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Annual Conference 2019

The Annual Conference at UBC Robson Square featured presentations by expert academics on various topics in Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies. The Conference culminates in our second annual "Talent and Innovation Showcase", which brings students who have been participating in the Blockchain@UBC Summer Institute together with local and international industry partners for networking around jobs and internship opportunities.



Blockchain@UBC Summer Institute Participants and UBC students - Free

Non-UBC Students - $25

Non-students - $100


The Annual Conference is culmination of our third annual Blockchain@UBC Summer Institute. To register for the Annual Conference:

  1. Go to the Blockchain@UBC Summer Institute registration page:
  2. Select your denomination (i.e. UBC student, non-UBC student, non-student)
  3. Scroll down to find the checkbox for the Annual Conference registration
  4. Scroll to the bottom to complete your registration

Details of conference

Registration – 8:30 am to 9:00 am

Welcome – 9:00 am to 9:30 am - Dr. Victoria Lemieux, Blockchain@UBC Cluster Lead

Governance, Risk & Compliance – 9:30 am to 10:30 am

Developing Global Scale Research Networks and Cryptoeconomics - Dr. Shin'ichiro Matsuo

Prominent economists such as Ben S. Bernanke, former Federal Reserve chairman, who wrote that digital currencies like Bitcoin “may hold long-term promise, particularly if they promote a faster, more secure and more efficient payment system,” and Milton Friedman, who wrote “One thing that’s missing but will soon be developed is a reliable e-cash, a method whereby on the Internet you can transfer funds from A to B without A knowing B or B knowing A – the way I can take a $20 bill and hand it over to you, and you may get that without knowing who I am”, have recognized its value. Some sources are predicting a USD $2 trillion market capitalization for cryptocurrencies in 2018. This new technology is actually the result of two decades of intense research and development by nearly anonymous researchers. Mainstream products, companies and industries are commercializing blockchain, the technology that underpins these cryptocurrencies, and creating a vast new global infrastructure that some say rivals the Internet; the effect of cryptocurrencies, and the blockchain technology that underpins them, have become profound.  This is why developing a global scale research network for cryptoeconomics is a necessary and important development.

Deconstructing 'Decentralization': Exploring the Core Claim of Crypto Systems - Dr. Angela Walch

In stating that ether is not a security, the SEC has suggested that the 'decentralization' of a blockchain system may have legal consequences. This paper examines the common ways 'decentralization' is used in blockchain discourse, arguing that it is generally used to suggest that the systems are resilient and lack concentrated power centers. The paper critically examines the claims of 'decentralization,' providing examples of actions by core developers and miners within crypto systems that undermine claims of decentralization. Finally, the paper's core contribution is to examine the consequences of uncritically applying the term 'decentralized' to blockchain systems and making legal judgments based on it. The paper argues that in suggesting that blockchain systems lack sites of centralized power, the term "decentralized" in effect functions as a liability shield for those operating the systems (developers and miners), creating a "Veil of Decentralization" and giving a core benefit of organizational law to participants in these systems without accompanying obligations. Further, misunderstanding the power dynamics within blockchain systems can lead to faulty risk assessments, in that we may view the tokens of these systems as less malleable than they actually are. This errant risk assessment affects direct uses of the tokens as well as any financial products that use them as infrastructure, and may affect our understanding of them as commodities or money.

Morning Coffee Break & Networking - 10:30 am to 11:00 am

Power, Politics and the Social Orders of “Crypto” Communities – 11:00 am to 12:00 pm

Institutional technologies: a new form of economic evolution - Dr. Brendan Markey-Towler

Blockchain significantly accelerates a new form of economic evolution which is driven by progress in institutional technologies. This form of economic evolution has existed in the past, but has been obscured as an economic phenomenon by the timescale over which it operates or by its correlation with significant political upheavals. The evolution of institutional technologies can be understood to be contingent on the optimisation of transactions costs within Schelling-point coordination problems in the formation of contractual relationships. The greater diversity of institutional technologies implies we can expect improvement of institutional structures at a faster rate than previously. Entrepreneurship in this new form of economic evolution involves solving problems in constitutional political economy.

