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Content - Big interest in blockchain technology at Swiss event

  • December 22, 2017

Big interest in blockchain technology at Swiss event

Tokyo (SCCIJ) – On the invitation of the Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan and the Science & Technology Office Tokyo in the Embassy of Switzerland, more than forty people gathered at the offices of the law firm Okuno & Partners in Kyobashi to watch the documentary film “The Blockchain and Us” and discuss the relevance of this new technology with the Swiss film director Manuel Stagars. The film was produced at the beginning of this year and has so far received over 300,000 views on YouTube due to the global rise of cryptocurrencies. Thus, many questions to the director were about the value explosion of bitcoins and other cyber money.

Poster "The Blockchain and Us"

Blockchain as the airplane of 21st century

Manuel Stagars portrayed this new technology in twenty interviews with software developers, cryptologists, researchers, entrepreneurs, consultants, venture capitalists, authors, politicians, and futurists from the United States, Canada, Switzerland, the UK, and Australia. “The Blockchain and Us” is not an explainer video of the technology. It gives a view on the topic, makes it accessible and starts a conversation about its potential wider implications in a non-technical way.  

The intellectual lever used in the film is to compare the blockchain’s future impact with the consequences of the invention of the airplane. The film deliberately poses more questions than it answers, Manuel Stagars said before the screening and emphasized: “This film is not a lecture, but a conversation starter.”


Many questions from the audience

The judgement of the Swiss film director proved to be correct: There were many questions from the audience after the screening of the film. One question was about the selection of the interviewed people who were mainly male and older. The answer of the filmmaker surprised many attendants of the event: “We have the misconception of young people that they are automatically interested in new things and that they are technology-oriented.” But when he asked a cryptography professor of a Swiss university about his students, he learnt that almost all of them wanted to work for banks after their degree.  

Another question was whether the director had changed his attitude towards the blockchain technology in the months after the film. Mr. Stagars admitted that the film might give a positive outlook on the prospects of the blockchain technology without highlighting challenges. “The tech industry often wants to make us believe that it can solve all of our problems, but the stability of the financial markets cannot be achieved by technology,” the director stated.

Lively discussion with Swiss film director Manuel Stagars (click to enlarge)

Lively discussion with Swiss film director Manuel Stagars (click to enlarge)

Challenges for blockchain projects

Another question was about the potential of the blockchain technology to transform certain industries. The film director told the audience that he is still keeping in touch with everybody in the film. Some of his contacts have told him that after some initial euphoria within large companies, the supporters of blockchain technology would now have problems to secure enough funding to continue their in-house projects. “After the initial euphoria, their CEO often does not fully understand the potential of the technology and chooses not to support experimental projects,” he said. “Most companies do seem to still keep their old mindset that you can continue like before. But there is a generation of new technology just around the corner that inspires an entirely new way of conducting business.”  

The real revolution of the blockchain would lie in ”the empowerment of software developers if they have the necessary technological abilities”, Mr. Stagars argued. A coder could use the blockchain to flatten the financial system or take power away from central authorities. “This kind of mindset has not been around,” the Swiss director said. Now you could create your own currency with an initial coin offering or make a distributed platform that circumvents intermediaries. At the same time, there would be a lot of asymmetric information out there. “Everybody who is selling the concept of cryptocurrencies also owns cryptocurrency, so I have grown very cautious about the predictions by the industry about the adoption of this or that technology,” he admitted.  

About Manuel Stagars

Manuel Stagars is a film director and author, born and raised in Zurich, Switzerland. His current film projects focus on the potential of technology for the economies of nations, societies, and the lives of people around the world. He has published books and scientific articles on startups, marketplace lending, impact investing, data quality, and Open Data. Mr. Stagars has a degree in economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and several financial certifications (CFA, CAIA, ERP). He is currently completing his film project “Digital Transformation: Visions of Nations, Companies and People” (www.digitaltransformation-film.com), due in spring 2018.  

You can watch “The Blockchain and Us” for free on the official film website www.blockchain-documentary.com.    

 

Text and photos: Martin Fritz for SCCIJ

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