Chatting With Blockchain Veteran Yemel Jardi

Discussing crypto, the future of tech, VR, and magic.

Yemel is a board member of Decentraland. A seasoned Blockchain engineer, he worked on ChangeTip, building a micropayment infrastructure for the web, before it was acquired by Airbnb in 2016. Before that, he was a Software Engineer at BitPay (the leading Bitcoin payment processor) where he crafted some of the most widely used open source tools utilized by Bitcoin developers worldwide, such as the Bitcore library. He is a Professor of Cryptocurrencies at the Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires, and Chairman of the South American Business Forum.

How did you become obsessed with the future of technology?

I’ve always been fascinated by technology and human ambition for pushing the limits of what’s possible. When I was studying software engineering in college, I remember being in a class on Communication Protocols, reading old mailing lists and RFCs of the web. I thought it would be great to be part of that, a conversation that will shape the future’s open standards.

When did you get involved with crypto specifically?

In 2013, I heard about Bitcoin and immediately understood the potential it had to change the world. I knew that it was just getting started. By 2014, I was working full-time building open source software on bitcoin. The future of blockchain has a long way to go. I’m excited.

Your latest project involves virtual reality. What impact will that have on daily life?

As with the internet, VR will change everything, especially if the ecosystem is built correctly. First, it allows people to express their creativity with fewer tools, lowering the barriers that prevent people from joining the global workforce. Second, it can promote communities and relationships: anybody, anywhere will be empowered to learn from any community they wish. Finally, working will be revolutionized with VR. We’ll likely see the first truly borderless organizations.

Why are you building a decentralized VR platform?

I love how games have the capacity to align diverse people to cooperate towards a common goal. It’s really incredible how so many online communities have formed based on open source values. Combining a VR platform with open source ideals could have a major impact on the future of technology, something competing platforms can’t match due to their centralized natures.

Why is now the right time to build Decentraland?

VR is about to go mainstream. Falling hardware prices and increased availability will push demand for content up fast. To deliver on that demand, developers and users need an unrestrictive way to produce and consume VR experiences.

Decentraland is the only platform that gives VR developers and users what they really want: full control.

I’m confident that VR users will choose a decentralized platform (similar to the internet) over something completely controlled by a corporation like Facebook.

Why do you believe Decentraland is so much bigger than a VR world?

Nowadays, VR experiences are disconnected. You need to download and launch each one separately. Web applications worked because their interconnectivity. A connected world of virtual experiences is how VR will take off. That’s what we’re building: the open source protocol powering VR.

What would you say to aspiring computer engineers?

At the age of 13, I got into magic. I studied and performed for several years before diving into software engineering. I love the quote by Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Working with software and technology every day has delivered on that promise.

What do you do outside of “work”?

I teach the crypto-currency class at ITBA, my alma mater. It’s still very early days, so interacting with bright and curious minds has been incredibly valuable. I’m also the Chairman at SABF, a local NGO organizing a global conference for young leaders. To relax, I practice yoga and play football when I’m not hanging out at our hacker house.

Favorite book?

The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance, by Joshua Waitzkin.

Biggest role model?

Jonathan Blow. He has this amazing talent to express ideas through gaming. His talk on “deep work” moved me.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee :)

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