#FutureFest Live: Bitcoin, Blockchain and Cryptoeconomics

Words by Hannah Murphy. Photos, video, audio and Cryptocity twitter by Eilidh Wagstaff. 

#FutureFest 2015

Cryptocity took a trip to this year’s #FutureFest at the Vinopolis near London Bridge. The multi-format festival brought together thinkers, makers and performers to discuss different visions of the future. The programme was split into different categories:

Future Democracy, Future Global, Future Machines, Future Money, Future Music, Future Thrills

Of course, Cryptocity was most interested in the Future Money talks and events, which included a look at Bitcoin and the blockchain in particular, though we tried to get a sample of everything for you all.

Highlights

Reflections on FutureFest from Nesta UK on Vimeo.

15/03/15 17.32 – 

After a long day and lots of debate at #Futurefest, that’s it from us at Cryptocity. Keep up with the site for the latest cryptocurrency news. Over and out.

15/03/15 17.10 – 

All these politicians have got us thinking…

What do you reckon, Cryptocitites?

15/03/15 16.00 – 

Cryptocity ended a day of blockchain discussions listening to the politicians thrash it out over the future of democracy in light of new technologies. Will voters get more power to directly engage in politics?


15/03/15 15.10 – 

Digital Politics

Not strictly a discussion about bitcoin or blockchain technology, but we are going to see Labour policy tsar Jon Cruddas and the Green Party’s Natalie Bennett in a debate on ‘digital democracy’ shortly.

15/03/15 14.59 – 

Future Money?

Tough questions on the future of money: What’s next after bitcoin? Could we have a currency made up of individual’s time?

Future Money sign asks what's next after Bitcoin?
What is currency going to look like in future?

15/03/15 14.55 –

Stacy’s soundbite has instigated one twitter user to write a Bitcoin anthem:


15/03/15 14.44 – 

Stacy Herbert on Bitcoin

Cryptocity met with television presenter Stacy Herbert of the Keiser report, proudly wearing a Dark Wallet t-shirt.

Stacy Herbert in a Dark Wallet tshirt at #Futurefest
Stacy Herbert at #Futurefest

Stacy told us the best case scenario for the future of Bitcoin:

You’ll get cyber-hackers stealing your money instead of bankers, Stacy adds.

15/03/15 14.13 – 

The blockchain explained via the medium of cartoon…

15/03/15 14.30 – 

Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum, on blockchain

Vitalik Buterin spoke to Cryptocity about potential future applications of blockchain technology:

15/03/15 13.25 – 

So how do we decentralise?

Get rid of evil the middleman, says Vitalik!

Despite this, he points out that the middlemen can actually be useful – Uber and credit card companies are given as examples.

15/03/15 13.22 – 

Building a decentralised service is the strongest way for an application develop to pre-commit not to be a jerk (and not to shut down) forever.

15/03/15 13.15 – 

Future blockchain potential

Vitalik says people are interested in blockchain as a platform for distributing governance – in a transparent way.

The blockchain and contracts

Anyone can launch a decentralised system and push it onto the Blockchain. In a way, he says, doing this is like creating a service with a built-in constitution.

Facebook, and other internet services, have these terms which say I’m allowed to do this, I’m not going to do that, but the question…is how do you actually know that the service is going to follow these rules?

With the blockchain, you can run the service inside of a smart computer, rather than through a written contract. The terms of the service get translated directly into code. And voila, it’s there for everyone to see and available forever.

15/03/15 13.05 – 

The first thing Vitalik takes issue with is the title of the talk which took place earlier that morning (Blockchain: How encryption will shape the economics and politics of the future)

Nothing in the cryptocurrency is encrypted…Blockchain technology is about transparency not about privacy…proving who you are, enabling authenticity

The Blockchain, he insists, is fully transparent, and transactions are recorded for ever.


