Bobby Lee, CEO of BTC China
Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum
We are lucky that both speakers are in town and will be speaking to us!
Title: Bitcoin landscape in China
Bio: Bobby Lee is the CEO and co-founder of BTC China, the first Bitcoin exchange in China, and now one of the leading Bitcoin exchanges worldwide. Bobby started his career in Silicon Valley, as a software engineer at Yahoo!, pioneering the earliest online communities on the Internet. He then moved to Shanghai, China, where he has been for the past 7 years. He was the Director of Software Engineering at EMC in China, innovating in Cloud Computing and Cloud Storage. After that, he was the CTO of SMG BesTV, the leading IPTV company in China, and also the world's largest by subscriber base. Most recently, he was Vice President of Technology for Walmart's China E-Commerce business, based in Shanghai. Bobby graduated from Stanford University with B.S. and M.S. degrees in Computer Science, and was also a member of the Mayfield Fellows Program. He has his E-MBA from CEIBS. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, photography, watching movies, and playing poker.
Title: Beyond Bitcoin 1.0: The Next Wave of Cryptocurrency, Challenges and Opportunities
Bio: Vitalik Buterin is a long-time cryptocurrency advocate who has been involved in the Bitcoin community since 2011, and has contributed to Bitcoin both as a cofounder and longtime contributor to Bitcoin Magazine and as a developer of a number of Bitcoin projects including a fork of bitcoinjs-lib, pybitcointools and multisig.info. Now, Vitalik's primary job is as the main developer of Ethereum, a project which intends to create a next-generation cryptocurrency platform platform that contains a built-in Turing-complete programming language, allowing people to create any kind of smart contract, decentralized application or decentralized organization imaginable.
In the last year, there has been a large growth of interest in cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, not just in terms of its potential for providing an alternate form of money, but also specifically with regard to its underlying technology. A number of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, including Marc Andreessen, have called attention to the Bitcoin blockchain and protocol as "a breakthrough in computer science", and at the same time research in cryptocurrency development has made a rapid shift toward realizing the potential of Bitcoin as "more than just money". Second-generation protocols such as colored coins and Mastercoin offer an expansive suite of features including custom currencies, digital assets and financial contracts, and Ethereum provides a blockchain with a built-in Turing-complete programming language to allow for both financial "smart contract" applications such as escrows, consumer protection, derivatives and hedging, but also non-financial uses such as decentralized identifiers for open-source messaging apps, reputation systems and democratically managed online communities.
At the same time, there are plenty of challenges on the way to making cryptocurrency technology, both monetary and otherwise, truly secure and ready for mainstream use. From a technical standpoint, large challenges including scalability and resource efficiency still remain, and new protocols such as indistinguishability obfuscation will potentially have a large role to play in expanding the scope of blockchain-based contracts. At the same time, a largely new and rapidly growing area of research, which some have called "cryptoeconomics", has emerged to deal with questions at the intersection of the cryptography and computer science behind cryptocurrencies and the fields of economics and game theory. What is the optimal monetary policy for a cryptocurrency? If that policy depends on measuring certain variables inside the system, is there a way to manipulate those variables for financial gain? Can we create a cryptocurrency with a fairer distribution model that works against economic concentration in the long term? Is it possible to replace the economically wasteful concept of mining via "proof of work" with something that is either neutral, or even better actually provides some public good to society?
In only five years, Bitcoin has transformed from being a whitepaper discussed on a cryptography mailing list to a multibillion-dollar experiment with millions of people from around the world interested. The real research in realizing the promise that these technologies bring may be only just beginning.