On July 11, 2017, the Chamber of Digital Commerce hosted the Congressional Blockchain Education Day. The world’s largest blockchain trade association sought to promote the benefits of the relatively new technology to members of the House and Senate. Working alongside representatives from over seventy Chamber member companies, blockchain advocates spent the working day on Capitol Hill enlightening lawmakers about the technology underpinning a global digital currency awakening.
In a brief announcement on Monday, Chamber of Digital Commerce founder and president Perianne Boring stated:
“We are delighted that so many of the Chamber’s members are flying in to Washington, DC to meet with and help educate our legislators and their staff on this breakthrough and potentially multi-trillion-dollar technology. We’re honored that participants will have the opportunity to hear directly from Members of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus.”
In addition to facilitating meetings between legislators and blockchain activists from the private sector, the Chamber of Digital Commerce relied upon event co-hosts Microsoft and Symbiont to help drive home to Congress the potential of blockchain technology to beneficially impact the United States and the world at large. “A growing number of enterprises are experimenting with blockchain as a secure and transparent way to digitally track the ownership of assets, opening new opportunities for cross-organizational collaboration and imaginative new business models,” stated Craig Hajduk, Microsoft’s Principal Program Manager, Blockchain Engineering.
Symbiont, a technology partner for the Delaware Blockchain Initiative, broke up the afternoon with a mid-day demonstration on executable distributed code contracts at the Rayburn House Office Building. Additionally, members from the Congressional Blockchain Caucus addressed a gathering of entrepreneurs and industry professionals during an end of day reception in the US Capitol Visitors Center Atrium.
The United States, Innovation, & Blockchain Technology
While accepting an honorary law degree from Nihon University in Tokyo in 1962, former Attorney General of the United States Robert Kennedy described to the audience the American ideal of ingenuity:
“From the first moment of independence, the United States has been dedicated to innovation as a way of government and a way of life. Not a decade has gone by in our nation’s history in which we did not undergo new experiences and seek new challenges. We were born in a revolution against colonialism, and we have been dedicated ever since to a revolution for freedom and progress.”
While this statement may describe our country, it is seemingly harder and harder to apply it to our government. Although several nations around the globe have begun major initiatives to study and leverage the advantageous aspects of blockchain technology, the United States of America has yet to implement industry standards or even designate a “regulatory sandbox” for safe development of the technology. It could be argued that the rest of the world is, in fact, the sandbox for the American government to study blockchain, however that narrative quickly dissolves under the light of American history. American freedom, idealism, and entrepreneurship can never be based merely on the opportunity to know about new ideas and technologies, as viewed from afar. Rather, if the United States is going to maintain its international role, it must also maintain the political will to know about new ideas, viscerally, up close, and in house.
Congressional Blockchain Education Day is a significant step for the United States, and considering how long it has taken for blockchain technology to make its way to Capitol Hill, perhaps Americans should be satisfied that the step is at least in the right direction. Already, however, nations such as Singapore, Estonia, Russia, the Republic of Georgia, Ghana, Sweden, South Korea, and the UK have all identified blockchain technology on a governmental level. However there is still reason to hope that the United States will ramp-up its blockchain efforts. The former head of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, Mick Mulvaney, was picked by President Trump to run the Office of Management and Budget. With a blockchain supporter working in the executive branch, one can only hope that pro-blockchain policies will come out of the White House. Moreover, blockchain technology is poised to solve many of the current issues troubling the American electorate after the scandal of foreign interference in the 2016 presidential race. Only time will tell how blockchain technology will manifest within the United States, but regardless of how things develop domestically, if the country wishes to remain connected to the rest of the world, it may be forced into playing catchup if it doesn’t keep pace.