Ethereum enthusiasts gathered in Brooklyn, New York, for the first-ever Ethereal Summit to discuss the past, present, and future of Ethereum. Hosted by ConsenSys, a venture production studio building decentralized applications, the event space was filled to full capacity with futurists who are passionate about building the next generation of the internet.
A full day of panels brought together speakers with a wide array of backgrounds to discuss the Ethereum ecosystem. The shared sentiment among attendees was we're at the beginning of Ethereum's life span & Web 3.0 is evolving rapidly to solve a wide spectrum of problems.
One of the first panels to take the stage discussed the benefits of using blockchain to verify digital identities. As was noted, the current version of the web provides no reliable form of identity or reputation. Uport, a self-sovereign identity system for decentralized applications and networks, provides a solution to this identity problem. Ethereum is prime to solve the internet's digital identity problem and panelists predict this will be a game changer for micro lending and human interaction as it enables trust and can assist in ensuring all parties are indeed who they say are and their reputations accurate.
Other notable discussions included "Nation OS: Prototyping The Future of Government". This session touched upon governments around the world and how they are utilizing blockchain to evolve existing systems. Representatives described how blockchain technology could be used to benefit developing countries such as Haiti and Rwanda by financially including more people and spurring economic growth.
Chief strategy officer at ConsenSys Sam Cassatt, discussed a global financial system of inclusion that provides opportunities to the billions of people that are currently unbanked. Ethereum provides an opportunity for the developing world to "leap frog" to the first world. Proponents of Ethereum argue global financial inclusion for the 2.5+ billion people who are currently unbanked is becoming a reality thanks to the advent of mobile devices and permission-less innovation offered by blockchain technology. Similarly, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong took to the stage to describe his upcoming product Token, a browser similar to Ethereum's Mist, for decentralized applications that offers messaging capabilities and will work seamlessly with its digital assets exchange GDAX. Armstrong plans to travel the developing world and will be making his first stop in Nigeria to introduce Token to native businesses in hopes of bringing global financial services to the developing world.
Across the street at the SingularDTV lounge, a panel titled "Powering Up: The Clean Tech Reinvention Of The Energy Grid" featured representatives from ConsenSys & Rocky Mountain Institute, a US-based think tank researching sustainability. The panel discussed the future of energy markets and speculated on how utility companies will likely innovate to facilitate energy exchange in a decentralized grid.
Interesting conversations could be heard from every corner of the Ethereal Summit. Blockchain, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, robotics, internet-of-things, futarchy, and a "meme-based economy" were just some of the topics at hand.
"Have you seen today's price? We're reaching all time highs again!" was heard from the crowd, the energy from the crowd seemed electric and each panel echoed an underlying theme, decentralization is here—and here to stay.
Ethereal Summit encapsulated the Ethereum culture, an eclectic mix of people with impressive backgrounds that are changing the course of human history. Ethereum's vision for the future may have been best summarized by ConsenSys founder Joseph Lubin, who delivered a keynote speech describing the true potential of Ethereum. Lubin, who comes from Wall Street, understood early on how Ethereum was a revolutionary game changer and after reading Vitalik Buterin's white paper realized how Ethereum could help form a more humane world. Lubin founded ConsenSys to help make Ethereum realize its full potential and his Brooklyn-based incubator has been doing exactly that one Dapp at a time.