FTP033: Blockchain - Building Blocks for a New Society with Vince Meens Interview on Future Thinkers Podcast with Mike Gilliland and Euvie Ivanova
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[0:01:22] Mike: Vince, welcome to the show, it’s good to have you.
Vince: Thank you, yeah, nice to meet you and nice to be in Plovdiv I’m very excited to be here and see all the energy surrounding start-ups that are setting up here. So… Very happy to be here
Mike: I think you are the third person we ever interviewed face to face, so this is kind of cool for us too.
Vince: Oh I hope it doesn’t disappoint. So, umm. Yeah haha okay.
[0:01:46] Mike: So we’ve had a lot of interesting conversations in the last couple of days, you’ve arrive yesterday and we had a blockchain meet-up, we did some presentations and stuff, I spoke you spoke Aric Dromi, our last interviewee also spoke, and we talked about a lot of interesting things.
So what was most interesting to you?
Vince: I think blockchain as a whole is one of the first technologies that’s gonna connect us really instead of keeping us separate. As a follow-up to the internet where basically we had the infrastructure to connect, now we need to have the reason to connect. We need to have the logic, we need to have the mapping of how we’re all related and how we’re all valuable to each other and I think for the first time, as humanity, we can start really acting like this collective intelligence and start doing super cool things.
[0:02:33] Mike: What was the conversation, today, that we were having, where you were talking about your hesitations about the blockchain and you said something about it being the logic thing.
So what was your hesitation about the blockchain, Euvie?
Euvie: Oh, not so much hesitation, but my point was that there are always a percentage of the humans who will wanna colonize and invade things and kind of stick their own agenda into every technology.
So, how the printing press people thought that it was gonna liberate everyone, you know, push us into enlightenment age, and to a degree it did, and then the same happened with the radio and the same happened with the internet. People had super high hopes, and now people have really high hopes for the blockchain and so I wonder if in a few years if it becomes mainstream if it will get corrupted.
[0:03:18] Vince: I think the main thing to grasp about the blockchain is that all of the previous technologies like the printing press and the radio and internet are basically replacements of the previous infrastructure to communicate on a large scale all around the world. And if you compare it to the body it’s mostly the infrastructure that gets updated every couple of decades. So, it’s like the blood vessels and the nervous system. But the brain and the logic is always something that we as humanity kept private within organizations or within individuals. And it’s not something that we really shared as humanity, and I think now with blockchain, if you compare it to the human body, is the first time that we get like a collective brain, a collective logic and a collective memory of everything that happened. To reason with that logic for the future.
[0:04:05] So I think it’s really a new technology for the first time. And I think something super cool is if you look at it and you zoom out you see that as humanity we are comparable to cells in our bodies forming us as a human. I think us as humans in our turn together form this giant organism called humanity. And If we have a collective brain and a collective logic we can start putting that to use we can do even greater things than we’re doing right now.
[0:04:35] Euvie: It’s like the blockchain could become conscious.
Vince: Definitely. I think in the end it’s just a mapping of all the small decisions that you can check with the history and with the sensors that are all around us or whatever, that’s gonna create this never-ending logic of improvement. And the cool thing about the blockchain is that every one of us with just a couple lines of code can put out there to benefit all of us.
And it will be out there, and it will be maintained and it cannot be taken down because it’s out there. It’s a one-way street, you can only add things to the blockchain.
I think in the future if we start seeing the power of all of us just sending something out there and it can impact us even after our lives. Yeah, it’s gonna do a lot of good in the world.
[0:05:22] Mike: What do you think are some of the more obvious and basic applications for blockchain coming up?
Vince: I think one of the important things ??? consumer behavior with the stuff that we buy. I think we live in a very consumer based society where we buy products instead of the story behind products. We buy our clothes from chains where people work who are not original founders so you get like distance from the things that you buy. I think with the blockchain when you can see the whole history of how the product came to be you can go back literally to the root of everything you buy. If you drink coffee you can start tracing the farmer that actually farmed those coffee beans, the person who grinded it. And so, you can see the whole story of everything that you buy and the other way around is also that the people selling you can see your story.
So, it will be a world where we can start seeing the impact of everything that we do and we can also feel responsible for everything that we do because we can see the relations between everything. So I think the supply chain transparency and behavior transparency those are like the big things.