The Social Order of “Crypto” Communities - Dr. Quinn Dupont

It is widely accepted that cryptocurrency (“crypto”) communities are, by and large, committed to an ideology of moral and methodological individualism, free and competitive markets, and robust personal freedoms. These principles are enshrined in control technologies that utilize coded rules (prohibitions) and token economics (incentives) to mandate adherence, a form of “algorithmic authority.” Yet, careful observation of these crypto communities reveals a different story. Based on six years of close analysis of cryptocurrency and blockchain communities of practice, commercial justifications and self-narratives, and my own participation in commercial and academic enterprises, I have found that these communities live in a constant “state of exception” to their own political commitments. Rather than being ruled by their algorithms, they use them to negotiate their social order, which is characterized by interpersonal forms of power, negotiation, and trust. Like many acephalous communities, disputes and internecine conflict are common yet generative, ritual and symbolic productions mark belonging and exclusion, and rank, honor, and regard create a surprisingly durable social order. This talk details the real and lived social order of crypto communities, offering a point of contrast to espoused ideologies and social imaginaries.

Lunch – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm

Blockchains, AI and the Future of Recordkeeping – 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm

Managing Digital Originals - Dr. Hrvoje Stancic

The records created today are created in the digital form. Their trustworthiness, i.e. authenticity, accuracy and reliability are important in the context of long-term digital preservation. In the digital form, the concept of original has changed significantly. Paper contracts between two parties, for example, were usually made in at least two copies, each of them considered original and kept by the contracting parties. Their copies were clearly distinguished from the originals. On the other hand, one digital version of a contract can be digitally signed by two parties and copied in, theoretically, infinite number of – originals. In specific cases, like in the case of dealing with promissory notes (a type of bearer instrument) where the person holding the original has certain rights and the rights can be exchanged by the exchange of the physical original, creation of a digital original is not practical since it may be duplicated many times without the possibility to distinguish between the original carrying rights and originals that do not. To cope with this challenge, and to be able to use digital originals just as their paper counterparts, a blockchain-based solution to manage and trace digital originals will be presented and analyzed. The idea behind it is to create an environment which can manage digital originals as irrefutable evidences.Accordion contents happen in here.

ARCHANGEL: Trusted Archives of Digital Public Documents - Dr. John Collomosse 

Historically, an archives' word was authoritative, but we are now in an age where people are increasingly questioning institutions and their legitimacy. ARCHANGEL explores a shift from an institutional underscoring of trust, to a technological underscoring of trust through the use of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to guarantee the integrity and provenance of digital records entrusted to archives.  In this talk I will summarise the activities of the ARCHANGEL project; a 2 year collaboration between the UK’s National Archives, the University of Surrey, and Tim Berners-Lee’s Open Data Institute (ODI).   I will describe how ARCHANGEL combines cutting edge Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence techniques to fingerprint visual records (e.g. digital videos of court proceedings) entrusted to The National Archives, and how DLT/Blockchain may be leveraged both as a curation tool and a means of securing content against tampering during the custody of the record.  I will discuss insights from trial deployments of this technology within the context of national archives.

Proof-of-Location for identity management in Byzantine-secured sensor Networks - Dr. Volker Skwarek

Decentralised transactions based on Byzantine protocols create high trust and a high acceptance of blockchains. Their overall principle of chaining, distribution and verification/acceptance is in actual blockchains discontinued as soon as external data are involved: sensors and sensor networks are usually connected to a blockchain by oracle services or other single-points-of-attack, making the data insecure. One major problem for sensor-networks consists of low computing and communication capabilities by design. Proof-of-location is a principle which requires low power and low computational capabilities and ensures a high data- and identity-security in sensor-networks by design. Those networks may then be connected to a blockchain with higher trust in the integrity of data than using a singular connection through an oracle service.

