Women In Blockchain

Women technologists, entrepreneurs and women working in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space, and issues that affect women.

045. Governance, Self-Sovereign Identity and Ethics in Blockchain Tech w/ Elizabeth Renieris

Elizabeth Renieris, a crypto and blockchain lawyer educated at Harvard and London School of Economics speaks about identity and data privacy in the crypto and blockchain space.

036. Smart Contracts and Wise Women with Alexandra Levin Kramer

“I think the Wild West of non-compliant token sales is over, thankfully. I think from a securities law perspective, it’s very exciting actually because it’ll make the capital markets more accessible. We talk a lot about financial inclusion in the blockchain industry, and I think this is actually it. With a caveat that it still has to be compliant with securities laws.”

Alexandra Levin Kramer has three degrees, which is probably a huge help since she’s working on three different enterprises in the blockchain space right now. She’s a practicing lawyer and partner at CKR law in NYC and the Founding Chair of its Blockchain Technology + Digital Currency practice group. She also co-founded Women On the Block, which hosts blockchain conferences around the world. And, she’s Co-founder of Womin.io that uses blockchain technology to enable freelancers and employers to interact peer to peer through its decentralized platform.

Women on the Block
Alexandra has been in the space for a few years now, but this past January when there was negative press about the crypto space that emphasized lambos and yachts with party girls, making it look like the blockchain world was a boys club, it bothered her. That wasn’t her experience and she thought if she, as a female had been just starting her career and had that impression, that she would have run for the hills. So she wanted to do something about it. So she co-founded Women On the Block, to welcome women into the space and promote diversity in blockchain.

Womin.io
Through learning about the power of blockchain – she even took a coding course – and realizing that it can have a huge impact, Alexandra decided to create her own blockchain startup. Womin.io uses decentralization and the ability to validate on a blockchain to put employee history verification into code that will allow easy access to an online market of employees.

Smart Contracts

One of the points she makes about smart contracts is that they are really just a starting point.

“In an actual legal agreement, you can’t cover every possible contingency and similarly in a smart contract, there are going to be things that happen that are not foreseeable under the code. That’s where other issues like governance and some degree of centralization will have to come in, but I think the potential is fantastic and I’m all for more efficiency, lower legal fees, lower legal costs. I think that’s better for everyone.”

Alexandra believes that some good use cases for smart contracts will be lease agreements, and employment and freelancer agreements.

She also talks to me about the differences between men and women. One of the things she mentions is that “women have a reticence to try new things or go out of their comfort zone.” And she also argues that there are studies that show diversity is an indicator of profitability.

What she recommends generally as that we make our own opportunities, learn something new every day. And she says she tries to live by a Jewish saying “Who is a wise person? One who learns from everyone.”

We also talk about:
• Security tokens and the SEC
• Intellectual property rights
• Smart contracts on public or private blockchain
• Lawyers and developers speaking the same language
• AI learning to automate dispute resolution

Women on the Block
https://www.womenontheblock.io/
Blockchain Conference in Singapore
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

CKR law
https://www.ckrlaw.com/locations/north-america/new-york/alexandra-kramer.html

Womin.io
http://womin.io

Made it to Top 25 of Richard Branson’s Extreme Tech Challenge competition.
http://www.extremetechchallenge.com/2018/10/24/xtc-2019-top-25-announcement/

032. Blockchain Impact and Data Sovereignty with Susan Oh

“Data sovereignty is just a fancy word for saying that whatever of mine, whatever data that I generate, whatever activity that I have, whatever content that I produce to help you power and fuel your ecosystem, I own it and I get to tokenize it and I get to volunteer it and sell it to you in ways that I agree to, instead of this blanket system of fine print that we have every time that we download an app and decide to you use it.”

Susan Oh talks to me about data sovereignty and the Internet of Value that is being created by blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies. The way the internet has been going, where we give away all of our data for free isn’t working.

