Experts Share: What Are the Biggest Topics to Follow in 2020 Beside Crypto
Paolo Ardoino, Chief technology officer of Bitfinex
I spend my days immersed in crypto and development, so I don’t have too much time to follow that many other topics! Aside from this space, I have an interest in quantum computing, computer science and AI. I also love heavy metal music.
Adam Back, CEO of Blockstream
Quantum computing is likely to not become a practical security concern for a number of decades, if the physics and technical challenges prove to be solvable in practice, which today is an open research question. Experts have estimated that a quantum computer would need 1 million qubits to create realistic security concerns, which is a much higher number of qubits due to the need to use error correcting redundancy, and also to achieve long-term coherence. It remains to be seen whether practical quantum computers at a scale to be a concern for security happen during our lifetimes. But Bitcoin is often used for long-term value storage, so it is a question people reasonably ask. As the Schnorr signature soft fork proposal shows, Bitcoin is signature agile, and there are existing signature algorithms such as Lamport Signatures that are quantum-secure, so if quantum became an active concern, a new signature scheme can be introduced.
Marc P. Bernegger, Fintech investor at Crypto Finance
Fintech in general, space mining and exponential technologies. I like being at the beginning of new technology cycles.
Sebastian Borget, Co-founder and chief operations officer at The Sandbox
Web3, esports, AI and gamification are technology’s related spaces that I look at with very close interest and where our parent company, Animoca Brands, is already deeply involved — with its companies such as the AI accelerator Zeroth, and the health and fitness technology subsidiary OliveX. OliveX recently made it onto the Google Play Best of 2019 list, the event in which Google selects the finest among the more than 2.8 million Android mobile apps available on Google Play.
Paul Brody, Blockchain lead at Ernst & Young
I believe the most important problem we are facing as a society is the huge impact from Baumol’s cost disease. Inflation may be low, but in fact many of the things are most important for people’s long-term happiness are the ones that are going up the fastest. It’s nice that smartphones are cheap. It’s terrifying how much daycare and health care cost. Even if inequality isn’t as bad as some fear, the sense that the most important things in life are becoming impossibly expensive may be hugely influential.
To me, one of the big mysteries is why manufacturing has done so well with technology while services like health care, consulting, and education have managed to achieve so little when it comes to productivity. The benefits to society from figuring out how to use technologies like machine learning or blockchain to bend these cost curves back in the right direction will be enormous.
Benedikt Bünz, Co-founder of Findora
One of the biggest challenges humanity currently faces is climate change! And as a new industry that wants to improve the world, we need to make sure that we don’t destroy it at the same time. While I think that Bitcoin is a beautiful idea and protocol, I hope that proof-of-work will fade out and be replaced by more energy friendly alternatives! There are solutions such as proof-of-stake and proof-of-space — and as a community, we need to make the right choice and let proof-of-work die.
Virginia Cram-Martos, CEO of Triangularity
I have lots of interests in addition to crypto. These include:
Specific Technologies: AI, quantum computing, IoT, 5G and TVWS and other innovative spectrum use, 3D printing.
More general ICT and technology topics include ecommerce, ICT4D, circular economy technologies and projects, open engineering, engineering for development, composite and other material technologies, renewable energy technologies, and agro-engineering.
The application of all the aforementioned technologies in trade and/or economic development contexts.
Others include innovation and development theory and policy, trends in trade and transport, trade facilitation, bilateral and multilateral (e.g., WTO) trade negotiations, single window (for export and import procedures) developments, EU Horizon 2020, and other research and technology programs.
Alejandro De La Torre, Vice president at Poolin
As a mining pool operator for Poolin, we watch many different industries that play an important role in crypto mining. I keep tabs on global energy demand and supply, the developments of coal, wind, hydro and solar power in key regions and chip foundry manufacturing. These topics play a critical role in setting up mining farms and in forecasting the manufacturing of mining rigs.
John deVadoss, Head of development at Neo
Monetary policy is a topic that I follow keenly, for it has direct and immediate impact on the crypto sector.
