046. Leading Information Democratization w/ Anthony Di Iorio

Anthony Di Iorio, co-founder of Ethereum, award-winning entrepreneur, and CEO of Decentral talks about freedom, liberty and impact on this week’s podcast.

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.


The best of the best – 2! Blockchain experts share their ideas in this second part of the Best of Speaking of Crypto 2018 podcast.


The best of the best. Blockchain experts share their ideas and their big picture thinking on what’s going on in the crypto and blockchain ecosystem.


The best of the best. Blockchain experts share their ideas, their big picture thinking around what’s going on in the blockchain ecosystem.

034. Adaptability and Helping to Build the Decentralized Internet w/ Matthew Spoke

“There’s lots of evidence today that online and in our digital lives, which is increasingly most of our lives these days, there’s just a whole bunch of things that are broken. Things that we’ve accepted as normal. Things that we’ve come to see as the status quo. And, nobody’s questioned is it ok that I have to make the trade-off of free online services for personal private data.”

Matthew Spoke, Founder of Aion, talks to me about the original intentions of the internet. It started off as a peer to peer and it became centralized. But, blockchain technology is levelling the playing field and anyone can have the opportunity to sell a successful product or service and Matt says we can all collectively can own the next version of the internet.

What does it mean now that the internet can become decentralized? What will it mean when greater financial democracy is accessible around the world. What will it mean for government policy as the technology that crosses borders becomes mainstream?

“Decentralized networks are the future infrastructure of the world.” So where is the world headed?

“People are asking what’s the killer app of decentralization? It’s not really an app, it’s a social structure. It’s re-evaluating how we make decisions and how we coordinate with people”

Decentralization is democratizing opportunity.

He says, often we don’t talk about crypto in the right context. Instead of talking about what crypto allows to be built, we too often talk about market caps and speculation. But “crypto is the economic engine that makes these networks possible and if that’s true, than there’s no financial cap”.

So the executive chairman of Cisco valued the internet as worth $19 trillion, but Matt says that that figure doesn’t factor in the value of what’s being transferred over the internet. So the decentralized internet, the internet of value, web 3.0 will be worth even more.

We also get into how Matt went from being an employee at Deloitte to leading an R+D team focussed on Bitcoin and the underlying technology to leaving and co-founding his own successful and thriving blockchain company, even though he says at the time, taking the leap was “terrifying”.

One of the topics he believes isn’t addressed head on enough in this space is around for-profit crypto companies and their driving motivations. He believes there’s a conflict of interest that’s inherent in having token holders like share holders. For this reason, Aion decided to become the Aion Foundation and focus on serving “the most important stakeholder, which to us was the user of our software” as opposed to optimizing how they do things for shareholders whose expectations are driven by expectations around revenues and profits.”

He goes on to say, “This an industry that is almost exclusively open source software so it’s not necessarily monetizable at the protocol level.”

And it was just one of the fun questions I ask at the end of the interview, but I asked him about what character trait he would recommend someone have who’s starting out. And his answer made me realize that they were qualities he must have to have gotten to where his is from where he was.

He said that these days it’s not about one skill. Now you’ve got to have the desire to constantly be learning and upgrading your skills, so what’s really important is adaptability and to be able to constantly evolve.

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 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.

029. Building a Tech Business and Investing in a Blockchain Future with Michael Hyatt

“The companies I will suggest in the next 2 to 3 years that are going to make it are ones that have a real blockchain product with real utility that people really need and they’re getting real quality advantage out of, like any other company. And 2017 was the year of FOMO which is ‘I’m going to miss out so I better buy it’ 2018 is like ‘woah what happened here, hold on here I think we have to go find something real’ and 2019 I think is going to be the year of prove it. ‘Prove you’ve got something. Oh, you’re going to raise a coin? I’ve heard that story. OK what is it really that you’re doing?”.

Michael Hyatt has built incredibly successful tech business and he’s been in business since before the days of the internet. He’s got first-hand knowledge of where the internet and computer technology came from and educated and experienced insight as to where blockchain tech is going.

