Meetup Recap: Blockchain as a Social Technology

Cover for meetup Livestream 2019-01

In our first Meetup of 2019, we invited people to Werk1 to listen to three presentations around the topic of “Blockchain as a Social Technology”. The special thing about this Meetup was the decentralized nature of the event. Parallel to the event in Munich there was a meetup hosted by the University of Bayreuth and Fraunhofer FIT. The two locations were linked via a live video feed. Additionally we piped in guest speakers from remote locations in Denmark and the USA. Everything was broadcast in real time via a live stream on our website. You can rewatch the video here!

The first presentation was held by Jon Hearty, Business Development Director of Origin Protocol. He gave us some insights about blockchain-based decentralized marketplaces and the many social implications of this innovation. Moreover he talked about his blockchain platform for building decentralized marketplaces ‘Origin Protocol’.

According to Jon, many of today’s marketplaces that seem to be fully P2P have central companies sitting in the middle of all transactions which hoard and swallow the data to monetize it later. With the use of a blockchain-based decentralized marketplace, problems like these can be avoided. He sees four major advantages to Origin’s approach to decentral marketplaces.

  1. The drastic reduction of transaction costs. Companies who run the platforms often request high transaction fees for basically just matching a buyer and a seller. With the use of blockchain there is no need of an intermediary so that the transaction fees can be put back in the hands of the buyers and sellers.
  2. Redistribute value more fairly throughout the networks. Users have a major impact on the success of the platform but hardly benefit from it compared to the platforms’ founders or directors. Cryptoeconomic incentives provided by a blockchain powered platform to distribute the value more fairly within the platform so users also benefit as a network effects set in.
  3. Promote free and open commerce. Many marketplaces aren’t available all around the world, they are limited or banned to a special region or heavily regulated. In the face of regulation, a company who runs the platform is a single point of failure. Decentralized Platforms don’t have this characteristic which makes them able jump in where where platforms like Uber, AirBnB are banned or regulated.
  4. Making services available to the unbanked. Billions of users worldwide don’t have access to financial services but they do have access to cheap smartphones and therefore wallets to store their values. The unbanked can leap from traditional financial system and make transactions over a blockchain-based network.

Origin Protocol itself just launched a blockchain-based marketplace as a dApp (decentralized App). As underlying technology Orgin Protocol uses the Ethereum Blockchain and IPFS (InterPlanetary File System) for identity management. Go and check it out on https://dapp.originprotocol.com/#/.

Jon and Pablo over Video Call

Our second speaker of the Meetup was Pablo Velasco from the University of Aarhus who focuses on the digital culture through its technical infrastructures including the political and social aspects of technology. In his research, he deals with topics such as how the development of social technology happens and how it contributes to micropolitics such as how social relationships modify the outcomes of certain technologies.
As an example, technology can be used as a political tool for including or excluding relevant stakeholders in a system.

Regarding the blockchain technologies that rose up during the last years, Pablo said, that they can be merged together as a list of attempts of some sort of parallel payment system or decentralized, electronic money. In Bitcoin, for instance, the key element was the exchange of economic value using cryptography and this cryptography was a elementary need for the social integration of the technology.

He also pointed out how different technologies have impact on the social interaction. As an example, sending coins over a blockchain network requires a new and different trust paradigm and therefore builds up a new type of social interaction.

Rebecca and Anna-Laura during their presentation

In the third presentation Anna-Laura Liebenstund and Rebecca Johnson from the European Blockchain Association presented the importance of a governance model in decentralized organizations.

They pointed out why it is important to have regulations in the use of technology and how the interaction impacts our social behaviour as well as the way we think.

A key aspect was that we have to be very careful about the inputs, design processes and implicit cultural assumptions behind our development of new technology. Artificially intelligent agents, for instance, will always be a reflection of the training sets to develop them.

Technology without principals will become antisocial sooner or later.

As a result, we need governance as a framework for techno-social interactions. Recent projects like ‘the DAO’ failed and Bitcoin and Ethereum got forked because of inconsistent governance.

Therefore it will be important for decentralized organizations to establish common principles, ethical code of conducts, membership rules and a solid basis in existing social networks to ensure the durable success of the organization.

Anna-Laura during the presentation

We want to thank the speakers for their very interesting presentations on this, the opening meetup of 2019! Also, thank you to the team of Werk1 who provided the location, organized the catering as well as providing support for the A/V setup. And we thank ZD.B for supporting the meetup in general!

We also want to thank our audience in Munich and Bayreuth for attending. We hoped you enjoyed the Meetup. Feel free to give us your feedback.

Our next Meetup will take place on Tuesday March 19th, 2019 on the topic ‘Privacy by Design?’. We would be very happy to see you there again!

Blockchain Meetup 10: C8 – A Global Cooperative: Exchanging Assets, Services, Time And Money

Boyd Cohen

Sometimes, old ideas experience a renaissance triggered by the advent of a new technology. The decentralized architecture of the blockchain finds its equivalent in traditional co-operative schemes as they exist in many different shapes throughout the world.

