Live Blog: Consensus 2016 Conference, Day 1

7:12AM

This morning I woke up at 4:am to a price alarm I had set for BTCUSD. I shrugged it off, but after a bit of grumbling decided I should check to see if there was more to it. All of my chat groups and social media circles were lit up with news of Gavin Andresen vouching for Craig Wright as the real Satoshi. Immediately I knew it was going to be a tough week for Bitcoin and, more specifically, the Bitcoin Core team.

Almost immediately people were debunking this “proof of Satoshi” as insufficient. That quickly escalated to Bitcoin Core assessing Gavin as some flavor of “compromised”. Whether via a hack, greed, ego, or government force, it became necessary to revoke Gavin’s commit access, his ability to change the code within the main repository for Bitcoin.

I’m here now with Bryan Bishop, waiting for Eric Lombrozo. Bitcoin Core is preparing statements for media, and for anything that may come at us and the Bitcoin world this week.

There is talk that Craig Wright intends to release a second wave of “evidence” tomorrow as well. Needless to say, this will be an action-packed week and conference.

7:53AM

For those interested, here are a number of references showing lack of credibility of Craig Wrong:

https://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/4cqjrn/maxwells_claims_re_satoshis_pgp_keys_ignorant/d1l55ch
https://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/3w027x/dr_craig_steven_wright_alleged_satoshi_by_wired/cxslii7
https://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/3w3y2d/satoshis_pgp_keys_are_probably_backdated_and/
http://motherboard.vice.com/read/satoshis-pgp-keys-are-probably-backdated-and-point-to-a-hoax
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10702001
https://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/3vzgnd/bitcoins_creator_satoshi_nakamoto_is_probably/cxsa9hs

People are starting to fill into the main room now for opening ceremonies and keynotes.

If you want a more granular, less flavorful, live-blogging experience today, Bryan Bishop will also be transcribing everything that hits his ears here: http://diyhpl.us/wiki/transcripts/coindesk-consensus-2016/

8:13AM

Ryan Selkis walks onto the stage to theme music from Kill Bill. He mentions the event will have more than 150 speakers, and that even though tickets are sold out, he’ll allow Craig Wright in if he shows up (crowd lols).

He’s still doing sponsor mentions, talking about etc. He included some sort of joke about Bitcoin Core that no one understood, and mentioned something like “I thought I’d get more of a reaction, I guess this really is a Blockchain conference.”

8:22AM

Garrick Hileman on stage show slides about the state of investment in the indursty, state of Bitcoin, state of Ethereum, more.

Classifies Currency companies separate from Blockchain companies, from Hybrids. Q1 this year is first time where investment in Blockchain companies exceeded investment in Bitcoin companies.

He wants to keep his comments on Bitcoin brief now. Notes it has doubled in price and quantity of ATMs YoY. Hashrate up 3x. Notes BTC price has been relatively stable, and that it’s a bad thing. He feels volatility attracts traders, etc. Notes exchange trading volume has gone up dramatically. He says Bitocin’s start to 2016 has been mediocre.

Slide shows picture of Zane Tacket commenting on scaling concerns. He’s elaborating on more challenges to Bitcoin, but notes issues could affect Ethereum too.

He’s moving on to Ethereum now. Ethereum had the best Q1 by far, up 1300%. Rising in search rankings. Talking about what makes Ethereum special and how smart contracts are killer app of blockchain. Usess example of automatic payment to dogwalker via a leash…

Current slide shows Linus Torvalds, Vitalik Buterin, and a question mark for Satoshi Nakamoto, talking about open source projects, painting Bitcoin as more troubled for lack of leader

Moving on to sentiment talk, showing wordcloud with “blockchain” larger than “Bitcoin”.

8:32AM

Compares blockchain to a Rorsarch test, people see different things within it. Noting diference between permissioned blockchains and permissionless ones. Showing slide of a matrix showing how some blockchains are platforms vs software vs public vs private. “R3 is an interesting example.”

4x more blockchain startups than a year ago. USA dominates but UK, Sweden, China, Canada follow. Hyperledger has 40 members, SWIFT getting into the game.

Wifi service intermittent…

8:39AM

Marco Santori on stage. He’s legal ambassador to the Delaware blockchain initiative. Notes Delaware was very savvy as to how blockchains work very early on. Introduces Jack Markell, Delaware governor.

Jack joke-announces that he is Satoshi. Will now explain what they are doing with ‘the blockchain’. Delaware is gold standard for company formation. Blockchain can eliminate counterparty risk and decrease costs, speed settlement and exchange more inexpensively.

Officially launching their blockchain, 4 parts.

8:50AM

Regulation – Reflecting a regulatory reform effort. “We don’t believe governments should be prescriptive”, should be “descriptive”. First state to create LLC. No immediate plans to regulate licensing of Blockchain businesses, they will observe to determine best practices.

