MIT’s Web3 Summit Sparks Optimism Amongst Top Thought Leaders

MIT Web3 Summit, Natalie Salesmink

While news about the metaverse and cryptocurrencies have swept through the mainstream media, society is still trying to decipher hype from reality in the early days of the new era. To better understand how Web3 will be shaping our society in the coming years, MIT hosted the first of three conference events this year called, “Imagination in Action” in partnership with Forbes, which took place on June 30th, 2022.

MIT’s Web3 Summit combined cutting-edge ideation with real-world application to 1) explore how Web3 will shape society 2) to discover what drives the economy, and 3) how innovators are shaping the future.

“I wanted all the presenters to be ‘imaginators,'” stated Imagination in Action’s creator, John Werner. “These are difficult times, a recession, therefore we need imaginative individuals,” he continued.  

Werner co-founded the Imagination in Action conference with Sandy Pentland, director of MIT Connection Science, with the intention of encouraging interactions between investors, innovators, speakers, and participants.

Along with Skadi Lab’s Natalie Salemink, participating imaginators included Ava Lab’s John Wu, Abra’s Bill Barhydt, Animoca’s Yat Siu, MIT Media Lab’s new associate director Ramesh Raskar, Kleiner Perkins’ Bing Gordon, Esther Dyson, and Forbes CEO Mike Federle.

With over 580 thought leaders in attendance, there was no shortage of imagination — and to really get a sense of what the energy felt like, we connected with Natalie Salesmink, who has recently been named by Forbes 30 Under 30, and who was also invited to speak at the conference on the topic of “Economics – Adopting Crypto.”

You can tell how passionate Natalie is about blockchain technology and its potential just in the first few minutes of speaking, as her energy and excitement is exuberating. Like Natalie, many other top thoughts leaders left the conference feeling inspired knowing that the current market downfall is just temporary, and that Web3 technology is soon going to bring radical and transformative change to society.

Check out the inspiring interview with Natalie Salesmink.

What’s your takeaway from MIT’s Web3 Summit? What is the collective thought on how Web3 will shape society ? 

The Summit was an incredible experience filled with diverse, interesting attendees who offered fresh perspectives that can often be lost at the finance and tech-dominant orientations of most crypto conferences. Above all, it really highlighted the universality of interest in Web3 across disciplines – in one full day I met people involved in everything from filmography to microbe research in cattle for enhancement of milk production!

In particular, John Wu from Ava Labs’ remark on “Web3 as the internet of value” really resonated with me.  It’s clear from the conference that the combination of online communities and appropriately-applied incentive layers is extraordinarily powerful.

Now more than ever, I am convinced that Web3 technologies will play a tremendous role in transforming and uplifting society as we know it, whether it’s in the areas of commerce, future of work, governance, or other such areas beyond our current imagination. 

What was the atmosphere like at this conference? Were there any intriguing conversations or presentations that really stuck with you?

Thanks to the great work, enthusiastic attendees, and creative summit structure by John Werner and his team, the atmosphere was filled with optimism, curiosity, and a strong sense of anticipation. The day was divided into three segments, collectively exploring the intersection of Web3 and real-life institutions as it relates to ideas of ownership, community, government, and trust, what is driving the Web3 economy and attracting venture investment, and finally the infrastructure or building blocks on which Web3 builders and creators are building or launching their startup ideas.

While there was an abundance of great thought leadership and new ideas discussed throughout the day, I particularly enjoyed the investment panel where the panelists are seeing founders take a more defensive regulatory position by issuing equity with token warrants.  From an investor standpoint, they also opined on the need to understand where value flows from a product with respect to equity vs. tokens, and that rarely is it possible for both pieces to capture that business value. 

The interview with author Ben Mezrich, who discussed in detail many of the happenings at Meta, Libra and Gemini, was also a fiery and entertaining coda to the day’s events!

Do you mind sharing a brief recap of your topic?

Our panel, “Economics – Adopting Crypto”, touched on a number of different themes regarding blockchain’s adoption and growth prospects. In general, the panelists agreed that we are very early as measured by user adoption, and we still have a long way to go in terms of broadening participation and bringing real value to users.

Regarding use cases, we discussed cross-border payments, global currency, digital identities, and taking back more control over our data. Ten years from now, we anticipate users that live in countries with low levels of trust in government and lack of access to stable financial systems as those poised to experience the greatest benefit from Web3 technologies.

Finally, to ensure the continued growth and success of Web3, the consensus of the panel was that a combination of targeted regulation and thoughtful UI/UX that abstracts away anything that “feels” like interacting with blockchains is a dire need. In light of the recent leveraged blow-ups in DeFi and lending companies, decentralized insurance also seems to be a necessary lego piece to help in brokering trust in blockchain services and currencies for the general public.

We hear that you’re working on Skadi Labs, building DAO and DeFi tools in emerging ecosystems, and one of them is about 2-3 months away from launching the PrismDAO platform! 

At Skadi Labs, we are focused on making asymmetric development bets on new blockchain technologies and pinpointing the products that would best accelerate growth and accessibility. To that end, we are exploring various products on burgeoning ecosystems such as Aptos, Cronos, NEAR and more.

We are developing one such product on Algorand, where the need for a strong multisig product is evident given the significant growth of the application layer in that ecosystem. The constant ask for a safe, user-friendly way for users to interact and govern on these dApps was the inspiration for Prismatic’s PrismSAFE and PrismDAO. We have seen extraordinary communities grow on Algorand, particularly around NFT collections, and we are very excited to give the people what they want! We hope that our product not only helps people effectively govern and build trust in each other, but also help to onboard many more users and DAOs onto Algorand.

Anything else you would like to add? What’s the next big event you’re heading to now? Any comments on the current state of the crypto and stock market? 

We are constantly thinking about what the next wave of use-cases in crypto might be. DAOs are definitely a strong growth and focus area for us, but we are also very interested in how privacy tech will enable digital identity. The notion of persistent blockchain-enabled ID would unlock a well-spring of value, a small sampling of which may include undercollateralized lending, on-chain ownership, and achievement and skill attestations.

From these building blocks, we can begin to piece together the potential of contribution and reputation-based decentralized organizations and how that could truly disrupt and democratize the future of work. 

With airtight reputation on-chain, DAOs could explore rewarding contribution and participation while moving away from the mis-aligned, lowest common denominator of wealth, wallet size, or whale holders. While many of these ideas have been discussed on paper over the past few years, the recent explosion of interest in DeFi, DAOs, and decentralized identity suggests that the future may be closer than ever.

For the next event, I am extremely excited for the Effective Altruism conference in San Francisco at the end of July. EA conferences are always filled with formidable and inspiring thinkers, and I always end up leaving smarter.

While the markets may be in the red, it is evident for whoever attends these conferences that the enthusiasm to build and for new ideas has not only never waned, but is stronger than ever.

For me and the rest of the team at Skadi Labs, this pullback in crypto and global equities is just a small ripple in the massive ocean of potential that we see in Web3 technology and community. We look forward to HODL and BUIDL on 🙂

About Natalie Salemink

Natalie is the CEO and Founder of Skadi Labs, a technology company that recently built Prismatic: the place to create, manage and govern DAOs on Algorand. Natalie has 8 years of experience in blockchain-based capital markets across Australia, Singapore and Switzerland. Prior to founding Skadi Labs, Natalie worked at the SIX Digital Exchange in Zurich, a digital cash start-up in Sydney and founded as well as consulted various blockchain start-ups across Switzerland and Singapore. She also advices governments on defi regulation.

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