In this meetup we will discuss how blockchain technology is used to shift power from centralized entities to cooperatives. The Collabor8 (C8) Community Token which aims to develop a protocol and token to support a global ecosystem of decentralized but interconnected platform coops focusing on P2P exchange of assets, services, money and time.

Boyd Cohen, C8’s Economy Director and the author of ‚Post-Capitalist Entrepreneurship‘ will present the community process of designing tokens and the cryptoeconomics needed to motivate people to work and interact in a decentralized, collaborative way.

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Blockchain Meetup 9: Blockchain, Quo Vadis?

Rob Habermeier

On blocks, tangles and meta-chains – what is the next step for Blockchain?

This time, we will return to the more technical aspects of blockchain: what is the actual state of different platforms, what’s going on with Bitcoin, IOTA, etc., and where does this all lead us to?

In the first talk, Datarella CEO Joerg Blumtritt will provide us with an outlook, especially on the following aspects:

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Blockchain Meetup 8: The State of the Initial Coin Offering ICO

Jamie Burke

ICOs are all the rage in the blockchain sphere, these days. Tales of hitherto unknown projects selling their tokens and raising millions of US-Dollars within hours or even minutes have made it to mainstream media. With the traditional Venture Capital VC model, another industry seems to be ready for disruption.

In the past 12 months, blockchain-related projects have raised 2.4 times more from ICOs than venture capital firms and early-stage investors.

Funds raised by blockchain-related organizations in the last 12 months

In this meetup, we will approach the ICO from different perspectives, trying to get hold of this phenomenon:

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Blockchain Meetup 7: Building Blocks – A blockchain-based Payment and Accounting Solution for the United Nations‘ WFP

WFP Building Blocks

Together with a team of the World Food Program WFP, the Datarella team will showcase the Building Blocks project. And where to better discuss this exciting project than in WFP’s office in the heart of Munich?

What started with a Proof-of-Concept in Pakistan in early January this year, has been transformed in a fully functional Blockchain pilot being rolled out in Jordan in May, 2017. The Building Blocks project not only demonstrates the power and the impact of blockchain technology enhancing to potentially enhance the lives of millions but it is proof of the efficiency of a humanitarian agency, such as WFP.

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Blockchain Meetup 6: IoT Blockchained

Dirk Siegel

We are very happy to have Dr. Dirk Siegel, Partner of Deloitte, to discuss the question: Blockchain and IoT – A promising model?

Dirk is Partner with Deloitte and leads the Deloitte Blockchain Institute in Germany. He has 25 years of consulting experience in Financial Services, both Banking and Insurance. Throughout his career he has been exploring the interplay between business processes and technology. Dirk holds a PhD in Applied Mathematics from Cambridge University.

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Blockchain Meetup 5: Is Code Law?

Markus Kaulartz

We’re happy to combine technological and legal aspects of the blockchain, and of Ethereum based smart contracts in particular, in this meetup. With Jutta and Markus, we have two veritable experts in their respective fields speaking.

Dr. Jutta Steiner, co-founder Parity Technologies Ltd, will join us and present the latest release of the Parity Ethereum browser. So, beside the fascinating legal aspects of smart contracts, this meetup will feature some hardcore blockchain tech, too!

After the Parity 1.5 briefing, we’ll move over to the legal aspects of smart contracts:

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Blockchain Meetup 4: Finance Industry Blockchain Use Cases

Dr. Markus Hablizel

After our deep dives into Ethereum Solidity, some Ethereum showcases in the energy sector with RWE and last meetup’s cultural shock with Meredith L. Patterson facing us with major security issues of Turing-complete machines, we want to focus on the finance industry and its respective blockchain use cases in this meetup.

We are very happy to have Dr. Markus Hablizel, blockchain evangelist (the organizer’s wording) of Allianz, an insurance company, presenting some perspectives of corporate blockchain use cases.

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Blockchain Meetup 3: Hacking the Blockchain

Flight Delay dApp

KEYNOTE: Meredith L. Patterson

Mainstream media often presents the blockchain as a universal weapon against all kinds of fraud and hacks. Our keynote speaker,technologist and biopunk Meredith L. Patterson will take a dive into the security aspects of the blockchain, smart contracts, etc..

Meredith L. Patterson is a software engineer and security researcher living in Brussels, Belgium. She co-chairs the IEEE Workshop on Language-Theoretic Security, having started the field in 2005. She holds a B.A. and an M.A. in linguistics and currently works for Nuance Communications.

We are proud to have Meredith who is known for her work in computational linguistics and its applications to computer security.

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Blockchain Meetup 2: Global Chained Delivery Network

Carsten Stöcker, RWE AG, working in the ‘RWE Innovation Hub’ on blockchain technology use cases, will present and discuss his perspective on:

A Global Chained Delivery Network

• Sharing, Decentralisation, Access to Assets, New Forms of Value Exchange

• Physical Delivery and different types of delivery networks

• Chained Delivery Networks

• Example Use Cases

Some of us might have heard about this project of Carsten’s team: a teamwork with slock.it to explore some use cases in the energy sector.

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