Crypto has undeniably been hitting the mainstream. The Bitcoin, Ethereum and Blockchain Super Conference took place in Dallas, Texas from February 16th to 18th, and certainly represents is a microcosm of this phenomenon. The demographic of crypto-conferences has shifted from being mostly scruffy, hoodie-wearing coders into a more diverse mix. Plenty of suits were present, but oddly enough, so were many parents along with their teenage kids.
In addition to providing an overview of speaker highlights from the likes of McAfee and SEC's David Hirsch, this article will also sprinkle in some photos showcasing the evolution of crypto-culture fashion. The full album will be available as a link at the bottom.
John McAfee was a well-received speaker. His presence caused the main hall to be packed full of bodies. His rhetoric was galvanizing: "We are at war with the old world order". John pointed to the recent announcements that many US banks would no longer allow people to buy crypto using their credit cards. He went onto showcase the increasing actions taken by regulatory agencies as evidence that the tension between the old systems and new was coming to a head.
"In the old world, try to get away without paying taxes. In our world - try collecting taxes!" Cue thunderous applause. McAfee admitted that not everything in the crypto-world is rosy though. He has assembled an entire team to evaluate the ICOs that are thrown his way for his endorsement, and the level of deceit has reached legendary proportions. He spoke of one particular case, in which a fraudulent ICO hired an 'expert' to pretend to be the CTO and perfectly answer the questions John threw his way.
On the other side of the metaphorical fence, speaking to a smaller yet still packed room Dave Hirsch spoke unofficial on behalf of the SEC's Dallas office. Despite the ambient tension between regulators and crypto-enthusiasts, Dave managed to put the room at ease with dad jokes -"Please save the tomatoes for the end". He further comforted the crowd, that while it was true that the SEC is increasing their "crypto-related enforcement", he believes it is unlikely that they would be sending off mass 'cease and desist' letters to every single ICO. Due to their limited resources, the agency is only able to focus on the most egregious offenders; the truly fraudulent and dangerous tokens being offered to investors.
Jeremy Kauffman gave a breath of fresh air; showcasing a nearly-fully-functional alternative to YouTube called LBRY. Using a mash up of BitTorrent and Distributed Hash Tables, LBRY is a way of indexing content that can be accessed by a number of user interfaces. Built into the system is the ability to charge a fee per download; this fee is almost entirely sent to the video's producer rather than having a huge chunk of the value sucked up by the provider. The importance of LBRY and other decentralized YouTube competitors such as d.tube can't be understated. YouTube has been using its demonetization policy to effectively steal what little wealth it shares with its content creators based on its own political whims.
On a similar note, the project lead on a decentralized search engine spoke on the need for an alternative to the $761B gorilla in the room. Google's opaque algorithm is not just a hassle to businesses that don't want to dedicate resources to optimizing their ranking. It's a threat to free speech as well: burying contentious information is practically just as effective as outright censorship. Considering one of Google's first funders was none other that the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency, it seems naive to believe that their algorithm hasn't been weaponized on some level. Presearch is trying to disrupt this monopoly by sourcing a large number of algorithms and delivering the results in a flexible manner.
The "Future of Blockchain Panel" is aptly described as industrial-strength crypto-boner-killer. Rather than envisioning how these systems will impact our humanity evolves past its limitations, the panel focused on the very real yet depressing scaling issues that facing the 1st and 2nd generation blockchains in their quest for mainstream adoption. Nobody on the panel seemed to recognize the 3rd generational systems like EoS and Holochain - nor did they recognize the second layer solutions currently in development such as the Lightning Network. Moreover, the panel spoke excitedly about the growing room for legal compliance in the crypto-space, rather than having a more meaningful discussion on how we can do legal and regulatory systems better than any Nation State.
All that being said, there was a beautiful group of people convening here for this conference, and in order to not suck up all your data, we've included a link to the full album showcasing the fashion below:
All photos were taken by Michael Henderson