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College of Mount Saint Vincent, Riverdale ​our future economy will be much more decentralized we've all heard stories of robots to have wallets or of drones that are going to be making last mile deliveries but these future stories they found a little random right they don't ground us in an understanding about where we're headed and where our economy's headed and there's sort of a reason for that mostly it's because we actually use the same part of our brain to imagine the future as we do to remember the past so we're sort of stuck with old paradigms things that don't necessarily help us explain some of our innovations forward so today I actually want to use some of those old paradigms the stories of how we've done economics and trade for a long time to help imagine where we're headed and why we're headed into an decentralized economy so if you think back to our early agrarian days we used to trade much more one-to-one we had a lot of direct control over our trade because we lived in these smaller societies but as the distance in our trade grew and the complexity grew we ended up with a lot more uncertainty over how our trades were going to go to cope with that uncertainty we basically built up institutions institutions like banks government entities different rules that helped codify our exchange over greater distances and act as middlemen to facilitate our trade now eventually we put these same institutions online we built platform marketplaces like Amazon eBay Alibaba and these really are just a continuation of this story another institution that helps us lower our uncertainty about one another at greater and greater distances so that we can do business together now that's kind of a fast history of economics but we're actually changing yet again and now instead of relying on these traditional institutions even the digital ones we've actually created a technology but does the exact same thing and lowers our uncertainty about one another but instead of using an institution or a middleman to do this we're actually using blockchain technology so I want to tell you a little more about blockchain and why it's at the core of what we talk about as this decentralized economy now blockchain is kind of a buzzword you've probably heard it in different innovation forums and and talked about in different ways but I actually like to use rather familiar analogy to help bring that sort of more to light what does blockchain really do and the analogy is that of a checkbook so when you go to write a cheque which maybe you do today or you don't anymore you are basically writing down the terms of a transaction right I'm gonna pay you X dollars and I sign it at the bottom with my name to authenticate it and then eventually your bank and my bank will use our routing numbers and the account numbers to execute that transaction now over time as you fill out all the checks in a checkbook you end up with a bunch of different carbon copies left over and this is essentially what we can call a block of data in a blockchain a block really just represents a lump of different transactions that have happened over a period of time that are cryptographically linked to a set of previous transactions and so they form a chain now the main difference here though is that instead of using your bank in my bank to transact and execute our transactions we're actually using a whole network of computers that are running the same software and coming to agreement around the transactions that happen and so we've created a system to you eliminate a middleman of sorts because there's no central administrator to this network it's literally run by all of the participating nodes so this gives us like a global decentralized database of all of these transactions kind of like a global version of everybody's checkbook now if we think about the story of the internet we have a similar evolution with blockchain we have public block chains similar to sort of our public Internet they're free they're free and open to everyone anyone can read or write to it the same way you can with our current internet we also have private blockchains and private blockchains look more like an intranet they're scoped to a set of known participants the same way you could scope an intranet to a company and they can have slightly different governance structures so we have sort of both of these architectures public block chains that anyone can read or write to and then more private versions now this all started in 2008 with the publication of a white paper that described Bitcoin as a peer-to-peer electronic cash system now today I think that coins that around 94 billion dollar market cap in a rather short amount of time but we've actually already evolved past this original architecture it coin functioned much more as a tool for these more financial transactions similar to the checkbook example I described between accounts but today we've actually gone past that we've created newer block chains like the etherium Network and others that actually generalize this infrastructure and allow us to do many kinds of transactions across this peer-to-peer set of intertwined computers so today we can actually think of modernday block chains as global decentralized virtual computers so it's thinking of this architecture as one large computer that you can actually write applications to and have executed in this decentralized way without middlemen so the technology stack for block chains is not that dissimilar from our digital technologies today we have core infrastructure