Central bank monetary policies are currently debasing fiat currencies and eroding purchasing power; as this trend continues, the man and woman on the street is going to be aggressively looking for fiat alternatives — i.e., cryptocurrencies.
And second, reflecting on a recent quote by the new head of the European Central Bank, ‘We should be happier to have a job than to have our savings protected” — the man on the street does not want to live perpetually in servitude from paycheck to paycheck; he wants to be able to put something aside as he plans for his children’s future. As central banks continue their social engineering policies, it will further strengthen the role of cryptocurrencies as a store of value.
Daniel Diemers, Head of blockchain at PwC
Believing strongly in singularity and the rise of exponential technologies — not just in finance, but across all industries — I’m following closely what’s happening in AI and quantum. I’m also VR-ing a lot, but still hope for broader adoption. But then again, all the things happening in blockchain are so exciting, it’s actually hard to look into other emerging technologies deeply at the same time. Those who actually manage to do that and do it in a meaningful, more strategic way, will be much sought-after experts in the near future.
Denelle Dixon, CEO of Stellar Development Foundation
Before SDF, I was Mozilla’s COO and led the organization’s ongoing fight for net neutrality, and the global effort to ensure that people can control their personal data. I’m still a huge privacy advocate and follow these issues closely. It’s been encouraging to see that there’s been a significant shift in what people, as well as lawmakers, will accept from big technology companies and mobile carriers.
Adam Ficsor, CEO of Wasabi Wallet
To be honest, I don't have a life outside of Bitcoin. Maybe one day...
Joshua Frank, CEO of The TIE
It is easy to get caught up in crypto and ignore other developments outside of digital assets. Having spent a few years living in Hong Kong when I was growing up, I am very closely following the protests and the response of the Chinese government. I am also following the mess which is politics in the United States.
Mati Greenspan, Founder of Quantum Economics
There are several sectors at the moment where we feel there is endless potential for growth at the moment. Investors should pay keen attention to advancements in biotechnology as well as the cannabis industry, which is quickly gaining traction in the United States. However, where we feel the biggest potential for return right now is in renewable energy. The world is quickly shifting away from fossil fuels and into cleaner sources of power. A massive transition is planned over the next decade and it's something that investors should be able to capitalize on.
Arthur Hayes, CEO of BitMEX
I read a lot of sci-fi. The series I read this year was “The Hyperion Cantos” by Dan Simmons.
Helen Hai, Head of Binance Charity Foundation
You can talk about quantum computing, politics, GAFA, etc.
Global economic growth.
Behavioral science of the new generation.
Ivan on Tech, YouTube influencer
I like real estate and follow the markets in Europe and the U.S. Being a fan of hard assets, I love the cash flow and long-term appreciation real estate provides.
Sasha Ivanov, Founder and CEO of Waves
I think decentralization can be instrumental for future social development, so I'm really interested in the emerging social dynamics based on the WEB3 ideas — technical protocols underpinning and defining social interactions. We'll see more of it next year, for one I'm sure we'll see more projects in blockchain voting.
Christoph Iwaniez, Chief financial officer of Bitwala
Even when I'm doing sports, I have the relevant podcasts on digitalization, fintech and blockchain in my ear.
John Jefferies, CFA at CipherTrace
Cybersecurity and encryption. Ocean plastic recovery and conversion from plastic to fuel, pyrolysis.
Tal Kol, Co-founder of Orbs
I follow VR and gaming, specifically Oculus Quest and WebVR, and PlayStation. I’m a sucker for Naughty Dog games, waiting for The Last of Us 2. I also follow development using declarative paradigms like React and React Native, and keep a pulse on world macro economics.
Sanja Kon, Vice president of global partnerships at Utrust
I like to keep a finger on the pulse across a number of different industries from fashion and real estate to gaming and gambling.
These are really exciting industries that have seen tremendous growth in recent years and it won’t be long until we see cryptocurrency payments playing a major role within these industries.
