Panel: Blockchain: Real Challenges and Opportunities

Panel: Blockchain: Real Challenges and Opportunities

Panel: Blockchain: Real Challenges and Opportunities

Panel: Blockchain: Real Challenges and Opportunities

Blockchain technology has become a new hot buzzword, often used alongside with AI, cloud computing and big Data (acronymed as ABCD altogether oftentimes). However, we haven’t see any impactful and large scale blockchain applications yet in the last few years, except the hype generated by cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Is it just another tech hype (remember WiMax) that will fade and become insignificant, or is it part of the future of IT (like cloud computing)? Is it a general-purpose technology, or is it a special-purpose technology with limited and niche-based applications? Does it have the potential to transform or disrupt the traditional industries as well as how the way we live our lives, or its use is really limited to some applications where distributed consensus is needed and technical-based trust is sufficient? What are the real challenges ahead before it becomes significant?


In this panel, researchers/scholars from different universities both in China and US, and entrepreneurs from blockchain startups in China, will debate from multiple perspectives and exchange their ideas about real challenges and opportunities faced by blockchain technology, and try to address the above questions, to uncover the myths related to the blockchain technology, by putting it in the context of what it can really do for us and what it may not be able to do in the next 5-10 years.

Multiple topics will be discussed in this panel. The following is a short list of potential topics and major discussion points.


Topic 1: It is just a special-purpose technology.
Position 1.1: Blockchain got started with and is rooted in Bitcoin, and is being used in creating other so-called cryptocurrencies or tokens. Creating a form of cryptocurrency or creating a token might be the most effective applications of blockchain, nothing else.

Position 1.2: Blockchain technology appears having the potential to become a general-purpose IT that can go beyond the initial context of cryptocurrency to change the financial industry and to be used in many other industries. The trend seems clear that Blockchain's application in other industries maybe more significant than the original cryptocurrency industry.


Topic 2: In many ways, it is just a novel way to story data on distributed computing nodes.

Position 2.1: Blockchain is an evolved technology, not a revolutionary technology. It is not a technology that came from nowhere. It is fundamentally a distributed way to store a database, but with a very ambitious goal to become a worldwide ledger of anything this is valuable.

Position 2.2: It is an application of P2P networking and distributed computing. The Blockchain database is globally distributed and stored on multiple nodes that are synchronized. Because of this nature of being distributed, the Blockchain applications are resilient. It is decentralized in nature and available without a central authority and all the time it is reliable to access from anywhere.

Topic 3: Can blockchain be trusted?

Position 3.1: The trust is tendered by the distributed global ledger and encryption protocols used. Blockchain is an application of modern digital data encryption technology. Encryption has made data contained in a Blockchain secure and cannot be tempered. Encryption enables non-repudiation where authentication and uniqueness is required.
Position 3.2: Blockchain is only a value transfer protocol to carry and transport the "data" from one entity to another on the blockchain. Beyond blockchain, physical world rules, laws and regulations are essential. What the "data" represents on blockchain either on ownerships of properties or digital assets must have meanings and consequences in the physical world. This value transfer protocol is trusted by the parties that are using the protocol and may not be function without central authority.


It is expected that this panel will draw many researchers and entrepreneurs who are interested to learn about blockchain technology and what this technology can really do. Local scholars and business in Xi'an may also be attracted to this panel too.


Organizer: Ruidong Zhang & S. Ben & Bo Yang & KC Chen & J Chen & YC Sun