The Global Blockchain Summit- Information overload, Thoughts and Summary

hosted the Global last week and in typical fashion of Chinese events, it was a grand occasion. Over the course of the three day summit, participants were engaged in workshops, lectures and panel discussions. Leaders from the world all gathered at this event. Having been interested in Blockchain and since the start of this year and integrating with the Blockchain community in Shanghai, this summit was the perfect chance to meet like minded people from all over the world and I found this as a unique opportunity to deepen my understanding of my newly found interest.

The conference, for me, was a bombardment of new information from thought leaders and experts on the matter of Blockchain and Bitcoin and it confirmed the 4 ways us humans anticipate and acknowledge information; There are things that you know that you know, things that you don’t know that you know, things you know that you don’t know and things that you don’t that you don’t know. Yes, slightly confusing, but learning anything with that framework helps a lot. Whether I was sitting through the talks or talking directly with people, not only did I find out new things I didn’t know but it made me deepen my understanding of the things I didn’t really know in depth but only knew that it had existed.

From a fresh mind that has just started to follow the developments and slowly learn the technical layers within the Blockchain space, and by no means an expert, here are 7 key takeaways I got from the Summit:

1. Faster innovation in China 

Jeff Garzik of Bloq, and prominent figure in the Bitcoin Developer community, noted that there is faster innovation in China than the rest of the world within the Blockchain space. Aurelien Menant, CEO of Gatecoin, talked about why Blockchain Assets (cryptocurrencies/Dapp tokens) will become a leading alternative asset class. He predicts China will lead in Blockchain Assets due to the promise of cross border flexibility the provides and the demand for transparency in China’s financial markets. With the Chinese government being accepting of the technology, it has become a gateway for Chinese entrepreneurs and companies to innovate and explore this technology and be a possible route for China to be transparent in their financial markets. One Chinese start-up that I thought was innovative is BitSe: BitSe, with their VEChain product aims to battle the counterfeit market to build a Blockchain for luxury brands to protect and secure the authenticity of their goods.

2. We will experience a new form of the internet

Many speakers put it differently; Jeff notably said ‘A Digital Wallet will be the new Browser’ where a user wouldn’t want 5 digital networks and wallets for 5 digital assets. There’d be that one wallet for everything. Jan Xie, a Chinese Ethereum Developer, pointed to an Internet 3.0 and there will be an interconnection of values on a larger capacity. According to him, it won’t be a social network anymore, now there will be an incentive network which will create a better business environment. Diego Guitterez of RSK Technologies compares what we have now as the Internet of Information to what we will have in the future as the Internet of Value.

3. Nobody likes the ‘Hard fork’

As the hack of the DAO came a week before the Summit, it was no surprise it will be a talking point. The consensus among many of the Chinese developers was that they were opposed to the ‘Hard fork’ idea suggested by the Ethereum Foundation. 

4. Collaboration is key to push forward

Max Kordek, CEO of Lisk, emphasised the important of collaboration. He highlighted that competitors do not pose a challenge as it allows more of an opportunity to work with everyone else, but the biggest challenge is actually for that to happen, will projects collaborate and work together to move things forward?

5. Think Blockchain, Think Network

When wanting to build applications on top of a Blockchain on the biggest network and economy, I thought Jeff Garzik left us with another way to think about the Blockchain, he said not to think Blockchain as a technology but rather as a network.

6. Eric’s Law: Any asset can be digitised, will be digitised. Everyone, some machines and most AIs will have at least one digital ID

CEO of ViewFin, Eric Gu, was very vocal about how digital assets and smart contracts would shape our future. Thinking about how more digital our lives could be is interesting, and more particularly the implications. How will it impact the society, economy, business and our daily lives?

7. Things need to be made easier

During the Panel Discussion about Blockchain and New trends in , Max Kordek emphasised the importance for things need to be made easy for the real world to understand. Deng Di, the Chairman of Beijing Taiyiyuan Technologies, stated how the 1st stage of the Blockchain era was a hobby for the techies, as Bitcoin was relatively new and Blockchain, the underlying technology, had not been explored. They were the first to get involved with Bitcoin and the network. The 2nd stage is when it became hot when central and other big players started to recognise it a few years later, where many big players and governments are exploring the technology and he said we are currently in the 3rd stage, where the consumers have no idea about the Blockchain. A bottom up approach and top bottom approach is needed to educate the masses. He finally says, we show and thus prove to them how Blockchain works, not tell them how it works.

 I really think the last point is crucial because with the advent of the internet or the phone, or any technology used by the masses, many use the technologies without thinking how it works. It may be explained in simple terms from a broad level, but it could only be done after there are use cases used by the masses. For a new technology to be explained simply that has not yet been in practical use by the world is still a difficult objective to achieve.  Blockchain and its information is still in a sense raw, filled with code and technical jargon and Andre De Castro, CEO of the Blockchain of Things, has identified this problem as he aims to make it simple for enterprises to conduct business and not deal with technicalities such as making a new cryptocurrency and dealing with code.

Another observation I made when talking to people is that there is a huge split between those who are pro Proof of Work and those who are pro Proof of Stake. To my mind, when I think Blockchain, I think decentralisation, and Bitcoin offers the best example of a purely decentralised network, whereas the proof of stake is not completely decentralised and thus defeats the purpose of what the Bitcoin innovation and its underlying technology really stands for. I assume for specific use cases, it may make sense to have a Blockchain that uses ‘trusted nodes’ for verification. Anyways, this was just an observation which I won’t go into detail as there’s a lot of information about this online and there may be a long way till one prevails over the other, or perhaps coexist in the long run.

 The Summit in Beijing showed me the promise of the Blockchain and what it could offer and I am excited in what the future holds. Our lives in the past decade have become more digital centric, particularly with the rise of smartphones and inter-connectivity and it could be even more digitalised if we can digitalise assets and exchange it. But it’s pretty funny; although we are so interconnected and exchanging information all the time, how is it that many people still do not know about Blockchain and Bitcoin?

[linkedinbadge URL=”柏亚德-3a57215a” connections=”off” mode=”icon” liname=”Ahmed-Al-Balaghi-柏亚德”] is Language Student at Fudan University (Shanghai)