01/03/2023 - Post-Holiday Thoughts on Blockchain Technology

Post-Holiday Thoughts on Blockchain Technology

“But Darek, you’re going to have to find a new job at some point. This [blockchain technology] stuff… nobody wants it.” 

I peered over the slightly tilted cup of coffee I was sipping at my mother-in-law. This was not the first time that she had expressed her concern over my professional interest in the industry. Typically a very supportive woman, she and I still couldn’t see eye to eye on this particular issue. 

“She just doesn’t get it.” I thought to myself, and even reminded her of the last time she shared this sentiment with me – a time when bitcoin was well below 5,000USD. 

The conversation moved on, but the thought stuck with me. With a new year upon me, I owed it to myself to reflect on my choices to date and analyze them critically. Was I in the right industry? Do I still believe in this technology? Will the promise of a decentralized world come to fruition?

Overwhelmingly, the answer was and continues to be “yes”.

The industry recently took a huge reputational hit. SBF and FTX shook confidence in this industry the worst I had seen – and even that was only months behind the collapse of the entire centralized crypto lending sector following 3 Arrows Capital imploding. While these may not have been as existentially threatening as say, Mt. Gox, it provided salacious ammunition to industry critics. In fact, the prominence of these recent bad actors within the space did make me feel a smidge embarrassed to be associated with an entire industry at all. 

However, despite these enormous (read, over $10 Billion dollar) frauds, blocks on major networks kept propagating. DeFi continued on almost entirely unaffected. It was the centralized actors, the ones that required trust, that pulled the wool over the eyes of so many. Make no mistake, these criminal actions hurt countless people and they are certainly justified in renewed skepticism and/or rage. My hope is that they receive some sort of restitution from the damage these criminals inflicted. 

But the thing that blockchain technology itself stood up to the task of working without trust, without humans. The principles of decentralization and self-custody prevailed. That’s the truly impressive thing that happened here. 

This fundamental, censor-resistant layer is the foundation that the next great human-centric applications will be built upon. From finance, to art, to games, to identity (in so many senses of the term), the juggernaut that is blockchain technology supercharge everyday people’s ability to participate in a system without the whims of centralized actors. Actors who, time and time again, have proven their lack of concern for or inability to safeguard the interests of their users beyond an anointed class. 

The future is developing now, as we speak. The greatest challenges this new technology faces will come in the form of regulation that is ignorant to how it works – willfully or otherwise. 

It is not a question of if this technology succeeds, but rather to what degree and when. That certainty reminds me that, yes, this is a good use of my professional time.