So where is it going? Michael talked about a creative destruction phase or a nuclear winter, much like we’re seeing now. But he believes that the future is bright. He thinks “the Facebook of cryptocurrency hasn’t been born” but that we’ll see real businesses with important use cases coming to the forefront after the fallout from the hype around cryptos and all the betting on the promises of ICOs that have never delivered, and won’t.

He talks about the crypto space mirroring the real world. People talk about there being a new paradigm, but Michael doesn’t buy it, not were businesses and investments are concerned. He says it all comes down to the fundamentals. Is there a viable business? Are these the people who can deliver what they’re promising? And is there something backing the crypto or blockchain investment that has real value.

“If you’re starting a company, whether it’s a crypto company or any kind of company, I don’t think it matters. I think what matters is that you have to be in it for 10 or 15 years and build to win not build to sell or build to flip.”

He says when you’re buying part of an ICO, you’re buying a Kick Starter, that really, you’re buying a promise that it’s going to be useful, but that very few companies have delivered on their promises.

With Ethereum, he says that something big has to happen. When Ethereum can be used as part of some revolutionary tool, an app that changes the way things are done in the financial world or the medical world, if it can change the way were doing things now then the value will really go up. But, whether it’s Ethereum or some other blockchain technology that transforms the way we’re doing things now, there needs to be broad based adoption and a global understanding of the new technology’s value. Then and only then will there be the Crypto or Blockchain Facebook or Google or Apple.

Michael mentions the collapse of the condo market in Miami as a historic example that may be similar to what we’re seeing the crypto right now. Condos that were overpriced, plummeted in cost, but there was a point when buyers and investors saw that condos still held a certain value. So, while he doesn’t believe Bitcoin is digital gold. He does believe there is a value and that the public will figure out what it is.

I ask Michael about his affiliation with Rotman’s Creative Destruction lab, which he is completely impressed by, saying that he’s in a place where he’s surrounded by big thinkers and intelligent innovators.

Michael talks about being an advisor to Polymath. He’s excited about security tokens and believes in Trevor Koverko.

He also believes in the idea of tokenizing securities like art, paintings, wine, or buildings that have a that have an inherent value and supports the idea of these securities, that aren’t big enough to go public, can also draw in non-accredited investors who would like to put their money into something, but maybe don’t have the financial wealth to be able to pour in large amounts of money in order to be able to see a return on their investment.

One of the other topics we hit on is regulation. His point of view is that regulation makes the market real. It’s there to stop companies from lying and cheating people and that regulation entering the picture is a healthy thing. Essentially the regulators will sort and sift through what’s being offered and cut out the crap.

Michael is also a regular contributor to The Pitch Podcast.

027. Blockchain Security with Hartej Sawhney

“You have people trying to take advantage of the fundraising mechanism that is an ICO without having a real business. They’re more excited about raising the money and then figuring it out. That’s a lot of the people. A lot of the people that have ICOed will not stay standing. It will be just like the dot com explosion.”

Hartej had read Satoshi’s White Paper back in 2011 but he spent a lot of time in the space without creating his own place in it. Now he and his Hosho co-founder Yo Sub Kwan have founded a company that fulfills a huge need, and one that (especially for how much money is at stake) really isn’t being taken seriously – and that’s blockchain security.

What’s the point in creating smart contracts if they can be easily compromised? Who cares if blockchains are immutable, trustless, unhackable if the contracts running on top of them can be breached?

And, how is world-wide adoption ever going to happen if news headlines keep scaring people away with stories of another exchange that just got hacked out of millions of dollars?

I talk to Hartej about Hosho and blockchain security and we also get into tokenization and how there are a whole bunch of people who seem to want to tokenize anything and everything, when maybe tokens should really have nothing to do with it.

His advice is to build a real business and there are places where tokens make sense, like in the world of gaming. Or in a place where you can have peer to peer markets, like in underdeveloped markets that would allow an artist to have access to the internet and sell music there.

Hartej goes into what Hosho can do with smart contract auditing and checking security vulnerabilities including with penetration checks for exchanges. Because when it comes to cryptocurrency exchanges being secure, it really only takes one toke that isn’t secure for there to be a critical vulnerability. Because if one coin can be hacked, and exchanged for Bitcoin, or fiat currency, then the whole exchange is at risk.