I am also really passionate about diversity in terms of skills, backgrounds and gender in the ecommerce, blockchain and financial sector, and believe that leaders have a duty to lead by example.
Jonathan Levin, Co-founder and chief security officer of Chainalysis
I am following the gaming industry; it’s a massive adjacent market to cryptocurrencies today. With digital scarcity and a global network of players linked through a game and community, I am spending more time getting my head around it. I’m not buying any consoles for Christmas though. Those days are over.
Alex Mashinsky, CEO of Celsius
As an immigrant who came up from nothing, I am following conversations around who can take part in the “American Dream,” because I’m not sure how relevant it is for Americans anymore. I’ve seen financial institutions lowering their already abismal rates in which their depositors earn interest and how negative interest rates might soon affect all of us. Of course, I am following the election — there are some interesting candidates talking about things like bank mergers, education and how to spread out wealth more equally.
Nicholas Merten, Founder of YouTube channel DataDash
I always love finding emerging trends. The three topics that have me highly interested are:
— Furthering research into the medicinal use of psychedelics like ayahuasca, mushrooms and MDMA.
— Global central bank policy and how it will affect equity/currency markets in 2020.
— Emerging energy sources like fusion reactors, improved fission reactors and solar.
Diogo Monica, Co-founder and president of Anchorage
Crypto is making the internet safer: Bitcoin is serving as the world’s largest bug bounty, and is driving a new wave of technological innovation across the fields of personal security, with the increasing popularity of key-based authentication; privacy, with the adoption of tools like zero-knowledge proofs that limit the need to expose sensitive data; and data sovereignty, with distributed systems that keep control of user data in the hands of users themselves.
Niklas Nikolajsen, Chairman and founder at Bitcoin Suisse AG
I have many interests. In 2019, my wife and myself had identical twin boys, so family plays a big role in my life. I have also always had a keen interest in world history, as well as monetary history, and I am an amateur student of these fields as well as a collector of historical paintings, artefacts and coins. I continue to be interested in software architecture and cryptography, which after all was my background and livelihood before crypto finance. My main interest, however, remains that of my company, of crypto finance and crypto assets.
Kim Nilsson, Blockchain researcher at WizSec
I try to follow general technology topics and politics, but it's honestly depressing; we're facing several threats to civilization as we know it, but while science and technology could help, it's largely being shunned in favor of willful ignorance and radicalized ideology. While originally envisioned as a golden age for mankind, the information age has been perverted into the misinformation age. Bitcoin doesn't fix this.
Zac Prince, CEO of BlockFi
I spend a lot of time in traditional markets exploring technology and real estate investments in private and public markets. There is no shortage of compelling opportunities, if you know where to look!
Phillip Sandner, Head of Frankfurt School Blockchain Center
I am especially interested in the topic "tokenization" of all kinds of assets and rights. In January 2020, the Liechtenstein Blockchain Act will come into force, making the goal of tokenization achievable. Particularly exciting here is the tokenization of cash flows, something that will occur in machines, cars or even sensors. This is accompanied by another topic that I find very fascinating: the digital euro on the blockchain; or more generally: traditional currencies on a blockchain basis. This can be in a "permissioned network" or on the public ethereum network. Both work and allow completely new business models, for example in the areas of industry 4.0, future mobility, logistics, supply chain. The aim here is to enable things (i.e., Internet of Things) to participate directly in payment transactions because they are connected to a blockchain network. Especially if things can then participate in euro payment transactions, it will be very exciting for the areas mentioned.
Robert Schwertner, Influencer
Is there anything else besides crypto? Joke! I'm a passionate hockey player and definitely addicted to chess, especially lightning fast games on my smartphone (chess.com robby2000, who wants to challenge me?). Apart from that, I love to read, but I am one of those people who believe that when they download a book, it is already read. It is not. And I love ski touring (walking up!!!) in the Austrian Alps.
