At a Blockchain Conference in San Francisco last month, a spat between Tone Vays, Head of Research at Bitcoin news portal Brave New Coin, and Safe Cash’s Chris Kitze, highlighted the paradigm shift in the blockchain technology industry.
Whereas historically Bitcoiners have often championed Bitcoin as a way to undermine government and banks, a new breed of blockchainers believe that the underlying technology, the blockchain, can make banks and governments better at what they do.
“There’s a couple of things you said that made absolutely no sense to me,” Vays told Kitze from the audience after Kitze had explained how government could undermine encryption technology and how the blockchain could be used . “One is strong encryption requiring KYC. The whole concept of encryption and Bitcoin are a direct result of the private sector fighting back against the public sector of this whole KYC/AML anti-encryption process. I was wondering if you can elaborate?”
Kitze did not skip a beat.
“Sure – governments everywhere in the world completely disagree with everything you just said,” he fired back.
“I know that,” Vays said, before a terse, tense silence fell on the conference at the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center in San Francisco.
“What I am trying to explain to you is that people who keep the roads clean and run the power, they are the ones who are in control of this,” Kitze said, noting that much of public encryption technology has been cracked by intelligence agencies.
“I actually also disagree when you say they’re in control. They’re not in control,” Vays riposted. “If they were in control we would all be Romans, not Americans. Superpowers don’t last historically, they are not in control, they may be in control another ten, twenty, thirty years, but superpowers change.” Kitze sensed they’d have to agree to differ in opinion.
“I don’t disagree with what you are saying but, practically, who controls the Internet?” Kitze rhetorically asked. “It’s a series of routers. Every one of those routers has been hacked. They can change the quality of service of every single thing on the Internet.” He brought it back to the point at hand.
“We are kind of going far away from the KYC topic here and we should probably talk about this afterwards, but do you see where I am going? Fundamentally, if some groups of people don’t want some things to happen, it won’t happen.”
And that disagreement highlights the paradigm shift that has picked up steam in 2016 around the concept of the “Blockchain.” Bitcoiners made headlines with anti-establishment worldviews (down with the banks!), technologies (queue Cody Wilson’s “anti-money laundering” software), and so on and so forth.
Open-source creation communities, a la the Bitcoin Community, will continue to play a leading role in internet innovation. But, today, among the most intriguing research angles are those pursued in the interest of serving multinationals in finance and other industries. AI blockchains by IBM to entirely new economic systems by R3 CEV will lead the way thanks to the monied interests who support them.
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