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Imbrex in November: Devcon3, National Association of Realtors, Major Updates Coming

Hello Imbrex Community,

It’s been an eventful seven days that has taken us on an international journey to the core of the respective blockchain and real estate industries. First, the team attended Devcon3 — the Ethereum Foundation’s annual Developer Conference — in Cancun, and then presented at the National Association of Realtors Annual Conference in Chicago!

Devcon3 was a four-day marathon featuring:

  • Back-to-back presentations on groundbreaking Ethereum research and core development talks
  • Demos and technical discussions of decentralized applications (dApps)
  • Tools and frameworks for building dApps, and for connecting with existing systems and services, the need for privacy and for data, and for scale
  • Calls for standards and formal verification, for continued diversity and openness, and for more developers
  • Shoutouts and a general vibe of appreciation for those who’ve been paving the way, as well as a spotlight on several social impact projects.

It’s tempting to try to summarize the many, many talks, to try to recreate the experience of being packed into a breakout room — because we all want to hear what everyone is working on in this space — but instead we’ll refer you to the agenda here, and the session recordings here.

That said, quoting Cornell University professor, Emin Gun Sirer, and echoing his excitement about it: probably the most significant aspect of the Ethereum blockchain is that it is being built by “a science-driven, constructive community”.

Three themes of particular interest to us at imbrex are cryptoeconomics, smart contract security, and data storage/dissemination.

Presentations like Karl Floersch’s “Programming Incentives — An Intro to Cryptoeconomics,” and Gregory Landua and Risto Karjalainen on “The Data Mechanics of Saving the Planet” were accessible and enlightening in regards to what is possible when you apply game theory to a science-driven pursuit of good outcomes.

Karl Floersch: “Programming Incentives — An Intro to Cryptoeconomics”, Devcon3, Cancún, Mexico.
Gregory Landua: “The Data Mechanics of Saving the Planet”, Devcon3, Cancún, Mexico.

The next theme we enjoyed was geared towards writing simpler, safer contracts. Emin Gun Sirer’s “Challenges Ahead for Smart Contracts” listed a basic set of additional verifications developers should perform when writing smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain, vs when developing software in the usual way, and they are:

  • The contract is fair to all participants.
  • The contract is truthful or incentive-compatible.
  • Late voters are not disadvantaged.
  • It’s designed to be regret-free.
  • The contract maximizes social utility/outcomes.

In the science-driven pursuit of good outcomes, these are the challenges, and also the fundamental differentiators and intrinsic value of smart contracts.

Emin Gun Sirer: “Challenges Ahead for Smart Contracts”, Devcon3, Cancún, Mexico.

We love data, so learning about Town Crier’s authenticated data feed, as part of Sergey Nazarov’s “Secure Decentralized Oracles: Applying Intel SGX and TownCrier to external data, payments and off-chain computation” talk, was fascinating. Town Crier is creating a secure communication channel (think of it like a bridge) between smart contracts and HTTPS enabled websites. Town Crier contracts would provide imbrex the ability to securely query outside data such as interest rates (LIBOR) from an external HTTPS enabled website through a secure communication path. Town Crier is relying on Intel’s attestation service, Software Guard Extensions (SGX), which adds some complexity to delivery and timing, but we will certainly be following the project in great detail.

Sergey Nazarov: “Secure Decentralized Oracles: Applying Intel SGX and TownCrier to external data, payments and off-chain computation”, Devcon3, Cancún, Mexico.

But there was no time for soaking up the Cancun sun, as the imbrex Team quickly headed back to The States…

In Chicago, we participated in the National Association of Realtors’ The Sky’s The Limit Conference. There were approximately 20,000 brokers attending the conference, with talks ranging in subject from technology, demographic shifts, to marketing techniques.

Imbrex CEO Stephen King participated on the “Why Blockchain For Commercial Real Estate?” panel with John Mirkovic, Jennifer O’Rourke, David Conroy (NAR), and imbrex advisor Duke Long moderated. The panel’s title was a question we can answer all too well: “The blockchain provides a new system for disseminating real estate data. Instead of forfeiting control to centralized portals, we are provided a new infrastructure that enables sophisticated tracking, and enables ownership of our real estate information,” said Stephen.

By taking control of data, we decrease costs and create new monetization tools. Firms will have access to new data providers through systems that enable simple purchasing and licensing agreements. Broker workflow will improve immensely. Through data escrow contracts and broker proposal frameworks, transaction participants will be able to communicate in secure environments, while simultaneously creating organized, immutable records.

Overall, the panel provided an excellent in-depth synopsis on real estate transactions in terms of ownership recordation and regulation.

Stephen King, Jennifer O’Rourke, David Conroy, John Mirkovic: “Why Blockchain For Commercial Real Estate?” panel.

We concluded our trip Monday with several successful follow up meetings. Now, we are back at our keyboards preparing for the Pilot Program, which will see leading real estate firms from around the United States use the imbrex platform, working through a white paper update, and adding final tweaks to the new landing page. We will also be releasing another alpha update in the next week or so.

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