Afternoon Coffee & Networking – 2:30 pm to 3:00 pm

Blockchain Technology Adoption: Opportunities & Barriers – 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Tokenization of physical assets and the impact of IoT - Dr. Tim Weingartner

In the last 20-30 years there has been a strong increase in digital information. The generated digital world is becoming a duplicate of our physical world. To bring trust and value to the digital world, blockchain technology plays a crucial role. Sensors and actuators of the Internet of Things connect physical objects with their digital twins. With a close connection to a blockchain, this connection can be protected from manipulation and fictitious values. Crypto tokens enable the transfer of material assets into the digital world. This enables any kind of economic functionality in virtual space. The presentation gives an overview of current applications and interdisciplinary research projects.

Barriers and Opportunities in Blockchain Technology Adoption - Dr. Atefeh Mashatan

Blockchain Technology has the much-anticipated potential to disrupt many sectors that have been reliant on an authority to facilitate transactions. However, as is so often the case, this technology is lauded as the solution to many existing problems across sectors but suffers from limited understanding among various elements of the business community, regulatory bodies and the broader civil society. As a result, we see challenges to the successful adoption and realization of opportunities that exist through use of and awareness of vulnerabilities. Our study provides a deeper understanding of the barriers to adoption and opportunities to overcome these challenges. We focus on the protection of intellectual property as an indicator of blockchain technology adoption. Our study provides insight into the sectors that are leading in the development of this emerging technology, and the geographic distribution of advanced development. Various methods including citation analysis, cluster analysis, network analysis and text mining is employed to complete the analysis of findings from this part of the research project. This study is one of the first studies on blockchain technology patient strategy providing a perspective on barriers around practitioner communities, cost, scale, and security. Our insights enable a theoretical framework that maps industries and company profiles to a quadrant based on their patent strategy being cooperative versus comparative or offensive versus defensive. Based on this, we come up with a set of recommendations with business executives who want to enter the blockchain technology innovation ecosystem.

Use of Blockchain, Analytics and Smart Agents to Address Patient Care - Dr. Mohan Tanniru

While hospitals have used innovative digital services to create value for patients, extending this value to patients outside the hospital walls poses two major challenges. The first challenge is leveraging clinical and non-clinical resources and actors in the patient ecosystem to design innovative digital services to address care continuity using technologies, such as wearables, tele-health and mobile apps. The second challenge is developing a trusted resource sharing architecture that incentivizes actors in both the hospital and patient ecosystems to interact with these digital services by sharing needed resources (e.g. patient data, discharge instructions, care support plans, etc.) to sustain care. This presentation will first discuss the role of blockchain architecture in addressing the second challenge. It will then illustrate how the use of this architecture by actors tracked and analyzed leads to the design of smart agents that can help adapt digital services to meet changing patient care needs.

Business in the Front, Crypto in the Back: How a Finance SME Turned to a Blockchain Startup, Novera Capital, for Innovation - Dr. Henry Kim

We present the journey by which Novera Capital, a blockchain start-up, partnered with Sigma Analysis, an SME investment firm actively looking for opportunities to leverage disruptive technologies. We believe that the key to this journey is expressed in Novera’s “Business in the front, crypto in the back” perspective. Finance is highly regulated and conservative. So, Novera would not have been able sell its concept for a novel bitcoin tracking fund that received over $1M in venture capital without its corporate ethos: Novera would be able to walk into any boardroom and clearly demonstrate compliance to regulations, and moreover show that their business practices would meet stringent expectations of large financial institutions. At the same time, it is Novera’s vision to innovate beyond the fund to a blockchain-based token platform that keeps its team of technologists motivated and forward-looking. We advise others weighing investment in blockchain, especially SME’s and start-ups in finance, to understand and manage this dichotomy.

Cocktails & Networking - 5:00 pm to 5:30 pm


Opening Remarks - 5:30 pm to 6:00 pm

Awards & Recognitions - 6:00 pm to 6:30 pm

Industry Lightning Talks - 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm