In This Issue
Week of 5/27/2019
Vol. 24 Issue 17
Blockchain Now: The Real Applications Buried by ICO Hype
A Panel Discussion with Bill Soward, Steve Hopkins, and Christophe Jospe
- About Bill Soward
- About Steve Hopkins
- About Christophe Jospe
- About Jason Preston
Publisher’s Note: Everyone knows about bitcoin, and all are at least aware of the technology called “blockchain.” But few people have taken the deep dive necessary to gain a forward view of which business, government, or personal doors this tech may open sometime soon. And while the concept of cryptocurrencies and hackable storage sites may leave many of our members cold, the potential for freedom from Russian election interference, for provable truths, for trusted transactions and personal privacy and ID, should all be of great interest.
As members will see in this week’s issue, we may even get to take back the net from the many scoundrels who today call it home. – mra
Blockchain Now: The Real Applications Buried by ICO Hype
While most of the news cycle has been dominated by discussion of financial regulation, investment, and ICOs, a growing number of companies are using the underlying blockchain technology to disrupt international money transfer, personal identification, patent systems, artistic licenses, cloud storage, and carbon credits.
Bill Soward, CEO, Titan Seal; Steve Hopkins, COO & General Counsel, Medici Ventures; and Christophe Jospe, Chief Development Officer, Nori
Moderated by Jason Preston, Co-Founder, Dent
FiRe 2018 Conference
Thursday, October 11, 2018 – Stein Eriksen Deer Valley – Park City, Utah
Jason Preston: Basically, when we were talking about this panel beforehand, we thought we would explore the implications of blockchain beyond cryptocurrency. But just to get a sense of the room, I kind of want to understand: how many people here feel like they understand blockchain well enough that they could, like, explain it to other people? Okay, so a little less than half. Okay, good. That kind of gives us a barometer for where to talk.
I want to start by just opening the conversation by asking … Blockchain has come up alongside bitcoin as a cryptocurrency. Bitcoin is the flag bearer, right? It’s this currency, and we all understand that at this point. But what, in your opinions, is the critical innovation behind blockchain? What is it that makes that interesting? Anyone can start.
Steve Hopkins: I’ll start.
Preston: And tell us why we’re listening to you, too, by the way. Introduce yourselves in a sentence or two.
Hopkins: I’m Steve Hopkins … Oh, why you should listen to me?
Hopkins: [Laughing] Oh. Because I spend all day looking at blockchains.
My name is Steve Hopkins. I’m the COO and general counsel of Medici Ventures. We’re a VC-slash-incubator that only invests in blockchain. Our core values are basically to democratize capital, eliminate middlemen, and rehumanize commerce by advancing blockchain technology. That’s our thinking.
You will assume, probably, that I think it’s worthwhile.
The unique innovation of the blockchain is really very simple: just like the internet and email made it possible for us to send exact copies of anything costlessly around the world, blockchain takes it one step further and allows you to now reintroduce a unique asset and send it costlessly around the world. So instead of wondering, Is this picture the original or is this a digital copy, and not being able to tell at all the difference between the two, you can tell exactly which picture, or which asset, is the one that you want.
So this [is an] ability to take a unique asset and move it around the world, and know that it’s the only one – and if I tell you I own something, to know that I actually own it, because I can sign it with the right cryptographic key. I think that’s the thing that makes blockchain special.
Preston: Do you both agree with that? Did he nail it, or is there …?
Christophe Jospe: I would give a different perspective. I’m Christophe Jospe, co-founder of Nori. We’re delusional enough to have “Reversing Climate Change” on the back of our business cards. We say that because we see the opportunity to issue a cryptocurrency that creates a new incentive to draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
The last two books I read are sort of coloring my thinking, one of them [being] David Grinspoon, Earth in Human Hands. I want to read this quote:
What makes us human is our ability to work together to modify our environment in creative ways, powered by abstract thinking.
So, if you think about humans creating market incentives to do new, innovative things, we can create a whole new incentive structure to drive behavior that couldn’t have previously existed, even two years ago. So the fact that whole new business models can open up – and then that data is cryptographically secured, and people can trust it, and it’s append-only, and all these great things that just disintermediate, and interoperate, and all the other jargon-y buzzwords.
Preston: That is a lot of multi-syllabic words right there. Can you do the plain English version of that answer?
Jospe: Yeah. So, get rid of the middlemen. I think middlemen are good, in some cases, but sometimes have more power than necessarily they deserve. So if you’re doing an activity on one side, and on the other side you want to pay for that activity, it’s the way that that activity can generate data that can be collected and trusted by the person who wants to pay [for] that activity, and a market operator can enable that transaction as seamlessly as possible.
Blockchain technology’s an ideal solution to that.
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