乐意为一部电影出资5000美元,当然这是在它能够实现100万美元收益的前提下,否则我就想要回我的钱。用智能合约就很容易做到这一点;而银行提供给我们的界面是不可能做到的。

  The ability to cut out middlemen is going to be an extinction-level event for many companies. It’s also a great opportunity for new companies to form, because they can do things like build new business models that are much more transparent to the user.

  对许多公司来说,智能合约这种切断中间商的能力将是一个毁灭性的事件。但同时对于一些新公司来说,这也是一个很好的机遇,因为他们可以做一些事情,比如建立对用户更透明的新商业模式。

  What is Cornell’s role in the field?

  记者:康奈尔大学在区块链领域扮演着怎样的角色?

  Some of us at Cornell had been working on peer-to-peer cash even prior to [the development of bitcoin]. Bitcoin’s rise in popularity fueled a rush to apply similar technologies to all aspects of financial technology and other areas. We did some strategic hires, and we ended up organizing IC3, a multi-institutional effort providing leadership to this nascent push. Meanwhile, people were developing code in the outside world, but the scientific basis wasn’t there. We not only provided a scientific basis for what they were doing, we also showed that a lot of things people were repeating were false, and we provided new alternatives and sound foundations.

  Emin Gün Sirer:我们(康奈尔大学)中的一些人甚至在比特币的发展之前就开始研究点对点现金。比特币的迅速兴起,促使人们争相将类似技术应用于金融技术和其他领域的所有方向。随后我们进行了一些战略性的招聘,最终我们成立了IC3——运用多机构为这个新生项目提供领导的一次实践。与此同时,外面的人还在开发着缺乏科学依据的代码。我们不仅为他们所做的事情提供了科学依据,还证明了他们正在重复做的很多事情都是错误的,我们提供了新的选择和合理的根据。

  A recent report identified Cornell as a leader in providing blockchain-related classes. What courses are available at Cornell for students interested in blockchain?

  记者:最近的一份报告指出,康奈尔大学在提供区块链相关课程方面处于领先地位。康奈尔大学有哪些课程适合对区块链感兴趣的学生?

  The courses we have are typically geared toward advanced undergraduates and graduate students. It’s a fascinating field with lots and lots of interesting applications. It’s interdisciplinary, so there are many different takes.

  Emin Gün Sirer:我们的课程主要面向高年级本科生和研究生。这是一个吸引人的领域,有很多有趣的应用。它还是跨学科的,所以有许多不同的选择。

  At Cornell we value fundamentals. Anybody who is teaching just “blockchain” is probably doing students a disservice. We have a set of very interesting courses that teach the fundamentals of computer science and its interactions with finance, game theory and mechanism design, illustrated through examples in blockchain. I think the idea is to create people who can jump into blockchain because the area is exciting, but who also have the foundation to do anything else in computer science.

  在康奈尔大学,我们很重视基础知识的储备,任何人如果只教“区块链”都可能是对学生有害的。我们有一系列非常有趣的课程来教授计算机科学的基础知识及其与金融、博弈论和机制设计(微观经济学和博弈论的分支领域)的相互作用,期间还会通过区块链的相关例子对它们进行说明。我认为我们的想法就是培养这么一些人,他们既可以因为这一领域令人兴奋而一头扎进区块链,但同时他们也有可以在计算机科学领域做其他任何事情的基础。

  The course I taught last spring, for example, focused on the basics of distributed systems fundamentals. Every single application we examined was in blockchain, such that students leaving the course learned how to build blockchain applications.

  例如,我去年春天教的课程,重点就是分布式系统的基础知识。我们测验的每一个应用程序都是在区块链系统中,这样离开这门课程的学生就学会了如何构建区块链应用程序。

  It’s crazy how much interest there is in blockchains. I have undergraduates from all colleges coming by. I taught a 6000-level course in the spring. Normally you’d have three to seven people in those courses, and if you have more than 10 there’s a lot of interest. I had 80-plus people sign up.

  如此多的人都对区块链感兴趣真是疯狂。我有从所有大学来的本科生。在春季,我教了一门6000级(研究生级别)的课程。通常这些课程会有三到七个人参加,如果人数超过10人,就代表有很多人感兴趣,而我这门课程有80多人注册。

  What are the downsides of all this interest?

  记者:这种狂热兴趣的负面影响是什么?

  Any time you have a lot of hype you have some fraud. People are selling to the public what appear to be securities, hopes and dreams that are just unattainable. They’re selling cryptocurrency tokens that will someday be worth something when a system is built that cannot be built.

  Emin Gün Sirer:每当某个事物被过分炒作时,就不可避免地会出现欺诈行为。这些人向公众兜售那些难以企及的证券、希望和梦想。他们出售加密货币的代币,并许诺有一天当系统被建立时它们就会变得有价值,而事实是所谓的系统根本就建立不了。

  Also, the [kind of blockchain] that made bitcoin famous consumes enormous amounts of power.

       此外,让比特币出名的“那种区块链”消耗了区块链本身的巨大能量。

  At IC3, we are working on technologies that can revolutionize financial technology. These tools can achieve millions of transactions per second, and do so with no wasted energy, in a sustainable and green fashion. This, in turn, has the potential to enable new applications far beyond financial technology, that we cannot even fathom today.

  在IC3,我们正致力于研究能够革新金融科技的技术。这些工具可以以一种不浪费能源、可持续且绿色的方式实现每秒数百万次的交易。反过来,这又使金融技术以外的新应用成为可能,而这还有待我们进一步的探索。

      注:《专访美国康奈尔大学副教授Emin Gün Sirer:关于区块链我们需要知道些什么》来源于cornell.edu(点击查看原文)。数据观编译/王婕,转载请注明译者和来源。

责任编辑:黄玉叶

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