He talks about the history of Paul Graham in Silicon Valley and the key to a Startup being a Startup is growth. Hartej mentions the Y Combinator program and that there are essays there that all entrepreneurs should read.

When it comes to startups vs big Fortune 500 companies, Hartej talks about the fact that the Fortune 500 companies are in the space but they’re working on research and development. They’re behind where the early investors were years ago but they’re working on it.

And before we get into our Five Fun Questions, I asked him what use case he’s excited about seeing in the blockchain space in the next 5 years. His answer? Healthcare. How much data do we have on our body right now, about what’s going on with our body? And what if we could cater how we live, eat, sleep, exercise according to what our doctor recommends based on our body weight, resting heart rate, average heart rate, blood pressure, activity habits, blood sugar levels and on and on. It is amazing to think about where the technology we have now with our health data in our wearables will be in the next 5 years and what that could mean for our health.

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026. Blockchain’s Potential for Social Impact with Dr. Jane Thomason

“A lot of people think of blockchain and all they think about is Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and then they immediately, their minds go to the dark web, and money laundering and so forth, but what I wanted to do was put a message out to the world which is, yes, there’s Bitcoin. That’s an important application of blockchain. But, there are all these other ways that it could be used that will actually make the world a better place to live in, so why don’t we push hard, lean in, and try and shape this technology to see if we can’t get those future benefits that people talk about.”

I got a chance to speak with Dr. Jane Thomason remotely while she was judging the EOS hackathon in Sydney, Australia recently. Dr. Thomason is a blockchain advisor, hackathon judge, experienced CEO and a women’s advocate who was awarded the UN DecadeOfWomen Quantum Impact Champion Award this year.

With her global experience both in business and in international development and now the world of blockchain technology, Dr. Thomason sees the world from a birds-eye view, with an ability to zoom out and look at the far-reaching potential of blockchain tech from a wider perspective.

And what she’s seeing right now is that we have a lot of “disconnected ecosystems”, a bit like the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, and that what she believes will help speed up the growth in the space would be for more collaboration, education, co-creation or to use a term she’s coined – hyper-co-collaboration.

We discuss some exciting blockchain use cases and where blockchain’s potential lies in the area of social impact.

Identity, financial transactions like remittances and voting are use cases that Dr. Thomason sees as having a huge impact on changing the status quo. In fact she gives an example of in Australia of the cost being over $200,000 per vote, whereas with blockchain tech, the cost would be around 50 cents per vote and mentions Horizon State’s token-based blockchain voting platform. And speaking of voting reforms, Dr. Thomason shares that there is political party in Australia called The Flux Party, which is a Blockchain Political Party.

Dr. Thomason would like to see more accelerator programs and more social impact funds. She talks about the incredible ideas that come out of the hackathon events, but that there’s a gap. There isn’t yet enough support or funding for these ideas to become full-fledged startups or for startups to be profitable ventures and commercialized applications out in the world once the hackathon is over.

One incredible use case she talks about it one that touches the areas of digital identity, medical records and supply chains all attached to one person’s activities.

She uses the example of a long-distance truck driver in Africa who may travel through six different countries. If he’s HIV positive, currently, he wouldn’t be able to get medication in just any country, and his antiretroviral medication helps to stop the spread of HIV. But with blockchain, his identification could be on a blockchain, as well as his medical records and the supply chain information so that wherever he goes, he has access all of these records. What if blockchain really could bring all of these areas together? Well, it can, but what will the world look like when it is put in place?

What does the future look like if all of the facets of our lives could be digital, transparent but private, and immutable?

She talks about education and empowerment and diving into blockchain to find out more and she shares her big a-ha moment with me when she recalls the time after the banda aceh tsunami hit Indonesia. Dr. Thomason was there on the ground during the reconstruction and she explained that at the time there were no records, so although 200 people lost their lives, there was no way to track who they were, what their medical records were, or whether the donor money that came in was going to the right people. She realized that if the blockchain tech were around then that everything around the rehabilitation and reconstruction would have been so much easier. And that’s what got her really thinking about what kind of impact blockchain tech could have on a global impact scale.

Dr. Jane Thomason
Digital Transformation Abt Associates