Crypto Clothesline's Podcast

Navroop Sahdev On Crypto Clothesline Podcast

January 25, 2019 Season 2 Episode 50
Crypto Clothesline's Podcast
Navroop Sahdev On Crypto Clothesline Podcast
Chapters
Crypto Clothesline's Podcast
Navroop Sahdev On Crypto Clothesline Podcast
Jan 25, 2019 Season 2 Episode 50
Crypto Clothesline

A Human Blockchain Bridge Between Theory And Practice

Navroop is a dynamic and positive force in blockchain technology, and possibly even more importantly, in seeing our present unfolding into the future, she’s effecting change also through emerging technology in its various manifestations, layered over a fundamental foundation of blockchain.

She's in a fairly unique position, being representative of both the fields of academia, where blockchain technology is being researched and developed, and as an industry professional actually building out these blockchain platforms in business. It’s the discovery at this grass-roots level of the day-to-day challenges, which then effectively dictates further studies of what’s needed on the ground and how best to develop the tech to meet those needs.

While being far from optimal, with only 5-6% of people in the blockchain industry being women currently, Navroop is optimistic about encouraging more to join in.  Apart from ignoring those occasional heavy-handed keyboard warriors who like to lurk in the dark behind their Facebook screens insulting from a faceless safe distance, she encourages all people, women and men, to get involved.  A space that is so new, developing at such a pace, is in need of all sorts of talent – technical and otherwise.

Talking about so much like how to effect mass adoption and converging technologies layered over a blockchain foundation, Navroop is a fascinating and highly informative guest.

 

Show Notes Transcript

A Human Blockchain Bridge Between Theory And Practice

Navroop is a dynamic and positive force in blockchain technology, and possibly even more importantly, in seeing our present unfolding into the future, she’s effecting change also through emerging technology in its various manifestations, layered over a fundamental foundation of blockchain.

She's in a fairly unique position, being representative of both the fields of academia, where blockchain technology is being researched and developed, and as an industry professional actually building out these blockchain platforms in business. It’s the discovery at this grass-roots level of the day-to-day challenges, which then effectively dictates further studies of what’s needed on the ground and how best to develop the tech to meet those needs.

While being far from optimal, with only 5-6% of people in the blockchain industry being women currently, Navroop is optimistic about encouraging more to join in.  Apart from ignoring those occasional heavy-handed keyboard warriors who like to lurk in the dark behind their Facebook screens insulting from a faceless safe distance, she encourages all people, women and men, to get involved.  A space that is so new, developing at such a pace, is in need of all sorts of talent – technical and otherwise.

Talking about so much like how to effect mass adoption and converging technologies layered over a blockchain foundation, Navroop is a fascinating and highly informative guest.

 

