Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain reads the title of a 2017 book. From currency speculation through to verifying the provenance of food, blockchain technology is eking out space in a vast range of fields.
For most people, blockchain technologies are inseparable from bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that has been particularly visible in the news recently thanks to its hyper-volatility. Crypto-entrepreneurs have made and lost millions, and many people have parlayed their trading into a full-time job. But blockchain technology, which allows for immutable records of activities, stored on a ledger that is held not just in one place but massively distributed, has applications in every conceivable area in commerce and beyond. Soon, there will be blockchains everywhere that transactions happen.
While the focus has so far been on currencies such as bitcoin, what’s less well known is the large and growing community of blockchain developers and evangelists, many of whom believe that the technology could herald radical changes in the ways our economies and societies are structured. But there’s a big question at the heart of that community: what might a world built with the help of blockchain technology look like?
Unchain, a large bitcoin and blockchain convention based in Hamburg, seems to have a potential answer. Along with speakers from blockchain startups, cryptocurrency exchanges and a company that purports to offer “privately managed cities as a business”, the conference programme also features Alice Weidel, listed on the site as an “economist and bitcoin entrepreneur”.
In fact, Weidel is the co-leader of Alternative für Deutschland, which recently became the third largest party in Germany’s Bundestag. Weidel’s election campaign in 2017 was the party’s breakthrough moment, and what many have seen as a watershed in German politics – the return of far-right, populist ethno-nationalism to the federal parliament. [Continue reading…]
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