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What went down at Blockchain Technology Conference 2018: Key takeaways

Blockchain should be used to augment certain business processes, *not* to replace them

Gabriela Motroc
blockchain
Blockchain Technology Conference 2018

The Blockchain Technology Conference has come to an end but now’s the perfect time for an overview of the most important takeaways. We’ve gathered enough intel to keep our minds well-fed until the next blockchain-related conference so come get your piping hot takeaways and explore our notes in bite-sized pieces.

Blockchain Technology Conference has come and gone but we’ve gathered enough intel to keep our minds well-fed until the next blockchain-related conference. For those of you who couldn’t attend the conference, we livestreamed three keynotes so that you don’t miss out on anything. You can find them here and here.

Before we start,  I invite you to have a look at this small interview series we did with seven speakers about what this technology can and can’t do, what it is and what it isn’t. This series is meant to clear the air by answering the most fundamental questions.

You can find the first batch of takeaways here

 

Blockchain is a bubble but Ethereum has good survival chances

In her session titled Ethereum fundamentals, Jana Petkanic discussed the popularity of Ethereum, how it differs from Bitcoin protocol and what kind of features we find on its roadmap. She started the talk by saying that blockchain is a bubble and only genuine projects will survive – Ethereum could be one of them.

She also cleared the air with regard to blockchain’s hackability. “Blockchain has never been hacked,” she said. “What can be hacked are services around blockchain.”

Java explained that even though most people say they are “mining Ethereum,” what they really mean is mining a block on ETH blockchain. She also debunked the myth regarding payment; although there are many versions to the payment narrative, the truth is: If a sender doesn’t have enough gas [the payment unit], the transaction won’t go through.

Jana’s takeaways:

  1. Never stop studying and always be curious
  2. Don’t buy just because it seems to skyrocket soon. Cryptocurrencies should have an entire community (not just three maintainers, let’s say), a code, a blockchain, a clear purpose, a value (=product), traction (roadmap etc.), a network. Buying is voting; the more you buy, the more support for the creators you show.
  3. Be patient with regulators – they just don’t know. There needs to be a balance between innovation and regulation (but new regulations need to be enforced).
  4. Don’t ride the hype – support projects with a genuine purpose which are here to stay.

“You use blockchain to augment certain business processes, not to replace them”

Unlearning can be just as important as learning. When it comes to blockchain, people often have just as many misconceptions as they do correct ideas. Getting started with the technology can be tough when you don’t know where to turn.

The Learning and unlearning – What it takes to adopt Blockchain panel by Sebastian Meyen, Peter Lawrey, Ingo Rammer, Michael Kolain and Vinita Rathi was a good opportunity to debunk some of the myths concerning blockchain, including what it can do, what smart contracts really are (spoiler alert: they are not real contracts) and the benefits of public blockchains. This keynote was livestreamed so you can watch the panelists’ discussion here.

Quotes:

The benefit of public blockchains is the protection of the messages sent to the server. This means they can’t be manipulated.

– Peter Lawrey

Smart contracts have nothing to do with contracts and they should not be treated as legal contracts.

– Michael Kolain

You use blockchain to augment certain business processes, not to replace them.

– Ingo Rammer

Data protection law still thinks in terms of centralization. For decentralization, the law needs to be changed

Michael Kolain and Christian Wirth joined forces to discuss the implications of GDPR and how blockchain can be used as a transparency layer where the consent lies.

In their session titled Privacy and GDPR Compliance by Blockchain Design, the two speakers painted a picture of how software is designed today, namely

  • Build an architecture
  • Programming
  • Data sources
  • This is either legal compliant or the lawyer comes into play.

The difference between this scenario and privacy by design is that in the latter, the lawyer is included earlier in the picture when the architecture is built. This approach has numerous benefits, including the fact that it saves you money and effort.

Important takeaway: The problem today is that data protection law still thinks in terms of centralization. For decentralization, the law needs to be changed.

One myth the duo debunked is related to what GDPR actually means; is not necessarily about anonymous data, even though this is the antonym of personal data. However, the closer it comes to anonymity, the more compliant it is to the virtues of GDPR; basically, it needs to make it harder to get to the data.

And how does blockchain fit into this discussion? This technology has the potential to be used as a transparency layer where the consent lies. Blockchain can serve as a log about who accessed the data, when for which purpose on which authorization while maintaining a high level of confidentiality of the personal data.

Author
Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc is editor of JAXenter.com and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.