On Tuesday 30 April, Tom Grogan, Co-Lead of the Blockchain Group, spoke at Oslo Blockchain Day alongside our friends at Berkeley Research Group, on how the role of governments is changing in response to the emergence and proliferation of advance technologies such as blockchain.
When evaluating the merits of adopting and implementing a technology solution, Tom spoke about the importance of not getting lost in the noise associated with anything considered 'cutting edge', and highlighted that the focus should be on how the given technology solution might solve a problem or improve citizens' lives. He said:
"Let's look at an example of emerging technology discourse done right: 5G. Almost universally, governments are quite positive about this new technology, just as they were for 4G and 3G before it. This isn't a reflection of a sudden widespread enthusiasm for MIMO antennas or the utilisation of an increased spectrum – governments and their citizens just don't care, and nor should they. They want 5G because they believe it will increase the speed of their mobile internet connections and generate economic growth and jobs through the creation of more and better content."
Tom talked about Mishcon's experience working alongside HM Land Registry on the completion of the first digitised end-to-end residential property transaction in the UK, as well as advising the Executive Office of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi on the development of their blockchain policy and use-case evaluation criteria. He also talked about how important it is for legal advisers to have an intimate knowledge of the technical aspects of emerging technologies such as blockchain, whilst also having the expertise to understand how things, like distributed computing and machine learning, might interact with existing legal and regulatory frameworks.
Tom also participated in a panel discussion entitled, "Should we regulate blockchain?". The panel was chaired by Kieran Brown (Berkeley Research Group), and was comprised of Leo Sande Gasnier (Norwegian Business Registry, Brønnøysundregisteret), Stein Bjørnstad (Blockchangers) and Thea Sommerseth Myhren (Diwala). The panel was asked, amongst other things, whether the regulation of blockchain technology might hinder innovation. Tom argued that framing regulation and innovation as being mutually exclusive is inaccurate, and used the explosion of investment and innovation in e-commerce following the introduction of regulations in the early noughties to demonstrate his point.
Oslo Blockchain Day was a huge success and we particularly enjoyed the opportunity to better understand the Norwegian sentiments and priorities in respect of emerging technologies. We also enjoyed the company of some fascinating experts in their field, including Linda Hesselberg (Partner, LØRN.TECH, Norway’s leading technology content curator), Magnus Jones (Tax Technologist, EY), Nabil Manzoor and Octavia Threlfall (Managing Director and Associate respectively, Berkeley Research Group), Katie Mills (Co-Founder and Director, StateZero Labs), Gustav Arentoft and Nikolaj Lollike (MakerDAO), Charles Hamel (Head of Crypto, Opera), the previously mentioned panellists and many more. A huge thank you to all those who attended, and to Maria Amelie and the wider Blockchangers team who helped make the event run so smoothly.
Oslo Blockchain Day is an annual event hosted by Blockchangers in Oslo, Norway. For details of future editions, visit osloblockchainday.no.