Danny Scott, CEO of CoinCorner
The main one for myself is Brexit, as this is one that directly impacts our company — it may force us to open offices in other jurisdictions around the world, should we need to. The honest answer to this is that nobody really knows how Brexit is going to play out, so we just need to be prepared and reactive once it happens.
Lex Sokolin, Co-head of global fintech at ConsenSys
I follow the macro trend of how access to financial products is changing and try to make sense of what that means for blockchain applications. We are not operating in a vacuum, but in a dynamic market where manufacturing, distribution and the value chain of financial services are interconnected, and further impacted by politics and society.
How people buy investments and bank accounts, outside of crypto, is starting to fundamentally change. For example, when you need to buy Aspirin for a headache, you don’t go to the Aspirin store. You go to the supermarket or the pharmacy, which has thousands of products on offer. Similarly, today’s social and ecommerce platforms offer thousands of features to their clients. Amazon Prime subscribers get next-day delivery on diapers and toys, and a catalogue of movies to watch for free. WeChat users can text, shop, move money and invest from the same phone app. In the world of attention platforms — whether powered by Alphabet Inc.'s Google, Facebook Inc., YouTube or otherwise — consumer intent is key. Financial products are mere features that live inside this panopticon.
Just like Walmart Inc. can sell you both the branded and the generic version of Aspirin, or the Charmin brand of toilet paper and the generic home brand, it should be able to sell you a generic financial product. I predict we are quickly coming to an age of financial generics. These products are not white-labeled, high-end versions of Goldman Sachs and Apple Inc. coming together to offer a credit card.
Rather, these are the equivalent of Foxconn off-brand smartphones, built using the learnings from the iPhone. As the plumbing of finance becomes exposed and transparent, in large part through data aggregation and blockchain-based infrastructure, cheap generic solutions will proliferate. The cost of manufacturing financial assets will be drastically reduced through tokenization and the barrier to access to financial assets will dissolve.
Ulli Spankowski, Chief digital officer at Boerse Stuttgart
In addition to the topic of crypto, I find technical topics related to DLT and digital assets extremely interesting — just like industrial solutions for blockchain, for predictive data analytics and artificial intelligence.
Alexandra Tinsman, President of the NEM Foundation
Some problems within the industry are also problems in wider society. How do people get their information, and can they trust it? How much transparency should the public demand of their institutions, and how can they reasonably absorb complex issues? Will solutions developed in the crypto industry help solve these bigger issues? A lot of us hope so, and can draw motivation from those possibilities. The involvement of so many big tech companies in crypto signals maturity to come for the industry. The future opens up potential connections between blockchain and their other projects like big data, AI, autonomous devices, cloud services, and energy. These companies spend $10 billion or $20 billion per year on R&D, and now blockchain taking up a portion of that spend.
John Todaro, Director of TradeBlock
2020 will see various high-profile events outside of crypto, including the U.S. presidential elections, global instability with protests in Hong Kong, France, Latin America and other geographic regions. Additionally, I am closely watching traditional financial markets, as we could see a recession in 2020 or 2021. I am also keeping a close eye on rates as global central banks continue on their path of record low interest rates.
Vladimir Tomko, Co-founder, CEO and game producer at Blockchain Cuties Universe
Besides crypto, I follow developments in regular game markets — mobile, console and PC ones; fintech and smartphone markets as well as progress in streaming service businesses (Apple TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, etc.). I also closely watch on what’s happening in social network space.
Erik Voorhees, CEO of Shapeshift
The private space industry!!! It is the only industrial phenomenon that has captured my attention since Bitcoin back in 2011. I think it’s profoundly important for private enterprise to take the lead in space, and to demonstrate the superiority of markets and private capital over bureaucracy and national politics.
I try to follow a lot of different topics, but those topics about the use of technology and its impact on society interest me most. For example, a relevant current topic is the use of electronic voting devices. I think this is a good example of the need to look further than just technological innovations and consider a combination of technical and non-technical solutions.
Alexander Zaidelson, CEO of Beam
I am trying to follow general technology topics and also global politics. Developments in the larger world outside crypto community are bound to influence our industry in many ways.