[0:06:29] I think it’s also allow, tvs are getting smart, cars are getting smart and so on, I think the interesting aspect of the blockchain Is that we can put wallets into anything around us. Not just humans not just businesses but also that car which can start doing transactions, it can start paying the road it drives on, it can pay the car in front of it to go to the side. It can start paying its own parking ticket and so on.

A lot of things will start being real transactions that are recorded that are now just separate things happening. And I think that’s something really cool that’s gonna happen.
[0:07:06] Mike: There seems to be sort of a, like, to imagine that sort of scenario you need to go through some sort of mental shift. What do you think that mental shift is? That common person might be able to go “okay that’s normal a car paying to..”
Vince: I think now that just administration of all these transactions takes work, like a human needs to enter all these things. It’s something that you think it’s no point in recording all these things. But because with blockchain wastefulness of recording transactions is so easy, you can start registering a lot of things and this can be sensor this can be door lock, this can be light shining on someone that’s under the lightbulb that detects that that person is sitting under the lightbulb, and this person can start paying for this lightbulb instead of person who owns the room.
Because we can start tracking all the usage of all the small things that we think is just too small to track, we’re gonna track and we’re gonna make it more honest. It’s just like now I’m visiting you guys here in Bulgaria but I pay taxes in Netherlands even though im just two days in Bulgaria. But if it gets all connected, I can pay taxes very easily just for these two days in Bulgaria because I use your infrastructure, your utilities and so on.
[0:08:18] Euvie: It’s interesting we were having a conversation with a friend actually, yesterday, it think it was about solar panels. In Mike’s presentation there is a bit how with blockchain if somebody has solar panels on their roof they can sell excess energy directly to their neighbors or to their city without going through the municipality or through a big power company. And our friend was like, oh, but I don’t wanna deal with making deals with 5 neighbors it just sounds like more work but actually what people don’t realize is that you can preset contracts that are gonna be automated and you don’t even have to think about it and you cut out actually a lot of bureaucracy actually by doing that.
Mike: By cutting out the middle man which is we typically think of as the middle man we’re actually adding more work and more decision making to be individual. But no, it’s an automated system, there just not one person benefiting in a monopolistic setting.
So I think that was interesting that even he who is more familiar with the blockchain was still like “ah, there are good things with middle man as well”.
[0:09:15] But I think that the bureaucracy aspect is not like you need to go to your solar panel and monitor and track some number put it on a marketplace or whatever. It’s with the blockchain that your solar panel itself will do the transaction and will find the person buying it. The whole hassle will be gone to start sharing all our overcapacity of everything that we have around us. Think it’s going to be a big change of ownership. I think we need to drop ownership in a way because we also had the discussion about for example the phone bills where you have your extra minutes and your extra data that then in the future you’re gonna share with all the people so that they can use all your remaining space. This is gonna happen with most of the resource that we have.
[0:10:01] Now we all overproduce we overconsume we all have duplicates of a lot of things we’re not using at a certain moment and its time to divide it more even. Take the example of a car again if you’ve parked it and you’re not using it, the car can be used by someone else and then it generates money instead of costing money.
I think we have to look at a lot of things that are happening in the society with this model and turn it around and start utilizing it.
Euvie: That’s one of the ideas actually that we have far the incubator where we’re gonna have. I mean we’ll have to buy the equipment lie the VR setups and different things then people can come in and use and hopefully incorporate the blockchain so that it tracks usage and people can just pay micro transactions for the short time they’re using it instead of having to go out and buy their own VR goggles which are quite expensive.
[0:10:53] I think in the future because it becomes so easy to track who is using something at the moment we need to start seeing things literally in the minutes or hours that they’re used and now we divide the house ownership into rent where you break it into units of a month. And then we have hotels where they break it into days and we have meeting rooms that you can rent by the hour. But I think you can apply this for any space that you have or any tool or any asset that you have.
If we have the tools to administer to register even just a couple of seconds of usage then even a washing machine can have a thousand owners at the same time if they all do it sequentially. And this becomes easy thanks to the blockchain technology.
[0:11:32] Mike: I’ve even thought of like speaking to all of our neighbors in the building about collectively getting a room sweeper so no one has to sweep the floors anymore.