Speaker 1:
0:00
Very much welcome to my clothesline. Thank you so much for having me and thank you so much for being here. No, no fruit. You're often to be found in the international crypto blockchain news. I see you all over social media and so we had no war cry and talk about you to us, um, months ago when we first met Noah and we've also spoken to Juliette and Reno. So can you tell us exactly what you do and your role in this space?
Speaker 2:
0:26
Absolutely. So I have a, I would say a pretty exciting trip to life. I am one of the few people who get the opportunity to simultaneously the in the academic world where the research is happening, but also at the same time as an industry professional actually building out these blockchain platforms. So I'm very much someone that would what the day to day challenges are really where the tech is. So beyond the hype and the promises that blockchain can transform the world, I get the opportunity to actually live out these platforms. I work as the head of economic strategy. So really my job, uh, it's a stealth startup still will be making a big announcement soon. So stay tuned for that as very exciting. And uh, really, uh, in my role, what I do is we produce a small open economy which can transform entire industries and really think through what does that mean for business, what, what, what are new business models that emerge out of this, how do we monetize them?
Speaker 2:
1:32
There is value can be tapping access values. So really from the perspective of an economist, how does this not as transference happens. And then at the same time I can go back to academia and say, well, these are the challenges we face as entrepreneurs on a daily basis and there isn't much happening in terms of the, the knowledge and the intellect and the brain power we need. So actually rely a lot on research along with my coauthors colleagues at Mit, Ucla for blockchain technologies and blockchain association. And then you sort of like, you know, drive this process is to research needs to happen such that it can be useful to the world so it can be applied and it's not just like an echo chamber or a bunch of academic papers.
Speaker 1:
2:27
So you're sort of that bridge between the theory and the practice.
Speaker 2:
2:30
That's what I like to be. So
Speaker 1:
2:34
you mentioned that it's a transformative technology and crypto and blockchain are often described as more transformative than the Internet. And if you had to explain why to a layman or someone as Rebecca has a bt likes to say someone at a bus stop, how would you tell someone with no background in this space, why it is so transformative request?
Speaker 2:
2:59
Absolutely. So here's, here's my quick take on the way the world evolves and you have the first generation of economies which are face to face. There are local which are without a lot of technology. And our distributed and decentralized then came the internet and the technology provided us with the tools or I should say provider companies, big companies like facebook and Google with the tools to be able to harness economies of scale and centralize more and more of the functionality that they were providing. Tech Empires, you of it. So. So you're talking a move from somewhere. Decentralize are largely decentralized. We're all information and communication technologies and with the advent of the Internet to a far more centralized world. So with blockchain I think it gives us the opportunity to deploy our technology that in turn is decentralized and a single point of failure to talk about it in a more tech sense, but when it really facilitates, is this peer to peer engagement, peer to peer transactions and transactions. We can mean anything from money all the way to sending a message or really transferring anything. Why is it more transformative than the Internet? I think really about the agents within this network and global world that we live in, that the technology now you can engage more people. There is greater transparency and opportunities for greater efficiencies and that sort of remains to be filled out. Did I answer that question? Yes, you did. You answered it beautifully. Thank you.
Speaker 1:
5:03
So when I was um, you know, like in, in the last few months we've been sort of chasing each other around the world, so to speak digitally. So whereabouts are you right now?
Speaker 2:
5:12
I'm based out of Los Angeles. Oh, my office is in Manhattan beach and the beach. So it's very nice to see the sunset every day. I just moved here from Boston three months ago for my new role. I was working in Boston is head of economic research and my new role is really cutting across different industries and not just finance, so it sort of apply that technology to a variety of industries. So that's exciting.
Speaker 1:
5:41
And so like further to that I was interested to know like you're obviously a prominent figure in this sort of crypto currency slash blockchain world. How has it been for you being a women, a woman in that environment?
Speaker 2:
5:54
Okay.
Speaker 1:
5:55
What would you say to other women sort testing the waters, dipping their toes in thinking to get involved.
Speaker 2:
6:03
You don't need. Yeah, you don't need to think twice in terms of a or is this the right place for me or not? So when I started out in 2016, there were two kinds of people in all these conferences, uh, a where the computer engineers and be the finance guys. Right. And I was thinking, wow, there's so much that needs to be done and there's so many implications for discipline of economics in the body of work we can do and things like that. And they weren't a lot of women at all. So it's changing now. It's better than traditional finance oppose your trader on, on Wall Street. So it's not about where the industry is far more diverse and compare to traditional finance if at least in the United States. And we know that from the numbers around the genders. However it is far from Optima, right? Uh, I've seen some numbers floating routes, let's say it's only five or six percent of people working on street in blockchain space are, which is not good at all. I think really my message would be to bring your unique perspective no matter what your background is in terms of your professional background or how you see the world and it doesn't matter so much what gender you are either. I think there is space and we invented a particular shift. Take this opportunity.
