Tomer Sofinzon: Blockchain will change the way we live(1)
Blockchain technology is going to change the world and potentially could have as big effect on our lives as birth of the Internet. Still, since it is relatively unknown, the perception of it is that this technology has been created to serve only the cryptocurrencies, let’s mention the Bitcoin. The Lithuania Tribune spoke with Tomer Sofinzon, the founder of the Pillar Project and member of the 2030 project, about the technology and how Blockchain is going to change our lives.
The main reason for him to visit Lithuania was opening of the international Blockchain Centre in Vilnius, the first one in Europe. The Centre opened its doors in the capital of Lithuania, on January 27 and it is to work together with partner Blockchain Centres in Australia and Asia.
The Lithuania Tribune: Let's talk about Blockchain. There are a lot of definitions of this technology. What would be your definition of Blockchain.
Tomer Sofinzon: So Blockchain is a shared, distributed ledger that basically everyone can work on. On top of that it brings the notion of immutability, it means that it cannot be changed. So instead of you on your end working on your database, and me on my end working on my database, and all the time all those databases need to do reconciliation, we are working on the same shared ledger, same transaction ledger that have evidently a lot of applications to anything.
On top of that it creates trust because it is immutable, so all the transactions throughout the history of this shared ledger are transcribed and cannot be changed, cannot be modified. That element creates an element of transparency, trust and efficiency.
Ledger, what is it? If you would be able to explain it?
Think about a book of transactions, so this book of transactions is going to be common, so the two of us for example if I'm the business and you're my supplier, we're going to work together on the same ledger, the same books of transaction.
So that every transaction that we are doing, we don't have to reconcile all the time, my database, your database, my books and your books, we're constantly going to work. On top of that you will put the government teams, so that they will put their ledger as well, so we can have multiple people and multiple entities working on the same ledger. It increases the efficiency tremendously, it increases transparency tremendously and it increases trust tremendously because we are all seeing what the other is doing all the time.
Some say that Blockchain potentially might be as big as the Internet or even bigger. Can you elaborate on that?
Yeah I mean it's definitely a continuation of the Internet. The Internet until now has been and Internet of exchanging information, now we are entering the phase of exchanging values and changing monetary values, transactions etc. Its going to have an enormous effect on pretty much everything, every aspect of our life, to put it, frame it, categories it in the fintech, its actually way more than fintech.
It will have a consequence, and impact on every other industry and every other aspect of our life, so it's going to be as big as the Internet. Its funny, we used to say that in the earliest 90's, we used to call it e-business, e this, e that, and now its today you put Blockchain in front of everything.
At some point you're not going to have e-business, its just going to be business because all the business was run on the Internet, but its going to be the same with Blockchain, you'll have Blockchain Bank or Blockchain this, Blockchain that.
Everything is going to be run by Blockchain, so in 10-15 years I hope we will not take away the element of crypto or Blockchain and we're just going to call it currency, business or transaction because everything is going to be based on Blockchain.
Now Blockchain associates with crypto currency, taking this apart and taking this away, how else is Blockchain technology already used in our lives because this is quite new?
Yeah so there are a lot of applications already right now rethinking, "Pillar" for example is a project that is Blockchain enabled, so we are here to, we have created "Pillar" to basically help you take back your data.
So we're taking about data control, data ownership etc. This is Blockchain enabled, so it is not only limited to crypto currencies and tokens. We're beginning from that but we are going to end with personal data locker and storing all your information in one secure location that is redundant and secure due to the Blockchain innovative centralize architecture. But you can have also, there are already working applications for example, in insurance or in payments, so its not only about crypto currency, its not about buying bitcoin or buying any crypto currency, its way more than that.
Are there any possibilities of using this technology in media?
Absolutely think about, I'll give you an example, think about a song, you can divide the song into bits. The author of the song or the singer who ever owns the song can now tokenize, basically provide tokens at every beats of that, so when ever its mixed across the media it can be monetized. Here is a good example of how it's going to impact the media, it will have the same on written media, on film, we're going to talk about on centralized distribution of media application, it will be fascinating.
