Blockchain in Focus

Blockchain applications, investments and partnerships were discussed last week at the World Blockchain Forum in Dubai.

The event, with reported attendance of 2,000, took place as blockchain gains traction and moves — albeit slowly — from proof-of-concept stage toward more widespread production and delivery of benefits for companies across a range of industries.

Blockchain is a key component in the strategy of Agorai, a startup that is developing a marketplace for artificial intelligence software and data assets with the aim of breaking what some see as an oligarchic landscape that is constraining the development of AI.

We believe that blockchain combined with a distributed marketplace can provide tools for companies that can’t afford the more expensive custom solutions, Agorai CEO and World Blockchain Forum keynote speaker Josh Sutton told Markets Media. This is a solution that brings back a level playing field where smaller players can innovate on an equal footing with incumbents, and drive forward progress.

Agorai uses what Sutton calls an applied blockchain. We are taking blockchain and using it for what it’s very good at, which is security, transparency, and distributing ownership of assets, without a central governing entity, Sutton said. We’re not trying to redefine something or create something new. We’re creating a marketplace that enables access, and the application of blockchain is fundamental to that.

Dubai is an apropos venue for the World Blockchain Forum, as the UAE business hub is positioning itself as an early mover on blockchain, with the goal of being the first blockchain-powered government in the world by 2020. According to media reports, this would entail all visa applications, bill payments and license renewals to be transacted via blockchain; there are also blockchain initiatives in transportation, energy, health, and education.

At the WBF, Agorai announced its marketplace will run on DADIs cloud network, and the two companies will collaborate to further develop AI capabilities.

Integrating with DADI will provide our participants with a much-needed choice of how they interact with our platform, keeping costs low, distributing compute power and ensuring anyone can access our platform to make use of data assets, or to access AI tools and applications, Sutton said in a statement.

One broad topic prominent in blockchain discussions is the regulatory outlook. Blockchain and blockchain companies are transitioning from being operated in a bubble outside of the world, to something that governments pay attention to, Sutton said.

From a regulatory point of view, some people want to put more governing rules around blockchain, Sutton added. So one of the key topics is what does regulation look like in this world as companies become more mature and more legitimate.