Speaker 1:
7:36
I think that's a really good point. Yeah, because we ourselves have varied backgrounds. Amy Rose and I and when we sort of found that the online presence was overwhelmingly male and a quite a lot of it tech, but a lot of it. I'm sorry to say fellows, but a little bit quite arrogant. Let's talk amongst girlfriends here.
Speaker 2:
8:01
Fingers kind of famous for that sort of thing. You know, I'm going to charge a thousand dollars for a single tweet and promote your ICO. Well, the good news, you're past that 2017 ICO bubble code and code and now is really the time that the markets are take as you know, people who invested in 2017, 85 percent of their investments by now for, for the technology to really build out. I think whenever you're onto something new, the more diversity the better because at the end of the day, technology is for humans and not the other way around. So, um, I mean we have a team of designers, we have a team of humans ravages of engineers, people who user stories and product and there's so that goes in and a successful blockchain platform that I don't believe that no matter what background from that, your skillsets won't be useful. It really is about identifying that unique entry point.
Speaker 1:
9:11
Never going into the Christmas season at the time of recording and we're about to go and have dinner parties with people and Naysayers, family members. I don't know about you, but because of the market it's going to be tough sitting around that Dina say, well, with all the judgments, what would you say if you were sitting at a to, I don't know, your family is probably amazingly supportive to all the people out there who literally couldn't face sitting in a lion's den. What advice would you give them
Speaker 2:
9:45
if I told you that 25 years from now will be your groceries on your phone, that they'd be at your doorstep by the time you get home. Would you believe that the technology now is like we chattered it's probably even more transformative in many ways and be on a day to day basis trying to crack that. And so, uh, I think it's really about not so much the cryptocurrencies, the evaluation is more about what is core innovation here. My background is in, uh, is an opensource and our work on creative Commons and I think for the first time we have technology which really can serve as a coordinating mechanism more than anything to align incentives or various actors in this economic system. Right. It can be any of the world is a bunch of overlapping networks, so I personally don't see the the utility off having 2000 different cryptocurrencies so much.
Speaker 2:
10:57
I think the very point of calling them currencies fallacy because they are not going to replace anytime soon and I'm actually working on on the second a second for Forbes article in this series. Talking a little bit more about this, however, I think it really is about the technology itself enabled my reading of the spaces that there is a general sense of lack of trust in big corporations because they've got too powerful and there is a similar sort of political dynamic, at least in the United States and many other countries. We've seen waves of right wing populism and things like that as well. So if you have a technology that can make sure that what you said is true, you can. You can verify events had happened in the past because it's immutable. I think we should be using that to our best advantage. Is everyone going to be trading on a daily basis?
Speaker 2:
12:09
I don't think so. I haven't. So I think you'd really sort of bullets down to what we're talking about. I'm personally excited about the technology. So that's what I would say on that dinner table and what it can enable. Again, technology is not the end goal, but there's this sense of lack of trust that too much central central power to decentralization is hurting us too few are getting too rich and too powerful. We have studies that have shown this historic trend to be through. I think the most famous work at the moment is from Thomas Piketty, the French economist. You wrote a big book and you know, empirical evidence that inequality in the world and I think if all of these things, and to me it's not about the cryptocurrency use case, it's really about emerging tech. So whether or not you believe in it, the truth is life in the future through various different interfaces.
Speaker 2:
13:11
The tech is going to be a very important part. And another thing that I've been talking a lot about over the past couple years is the convergence of variety of technologies. So it's not just about block chain which can serve as infrastructure, but also things like ai, ar, Vr, which can be intense learning and also technologies like, you know, really any, any, anything on the emerging tech space. So neural networks, deep learning and all of that good stuff. I've heard a lot about blockchain and ai. Can you give us an example of what's being implemented right now or what's being created right now? There are. So my friends from it and benefit the spinoffs of the MIT media lab is a project called indoor. So they are in predictive analytics, right? So they basically look at network. So what's existing, what's not, and to try to predict the future using techniques from ai, deep learning neural networks and things like that.
Speaker 2:
14:11