2030 is a movement and a company working at the intersection of technology and decentralization, we believe this will be a powerful force on reshaping civilization and society. Can you explain that? What is it 2030 project?
So first of all you have given a fantastic explanation on what is 2030 so I salute you on that, yes 2030 wants to create the products and services that will be mainstream in 2030. So this is why we call it 2030, it's a long-term process; we are right now at this intersection to technology and decentralization.
Decentralized ledger technology is how we call it, we are committed to it and we are Blockchain innovation groups making experiments, producing those products and services and hopefully many of them will become mainstream at 2030.
Don't you think it is too pessimistic for 2030; maybe it will be a little bit earlier?
I hope it will be a little bit earlier, but it's a long term process because we are talking about societal change and we want to bring positive element and development for society. We want to follow the development of society in the course of that, I hope its going to be sooner than that but originally we call it 2030 because we estimated that it will be mainstream pretty much by then.
I see on your t-shirts "Project Pillar" I've checked it on your website, the description of the pillar is that it is the next generation open source wallet that can be a dashboard for your digital life. Forgive me for this compassing but is it the new "Facebook"?
Absolutely not it's actually developing the personal data locker that will help you take back your data. So right now your data whether you like it or not, doesn't belong to you, it belongs to Facebook, or to Google, or to any other organization. The tendency today in data is that you give the data to the organization and they store it, they have the data, and usually what these organizations are doing is they're monetizing it to the highest bidder, they're trying to monetize you.
When people are giving you something for free, then you're the product, and we want to help you retake that data, you can have control of your data and you can have control of your life. We're going to store it in those personal data lockers that are going to be stored on a decentralized architecture, so it's protected and doesn't have a single point of failure, as well as encrypted. We will bring the element of retaking, helping you take back your data, as well as bringing the element of security and safety so that you can have control of your life.
So basically fighting Facebook and Google to some extent.
It's a different approach to data, we're not here to fight anyone, we're a foundation a non-profit foundation, fighting anyone isn't part of our culture. If Facebook, Google or the others would like to work with us, and see how we can create a real decentralized Facebook, then we can work on that and we would be glad to work on that. They would have to address their issues on how they are giving back the data to the users as required by the general data protection regulation.
Going back to Blockchain technology, its that then basically all about taking the middle man out? Not all but quite a lot of it is taking the middleman out and empowering people directly.
It's more about freedom to the people, freedom for you to take back control of your data, taking back control of your initiatives and what you want to do. It's actually creating a better connection between for example the government and the public institutions and their citizens.
Sometimes it takes people in the middle, yes because we're all using the same-shared ledger technology because it is leveraged on Blockchain. But it's not about that, we're not here to replace anyone, we're not here to hurt anyone and we're a foundation. "Pillar" is a gift to the world, we've given it as a gift to the world and we actually want to do is bring the security and safety that today is lost, today as you can see many of these companies are getting hacked.
They are getting hacked because they are working on a centralized architecture that isn't using enough good security practices and hackers basically hack. So everyday you hear about that, we heard about the hacking of Yahoo, Dropbox, JP Morgan and many other organizations unfortunately.
The only way to really change that is to go with decentralized architecture, which is much safer, secure and a better utilization of the resources. So this is what Pillar is about, we're not here to replace anyone we're actually here to bring you control of your life, bring you your data and more freedom for you, more connections with your public institutions, with your government and many other things, that's what Pillar is about.
Turning back to Blockchain technology, there are ideas in general terms about taking this middle person away, let's say do you think that our society is ready to function without gatekeepers? Look what is happening to the media, everyone can be a journalist because of the technology, information bubbles around people, if you don't like a different opinion you can call it fake news and this is only media. Do you think that our society is ready for the benefits of the Blockchain, do you think we can handle it?
