Further consolidating Berlin as the Blockchain capital of the World, last week the 9984 Summit rolled into town, bringing together hackers, lawyers, academics and business people interested in Blockchain. With a handful of big names in the community littering the schedule, it was an interesting two days, showing the variety of ideas and personalities in this wide and wonderful community.
Here were my stand out talks and topics.
Vinay Gupta, Founder of Hexayurt.Capital
Vinay was one of the creators of the Ethereum project and now runs Hexayurt capital, a new VC fund that focuses on complex technologies and taking better care of founders. He used his keynote to discuss how people could use the ICO concept to raise funds for large-scale research, science and infrastructure projects that are typically the domain of governments and large businesses. Instead, small-scale experts can invest in the projects they believe in or are qualified to do. Interestingly, Vinay mentioned that the ratio of (cost of) input into Blockchain vs the value of output is poor, not making ICOs as lucrative as people think.
In his talk, Vinay did something I personally love, reminding us of history, how we can learn from it, and modernize it. One particular lesson he pulled from history was that of international arbitration courts. These courts have existed as a method for international business to settle disputes since the 1950s, and Vinay sees this model as a perfect match for smart contracts, mentioning the “internet of agreements” project as one group investigating this possibility.
Aleksander Nowak, CIO of BlockEx
In my Blockwatch post for September 7th, I talked about platforms for ICOs, and BlockEx is another option to add to that list. The platform bills itself as an asset trading platform, and brings tools that anyone planning an ICO will find useful for issuing tokens, collecting payments (including by credit card and other ‘conventional’ methods), and compliance mechanisms.
Michael Reh, CEO and Co-Founder of TYMLEZ
Tymlez is part of a growing group of ‘Blockchain consultants,’ helping (enterprise) clients investigate integrating blockchain technologies into their businesses. I found the most interesting aspect of the talk to be the concept of a drag-and-drop interface for creating smart contracts. Anyone who has tried working with solidity (Ethereum’s programming language) knows that whilst it’s not that complex, it’s a barrier to the widespread creation of smart contracts, much like drag-and-drop HTML tools helped broaden those who could create websites.
Julie Maupin, Advisor to IOTA Foundation, Max Planck Institute
In one of my standout talks of the whole summit, Julie presented an overview of the fascinating iota (on which I plan to write a full article in the future) and how developers could use it for projects beneficial to those who need the most help. Iota focuses on creating a ‘blockchain’ (called a ‘tangle’) that consumes less bandwidth and power and is thus perfect for usage in constrained environments, such as the developing world.
Kaspar Korjus, e-Residency Managing Director of Enterprise Estonia
I am a big fan of Estonia and it’s sometimes crazy ideas, and its e-Residency program entered the blockchain space news with a proposal for the first ICO of a country. Many overreacted and misunderstood the idea, and Kaspar took this opportunity to discuss what other advantages blockchain brings to nations and their processes.
We are inherently tied to the country where we were born in (or through other means, gain citizenship of), and whilst we are able to opt out of the values of other communities we are a member of, by virtue of being a citizen, we are expected to adhere to them. Kaspar wondered that if in the future we might instead be able to invest in nations we are supportive of much in the same way we invest in businesses and other communities. I see a lot of these ideas (and recent world events) as an interesting return back to the concept of ‘city-states’ of the past, and modern technologies make this idea even more possible.
Tom Fuerstner, CTO of Riddle & Code
Tom presented their (in progress) specialized hardware stack dedicated to Blockchain processing and applications. The devices have chips dedicated to cryptography and that thanks to a combination of techniques claim the devices are tamper-proof.