Latest great post by Reuben Godfrey, our roving Bitcoin, Blockchain expert and enthusiast, reviewing this recent event.

Known knowns…

Translating the Blockchain was organised by UCD’s Centre for Innovation, Technology & Organisation as part of its Coding Value research project.

The event brought together a wide variety of individuals and organisations with interest in blockchain; academics, programmers, lawyers, consultants, entrepreneurs and even a journalist. The ambition of the meeting was to allow the various groups engaged with the blockchain in Dublin to gain a wider understanding of their shared interests and, in some cases, gain a better understanding of where their-own skills fit into the mix.

Deloitte were first in (and best dressed) and set things going with a brief overview of the blockchain; what is it, why is it, where is it going? The brief presentation, while not giving new insights to many there, was slick, knowledgeable and demonstrated that Deloitte are keen to be seen as most progressive amongst the big-four accounting firms in relation to blockchain adoption. Their joint-project with BOI was mentioned and deserves recognition. With a government unwilling to comment in even the broadest terms about blockchain, it will be the traditional big players they turn to for advice when it is inevitably sought. A project between BOI and Deloitte lends some credibility to a tech that, until recently, has been sitting at the kids table while the grown-ups got on with the serious stuff.

A short but very interesting part of the day was the introduction and overview of an actual, physical, bitcoin mining rig… These are the machines at the virtual coal-face and, while this particular has ceased service, to me it had the same allure a gold-nugget or an uncut diamond must have to a banker or commodity trader. Thanks to Jamie McCormick of Bitcoin Marketing Team.

Known unknowns…

The main meat of the day, however, was the World Café. The room was split into eight discussion groups, each moderated by someone with expertise in the fields of;

Legal and Regulatory – What are the social, legal or regulatory aspects of the blockchain that are most pressing?

Technical – In what ways might the blockchain change the face of technology?

Ethical – What are the major ethical implications of blockchain technology?

Government and the State – How should governments react to the blockchain?

Accounting and Auditing – What impact might the blockchain have in the field of accounting and auditing?

Fintech – What is the potential of the blockchain for the Fintech industry?

Cybercrime and Privacy – What are the challenges that the blockchain presents for cybercrime or privacy?

Applications – What are the most interesting applications of the blockchain beyond currency?

There was good discussion on each table and the bell to signify each rotation left many conversations far from resolved. Indeed, revolution was mentioned more than resolution; most there were in agreement that blockchain was, is or will be a revolutionary technology but there was little consensus as to the eventual shape of the new landscape it will carve and, even less, our individual roles within it. A question from the Applications table summed-up a slightly simplistic desperation, simply; ‘How do we make money out of it..?!’

Indeed, in summing-up the day’s discussions I was reminded of Donald Rumsfeld’s gloriously vague and non-committal call to action or non-action; ‘There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.’


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