so for the internet that's things like tcp/ip and SMTP the protocols that define how our networks communicate for blockchain we have core protocols as well those that define the Bitcoin network or the etherium network or others we also have middleware right in our modern digital lives that's things like api's and libraries and then in blockchain that's more like a client that you use to communicate with the core infrastructure and then at the top we have applications if we think about our digital era we use many many kinds of applications everything from email to things like uber now today in blockchains we're seeing a proliferation of application experiments people are starting to try different proofs of concept to imagine how we can use a decentralized infrastructure to run software so this application space is quite different and the main difference for blockchain applications is that they actually run on something called smart contracts so think back to that checkbook example cheques are actually a sort of contract right there are an IOU they're the terms of the deal and they're signed we can actually use that same thinking and apply it to anything that you can write as as computer readable so any kind of terms if this then that that you can write in code can get executed across this decentralized computer this allows us to automate not only business logic so the terms of our deal but actually also governance and it's an important step towards a decentralized economy so this future might still sound rather abstract and strange or far off but I wanted actually take it a little bit further when we think about all of these times that we've innovated in history to allow us to lower our uncertainty about one another but expand the scope and scale of our trade we've done this in different iterations but we're still talking about sort of trade right we're talking about a buyer and a seller well I want to take it one step further and have you think about what goes underneath our trade what are the goods and products that we trade in general and this is something people don't often think about but basically everything we buy or use has a supply chain it comes from somewhere from some raw material and goes through many different kinds of transactions to end up as a finished good so when we talk about starting to decentralize the architecture by which we trade and transact we can start to imagine more decentralized supply chains as well because those are just a set of transactions that end up in a finished good what this means is we need to actually go beyond thinking about trade to thinking about how we design make deliver and even coordinate all of these products as they flow in our global trade now don't get me wrong our modern supply chains are innovating in lots of ways we have many different kinds of sort of AI or intelligence at the top that are starting to help us make better decisions about forecasting on demand or even on the supply side we're using a lot of these algorithms to just help make better decisions based on the information we have we also have this sort of middle layer of much more connected devices all of the things you've seen outside of this room that are getting embedded as sensors and connected devices or smart machines across our manufacturing our production our distribution and logistics systems so we're seeing machine or 80 and devices give us a lot more real-time information and help us sort of understand what's happening with our products over time but this bottom layer this this term that we use called maintaining Network State we've actually never really had this and part of the reason is most of these systems these intelligent systems or even the devices we're using they communicate with a set of specific enterprises they're scoped to the firm or a business they're not shared with everyone and so what we're actually able to use blockchain to do is unlock this bottom layer this idea of a network state which you can think of as a shared reality how can we actually have a shared reality that we transact on and use all of this data and intelligence to actually make more informed choices and decisions so blockchain is in some ways giving us autonomous networked state the ability to manage all that information and make choices on it by transacting it without middlemen what autonomous network state gives us is something we had animal ventures call machine trust so if you take this one step further rather than just these innovations in the course of human history to improve how we trade at scale we can also include how machines trade at scale and that brings us back to the idea at the beginning of robots that have wallets right robots you should think of as the next consumer class and they actually need an infrastructure upon which to transact and trade and use data and all of these things and so this is the role of network state and it's part of what will take us forward to a decentralized economy now people often ask us how do we thrive in this new world what's going to happen to humans and a decentralized economy and we're very fortunate at animal ventures to get to talk to a lot of different luminaries we've had conversations recently with people like Kevin Kelly I was the founding editor of Wired magazine and recently wrote a book called the inevitable which I highly recommend or general david petraeus who's been in the intelligence space for a very long time and as a four-star general and again and again these different individuals have honed in on this idea that we actually need to learn how to learn so we need to learn how to develop new paradigms and actually innovate faster and then we also need to learn how to unlearn if you get rid of some of the old assumptions we've had about our trade but also about just how we do business together so I always like to bring up Leonardo da Vinci who I think actually really embodies this future he was the epitome of a combination of artist and scientist this is a image of his sort of imagination of a flying machine of a future helicopter and we're actually going to need to cultivate both of


these skill sets because on the one hand if our whole supply chain structures and the trade that we do is going to decentralize in different ways we're going to need to become the design inputs to these more automated systems we need much more creativity that gets to flow through and get prototyped faster and faster and that leads us to the scientist part we need to be able to experiment much more quickly using all of this new infrastructure we can get our ideas out into the open faster test them simulate them even and get to new solutions quicker and we won't be doing this alone right we'll be working alongside machines and even new kinds of organizational structures to be learning together and creating value together in this decentralized economy so it won't just be about humans needing to learn and unlearn we actually need to train our machines to learn and also unlearn so this I want to actually go back to the beginning and say that as we move to this decentralized economy we've continued this evolution of lowering our uncertainty over time but we've also expanded beyond trade to include how we make and design our things and now to include how machines will help us make and design our things and trade those things and I don't want you to think that I'm describing this as a better future because I'm actually not I'm describing it as inevitable I'd like to steal Kevin Kelly's term on that which is basically he argues different technologies have different biases and a lot of the technologies we have today are in fact biased toward decentralization which means even if we don't think it's a better future it may in fact just be inevitable that we start to unwind a lot of these older paradigms of trade or of how we get things done and do business and so we all need to take on this idea of learning and unlearning in order to start to thrive in a decentralized economy thank you so much hope you have questions you Hostos Community College.

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