Vince: Exactly, what’s the point of all having the same stuff it’s a crazy realization and it comes forth out of this industrial mindset of producing products constantly and pushing everyone to buy the same things. Like a lot of people have the ladder at their home and they only use it once a year to climb onto something and its pointless to have the ladder. And with the washing machine I think its similar. You have so many items in your building that you can share easily, you just need a simple tool to take the hassle out of sharing it and see the responsibility of the people that use it and so on.
[0:12:16] Mike: If I am not familiar with this sort of thing, how do you connect the objects that you’re not using to the blockchain?
Vince: I think that we need to start bringing everything online like the internet of things taught so the room wash would also have a unique identifier on the blockchain that I can do a transaction to, to buy the right for next time and then It gets tracked for example where the thing is, so that when the next person wants to use it he should be able to see instantly that it’s at the neighbors place two doors up. It should be able to see that okay if somethings broken, that the last person did that.
But everything should have this unique identifier and be registered and start interacting with the blockchain.
[0:12:55] Euvie: I think a lot for people would think, well what are the privacy issues with this kind of system where everything knows everything about everyone.
Vince: Yeah I think the cool thing about the blockchain technology is that you can have so many different addresses to do transactions with that you can create a new address every time. And an address is basically like a wallet within a wallet. And so for every wallet I can decide to announce to the world that this is me, or I can say im gonna remain anonymous with this. So maybe you will just have a wallet for the roomer that cleans the rooms and you will keep it separate from the transaction that you do for your food or the transaction that you do for your business, so people don’t necessarily have to see all the relations between all these things. You can easily separate it and keep it anonymous.
[0:13:42] Euvie: You talked about reputation systems on the blockchain. So based on your reputation maybe the price of somethings changes or your status in the neighborhood changes based on how much you contributed to that neighborhood.
Vince: Yeah I think now the supply side always determines the price, a cup of coffee is always a cup of coffee and it’s the same for you and for me and so on. You see a lot of business start to build these loyalty programs where you can get an extra cup of coffee if you bought ten but I think that’s just the beginning, it can be done way smarter. Again an example with the car where the car will track how you drive, if you drive pollutive or you drive eco-friendly and if you then go to the gas station the price can be different if you use the energy thoughtfully or if you waste energy it can be higher price. It’s going to be the same in the super market where you can scan the products and see if they are sources from local farmers and if then as a person you always buy from local farmers and thereby support local economy things might become cheaper than actually buying them from like… Like in the Netherlands a lot of people eat avocados and they always fly in from Chile and the other side of the world.
[0:14:55] And i always think its ridicules that for less than one euro this thing can board a plane, fly to the other side of the globe and be on my plate. I think that it’s an insane thing that we find this normal, and actually that apple that I buy from the farmer down the road might be more expensive than this avocado from the Chile.
Euvie: This actually really relates to the thing we were talking about with implementing basic income and how one of the ways we can do it is implementing the carbon tax. And the carbon tax would be charged every time you do something that you know pollutes the planet.
[0:15:28] It could be that a piece of fruit that gets plucked from the field it has a certain base price and the price become variable based on a lot of factors. One factor could be for example that it becomes stale and less fresh and then the price decreases over time. But you can also put a geo location as to where it was plucked and then the more it gets removed from the place it was plucked, the price increases. So then you can start incentivizing to consume things and grow them locally for example. I think that’s in the future a way to trigger people to be more aware of consuming local things that don’t impact the environment that much. Or that you see that the supermarket if it wants to source products, it can see in the supply chain how many transportation links where in between, like truck and boats and airplanes or whatever and it can calculate, because geo locations were are tracked at all these points, how much pollution was created to get this thing there.
[0:16:29] Yeah, you can start creating logic about that and yeah its going to incentivize a lot of good behavior and more honest local buying from consumers.
Euvie: Yeah I find that concept of creating the right incentives really fascinating because right now in our world the incentives are all wrong. We have a lot of incentives around making money and keeping things secret in business so that nobody can steal your process or whatever but if we can incentivize different things we could really change how we live.
Yeah I think this has to do again with how the money system was built and now if I transact a hundred euros to, you the values is seen as these hundred euros, and you feel powerful that you have this note of a hundred euros. But with the blockchain It also registers that we made that transaction for a certain reason. You get this like, account, like I bought this from you and once you start spending it all the transaction that will be done with these hundred euros will be linked to this.
