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Highlights from Shanghai Blockchain Week

From October 23 - 28, 2020, we joined our community in China for Shanghai International Blockchain Week - a week of hackathons, talks, and events. We celebrated Filecoin’s recent mainnet launch with new and longtime fans, developers, and miners. Here are some highlights from the days’ activities.

October 23 - 25, Hackathon @ Wanxiang Blockchain Labs

The Filecoin challenge at the Wanxiang Blockchain Labs hackathon encouraged developers to build interesting dapps and critical tools for the Filecoin ecosystem with a prize pool of $10,000! The hackathon attracted21 teams with 120+ hackers in total over the three days.

Over the course of the hackathon, 6 projects added impressive Filecoin integrations! The $5000 award for the best Filecoin project went to DeBund, a project to store people’s biohealth information on the Filecoin network. The runner-up with a $3,000 award was Ownership, which facilitates open datasets on Filecoin for supply chain management and smart cities. In 3rd place with $1,000 was Meetion, a social networking platform. The remaining three projects split the remaining $1,000 award.

October 26, Filecoin Opening Day

On Filecoin opening day, over 200 attendees joined to learn about the Filecoin ecosystem, mainnet launch, ecosystem partnerships, and plans for the future. We invited the devgrant winning team, Coinsummer Lab, to share their project FileVault, which stores social media data on Filecoin. The Slingshot project, YOLO, which stores AI/ML training image data, also presented. Additionally, four top-ranking miner groups - IPFSMain, IPFSForce, 6block and IPFSUnion - recapped their Space Race experience and achievements.

There were also a number of talks from experts throughout the Filecoin ecosystem. Rin Huang from Fenbushi Capital, Chao Deng from Hashkey Capital, Neo Liang from SNZ, and Juan Tu from Yimo Capital joined a panel on the outlook of Filecoin’s ecosystem development following the mainnet launch. Colin Evran shared the Filecoin Ecosystem’s current progress on network growth and ecosystem achievements with the China community. Representatives from the Filecoin Foundation joined us to introduce the Foundation and give an overview of its goal and latest updates. ZX Zhang shared the ‘Filecoin Storage Economy’ with the audience - comparing the Filecoin mining community to Airbnb hosts who are both network operators and co-owners of the network itself. Emma Cui, the CEO of LongHash Ventures, provided a thorough introduction of the Filecoin Frontier Accelerator, which is currently accepting applications and will launch in February 2021.

Shanghai Blockchain Week 2020. Filecoin Opening Day, October 26.

10/27/20 - 10/28/20 Summit @ W the Bund Shanghai

During the final two days, we heard from Filecoin founder, Juan Benet, who presented a keynote speech and a panel with Vitalik Buterin and Gavin Wood.

Keynote, Filecoin founder Juan Benet

In Juan’s keynote, he emphasized Filecoin’s mission “to create a decentralized, efficient, and robust foundation for humanity’s information.” In 2020, the amount of data we generate will be around 58 zettabytes, and that’s expected to increase by 3x in the next four years. And yet, we only store about 7% of the information that is generated today. Cloud storage simply cannot keep up with demand, and we are losing a tremendous amount of our societies’ data to these inefficiencies.

Filecoin fundamentally transforms the business case and cost structure for storage providers. Today, a good storage provider needs a lot of hardware, software, and business services. Filecoin enables storage providers to focus their energy on a core backend and optimize for file storage as they offload the business frontend to the network and the consumers. This increases efficiency and optimization. Filecoin already has 650 petabytes of capacity.

Furthermore, Juan focused on miners of the Filecoin network. The 550+ miners on Filecoin have taken the network from 0 to over 600 petabytes in under two months. That’s equivalent to 170 million HD movies. Juan congratulated the tremendous work of the distributed community of large and small miners who made that success possible.

In the rest of his talk, Juan gave an overview of the projects and applications building on Filecoin, the importance of video streaming to the network, ecosystem integrations with protocols such as Ethereum, and community engagement through hackathons, accelerators, and partnerships.

The talk ended with four pieces of advice for attendees. 1) Bring deeply valuable data to the network. 2) Build new applications on Filecoin. 3) Think long term. 4) Be resilient.

Watch the full speech (101:45).

Panel: Filecoin founder Juan Benet, Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, Polkadot founder Gavin Wood

The panel began with each panelist answering questions about the topic(s) they think are most important right now in the blockchain technology ecosystem.

Vitalik Buterin: The most important thing is that blockchains are not just tools, they are turning into ecosystems. The value of an ecosystem is that the different parts of an ecosystem are meant to work together. The value of the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts.

Juan Benet: There is a tremendous amount of value to create in blockchain and in Filecoin in particular. Everyone has a way to benefit the network. Miners are providing storage. Developers are building dapps. Token holders are supporting the ecosystem. We are seeing the next wave of Web3 that is just beginning now with new, strong chains that are emerging. They are improving smart contracts and adding large amounts of cloud-level storage and computation. That is going to power a new wave of applications and that’s beginning right now.

Gavin Wood: First, governance continues to be a super important factor in Web3. Second, economic sovereignty hasn’t been especially present in blockchain today, and it will become more important soon. Third, future-proofing blockchain systems has been fairly short-sighted in the past. We’ll need to change our attitudes on what it means to be future proof if we want to provide systems that are as good as their centralized counterparts.

Another particularly interesting question from the panel focused on the future of Web3 and specifically about the ability of blockchain systems to be upgraded - How do we ensure blockchain technology is future proof and evolves in a rapidly-changing landscape?

Gavin Wood: Ensuring future-proofing comes down to securing two things. First, deciding how to change a system. Second, actually implementing that change across a decentralized system. Traditional first and second generation systems have answered neither particularly well. It’s difficult to arrive at consensus and execute a hard fork when upgrades are needed. In centralized systems, it’s easy; the CEO makes the decision and the company releases an upgrade. In decentralized systems, governance is the solution to the first issue. Polkadot is working on solutions to the second to make upgrading easier.

Vitalik Buterin: Future-proofing really boils down to layer 2 solutions. Over time, the bottom layers of the stack will have to solidify at some point. There is a lot of precedent in internet history for solid foundations that optimize for stability and neutrality instead of adaptiveness. After a certain point, most innovation ends up happening on the higher layers that, if needed, users can more easily switch between. The Ethereum ecosystem has been moving in that direction to solve the need for stability and adaptability.

Juan Benet: To solve the issue of being future proof, it’s important to have a strong dev community focused on upgrades and the future with strong governance principles. You need a good, standard process for creating improvements that the community actually wants. I agree with Vitalik that we’ll get lower layers solidifying over time. However, there is an important process of decomposition that needs to happen. Right now, there is a lot happening on layer 1. To really arrive at something that is going to stand the test of time, we have to decompose the complexity even further and get down to something simpler.

Watch the full speech (01:10).

Thank you Shanghai Blockchain Week for a great opportunity to celebrate Filecoin with the great community of builders, miners, fans, and entrepreneurs in China!

Filecoin is an open-source cloud storage marketplace, protocol, and incentive layer.