Yesterday was a special day for us. In the morning, we hosted Bruce Schneier, and then in the evening it was Andreas Antonopoulos. Both speakers outlined their vision for the future. And, as the sun shone, we were off to our Craiglockhart Campus:
For Bruce, he painted a world that is now filled with computers, and that our traditional viewpoint of them is changing. He also outlined the risks around our existing ways are also changing, and that we often just scale our old world into our new one:
From Bruce, trust is often failing to scale into this inter-connected world, and where we must build up new trust methods. For him, we are trying to build a secure world on top of an insecure infrastructure:
In between, the talks, I was off to listen to a successful defence of our PhD student. And the topic? Cryptography, of course:
A successful PhD defence is one of the great achievements in academia, and to listen to the great knowledge that someone has built up and the contribution they have made to technology is a great honour to be involved with.
As an academic, you never stop learning about presenting, and I love picking up new techniques for engaging an audience. And yesterday I learnt from a great master: Andreas Antonopoulos. His talk was amusing, inspirational, visionary, off-the-cuff, and relevant. I recommend that anyone who speaks at events watch a true master at work. He seemly blended the key talking points in the news, and blended his visions. It was, in no way, a corporate sell, but a sledge hammer that hits you with sheer passion.
For Andreas it was a perfect day to present, as Facebook had just released a white paper on their new cryptocurrency. For him, everything will change and that Silicon Valley is now gunning for the banks.
To him, money is a form of political speech, and that there are now three forms of money: Money of government (fiat currency) … Money of people (pure cryptocurrency) … Money of corporations (Libra):
Facebook is the first of the FAANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google) and which, he thinks, are now emerging as a major threat to our banking industry. He adds Uber and Twitter, too, as company whose might could bring down existing practices. His warning call is to banks and governments to understand these new dynamics, and either adopt and change, or collapse against the might of the FAANGs.
Andreas flows seamlessly from topic to topic, and is a joy to watch. While we now see so many presentations at conferences, it is often the ‘same old’ corporate chat, Andreas is in no way on the side of the large corporates, and sends a warning signal to the banks, in that they have had ten years to deal with cryptocurrency, and have failed to properly adopt it. For him, he says that banks should look to the music industry to see how they failed to cope with the rise of streaming services.
It was a complete joy to listen people — in my home city — who do not tell you how wonderful this modern world is and the future will be filled with amazing smart cities. A university should be a place where debate thrives, and where people here different ideas, and can make their own mind up as to which viewpoint is the rights one.
Want to get involved? Well, we are hosting a Blockchain and Cryptography conference on 4 September 2019, and taking it around the world, so get ready for that. No matter where you are in the world, hopefully, you will be able to get involved. We need more debate in our world, and to build bridges, and share our knowledge.
To stand on the same stage as two people I learnt so much from — in my home city — will be one of the highlights of my university career.
What I loved about the talks, was that both of these people have an amazing technical background, but they were able to build on this, and paint pictures that showed the important of technology for our future, and the risks that it will bring. They showed changing structures in our society, and rang alarm bells for those to listen too.
So, go learn, share knowledge, go education others, and please be part of the debate in building a better world. You will agree with some things, and not with others, but form your own opinion, and contribute to the debate. Unfortunately our politicians are often failing to see the new world evolving.
Thank you to IBM, Satisnet and MBN Solutions for enabling the event, and for their believe in opening up debate in the rebuilding of our world.