Kenneth Bok, Founder, blocks
Distinguished guests, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
My name is Kenneth Bok, and I am the lead organizer for De/Centralize. I run blocks, a blockchain research startup and have been investing in digital tokens since 2014. On behalf of the organizing team, I would like to extend a warm welcome to the inaugural De/Centralize conference. To our international guests and speakers, thank you for taking the long plane flight over, and a warm welcome to Singapore. We hope you have a pleasant stay here.
In the next few minutes, please allow me to briefly explain the impetus for De/Centralize.
Bitcoin was a response to the Wall Street bailouts in 2008, and the perceived risks of central banking. It was a breakthrough in computational finance, and created the immutable, distributed ledger. While other digital money schemes had failed, Bitcoin still exists today because of the remarkable fusion of cryptography, distributed computing, and incentive systems.
In 2014, building on Bitcoin and other innovations, the Ethereum project fused a turing-complete programming language, that is to say, a fully-fledged computing system with the immutability of the blockchain. To use Vitalik Buterin’s analogy, what was previously a calculator - a single-function blockchain capable of doing one thing very well - had become a smartphone: a general-purpose blockchain capable of doing many things.
In my own estimation, projects such as Ethereum are paving the way for the decentralized web. These blockchain networks have some very novel capabilities that you will soon hear about. Tokens that are native to these software systems are used to access computing resources on these networks. This has created an entirely new value-proposition for digital tokens other than just being cryptocurrencies.
In 2017, after attending a number of blockchain conferences in New York City and in the San Francisco Bay Area, I got really excited about what was going on with this ‘new internet’. There was a sense of being part of a genuine technological revolution and the opportunity to be part of it. Being Singaporean, I was especially intrigued to hear how often Singapore was being mentioned as a place to do ICOs. I later met Mr. Aditya Mishra from ZPX and Mr. Lim Hong Zhuang from XSQ, Singapore’s largest mining pool, and together we set about to create this conference: which is our hope for Singapore to be part of the global blockchain revolution and the Singapore agenda to further develop our FinTech capabilities.
In the next two days, you will hear from various experts in three areas: technology, economics and law. You will hear from blockchain projects that have a potential to further evolve the internet. You will hear from venture capitalists, investors and entrepreneurs. You will hear from legal experts on the latest developments on regulation and whether smart contracts really live up to their promise.
I think we are all aware of the phenomenal rise in the prices of cryptoassets. But how much of these billion dollar valuations of the crypto-market is actually warranted? If we are to take digital tokens seriously as an investment class, how do we distinguish the good deals from the bad? What are some of the criteria that institutional level funds look at? These are the questions in my own mind, and I am looking forward to hearing from our speakers.
As we move into a data-centric world where algorithms make many decisions, the issues around the societal effects of computer networks become very important. The recent events with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have highlighted these risks. Who owns our data? What do they do with it? What pressures do organizations face that that decentralized systems can help alleviate? How can blockchain help recapture the original decentralized vision of the internet? These are the discussions that I hope De/Centralize will help catalyse and answer.
Lastly, we intend for De/Centralize to be a focus on technology and the ideas that matter. We also hope that you invest, not speculate. As with any kind of investing, knowledge and understanding is key. Please use your good judgement and discernment with these matters.
Thank you for being here and helping us launch this conference.
Enjoy the next two days.