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Highlights from the International Blockchain Conference

The Innovation and Development Foundation (IDF) presented the International Blockchain Congress at mHub on February 9 and it was a bit like taking a train trip on Amtrak; it started late, got a little bit later at each stop along the way, and somehow still managed to be rewarding at the same time. The event highlighted how many exciting projects and developments are taking place with blockchain, the dynamic international community that is propelling progress, and just how hard it still is to separate the gold from pyrite at this point.

Highlights from the conference included:

  • Still struggling with blockchain 1.0 (otherwise known as Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies)? Yannick LaPlante and Bo Zhang represented Achain and ABitcoin, respectively, Achain being an example of blockchain 3.0 and ABitcoin being the first coin launched on Achain. A “simple” blockchain like Bitcoin is blockchain 1.0 while a blockchain 2.0 such as Ethereum supports smart contracts and blockchain 3.0 is a public platform to support the development of a global blockchain network. Progress marches swiftly onward and the implications are massive: will it be possible for national entities  to contain and control blockchains or will a rapidly expanding network on top of networks spell the inevitability of blockchain ubiquity? It looks like it will be the latter.
  • Ken Huang of TheKey discussed eight security controls for blockchain which ultimately revealed how very un-user friendly things currently are and how that is likely to change very quickly. For the time being, caveat emptor couldn’t be any more applicable.
  • Lamont Black of DePaul University led an excellent panel on “Blockchain 2030” with Colleen Sullivan from CMT Capital Markets Trading, Pavel Kravchenko of Distributed Lab, Almora’s Ivan Luthra, Maxim Prasolov from Neuromation, and Rachel Cook of Seeds Inc. On the face of it, talking about blockchain in 12 years time might seem absurd – very few people have figured out blockchain 2018 yet – but there was solid insight and opinion from the panel.
    • Kravchenko thinks that blockchain will become embedded in such a way that we soon won’t talk about it just as we don’t talk about “http” when we discuss the internet.
    • Luthra predicted that blockchain will run half of the world’s economy in five years.
    • Sullivan believes that there will be a proliferation of decentralized exchanges (it’s already happening).
    • Prasolov pointed to a time five years in the future when there will be 20 billion non-human, known entities in the world – all potentially connected with each other.
  • Other highlights from the day included:
    • Attorneys Andrew Gordon of Gordon Law Group and Nelson Rosario of Marshall Gerstein dispelled the notion that it’s a “wild west” for cryptocurrencies and ICOs right now. The U.S. legal system is largely based on analogies so it is relatively easy to find parallels and precedents that apply.
    • In addition to being strikingly international, with heavy participation from China and The Republic of Georgia, the backgrounds of panelists were varied as well. Most had technical foundations but others came from unlikely backgrounds. Case in point: Matt Wolf, who has a background in the movie and talent agency industries.
    • Illinois is in surprisingly good shape when it comes to cryptocurrencies and blockchain. The state is best known for leading the way in government indebtedness and gridlock but thanks to visionary work from the likes of Mike Zalewski, Jennifer O’Rourke, Cab Morris, and John Mirkovic it is also at the head of the pack in these new technologies.   

In the end, the International Blockchain Congress was one of those conferences that leaves your head spinning just a bit and not only because of the seemingly interminable delays in the program. There is only so much information that can be crammed into your noggin in one day, and the IBC tested those limits.

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About Author

Chuck Mackie is a business development, PR and marketing specialist who is senior adviser at Maven Wave Partners.