And so they've started implementing blockchain tech and um, it can, it can serve as the validation mechanism for something like a predictive analytics company to make sure that the data that's going in is tamper proof and whatever is spread out through the analysis is as well. Um, and if, if you look at it from a more, what's going to happen in the future scenario, I see blockchain as the infrastructure technology and all the other technologies that go on top that relate to the end of the day. You can see this as, as a database, right? And really about the AI and, and all the other technologies that going facing functions, right? You're building an entirely new stack of technology infrastructure. So it really depends on what you're building and how sort of fit in.
Speaker 1:
15:16
That's an interesting thing because you mentioned predictive analytics and that brought to mind are predictive linguistics and last year, especially in 2017, a lot of people in my crypto mania circles, we're following the work of clip high. And he was putting out some really interesting papers with some really interesting assertions about how cryptal will move based on these predictive linguistics. Like all of these algorithms based on how many times certain language, certain language format, certainly lexical items, words came up across the space of the Internet. And you know, he had some sort of software that could scrape all this information. And then he would compile it into these fascinating and amazing sort of 26 page report and a lot of it came true in a lot of it didn't. And there was always reasoning about why, why or why not. Those things were effective or ineffective.
Speaker 1:
16:05
But it's a, it's a fascinating area to be involved in. I was interested to know like, which you've spoken about a lack of trust. We're talking about the dinner party conversation. We're talking about those hearts and tricky, you know, sweaty armpit moments around the dinner table when your, your family or your loved ones are giving you a hard time about raving about crypto. You're talking about the convergence of emerging tech, but what do you actually think is needed in order to make bitcoin and the crypto cousins a mainstream accepted form of, if not a currency, as you mentioned before, you didn't think that was an appropriate descriptor, but as an appropriate means of regular daily exchange, how do we make it, how do we make it that everyone gets it and loves using it?
Speaker 2:
16:49
Yeah, that's a great question. Um, again, bitcoin is the first, first cryptocurrency I would say in terms off ensuring that the technology does become mainstream. Two things need to happen. The first is the actual. So a lot of people raised a lot of money in joining 17 billions of dollars from the ICU or regular vc investments and things like that. Now is the time to actually build this APP. What would define whether or not technology is successful is consumer adoption. So there isn't a lot of talk about adoption in particular and I think that is what make all the difference in the world, right? You can have the coolest tech in the world, but if no one's using it well,
Speaker 1:
17:44
who was taking the world?
Speaker 2:
17:48
So it's funny, I was reading at a brand new book that he, uh, he launched. And you're just talking about how empirically, if you look at it, 40 percent of innovation is timing, timing, right? So historically we have a lot of evidence where TAC was ahead of its time and it didn't work out because people didn't get her, you know, they didn't understand, well, why would, why would I do all this complicated nonsense, but just go to the local grocery store and buy the stuff. So there are a lot of hurdles regardless of the technology. I think the fundamental divergence remaining the same and I'm saying, well, okay, here's a new mechanism to raise capital and that's really what blockchain has enabled the doubt without a doubt. Um, but beyond that, now I think it's, it's really about can you actually build the stuff up and you promised and second can you get people to use it.
Speaker 1:
18:55
So does that mean like point of sales like having. Because it was one of the side businesses that, um, that I have helped to cocreate is all about having retailers and merchants and outlets having an easy point of sale system so they can accept payments in crypto. Do you see that as one of the mains of it becoming commonplace? Or do you think people need more education before we can even get to that level?
Speaker 2:
19:17
Well, I think we have the connected world, let's say in the 19 nineties. So the adoption curves are getting steeper and steeper in terms of how quickly a new technology gets adopted. Right? So if you had a TV connection or Internet connection 10 years ago, there was a process to it, but now when you already have the internet, how long does it take to download an map? Right? So, so it's, it's similar for the tech that actually operate the infrastructure back blockchain or our whatever adapts to use to connect with blockchain would essentially be applications are running on the Internet. So, so then, um, I think since the Internet already exists, you are from a lot of the adoption curve hurdles that could exist otherwise. And, and really I think what it does is the companies have their, their, their tests in terms of other enough, their product will be successful pretty early on.
Speaker 2:
20:27
So it to take you 20 years to figure out whether this is going to be successful or not. You've been put off your product or platform out there and you can get this feedback quickly, so I'm really talking about people wanting to use it from a demand side and not necessarily sales going out and showcasing to folks like, Hey, you want to use this more like from a supplier side, I think there is enough buzz around that if there are promising projects that people would want to use it because now we are used to going to the internet and searching things for ourselves rather than a sales person coming at home. Right. So, so when I think of adoption, I'm really thinking in terms of a network and how quickly the information flows through that network. What does that network look like? In other words, what is the structure of the topology of that network? Is it connected and hence the. Is it more connected or less connected and hence the flow of information. How quickly? For example, rumors. So you can trace twitter as a single global map and every activity on it and you can visualize. So we now have the tools from network science to run the analysis pretty quickly.
