Breaking Down the Silicon Valley Silo

Why interdisciplinary collaboration is the future of blockchain

When you think of the people involved in blockchain, who do you picture?

Likely, it’s someone from a tech or finance background who speaks in jargon and has a fixation on crypto prices.

But this crowd needs to get more diverse, fast. Getting people from all disciplines involved in blockchain development is more than just a nice idea — it’s necessary if we’re going to get the decentralized stack to a place where it can meaningfully compete with the centralized platforms of today.

Cardstack’s founding director Chris Tse participated in the panel discussion Critical Cross-Industry Implementation and Impact at the New York Institute of Technology’s Symposium Where Blockchain Leads that explored many questions examining the challenges blockchain technology faces if it is going to fulfill its biggest promises.

When asked about blockchain’s viability, Chris responded:

“Our goal is to humanize the blockchain, not just by making everybody buy into this one genesis idea of Bitcoin, but by really using that as a way to introduce a new set of possibilities to build the future network of tomorrow.”

We humanize the blockchain, Chris argues, through interdisciplinary participation:

“I really wish all the people who have humanities degrees, philosophy degrees, people who understand languages and how they develop, political system experts, to get involved in blockchain. Right now blockchain is really about writing smart contracts. For people who have been in IT long enough, that’s like writing stored procedures in databases. Really important — a lot of things are based on that and when you use an ATM I’m sure stored procedures are involved — but it’s not really the type of necessary ingredient for government bit networks.
“As the technology improves we might do more algorithmic governance on blockchain; we might include more economic models and embed them within the token mechanisms, we may move beyond monetary economics on blockchain to fiscal economics — taxation, donations, royalties — and these are the things that are being designed in these new projects. But we really need more than just technologists to come together . . . the people with different sensibilities just need the permission and invitation for this to be the petri dish to experiment and implement new ideas as blockchain matures beyond just a database technology.”

Cardstack’s vision for the future of blockchain is that of mass, diverse participation. We want to help make that possible through the Cardstack’s Hub ability to make the decentralized Internet more approachable for both end users and developers.

Chris cautioned that if we don’t onboard those who have been historically excluded from tech, we can only expect more of the same:

“I think it’s important to look at the contrast between a place like Mountain View or Silicon Valley — the type of sensibility where there’s a libertarian techno-utopia is pretty monolithic. You can go up and down 101 and get pretty much the same story along the way. And the technology that came out of that [sensibility] reflects that — not quite monoculture, but certainly a pretty synchronized vision of where the world is. So the world is now a version of that, and we have really spent 10 years just buying into Silicon Valley.”

Watch the archived event footage here.

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Illustration: Chris Gardella for Cardstack.