Practical Needs of Businesses – Delaware blockchain will support new category of corporate shares: Distributed Ledger Shares. Allows immediate transactions of shares. Efficiency. Keep track of shareholder rights is normally frustrating and expensive. They see their ledger a great answer.

Aiding Companies to take advantage of all Delaware has to offer – Generally noting reason why Delaware is a good place for businesses.

I need a break.

9:43AM

Just finished a little pow-wow with various Core devs as they assess the day so far and get on the same page on dealing with media and the upcoming panel with Gavin. Met Paul Vigna, as he gathered some quotes from Bryan Bishop nd Eric Lombrozo. It’s electric here for us… despite the amzing lack of power outlets in this buidling.

We’re here bout to watch sound checks for the “Reaching Consensus on Open Blockchains” featuring Gavin Andresen, Vitalik Buterin, Neha Narula, and Eric Lombrozo. If this conference is a $200 pay-per-view event, then this is the title match. I can’t even guess how this will go, but I am excited…

10:17AM

The speakers are here backstage getting ready, I’m sitting with Bryan by the only electrical outlet in the room. Buterin is rocking his purple cat bag like a champ. Gavin just asked Eric if he’d mind increasing the block size a bit, pretty please. lol

In honor of Craig Wright being the Michael Jackson of blockchains, “Rock With You” is playing on the loudspeakers. I can’t help but dance in place…

10:30am

The event has begun. Moderation by Pindar Wong of VeriFi. Gavin says “I was not hacked. I believe is without a reasonable doubt Satoshi Nakamoto.”

They didn’t dwell on that topic just yet, but now Neha is explaining how the scene is becoming more academic and true to scientific processes.

Vitalik says blockchains not like any other system. Use analogy like English language required consensus or were developed by an institute, requiring agreement for new words, and then rvial insititutes forming.

What is Bitcoin Core? Eric says, the open source softwar project that builds the backbone of the Bitcoin network. Core trying to make a decentralized and compatible process to add new features without pushing people off network. Explaining benefits of segregated witness update that is coming soon.

Gavin notes there are roughly 7000 nodes not al running same software. Agrees with Eric that we need to get more serious about nailing down protocol definition.

Neha notes it’s frustrating to deal with everyone’s different definitions of consensus. She notes consensus alogrithms are not new, but using currency to secure open protocol is new and exciting.

Buterin says their spec is in English, not code. “Software that is finished is software that is dead.”

Discussing interoperability of open and closed ledgers. Vitalik announces a smart contract that has some interoperability with Bitcoin and Ethereum. Can be done with any chain.

Gavin says network effect for money is very strong and it’s natural the world wants there to be one money. Surprised how many alternatives exist to Bitcoin. Not surprised if tech from other chains ends up on Bitcoin anyway.

“Programmable money is really cool.” says Buterin.

Eric talking. Bitcoin Core does want specs in English too, but it’s hard to pin things down that way. Open to interpretation. Eric also says he’s excited to have smart contracts on multiple chains and is very promising. It’d be nice to stick with a layered model to make changes easier.

Pindar asking what community is doing to onboard new devs and people. Buterin says it’s difficult and hard to educate. Makes some digs about some efforts being controlled by boards and companies. I missed some of his comments, sry.

What is decentralization? Vitalik says it expresses the difficulty of collusion. Jokes that Bitcoin mining is 5-10 miners in china, almost like a chamber or House, with Core acting as another chamber.

Questions from audience.

Is anonymity worth sacrificing for convenience. “Sometimes” Buterin. “It depends” Gavin. A longer answer from Eric, noting how there are certain aspects you may want to reveal but should always be their own choice. Vitalik argues that privacy goes beyond just buying things people don’t want you to buy.

What is downside of immutability. Gavin says it makes things easier for law enforcement. Vitalike says overseas that Mexico atm was able to tell him balance in pesos and realized that his canadian bank had to share that info to them and being surprised.

Vitalik plugs Estonian identity project on Ethereum.

Closing remarks on open blockchains.

Future is bright, Gavin. Has huge faith in open process. Innovating is the key. It’s hard to keep track, plugs Reddit…

Vitalik makes dogecoin joke. He notes there are many different processes, antifragility comes from the whole ecosystem. The more people we have doing different things the better progress wil be had.

Neha notes we are still early in these processes, but crypto and databases are old. We are making it cutting edge. There is a lot of excitment about closed blockchains, but they are missing the point (Yes!).

We need to find ways to improve communications and do a better job getting everyone on same page, curing misinformation. We need to figure how we can find more services to build a more decentralized internet with proper incentives.

Gavin waxing on how Craig signed from block #1 a message of Gavin’s choosing. He feels like Wright is Satoshi. Says don’t ask questions about Wright, he won’t answer.

Vitalik arguing! Says Craig had an opportunity to prove himself properly but instead he chose to take a blog post path and only show sig to selected people. He said this fails signaling theory.

PRAISE BUTERIN!

Session over.