[0:17:24] So you will be more and more aware of that your hundred euros is not that literally that money shifting but it’s also connecting that certain network with certain networks of other transactions in the future and the past. And it builds more value over time than the actual hundred euros. So it become in the future less and less valuable to hold this money because if you hold it there are no connections being made with that money. And you might be poor in the future if you hold on to your money instead of spending it because spending it becomes the smartest thing to do because it connects more reputation to you.
[0:18:00] And you should start incentivizing people to for example spend money only in their area or only in their friend group and that money also has an expiration date like food and you say like okay here you have a hundred euros but you need to spend it in your neighborhood and if you do that within a month it will become a hundred and ten euros or something like that, and if we all do this and start incentivizing local again. I think that’s the counter movement we need in the world right now where everything become these huge hubs of global centralization and you see this with cities you see this with food production, you see this with banks, everything is centralizing.
And I think with the blockchain you can create a counter movement where local becomes the most logical thing to do and therefor you have a way more evenly spread out across the world a lot for resources a lot of systems and I think it’s a better world.

[0:18:54] Mike: I like how blockchain makes us rethink how we think about value exchange.
Like you know if someone posts something interesting or entertaining or funny or something on facebook and you give it a like, why is there no value exchanged in that. Another thing, just the constant stream of content exchange could be like here’s ta micro transaction of a token.
Vince: Yeah and also in the music industry if you buy music we also have this industrial mindset of creating a product out of music. We created CD which was a plastic box with a plastic disc in it and actually when I buy the music I’m buying this plastic box with a plastic disc In it and I’m not buying the artist.
[0:19:37] And with blockchain because you start tracking who bought it, it will become more and more feeling like “hey I’m investing in this musician to make more music in the future and I’m consistent in supporting this artist.” Like with the CDs, nobody tracked who the fans were. So with blockchain I as a musician can see that you guys always buy my music as one of the first people, I can see you’re my true fans because you’re always first in line to buy something. So next time I have a concert and say a ticket is a hundred euros, for my first fans who always buy this and this and this, I can list the qualifications, its free to come, because you’re my supporters, you believe in me.
[0:20:15] For people who don’t support and believe me can pay money. And I think you get gradually the shift towards that and you already see this with hotels now for example where they ask us now to implement our social media following to get a discount on our booking for example. The reputation will become more and more valuable and the more relevant your reputation is to the other party I think money will gradually move to the background and be less needed. It’s the ultimate form of barter maybe in the end. Money was just this in between mechanism because the value didn’t match up.
But with the blockchain you can always find the value in this giant network of nodes of relations that were mapped or whatever.
[0:20:55] Mike: Yeah I think the most interesting and obvious ones are the finance interacting, that sort of stuff, but I’m really curious in that what you see in other industries interacting with blockchain like virtual reality or artificial intelligence or anything that’s really ground breaking on its on, then coming on to the blockchain.
Vince: Yeah we also discussed like the creepy thing for example if artificial intelligence becomes so smart that it can literally see all the chat conversations that you had. And it can really read up on how you communicate and which things you reference and it can also instantly read your books because computers can read books within seconds. It can become so smart that its like a personal assistant that is literally like you for example based on everything you did in the past and it can facilitate you, so that you can focus more and more on the good things that are higher levels of the maslows pyramid and drop all the basic things on the lower levels because it gets automated and predicted and catered to you in a way that it would probably take you a lot of time or some time but it gets prepared for you because your behavior becomes facilitateable based on your past behavior.
[0:22:05] Euvie: Its really interesting actually we touched on this with our previous interviewee Aric that AI will become like a part of us like an external processor processing all our data and then feeding it back to us like “oh ive read all of your conversation with this person and I appropriately responded on your behalf, just so you know.” And now you know. And you feel like it was you replying to this person but its actually AI.
Vince: Yeah but it’s also a dull task like paying your rent or whatever all these small repetitive things like doing groceries. At some point, it will start monitoring like your basic needs and take care of it so you can focus your time on higher things so to say. Higher in the sensem ore towards art or learning or self-expression and all the basic will be taken care of by the smart software all this automated version of all the minor tasks that you usually do. And it allows for more freedom to focus on things we find beautiful.
[0:23:06] Mike: I love the idea of this like second you that’s watching your behavior cause its knows what your goals are. You don’t know your own faults or the things you do wrong in conversations and this thing can be watching you all the time and its you it knows how to speak to you, how to critique you, it knows what your goals are and how to help you improve to reach your goals.