Speaker 1:
21:52
Hm, interesting. I, I'm, I'm still sort of fascinated, so which comes first, the chicken or the egg because we need the demand, but if people don't know, if they don't trust crypto then how do we. Yeah, and a lot of people do do their own research online, but there are also a lot of people who were just passively sitting back in the lounge chairs watching TV and believing every single piece of information that comes into this space. And I, I, I would challenge that. A lot of people don't actually challenge the information. They're given some tools and media and banking and corporations take this on and say, hey guys, you need this. It's when it will become mainstream. I'm a little cynical about that.
Speaker 2:
22:31
What are, I think there is a validation that what you just said that uh, misinformation spreads quickly. Inflammation, right? So, um, I think one of the things that comes up frequently with corporate partners, people don't need to know they are using our technology backend which may be different from the previous one. So it doesn't matter to that whether it's centralized or decentralized. What they care about is, is he's a fusing the tech and function and I think that's the sort of aspect that are attacking is to, okay, does it reduce the cost of physicists? Of course there are consumer facing stuff and then there's like the customer facing stuff, more stuff, but I think it's not so much about crypto at few use cases or investing in it. I think it's more about just the technology because the technology, the infrastructure in the future. So that's like saying the non sexy jobs of the Internet and the name of Davis and uh, it's, it's not the, uh, the facebook or the Google, it's people sitting in the trees and writing code and you know, chunky computers which now look at them and we go like, oh my God, I think what it takes never eat.
Speaker 2:
24:14
Before we go. Is there any quote that really resonates with you article last year? I'm really fascinated with the polar regions to Iceland for the first time and that's kind of, there's this one quote that I want to print and put it on my bedroom wall from Sherry apps. The British explorers in the Antarctic and he said if you have the desire for knowledge and the power to give it physical expression, go out and explore.
Speaker 1:
24:48
So if you have the desire for knowledge and the power to physically express it and go out and explore awesome data that can be talking about physical movement, but it can also be talking about just diving into those areas that the psyche that are unexplored
Speaker 2:
25:05
beautifully captures that the intellectual curiosity is necessary, but it's probably not a, it's a, it's a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition to go change the world, but it's the power of their desire and the will to, to give it physical expression. Right? So you might want to change no representation of women in, in the crypto space, but here's the thing, you guys started a podcast to actually rank change and to actually take action to effect that change in a positive manner that makes all the difference. A shorter version, but I highly recommend reading his book. It's called the, uh, the worst winter.
Speaker 1:
25:54
Actually, one of the things I wanted to mention to our readers, you've mentioned quite a few books a including with my list. You talked about indoor predictive analytics. You talked about Thomas, but I believe that you talked about your Forbes articles, so all of those things. Do you think we might be able to get you to send them to me, the links and I'll include them in our show notes for our interview.
Speaker 2:
26:16
I'm more than happy to connect with anyone who would like to. I'm pretty easy to find on linkedin and twitter and a bunch of resources out there. I try to share stuff regularly with, uh, with my network and friends and colleagues, but also at the same time I'm more than happy to share the resources and other our recommend David, the modern philosophers. The book is called wholeness and the implicate order. I recently gave a tedtalk and coated that in there as well. And I think it really brings in. So the book is about. Sorry, let me take a step back. The book is about how we perceive the world and the link to consciousness. Uh, the key message and in, in every single sentence of the book can be undermined as a single code is around the way they look at the world is fragmented, but that's not the way the world is, right?
Speaker 2:
27:19
So there's no personal life versus professional. Life is only one life. Humans in many ways to classify things, taxonomies and things like that in order to, to start specializing and continue to build knowledge and it serves a function, but there's no difference between economics and computer science and physics. That is our classification. So I think it really reminds you that no matter what background view from I'm at the end of the day, it is, is homeless that we are all pursuing. Um, and these divisions are human and they artificially made. So don't ever think, oh, I'm not from a cryptography background. So I, I don't, uh, I don't fit in, in, in lefthand space or I'm a psychologist. I think those perspectives are equally valuable if not more. Um, particularly the training and liberal arts is leaving for it. I think ai can write software and the teacher. Yeah. I cannot decide what's what is morally, what is the sort of technology we should be building out. So those are the sorts of voices we need right now as we build these systems. But we love, we love nerding out around this stuff. It's been a fantastic conversation. We love that you as a woman of bringing so much strength and solidity and freedom to this whole area. So thank you for joining us. Thanks to you. Thank you.
×

Listen to this podcast on