1:41PM Upgrading Capital Markets panel

Sorry for the break, had a long lunch various conversations about Bitcoin and Core, etc. I’ll try to fill in later…

Juthica Chou: CFTC does assert relevance in Bitcoin, it’s similar to other things they regulate. It’s unique in that regular businesses might also need to hedge their exposure to Bitcoin volatility.

Barry Silbert: Commenting on how Central Banks may issue digital currencies in the future as a tool to manage economy.

Bobby Lee is skeptical about central banks creating digital currencies.

Silbert counters that he is still confident there is appeal to a government to getting the game at some point. Feels giverment digital currency will happen.

Bobby: Concerned about such blockchains having no recourse.

What’s the future of DAO?

Barry: I am incredibly excited about the ethusiasm of Ethereum … but he senses there is a utopian view of society that he can’t see happening in the real world any time soon. it’s super interesting but concerned about smart contracts focusing on gambling, ponzi, and pyramid apps. I don’t think the world needs a decentalized Uber or AirBnB.

Bobby: DAOs not on the radar in China.

Michael Moro: Making commentary about provenance issues related to supply chains and other real world blockchain solutions people are trying.

Barry not a big fan of decentralize all the things. More interested in hybrid things, revenue shares, global securities issuance, all instantaneous, tradable. Auditability allows creation of new types of securities.

Do you expect non-financial markets to attract regulation?

Juthica: If there are problems that become excused, then probably.

How can blockchain decentralize existing lending markets?

Michael: In some ways it’s a correlary of p2p lending. If you can blockchain auditability aspects, then yes. Some processes could be cut out and reduce cost of capital.

Barry: You can level the playing field by spreading it internationally. If you can underwrite risks in the foreign markets, that’s empowering. Talking about BTCJam (in a positive light, sadly).

3:04PM

Generally, liveblogging the presentations is hit or miss content-wise. Since Bryan is transcribing, and now CoinDesk is cramping my style with their own live blog, maybe I can focus more on the experience and the conversations I’m having with people.

Civic

I spent some time learning about their product and how it works, as I have a particular interest in digital identity concepts, and what the digital world might look like if implemented correctly with reputation management features. Unfortunately, Civic isn’t quite as innovative as I thought it was and amounts to a privacy-invading initial authentication process for the consumer (think biometrics, etc). As a user it’s no different that current 2-factor authentication apps. It’s actually less secure in that sense, since they are aiming to make it a simple notification that you swip left or right to approve uses of your identity. For the banks or merchants that sign on, there are obviously many more benefits, as this would give them much more info and trust in their customers, even if still able to be compromised. I didn’t get meet Vinny, but he’ll be here tomorrow, so maybe I’ll bore him with how I think he should run his product 🙂

Earlier, over lunch, I sat with Eric Lombrozo and we discussed a pitch that a rep from the Bitcoin Foundation was giving us this morning about a protocol standards group. Think, Satoshi Roundtable, but quarterly and with actual power to influence when and how protocol changes are made. I was candid with the well-meaning lad, that the Foundation and Fenton may not be people capable or appropriate to solve or manage such things. I feel Core is making efforts to better communicate and would prefer to see that through, before forming central authorities that would mostly serve to throttle Bitcoin Core in practice.

I get the idea that one benefit of having me around, for Core, is I can say things that might be more politically tricky for them to say. This is behavior I’m happy to perfor, of course! Eric does feel Core can do better with connecting with the community, projects, and businesses concerned with Bitcoin protocol changes. Honestly, the sincerity of Eric and Bryan in their care for Bitcoin is palpable. I have no doubt that most core devs are probably the same way when it comes down to it.

Over lunch I got into deep debate with a nice fellow running a consumer-focused web-based Bitcoin wallet. It was a great conversation where we explored why on earth Gavin might be willing to sacrifice all his credibility if he is wrong about Craig Wright being Satoshi. I was also able to communicate some enlightening points as to why a 2MB block size hard fork is a shitty scaling solution. I get me Bitcoin Jesus points for the day I guess.

4:16PM

Building a Better Payment Rail

Back in the main ballroom now. Ryan Selkis introducing the next speakers. Again, please refer to Bryan’s transcriptions or CoinDesk’s liveblog if you details. I’m going to ty to focus on commentary.

Santander, Align Commerce, BitPesa, Ripple, Deloitte on stage. Hosted by Stan Higgins of CoinDesk. Suits talking about cross-border transactions. How to deal with places that don’t have hard-currencies. Talk of sub-Saharan Africa…

4:28PM

As an aside, I purchased a fancy limited edition Denarium Silver Ounce Bitcoin today, with a cool Bull on the face. I liked that I was able to purchase it with Bitcoin, and that they loaded it with a Bitcoin for me, as I was not able to buy this product online from them due to their inability to ship loaded coins to the USA. Happy to add it to my collection 🙂

That might be all my loging for today. I’ll be attending the CoinCenter gala later this evening, so if anything interesting happens, maybe I’ll check in again late tonight.

Thanks for reading!

 

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