Article By: Ken Garofalo

Friday May 8th, 2020 | Boston, MA

Ethereal Virtual Summit is taking place May 7th – 8th, 2020.

Jeremy Millar, Chief of Staff of ConsenSys

Mona El Isa, Founder of Melon Protocol, MAMA, and Avantgarde Finance

Ron Bodkin, Technical Director of Applied Artificial Intelligence, Google

Justin Shaffer, Special Projects, 11th Hour Racing Team (Ex-Facebook)

Simon Morris, Chief Strategy Officer of ConsenSys, Former Head of Product of Libra, and Former CSO of BitTorrent

The two-day Ethereal Summit agenda features 100+ ecosystem leaders and can’t-miss talks on the most exciting trends in the blockchain space, from decentralized finance to Ethereum 2.0.

As we continue to deal with social distancing measures not only nation wide but also globally, we have seen the rise of virtual summits. This week we highlight the Ethereal Virtual Summit 2020 which has an action packed agenda with streaming available on Zoom, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Today we sat in on a fascinating round table talk regarding decentralized technology and societal impacts.

Picking up with the below questions and corresponding conversations transcribed in context:

Jeremy Millar

Q: Has there been a great societal benefit because of WEB 2

Mona El Isa

Not necessarily – some people have become hard to connect with because of always being on our phones.

Some people are richer, but some peoples livelihoods went to zero because of web 2, there are both pros and cons and we need to be honest about both sides.

Simon Morris

The decentralization effect on the media industry has been incredibly disruptive. In a sense it allows you to break rules and not be held accountable. Recentralization is inevitable. We want to find a way to be accountable because we like rules and we need rules.

With Web 2 this presented a challenge to the rules and Web 2 was making information free and interactive.

There have been both benefits and a downside.

Thinking about Google, Facebook, Alibaba – recentralization as a public good

Are they truly accountable – Mark Zuckerberg is he accountable. Such level of control is deeply concerning

Justin Shaffer

I can provide a good character reference on Mark.

Decentralized technology is a topic id like to expand on.

Jeremy Millar

Decentralization can be thought of as a movement like burning-man.

Q: In a DAO what are the governance issues? When organizing a DAO How to apply these principles in an online world, given the decentralization movements like Bitorrent and Etherem what is your take on the transition to decentralized technology?

Justin Shaffer

Im most excited about whrere we can build API solutions – and build interactive solutions.

We must continue to adapt – the internet itself can be thought of as a decentralized experiment.

Who can say what in what context who’s responsible for that speech, need to think accountability.

The only challenge of what we can do is when it comes to the imagination.

Think about the effects in two ways, media and utilitarian identity, which comes with reputation trust.

Certain principles whether decentralized or centralized they underpin the crypto finance system and will determine if it will succeed or fail based off these – feels like super early days. playing around with Flash in the late 90s – we are 10-15 years away for commoditizing credit.

Facebook for helping move us forward. Im interested in Libra, in their way of thinking.

Simon Morris

I can attest to the quality of libra as well intended

Decentralized governance and making it more accountable – using blockchain based systems as a path for something that we can agree on.

Libra can benefit from facebooks enormous market share and gravitational force. Libra governance and decision making role is well constructed.

ConsenSys has questions that it needs to be careful, not to become to influential on the Ethereum ecosystem.

We need to consider how to build decentralized tech to enable better and more robust governance.

Ron Bodkin

How do you get the benefit and have guarantees

We need to make sure there is no insider trading, have the ability to make claims, fair and equal no ways of controlling and tilting to one side.

What ew have is far from optimal. We need to focus on trust and transparency policy interest in interoperability.

Governance and regulation need to be closer together.

Justin Shaffer

Governance path to adoption

Getting access to fiat rails how to get access – larger companies block innovation

Mona El Isa

More thought that goes into good governance. At first we started by thinking of stakeholders – we spent a lot of time making sure the interests aligned in any scenario.

But now, how to test? – We brought in a traditional governance expert who was relatively new to blockchain – ran him through our process – he tore it apart and butchered first version – what if this.. that.. – and 3 or 4 sessions latter we had less and less holes resulting in a final draft. Next we had to find litigation lawyers in Switzerland. We had the legal expert go through the same exercise refining our process even further.

There is no perfect solution – end conclusion is the people that felt the most underrepresented were the users. Token holders,\ and developers are taken care of but the users are underrepresented.

Our focus was how to prioritize the user – thats how we designed our DAO.

Th user representatives are technically skilled – or nominated by other users – benefits are not just because you own a the token.

Our DAO has been working for over a year – what we’ve found is even DAOs need leadership – to drive things. We’ve come up with a 6 month rotation for a chair and vice chair. Make sure that weekly call attendance is made – this is experimental and evolving.

3 Main applications

Network Parameters – Asset management gas

Contract Upgrades – Don’t force users – propose upgrade and opt in

Resource Allocation – Fixed amount of tokens that can be minted – distributed/granted – can never increase inflation, spend or burn – economical decision – how to create more value.

Looking to improve the process

Ron Bodkin

Be aware of past exploits allowed by the code – unintended hacks – gaps between reasonable – think of how to protect against this.

Mona El Isa 

We have open source code – we are working with insurance solutions for assets under management. When will the yield be worth the risk of taking these policies.

Jeremy Millar

Q: Is there a commercial disadvantage for crypto compared to fiat based companies?

The most exciting thing about DEFI – is that it’s not reinventing finance – finance protocols existed for centuries and have established procedures that allow trust. Buyer vs merchant – but within crypto you don’t need swift to settle a transaction – 0x for example is doing this by establishing trust.

This is creating the market for the 80% of the people who own 20% of the world.

Ron Bodkin

At some point if crypto is a meaningful alternative to fiat that would be incredibly threatening to fiat governments. Imagine if cryptocurrency is a standard. No response has come yet because it is not perceived to be a threat yet – it’s still abstract.

Mona El Isa

Important to know it’s possible to use DeFi in regulated ways, tech can always be used in good and bad ways.

I wouldn’t put it past the governments to make crypto illegal.

Printing dollars is creating demand for crypto.

Simon Morris

With mainstream adoption in mind, think of the evolution of Napster into Spotify.

The people care about a better product a better music experience for example.

Like Bitcoin in Venezuela – it’s being adopted because they want a better currency.

Right now they don’t want decentralization – ask what do they want instead – what are hopes and fears with decentralization.

Thank you for reading!

Thank you to all the hosts and speakers of this roundtable talk – it really gave me some good insights when thinking of how to create a decentralized product and how to learn from past examples. These are deep insights shared by some of the industries greatest leaders.

More information and a reply of the roundtable conference can be found on the Ethereal Virtual Summit Webpage