15/03/15 13.00 – 

Cryptoeconomics and the Machine Economy

Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum, opens his talk by saying he’s not going to stick with the title of his talk. He’s been monitoring the discussions of the blockchain this morning, and the first thing he’s realised is that nobody really understands the blockchain. He could be right…

15/03/15 12.24 – 

Time for some virtual reality…

Preparing for the virtual reality ride
Prepare for the ride of your life #Futurefest

15/03/15 12.00 – 

We caught up with Andrew Carl Dwyer, a Cyber Security Phd student at Oxford University, who told us about the dangerous potential of the blockchain.

15/03/15 11.50 –

Out and about at #Futurefest

Being at a futuristic festival has its uses….

Charge your phone at #Futurefest
Charge your devices at #Futurefest

15/03/15 11.40 – 

And the twitter users gave their two pennies:

15/03/15 11.30 –

We spoke to audience member Tom Blaikie to get his take on this morning’s debate on the blockchain.

15/03/15 11.20 – 

15/03/15 11.15 – 

The floor is now open for questions.

One gentleman asks about the Blockchain’s capacity to absorb ‘shocks’. Intermediaries – such as central banks – are able to act to deal with shocks to their system as happened during the financial crisis. But, being decentralised, the blockchain doesn’t have those options.

Brett Scott acknowledges the dangers to a decentralised currency network: that those with power can in fact use it to get more power.

We need to complement attempts to decentralise with attempts to form cohesion.


15/03/15 11.10 – 
Stacy mentions the fact that Blythe Masters, one of the former-JP Morgan team who developed the ‘credit derivatives’ which were so instrumental in the financial crisis, has moved into Bitcoin. This shows banks like JP Morgan have really studied Bitcoin and see its potential.

15/03/15 11.05 – 

Of course, there is anonymity for those who has the technical know-how says Stacy Herbert, referencing the Dark Wallet.

15/03/15 11.00 – 

So, what is the Blockchain?

A public ledger of all transactions in the Bitcoin network that have ever been executed. The ‘blocks’ are added to the blockchain in chronological order.

And what does this mean for Bitcoin?

Speaker Jorge Timon, co-founder of Blockstream, says that Bitcoin and the blockchain is not anonymous, despite making it hard to follow and trace transactions.

He adds that we are still finding out the different uses for blockchain technology – it’s a common misconception that this can be used for anything and everything.

15/03/15 10.50 – 

Brett Scott
Brett Scott, author of the ‘Financial Hacker’, shares his views on Blockchain technology

Enter Brett Scott, author and ‘financial hacker’, introducing us to Bitcoin.

Brett says the best way to think about Bitcoin is as the same, rather than in contrast, to current payment systems.

The key difference is that the intermediary is a decentralised network rather than ‘untrustworthy humans’.


15/03/15 10.34 – 

Blockchain: How Encryption Will Shape the Economics and Politics of the Future

Good Morning! We are at our first debate of the day.

Starting up, Stacy Herbert, Co-Presenter of the Keiser Report is talking about the first time they covered Bitcoin. Following the programme, the negative comments from the audience flooded in:

It appears to be a fast-moving Ponzi scheme

14/03/15 20.05 – 

So here’s the schedule for Future Fest this Sunday (click to expand). First up tomorrow morning, a debate on how encryption will shape the economics and politics of the future…

Schedule for Future Fest on Sunday 15th March
Schedule for Future Fest on Sunday 15th March

14/03/15 19.55 – 

We’ll be live-blogging the Sunday event.

There’s already been some top feedback on the Saturday event – read an overview here – and twitter has given us a sneak peak into what to expect for tomorrow.

And one thing we are particularly pleased about…

14/03/15 19.44 –

#FutureFest 2015 Live

Cryptocity is getting geared up to head to Future Fest tomorrow. With the likes of Edward Snowden, Vivienne Westwood and Jon Ronson talking about what the world might be like for years to come, we are looking forward to meeting robots, riding the mind-powered rollercoaster and of course, discussing the future of money and cryptocurrency.

We will be attending two talks specifically on cryptocurrency and the blockchain, and then seeing what else is going on as people discuss the future!

By Hannah Murphy and Eilidh Wagstaff

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