Consensus 2018 Reporter’s Notebook: A Bitcoin Bet on Blockchain
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Discussions about interoperability focused on the myriad challenges of connecting different blockchains, protocols and currencies. But Litecoin Foundation creator Charlie Lee reminded Consensus attendees of the greater issue.

“The user isn’t the cryptospeculator, the user is the world,” Lee said. Pointing to the internet, he said, We built a system that created a more fair and decentralized session and evolved it into a system where 10 companies provide the on-ramps to the system… This is a second opportunity to go back to the drawing board… a globally owned and operated infrastructure operated by the crowd that uses it.”

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As part of touting the growth of the blockchain economy in New York City, James Patchett, president and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, rattled off a wide range of statistics. The number of blockchain job postings in the city have increased nearly tenfold, while venture capital has skyrocketed to $200 million. But one growth metric was particularly relevant: “The number of people who can concisely explain what blockchain is has increased from two to four!” he said, eliciting laughs.

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Consensus may have been home to the world’s first “blockchain-enabled beer dispenser,” a vending machine using identity technology from Civic to verify patrons’ ages. While it was a centerpiece of attention and selfies during lunch on Monday, the technology also generated a request from the Consensus stage.

“Next time, please include rosé and champagne,” IBM’s Bridget van Kralingen said.

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Cryptic Labs’ Dr. Whitfield “Whit” Diffie and other early cryptography innovators who were the inspiration for today’s decentralization movement were the focus of attention during a Monday afternoon session. “They not only invented the most important [development] in crypto” in centuries, but they also “wrested control of it from the government and made it part of humanity’s heritage,” said Zcoin’s founder and CEO Zooko Wilcox.

James Rubin contributed to this report.

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