Society track of The Goa Project 2016

Navin Kabra


Understanding Bitcoin and the Blockchain and why this technology has the potential to change the world

Submitted Jan 14, 2016

While everybody has a vague idea that Bitcoin is some sort of an “anonymous online cryptocurrency,” most of them don’t really know what it means, how it works, and why so many people in so many different industries seem to be so excited about it. At the end of this session, I expect you to have an understanding of how Bitcoin works, what is the really difficult problem that it solves for the first time in human history, how the Blockchain is relevant to much more than just currency, and what the potential future disruptive applications of this technology might be.


Bitcoin is a new form of money. A virtual currency-in-the-cloud, based on cryptographic algorithms. It is interesting because it allows anonymous, but secure transactions without requiring the services of a government, or a bank, or other financial institution. Bitcoin, has the potential to truly disrupt the world of finance.

But, there is a far bigger picture here that is important to understand. The core technology underlying Bitcoin is the Blockchain. This is essentially a protocol/algorithm that allows untrusted third-parties to exchange information with each other in a fully secure way, without the need of a trusted intermediary (like a Government), and still have guarantees, because neither party can later claim that the transaction did not take place. This has a potential to disrupt many industries and change how we do business in lots of domains - from domain name servers to land records to voting and governmenance.

In this talk, I will give an overview of what is Bitcoin, how it works, what is the blockchain, what is the fundamental problem is solves, and what are some potential disruptive applications of the blockchain. I will not be assuming any prior technical knowledge from the audience.


I will not be assuming any prior technical knowledge from the audience, but a generally technology-friendly bent of mind would help. You should be interested in imagining a world of the future where technology replaces a lot of things that were earlier done by humans and governmental processes.

Speaker bio

I am currently a co-founder and CTO at ReliScore, a startup focused on helping companies filter job candidates based on evaluation of actual job-related skills. I am also one of the creators of, a portal for the tech community in Pune, India, and, one of the largest start-up showcases in Pune. In the past I’ve worked for large companies, and small; I’ve worked in India and in the US; I’ve seen a successful exit, and I’ve seen a dotcom failure; I’ve done product development, and I’ve done research; I’ve written consumer software, and I’ve written enterprise software; and I’ve been a developer, I’ve been an architect, and I’ve been a manager (but hated it).

I have a PhD in Computer Sciences from the University of Wisconsin, USA, a B.Tech. in Computer Sciences from IIT-Bombay before that; I have 19 US patents, 2 European patents, and 1 Japanese patent; but for some reason, people are most impressed by the fact that I had a JEE rank of 14.

I’m interested in a number of areas of computer science, including: highly scalable systems; distributed and fault-tolerant software systems; text search, information retrieval, and analysis of unstructured information.

I’ve been a top writer on Quora for 2 years in a row - where I learnt that I have a flair for explaining complex technical topics to people without requiring them to have a strong technical background themselves. I believe Bitcoin/Blockchain is one such topic.



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