A Reflection on Ethereum's Devcon 3


To preface this post, I'll have to admit, there was an internal struggle between my personal safety and my desire to be a part of Devcon 3 in Cancun. I had been reading Reddit posts, Medium posts, and tweets about corrupted Mexican police, locals, and cartels targeting Devcon attendees for their Bitcoin and Ethereum. And then, I read a post by Joseph Lubin from ConsenSys saying that they had pulled out of the conference all together over safety concerns:

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Fortunately, as I write this from Archetype Coffee in Omaha, I can confirm that Devcon went off without a hitch and was a proper good time. I must say, the anxiety levels online about having Devcon 3 in Cancun were way higher than they needed to be. Anyways, this post will quickly go through my thoughts and notes from the event and where I believe it is going in the future.

For those who don't know, Devcon is the Ethereum Developers Conference put on every year by the Ethereum Foundation. Devcon is a highly targeted event to further the development of the Ethereum ecosystem through R&D, project, and community presentations. The conversations on stage and socially surrounding the event were not driven by price or ICO discussions. At its heart, Devcon is a conference for developers by developers. The only ones to probably not enjoy Devcon were recruiters who were banned on Day 1 as it was apparent that it was a problem. But, it gave us this gem: 

Courtesy of  @BobSummerwill

Courtesy of @BobSummerwill

Okay. Let's jump into Devcon 3. I'm certainly not going to cover every talk but will highlight a few important talks as well as random thoughts and conversations I had surrounding the conference.

The Most Important Talk...

The second one, which you can watch here. The talk was put on by Jerry Brito and Peter Van Valkenburgh from Coin Center. Coin Center is the "leading non-profit focused on the policy issues facing cryptocurrencies..." Their presentation revolved around control of currency, tokens as securities, AML compliance and how they are approaching it with law makers.

It was very telling to me that the Ethereum Foundation chose to put this talk right at the beginning of the conference. It is one of, if not the most important conversation to be having right now. I'd even go as far as saying that the work that Coin Center is doing is more important than the technology showcased through the rest of Devcon. Without the legal and regulatory frameworks for us to work from, the blockchain and cryptocurrency space sits in perpetual limbo around liabilities.

Ethereum Security

Ethereum Foundation security lead, Martin Swende:

"We are all in cryptoland. It's like Australia where anything with a heartbeat will try to kill you and if you make a mistake you're probably dead. Meanwhile, for attackers, they have never had it better."

See the talk here.

Enterprise Ethereum Alliance

My terrible photography skills.

My terrible photography skills.

On the third night, I attended the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance social party. It was oversubscribed very quickly and featured people from Fortune 500s and startups alike.

The most interesting conversation I had was held with Amber Baldet, lead of J.P. Morgan's Quorom, a private implementation of the Ethereum blockchain.

We talked about how to approach regulatory ambiguity, being blockchain agnostic, and, of course, Ethereum, Quorum, and Hyperledger. 

Other Thoughts

Interoperability between blockchains is going to be very important. This means companies like Cosmos and Polkadot will stand to benefit greatly.

There were some grumblings about how the Ethereum Foundation is being run. Features aren't being built as quickly as everyone needs and is forcing parallel development across companies. This is the downside of a massive run-up in market cap. Higher expectations.

Courtesy of  Ryan Zurrer

Courtesy of Ryan Zurrer

The Raiden Network using uRaiden to control a remote control car was an awesome on-stage presentation showing the power of micro-transactions. 

Final Thought

It was crazy to experience the global community that is Ethereum. I was able to meet people from all over the world. These various ideals and perspectives from different people will be what propels Ethereum forward regardless of the challenges faced.

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I promise I didn't spend the whole time at the beach :)

- Kyle Tut

Kyle Tut