Building Bridges

I have never enjoyed zero sum thinking.

I am an eternal optimist and my view is that most humans are essentially good people.  Who wants wars, famine and conflict?   Surely it is better to collaborate where that makes sense, and not to sabotage each other where our goals are not aligned?

I have been told that I am too altruistic.  That I need to be a little more selfish.  And perhaps it is true, but that is something which is an effort for me.  It is a stretch from my default position, where I always seek to build a better future for humanity and for my children.

Integrity and transparency are really important to me.  I don’t want to wear a mask.  I don’t want there to be a business Bob and a personal Bob.   You get the same Bob whoever you are and whatever the context.  It is this one, here with my friend and fellow Vancouver blockchainer, Chelsea Palmer (AKA Ms Gnu) at Decentralized Web Summit last week:

IMG_20180731_160106

Last November I started maintaining a Conflict of Interests Statement on my website, so everyone on the planet can know who I am and what my financial incentives are.  I want there to be no doubt whatsoever about the purity of my intentions.

Somebody asked why would I do this?  Was I running for office or something?  I replied:

Well here we are.  Nine months further on and I am running for office.

I am standing for election to the Hyperledger Technical Steering Committee (TSC) because I have unfinished business in building what I see is the most important bridge of all to help blockchain reach its full potential: The bridge to mainstream adoption.

800px-Golden_Gate_Bridge_Golden Gate Bridge in the Evening Sun (Creative Commons Attributed 3.0 Unported)

As I wrote more than two years ago in my Ethereum Everywhere blog post while I was attempting to bridge the Ethereum and Hyperledger communities for the first time:

Corporations will build blockchain technology irrespective of what we do.   It is already happening.

Just as both Intranets and the Internet have a role to play, so do public and private/consortium chains.    Maximalist thinking is not particularly helpful here.

The real world never works in black-and-white, and demonizing people with similar but not identical goals is self-defeating.

And I still love this quote:

cow.png

So maybe the world was not ready for such a public <-> enterprise blockchain bridge in 2016, but I see a real shift in that thinking in the meantime.  Maximalism of all forms is melting away as more and more people realize that a one-size-fits all solution is very unlikely for blockchain.

There are use-cases where public permissionless chains make sense, where public permissioned chains make sense, where consortium chains make sense, where private chains make sense, where throughput trumps decentralization, where security is paramount over performance.   We need scaling on-chain, off-chain, with sidechains, child-chains, with sharding, with alternative consensus.   We need privacy features.   We need interchain solutions.   We need content-addressable storage solutions with incentive layers.  We need standard libraries, frameworks, debuggers, testing tools, better IDE integration, formal verification, and much more more.

Nobody has all the answers, but many of us are on parallel journeys and would be better served by sharing the road.

R3 are now building a public network and Richard Crook’s Cordite project is building enterprise tokens on Corda:

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance which I helped to bring to life in early 2017 recently published the EEA Enterprise Ethereum Client Specification 1.0.

ConsenSys have announced that they will release a new Enterprise grade Ethereum client this October at DEVCON4:

IBM are experimenting with building a USD stablecoin on Stellar.   Their joint venture with Maersk will undoubtedly require some means of settlement as well.

We.trade has popped into existence.  We had the latest phase of Project Ubin in Singapore not so long back.   IBM and ConsenSys’s work in Dubai aiming to migrate all government systems to blockchain by 2020 continues.  The owner of the NYSE is partnering with Microsoft and Starbucks on a Bitcoin exchange.

We are starting to make steps towards regulatory clarity.

We are not playing games anymore.  This is seriously impactful stuff.   What might have looked like hard lines between public and private and between different technology bases in 2015/2016 are rapidly blurring.

As John Wolpert said so well in his recent Bring on the Stateful Internet post:Screen Shot 2018-08-07 at 10.28.58 PM

There is no conflict here.  His conclusion is spot-on:

Screen Shot 2018-08-07 at 10.31.17 PM

This is the same perspective which I would bring to my work on the Hyperledger Technical Steering Committee.  This is not a zero sum game.  We need to work together across all of these technologies, and to have a neutral forum where we can all collaborate on the open source projects which underpin both commercial and non-commercial efforts.   Same as Linux.  Same as the web.

Say hello to the Hyperledger Greenhouse:

I have done lots of interviews and conferences in the last year or two and they are all up on my website if you would like to get more of a flavor of where I am coming from.

My door is always open to communication.   Here are all of the ways you can contact me, but I am most active on Twitter.

Have a great day!

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