At our April PubTalk, we heard from an amazing panel of blockchain experts representing a range of expertise. Our panel, moderated by Cara Snow, Chief Community Engagement Officer at TAO, included Jeff Gaus, Founder of Oregon Enterprise Blockchain Venture Studio, Alpen Sheth, Visiting Faculty at Portland State University, Josh Wendroff, Chief Strategy Officer at Seedpay, and Dana Rudy, Sr. Manager of Software Engineering at LO3 Energy.
Here are the top takeaways:
- It’s about trust. In its simplest form, blockchain is about trust. In a time when it seems society trusts no one (not our leaders, not the media, etc.), blockchain establishes a new baseline for building trust. In bygone days, Jeff explained, people would sit around a campfire and build trust over time. As the concept of identity and trust has evolved from those days around the campfire to long-form digital authentication, blockchain has emerged to restore trust. He went on, “It completely upends the social contract in that, inherently, trust gets put back into the system. Dana added, “It’s about transferring data between groups that don’t trust each other.”
- It’s a means to an end. “Blockchain is a tool to provide a value. In my opinion, blockchain shouldn’t be the value…it should be the way you’re accomplishing something” said Dana. “It’s a hammer,” Jeff added. “It’s what you do with that hammer and how you’re going to apply it.” Josh recalled an interview with Jeff Bezos from ‘99 where the interviewer called Amazon “an internet company” to which Bezos replied that they’re not an internet company but rather a company focused on providing value to customers. Josh compared that with the notion of a ‘blockchain company’, pointing out the LO3 is not a ‘blockchain company’ but rather an energy company that uses blockchain.
- The future of blockchain is uncertain…and exciting. Alpen pointed out that while blockchain is not new, bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and tokens have popularized and brought to the fore the applications of the technology, and we’re now seeing the infrastructure needed to use blockchain at scale. He also noted that software engineering is an opportunity for those interested in blockchain as firms try to build that infrastructure. As a variety of firms and startups explore what’s possible with blockchain, Alpen acknowledges, “There are not clear use cases that flow into existing industries.” The panel agreed that there is a large role for blockchain in the future. “If we’re successful, future generations won’t know the word ‘blockchain.’ It should become invisible,” said Jeff.
See photos and watch the video from the evening below.