NY Consensus Conference

Consensus Conference 1: has begun with great enthusiasm for both enthusiasts and businesspeople around the world. Expectations have been met, and even exceeded in some cases.

One of the main events of this week that seeks to raise awareness about the blockchain world and the it represents for the community is the NY Consensus Conference. An event organized by Coindesk that has earned a reputation as the most significant festival dedicated to blockchain technologies around the world.

According to CNBC figures, the event registered over 4,000 people, which would represent at least $8 million in total for the organizers.

The growth of the event has been as significant as the growth of the crypto market. In 2015, 400 people were registered, in 2016 the number tripled to 1,400, the following year the figure almost doubled to 2,700 and this year, with an estimated 4,000 people Coindesk broke the record again.

Many expect this event to generate a bullish trend in crypto prices. Last year and some months after NY Consensus 2017, the Bitcoin rally that would lead it to peak above 20K in some exchanges began.

On the first day of the event, there were many lectures, some of them in parallel, but the most outstanding ones were the panels in which the “hottest” topics were discussed. The panelists and experts answered many questions and made important announcements that lend to a positive perspective for the general of cryptos.

Ny Consensus Conference Day 1: Blockchain Governance — A Legislator’s Perspective

Rep. David Schweikert was one of the figures who approached the subject with the most enthusiasm. For him, one of the important things is to separate Bitcoin from the blockchain discussion.

He mentions that one of the reasons why many legislators are skeptical of the use of cryptocurrencies is because of the difficulty in identifying causes of the various failures that have occurred at the time of implementation:

“I’m 20 years out of date as a coder … but I’ve seen some people trying to design smart contracts and some of them have made me really nervous on the quality of the coding, and oddly enough, what happens when that part of the code is marginal, and the underlying distributed ledger it’s running on is elegant, but something happens over here (the smart contract code) and trying to explain to a policymaker saying ‘Hey you don’t understand, that was someone screwed up coding over here ,everything, the rails were fine’… Those are sort of the fragilities we are constantly working on.”

For Mr. Schweikert, another of the problems that exist among pro-blockchain legislators is the need to promote a type of technology that does not become an instrument for evading obligations towards governments:

“There’s so brilliant writing out there right now on how disruptive a really robust blockchain, distributed ledger economy will be to tax collections. A simple example would be VAT tax. If I could build an item trading system where I want your bicycle, and I have this, and we go through four or five trades to get there, and we can go completely around that tax collection system. So there are lots of players right now, and for many of us who are trying to do the public policy you’re also trying to keep the control freaks from crushing the innovations.”

Mr. Schweikert also mentioned that DLTs allow citizens to take control of their data, allowing for an eventual reconsideration of the state’s power over citizens’ private information:

“How do I start to create this unified platform and then adopt the concept that all data that’s held by the is actually owned by you. You know, in American concept, you are sovereign. Shouldn’t you be allowed to immediately go on and say here’s the records the has on me and here is who has been looking at me. Here is my last ten years of my tax returns instead of going through the craziness we make Americans go through to document their last couple of years of tax returns.”

Finally, in a panel with Eva Kaili, a politician from the EU, they concluded that on the political level there are many regulatory bodies competing for jurisdiction.

He ended by recommending to tech enthusiasts that to promote blockchain to those who are not experts, they should focus their attention on some aspects that usually are overlooked: “Don’t talk about the technology, talk about the benefits.”

Interoperability

In a panel dedicated exclusively to interoperability, the necessity of effective communication between the multiple protocols was analyzed.

Panelists mentioned that all systems —both centralized and decentralized— are isolated. In the early days, they thought they were solving the payment problem without realizing that they were creating another problematic situation. DLTs should have the ability to communicate with each other to make Blockchain a global thing.

When asked why there are so many efforts to solve the problem instead of focusing on coming together to reach one solution, the answer was that there are many initiatives because everyone has a hypothesis of how to solve the problem.

They mentioned that Interoperability protocols will succeed as long as they do not impose high requirements when performing the validations. Interoperability removes the risk of developers losing value on their platforms if the network they are running on loses relevance or security.

As for the future perspectives on the influence of interoperability in the world of cryptos, both Litecoin’s Creator and Ripple’s Chief Cryptographer had similar ideas:

  • Short-term: Improving payments— faster, cheaper and inter-network
  • Mid-term: Uses of email-like services as a means of payment
  • Long-term: The vision is less clear as they are barely scratching the surface.

Privacy and Security

The issue of privacy was addressed by panelists with expertise in cybersecurity and anonymity-oriented protocol development. For them, the main problem in conducting private transactions is the lack of public awareness on the issue:

“Most people when they talk about privacy in the blockchain system are just thinking about the blockchain itself, not thinking about blockchain observers who are doing analysis on the dataset that is often transparent and available for anybody to look at …  Even within the technical space, you have to worry about network observers, you have to worry about physical attackers, you have to worry even about the wallets themselves, the actual wallet software may be spying on you. And the result is you don’t see much comprehensive privacy analysis of an entire wallet or an entire blockchain network because it’s not just about the protocol or the blockchain itself, it’s about the tools you are using to interface with it… We are really on a level now where privacy on the internet is pretty fundamentally broken, and privacy using blockchain based protocols is slightly less broken in some circumstances if you know what you are doing, so we have a very long way to go before we have a strong default privacy that is available for the average person”

According to the creator of Monero, the problem is that privacy has a negative connotation, so it is a subject that many companies take very delicately. Right now It’s not a good position for a company to be known as a privacy-oriented organization.

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Many other topics were discussed on the first day. There were excellent presentations of products and innovative ideas that undoubtedly surpass those of 2017 regarding work and effort. The future of the world of blockchain technologies is quite promising and the rest of the events this week are expected to reinforce this idea and allow the general public to have a better understanding and stimulus to approach blockchain as a technology that can be useful in many aspects of everyday life beyond financial transactions.

NY Consensus Conference Day 1 has marked a successful beginning to the week, what will Day 2 bring?

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