Vince: It can also be practical things like just coming here and needing to look for airplane ticket and just by monitoring my own conversation and seeing that I have this intention of visiting you already catered to me and put airplane ticket in place and know that to need to transfer from Sofia to your place. And really putting it on plates so that I can just focus on things and spend my time better that just looking up all this. I really see this as an empowerment of yourself to gain more focus into things that you wanna do.
[0:23:55] That’s the beauty of logging all these things, people shouldn’t see this as a privacy threat, but more as an empowerment of themselves and all of this is out there and the beauty of the blockchain is that its decentralized and not like the government having all this data on you. Its just you and you embedded software on a blockchain to empower you. You are the owner of it and no bad can be done with it unless you allow it.
Mike: What about things like virtual reality? Or anything like that you see could be an interesting combination?
Vince: Definitely, lot of people can become aware of their own impact in the world. So for example If I can see where I buy my products what kind of impact I have on my surroundings. I think VR can become a great visualization of this whole network where its really difficult to see this impact on the 2d screen and its really difficulty to see it in mapping of statistics and huge excel sheets.
I think virtual reality is probably the most immersive way to visualize everyone and to consume.

[0:24:59] As humans we are experience oriented and I don’t think we are made to read books and all this dull methods of transporting information I think we’re more experience people and feeling it seeing it hearing it all around us is I think the most natural way to interact with all of this and we can to way more things than just on the computer screens or the traditional ways.
Euvie: Its interesting actually it reminds me of the conversation we were having today where Mike was saying there were so many protest during the Vietnam war partially because the photography was so widespread and people actually were getting photos and videos from the world and they realized what kind of impact it was having and the reality of it just hit them and drove the to do something about it. Whereas in the wars before people just didn’t have an idea of how devastating it actually was.
[0:24:47] Vince: Yeah I think this is also about connection again, that because you can relate to another country, all of the sudden you start feeling the guilt or the feeling that they’re not actually that different. That’s why I think its very important to also get this feeling with every product or service that you buy. It might come from this farm from Iraq or it might come from this company in Venezuela and you start seeing like hey I start interreacting with this global economy and invading this country is stupid because my and coffee comes from here and my financial service comes from there and actually we’re all connected and not like this is some standalone entity where we just invade and do something bad. No, its literally impacting me because part of my life is connected to that area. And part of the impact that I have impacts that area. Because I’m paying that company something happens there, and I feel attached to that country.
I think also the other interesting thing now is that with blockchains, the mechanism of truth and truth is set in time and It cannot be changed. I think for countries to go to war usually they invade a country and they try to change a lot of things and try to hide how they made the change and put it in their favor or whatever. And I think thanks to the blockchain I think it becomes super difficult to rid out the local companies doing something and putting in companies of the invading country locally.
[0:27:11] Like they do with all of the invasion because you can see transparently that “hey, this is where they messed up and this is where they were responsible for doing this.” And people will become more aware of this and take action and not accept that anymore as a logical step. I think if you start feeling the connection that all these people around the world, are actually, like with the six degrees of separation I think is a very good example, the six degrees of separation will happen in any aspect of our life not just the connection with other people but also with the connection with all the places with all the things, all the idea or whatever. Because you will see this huge mapping of how everything is related to one another.

[0:27:48] Like Wikipedia is just database but once we start seeing this map and impact of this subject and impact of this. And these people and these groups and so on. Then we really start feeling connected and start acting together. I think this is a good basis to start doing things that are bigger than ourselves.
[0:28:09] Mike: That’s a good transition in to next question which is, if you could do whatever you wanted to do, what would you work on?
Vince: Me personally I think the cool thing that blockchain is gonna achieve is that we can do things also distributed. Because it becomes user easy to take this giant piece of work and divide it amongst million piece and now we have the tools to piece all these puzzle pieces together and achieve something. Like in the past you have things like building the pyramids or other great projects that took more than a lifetime to build and that were more complex than a human could comprehend I think we’re now moving to this distribution of work so that we can do projects that are too immense for a human to even comprehend or direct. I think most projects that are now happening, a human Is still sitting on top. Like building a skyscraper is still a project of just as couple of year from drawing to building and still a human can supervise it. But with blockchain we can like for example the interplanetary stuff like elon musk will now start with it, maybe it will take 2 million people to achieve full society on mars and it’s just a matter of dumping all these tasks on the blockchain in small things that together it will start forming this huge plan of actually making it happen.
