Last week, Shanghai welcomed hundreds of blockchain professionals, investors, and hobbyists for International Blockchain Week. Monday through Wednesday saw Devcon 2, the Ethereum Developer conference. Thursday through Saturday then followed with the second annual Global Blockchain Summit, targeting the business of blockchain.
I was fortunate enough to make it to Shanghai late Sunday night, ready to see what the community had been up to since last Fall. The city looked alright.
Upon arriving at the Hyatt Monday morning, I found a line of ETH heads awaiting registration. Scanning the room for familiar faces, I came to the realization that I had finally reached a point in life where almost everyone around me was basically just a curious nerd at heart.
The grand ballroom was soon full of jet-lagged developers saturating the hotel's WiFi capacity. Introductions began, noting the absence of core developers working on a fix to geth's memory leak bug.
Around 10am, Pope Vitalik entered the room, describing a "5:30am military style wake up", with the news that geth clients around the world had been crashing. Soon enough, the talks commenced. I'll mention a few of my favourites, sparing many details that I'll reserve for more technical posts.
Peter Van Valkenburg started things off with his work at Coin Center towards educating regulators, developing policy reports, and the current legal landscape concerning Dapp developers and token distribution. Such warnings and tips on staying out of the grey area, to me, sounded something like "you're probably alright if you're not chasing money".
This was a nice way to start the conference, setting the tone to one of cooperation, safety, and education. These themes in fact dominated a number of sessions focused on formal verification and smart contract security.
Philip Daian, a Ph.D student at IC3 discussed the academic climate of smart contracts. He proposed a strategy for the correctness of contracts with the use of formal verification methods, escape hatches, and bug bounties.
I hope to see more of this kind of academic rigour in Ethereum.
A state channel is a key scalability construct that serves to facilitate rapid off-chain transactions among groups of peers who so agree.
Jeff Coleman is actively researching state channels, their implementations, use cases, and problems. After outlining these in no more than 10 minutes, he walked through a comparison of Etherdice played on chain and off-chain.
After a long day, mingling, eating, and drinking promptly began. The view from the 32nd floor was magical.