In mid-June our blockchain expert Stefan Hopf traveled to New York to attend the All Member Summit of the Blockchain Research Institute. The both state- and company-sponsored BRI supports more than 70 blockchain projects across multiple industries and is considered one of the leading think tanks in the field. Besides his job at Nunatak, Stefan has been working there as a researcher since May 2017. At the Summit he presented his whitepaper “Blockchain: The Emerging Platform for Manufacturing 4.0”. We asked Stefan about his trip to the Big Apple:
Stefan, what are the most important learnings from the event?
When so many international top experts meet to discuss a certain topic, it’s always about the big picture: how blockchain will change the economy and society of tomorrow. Though not exclusively: the summit was also very specifically concerned with the practical application of the technology. It offered an outlook on completely new business perspectives, especially when coupling blockchain with adjacent innovations such as AI and IoT. But as we all know: everything has its downside – the risks of the current developments were also discussed.
What are some of the risks for example?
It is becoming increasingly apparent that legislature is far behind the technological development. Global regulation on blockchain is still in its infancy and individual countries are often pursuing completely different approaches. This is fatal because blockchain, in many regards, knows almost no boundaries. Something has to happen very quickly here, because blockchain technology is much more than just an aspiration for the distant future.
What interesting people did you meet?
It was certainly interesting to meet the Canadian entrepreneurs Don and Alex Tapscott. In various publications they describe how the technology behind Bitcoin is changing not only the financial system, but the whole world. The event also created a bridge to practice. Numerous US companies such as FedEx or Procter & Gamble presented their pilot projects and for other blockchain pioneers, such as IBM, SAP, Accenture and Tencent, the summit was an obligatory visit as well. Furthermore professional exchange and networking were a part of it – with such a high-profile cast it is always inspiring and offers real added value.
Briefly describe what your lecture was about:
It is not at all easy to describe this in brief – after all, it is a highly complex topic. Essentially it was about the possible application of blockchain in production and in supply chains. I presented new research findings and showed how the technology can be used to improve cross-company data exchange and automate business processes.
How was the atmosphere in comparison to German events?
As often in the US, things were much more relaxed than at comparable events in Europe. The discussions were more open and less dogmatic.
The development of blockchain in the US vs. Germany: What are the differences and what are the similarities?
A major difference is that the US as a whole is more welcoming to experimentation and faster in practical application. The one thing I see in common is the great general interest in blockchain on the part of the industry.
Was there anything else noteworthy?
The talks with Chinese and Indian industry representatives made one thing clear: topics such as blockchain are picked up and driven forward with absolute determination. We in Europe need to keep up with the pace so that we do not fall behind.
Thank you, Stefan, for sharing your impressions.