“We willingly give away all our data that is worth billions of dollars and then companies take that data and they sell it to third party intermediaries into then weaponizing that data to get us to buy more sh*t”

And now that our lives are becoming more and more digital and we have all kinds of data points out there, there’s an opportunity for a new system. Susan shares her ideas on tokenizing data, with transparency and security built into it using blockchain tech, so the value of that data can be democratized. It can reward users who agree to share their information by participating in yes or no questions, polls, or surveys or by agreeing to look at ads or receive messaging. And why shouldn’t people who are willing to share their options, their likes and dislikes, or their time (like we’re doing now for free now) get paid in tradeable tokens.

In mainstream media, blockchain has become the good guy and crypto the bad guy, but Susan believes that without crypto and the tokenomics model, you’re throwing out the best part of blockchain. Since the technology of blockchain is what gives transparency, the question she raises is, ‘where do we need transparency more than crypto?’

For Susan’s MKR.ai the platform is designed to crowd source the validity and opinions around the top trending fake news stories. From her experience as a business journalist she realized that no one cares about facts, they care about stories. So, she aims to invite participation of users who choose to share their ideas and are rewarded for being part of the community. Those who have the strongest references based on the most valid citations, with the most votes, are rewarded with tokens that can be used within the platform or exchanged for other cryptos.

One of Susan’s main goals is to shift the conversation from right vs wrong to looking at methodology and the ideas or ideals around the technology. She uses an example of inviting a Bitcoin maximalist, Ethereum maximalist and an academic polychain enthusiast to the same table, so that real ideas come to life. When they look for common ground or where their ideas differ, greater awareness overall is the end result.

Understanding the advantages of new technology as well as the limitations and exploring ideas from all sides is one of Susan’s strengths. She aims high and is looking at how tech can improve the status quo not just in her own locale, but around the world. It’s no wonder Susan was honoured with one of the “Top 10 Frontier Women” awards, given by 5th Element Group’s Decade of Women campaign in partnership with the United Nations.

When it comes to women in this space, and even women who are simply users of the internet, women should feel empowered. Susan explains that we’re the most powerful consumer group in the world because women are socialized to consume products from the time we’re young girls and then we grow up to be women who may also be wives and mothers who more often than not are the ones who make purchase decisions for the household. And she goes on to say that women are natural communicators, that if we like something we want to tell everyone we know about it and even ask about it later to find out what our friends thought of this amazing thing that we all just discovered. So, Susan says that “you couldn’t have a better ambassador for nascent tech, than women who have skin in the game and who want everyone to know about it”.

And besides our natural bent toward diving in and sharing the good news, Susan says that the tech is a DIY culture that’s really welcoming, collaborative and meritocratic where the majority of the people who are in the space believe in a decentralization and inclusivity.

And since Susan is an advisor to the Hoboken Smart City Project we also talked about how data sovereignty might work there. She explains the idea for the project was generated by Sergio Fernandez de Cordova whose idea is to turn the city into a real life digital lab where citizens could agree to give the city or local businesses data points in exchange for tokens that could be used toward their utility bill or that stop sign down the street they were petitioning for. When data becomes democratized and there is data sovereignty, then the city will have to compete with other cities and give incentives for why skilled people would choose to live there.

If colleges and universities, and some high schools, compete to attract people to come their way, it makes sense that cities, as we become more and more globalized, would too.

Susan is also working with Adnan Hassan, founder of Mecasa Advisors and former Board Member of The World Bank, on a Global Bank of Small States platform of interoperability that brings together, virtually, 101 small states. The states that are being included have a population of less than 10 million with a high GDP per capital, but low GDP overall so are not part of the G10 global fee structure for international finance and practices. Bringing together small states is away to help build financial and social capital. A service provider or entrepreneur can join in, have access to educational resources and by participating in that learning, teach others how they learn by sharing their data. Then they can open their services to the other countries as part of this group of small states.

NOTE: there are a few incidents of explicit language for those who are language sensitive.