I do think that society is more than ready, some of this society is simply not exposed enough to do this idea. You know anything, if you look at the latest years, we can see that pretty much everything that happened is because people want more freedom, more control of their data, more control of their lives and be more at the deciding seat where they decide of their own fait.
People are not accepting anymore that other third parties are taking decisions for them, they want to be more implicated, and they want to have more control of their lives. The middlemen, in every technological advance will need to adapt, if they adapt well they can still have their roll in this new supply chain, if they do not have then they will be taken out, so it mean that they will not have enough value added.
The role of Blockchain is to make everything much cheaper, think about the cost economy that it will save society, how much money we are sometimes spending on those middlemen and this money can go to better education, to better health care system or repairing the roads etc. All of this money is important and we have to make the cost savings where technology is actually enabling us to do so and use that well.
Now middlemen can always, and we've seen it over time, media was the Internet, everybody said that it was the first wave of the Internet revolution, media will disappear, no. They didn't disappear, they changed, they found new business model, they found new avenues, and they had access to other people as well and bringing different opinions. Some of them are bad and we need to see how it's going to be addressed, the industry is going to have a big role in it, the Blockchain industry and we are part of that, and I look forward working with people bringing positive impacts.
But lets not be afraid of change because this change is going to bring so much transparency, again it's about transparency, trust, efficiency, reduction of cost, increased security, increased safety. Let's not be confused with those advantages by the change.
Talking about those people who are creating Blockchain at the moment what does the pool of the specialists who are Blockchain specialists in the world in terms of numbers, what do you say?
I think there are already a few thousand of people who are doing genuine things that are really beneficial to society etc. It's increasing and evolving extremely rapidly in the last couple of years, we've seen an exponential number of new people that are coming into that, who were not present before, so this is the first introduction into the Blockchain technology. Somewhere in 2008/2009 when the first whitepaper of Satoshi Nakamoto came out, until today we are already a few about 10 years into this almost. In the last 2 or 3 years a lot of people came into this.
What are skills needed to enter the Blockchain industry?
It's fascinating people are so always focused on do I need to be a technical skill, do I need to be a software engineer. Sure the technical skills are extremely important and its part of that because we are talking about technology, but there are many people and many ways to get involved in this industry, even if you are a person that studied philosophy, or journalism, there are many ways to get involved.
This communication needs to be transferred, need to be educated, a lot of education that needs to be done. Blockchain is a technology that works with other industries, so good knowledge of any other industry will be extremely valuable if you are combining it with the new advantages of technology and having tremendous impact on law, insurance, media and healthcare, transportation etc.
You came to Lithuania for opening a Blockchain center in Vilnius, what is your expectation of this center?
The centre is a tremendous initiative for Lithuania in general and Vilnius in particular it's a very important step and I salute the people who have founded and are leading these centres to expose Lithuania via centre of entry of introduction. Getting educated, getting informed, cooperation, partnerships, mentorships and many other things that are at the centre of what we do. Remember we are here for the long term, we are here to build something that is sustainable, that is beneficial to society and I hope that this centre will be at the forefront of the leap forward that we are proposing, and these centres are proposing to Lithuania.
What are your plans in terms of cooperation with this centre?
We have sponsored this centre with the intention of increasing our presence in Lithuania, working with local talent, local start ups, as well as with government institutions, and public institutions. It will be a fascinating journey and this is only the beginning.
Thank you so, so much.
About Blockchain Centre Vilnius
Blockchain Centre Vilnius is the first blockchain technology center connecting key stakeholders in three continents: Asia, Australia, and Europe. The partner Blockchain Centres in Melbourne, Shanghai and Vilnius incubate and accelerate blockchain start-ups, while sharing information about new blockchain opportunities with investors and businesses alike.
Lithuania was selected by the Australian and Asian blockchain community as the network's first location in Europe due to its political and economic stability, EU and Eurozone membership, and favourable business and regulatory environment.
The Blockchain Centre Vilnius is based in a brand new riverfront office building Green Hall 2 just minutes from the Old Town Vilnius.
Chief Executive Officer
Telephone: +370 68217179