Learning about blockchain and what it means for business

By: Maggie Wilson Posted: 05/09/2019

Attendees of Chamber’s latest Executive Speaker Series learn about new technology

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Photos within by James Nguyen, Seattle Metro Chamber

At April’s Executive Speaker Series, attendees learned about two emerging technologies, blockchain and cryptocurrency, and their current and future uses in our region.

Arry Yu, chair of the Blockchain Council for the Washington Technology Industry Association and our moderator, opened the event by giving attendees an overview of blockchain.

Blockchain is a distributed database in which storage devices for the database are not connected to one common processor. The result is higher security, increased transparency, and greater efficiency. This technology has applications across many businesses, as it can be used to record financial transactions, store medical records, track the flow of goods through a supply chain, and execute contracts. 

Yu discussed a swelling interconnectedness around the world as we digitize. She likened data to treasure, touching on data breaches and hacks. We need to solve cybersecurity together and that means globally, Yu noted.

Panelist Jesse Adams, cofounder and CEO of Tenta Browser, talked about blockchain’s significance in protecting the growing value of digital identities.

Your identity is extremely valuable, Adams said, and people need to begin explicitly acknowledging that – and forcing companies and platforms to acknowledge the same. Adams also discussed how important it is to decentralize our data digitally, thus removing what he called the “honeypot.”

“Distribute the trust,” he said.

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Dr. Joseph Williams, Director of Economic Development of the Information and Communication Technology Sector with the Washington State Department of Commerce, talked about how in many instances, online platforms own the identities of users. Legal work is underway studying and responding to this, but Dr. Williams suggested we need to have a major policy debate about who actually owns outgoing data.

Dr. Williams said companies use our data to create profiles and even to project into the future. Regarding the workforce in blockchain, the work is so new that if someone has even a year of experience, they are considered a veteran in the field.

Greg Heuss, cofounder and managing partner for CounterPointe Ventures, said there are uses for blockchain in every industry, including healthcare, auto, media and insurance – across the board.

Heuss said he has been chasing technology innovation throughout his whole career. He became first involved with blockchain because he wanted to see what it was. Since then, he has been all in.

Panelist Akshay Aggarwal, founder and executive chairman of Déjà vu Security, said his company helps organizations design and implement blockchain. Their team has worked with dozens and dozens of different implementations of blockchain, Aggarwal said.

Aggarwal and Déjà vu Security recognize that with such new technology and so few blockchain experts, there are event fewer blockchain security experts. Déjà vu is one of those few. In 2014, Deja vu assessed what has become one of the world’s most foundational blockchain technologies: Ethereum.

At the end of the event, our panelists and moderator took and responded to audience questions. A great last takeaway was that currently, what we leave behind is far more than a digital shadow. Our digital shadows have grown into digital doppelgangers, Adams said. It is increasingly important to protect them.