016. Energy on a Blockchain with Joanna Hubbard

“I really do think this would make a huge positive difference. And when you find that thing, there’s nothing else in the world you’d rather do than just stick with it until you’ve made it happen.”

Joanna Hubbard found her thing, the thing that motivated her to move mountains or in this case move energy, renewable energy even, distributed on a blockchain.

Working in the energy sector, and recognizing that there was a long way to go where Cleantech was concerned, Joanna started questioning the status quo.

Why couldn’t they work on changing energy demand rather than solely focus on managing supply?

Coal plants being subsidised to keep up their huge production volume didn’t make sense to her, when she knew of much greener ways to produce energy.

It seemed like the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing? Why weren’t these systems integrated, communicating with one another? Why wasn’t a real price being placed on energy, one that factored in the environmental cost?

Why hadn’t the energy sector changed its old ways of thinking and doing things?

Joanna said to me that “It’s partly mindset, it’s partly tech, and it’s always incentives.”

Joanna believed that consumers would be able to change their habits if they were incentivised to do so. And what about incentivising energy producers to find cleaner, greener ways to generate energy? Like a puzzle that was waiting to be solved, Joanna found her missing piece. The thing that would fuel her passion to make a positive difference in the world, — the possibilities that came with energy on a blockchain.

Armed with the ideas of blockchain technology, and the ideals of a Smart Grid, Joanna now works as Co-founder and COO of Electron where their key objectives are decarbonization, decentralization,

We talked about price signals and how to create a more resilient cleaner grid. Batteries, solar power, wind energy and other renewables, and the subsidising of coal plants.

Joanna explains that one of the biggest fundamental problems at the moment is that there is no shared digital infrastructure. It just doesn’t exist yet, but Joanna explains what can be done.

One of the most authentic moments in our conversation is about women in the fintech space. And to be totally transparent, it went in a direction that I didn’t see coming. I would urge other women, and even more, men in this space, to listen in to two women talking about what it’s like to be a woman and to be seen as a woman in a professional environment. #metoo

Last but not least, Joanna answers some of my favourite short answer questions and gives a shout out to the incredibly talented journalist and blockchain podcast host Laura Shin and her show, Unchained

001. Blockchain Technology and Women in The Space with Anna Vladi

Anna Vladi, Founder of Women4Blockchain, and I talk about why blockchain technology is revolutionary, what are some of its uses, like solar power energy sharing via P2P network or the blockchain. Imagine a world where you could buy solar powered electricity directly from your neighbour at a lower cost than from the power company? This is the future. And what will that mean for the cost of our electricity services to have now new competitors who are also consumers. Will we have an EBay for power sharing? Will we have a new EBay for everything?

Anna explains that her company Women4Blockchain is set up to educate and promote women who are working in the area of cryptocurrency and blockchain development. She talks about her upcoming Hackathon and Conference in NYC in June 2018 (now postponed until October 2018) that asks teams of women to compete in creating blockchain solutions that require the coming together of three pillars – business, legal, and technical.

We also discuss the concept of smart contracts and “law as code” and how the legal agreements as part of a transaction can be embedded in a blockchain itself.

One issue that we touched on that’s sure to be a topic addressed by women for the next months or maybe years is the idea of marketing to women in the crypto space. Jumping off of Meltem Demirors position that we’re not doing a good job of it especially since 60% of wealth is controlled by women and women are responsible for 80% of consumer spending. Shouldn’t there be more women in the FinTech world in order to balance this dynamic? Is it changing?

And speaking of women in the space, should there be blockchain conferences with all women panels or women only areas? There’s some debate around this topic as women are making more of a presence.

For interested developers, and for more information. Anna recommended https://blockgeeks.com/

https://www.zastrin.com/

Preethi Kasireddy on Twitter @iam_preethi and her blog on Medium at

https://medium.com/@preethikasireddy

The Ethereum White Paper at https://github.com/ethereum/wiki/wiki/White-Paper

The Ethereum Yellow Paper at http://yellowpaper.io/

Crypto Chicks www.Cryptochicks.ca