[0:29:28] I think this is the future like this decentralized working for greater good projects as a humanity together across nations across groups and yeah just really cooperating instead of competing because we are stuck in this individual mindset.
Euvie: So what do you want to do specifically?
I think for me the problem with blockchain right now is its mostly tech oriented. And were still stuck in this phase that it’s like the wall flower in the tech world, everyone notices it but no one doesn’t really know what to think of it or whatever. And I think for me it’s time to make a shift in making it super practical and I just wanna set out to create a lot of open source prototypes and just share them with the world.
[0:30:14] The example I gave with the car is a good one but another example is the thing with a tree, a tree can have a wallet and our phone can detect based on the geo location that im walking by the tree and my phone can start making small donations to the tree and the tree get a piece of software that can plant a next tree. I really like this idea because we get power to nature again that is bigger than us humans. And it could create and insane momentum of incentivizing good things but It just takes building one temple at the time getting some PR around it, implementing it somewhere and just let it fly. Let the task balloon fly.

[0:30:55] So I would like to commit myself to launching a lot of these things and finding a partners for everything. For example, with the tree, the city of Plovdiv gets some attention around it and just start experimenting with it here in the park. Or with the car that like with your previous interview I guess from yesterday, like see if at Volvo we can do this with a couple of cars. And just start gathering a partner for each project. Maybe launch like 50 of these things and some will trigger like the first momentum of the blockchain.
[0:31:24] I think what’s important to notice is that we are always pushing technology now but if you ask people what the technology is behind their bank or behind shop where they do something or whatever. Nobody knows these technologies either. So we need to start making shift with very hands on implementations and stop talking about technology. Just start implementing it , I think a lot of people by the time the blockhchain is big they will barely realize that the blockchain is behing it. They will start seeing really cool concepts. And that’s how people will start adopting.

Mike: Exactly, I think to many people getting involved in the blockchain are taking their engineer perspective and its nobody translating this into human language. We always say “is it designed by an engineer or is it designed by a human? “
Vince: Yeah, exactly
Vince: Yeah and it’s also that the second thing with blockchain is we’re stuck in this financial mindset with money constantly, we need to also get to the shift of seeing that interactions with things is way more valuable than movement of money and there are so many small things that we take for granted in this world that actually can be accounted for and can be accumulated to indicate something, like just us sitting together our phone can maybe track that we are spending time together. So at some point in my life if I need something like social security or god knows what I can look at like who are the hundred people that spent most time with that are there for me that welcome me and I can instantly then tap instantly that instead of needing to be locked out or something like that.
[0:33:00] I also saw movie or a documentary about addiction, and that addiction is about a feeling of being left out or disconnected. I think a lot of the things I the world have to do with this feeling of being disconnected and its time we start making it transparent how connected you actually are to all the things around you and how much impact you actually have. And if we start seeing this we start feeling a lot better about ourselves and about the things that we do for our surrounding and I think it that’s something that needs to happen now like we have a lot of ego centric motivation constantly where people a lot of money or a big house or all these kind of products or status symbols.
[0:33:39] And they don’t matter in the end in the end its all about relations and if you ask people before they die what are their last thoughts. And it’s always about love and connection and its never about “oh I should have bought this bigger boat or all this bullshit that has to do with consumerism.
Its always about the connections and valuing the connection that you had and impact that you make. I think the blockchain is the first technology that really gets this going for everyone in an equal way.
[0:34:09] And so I think it’s a very very important technology. For us to be coming.
Euvie: I also really like what you were talking about with just starting the small things and just putting them out there in a open source way its very grass roots its not like an overarching imposing structure like “oh now the country of Bulgaria has to at once implement the blockchain” It doesn’t have to be like that.
Vince: Yeah that’s the beauty of like say for example we want to improve our neighborhood. And stop buying from this giant supermarket chains that are global chains and only centralize money, we can start having like this local currency just to buy at local shops and local super markets and then this can just be group of 1500 people so for a big supermarket chain this is no threat, for local government its no thread because it’s just a small grassroots initiative.
[0:35:00] But the beauty of it is that we can share this technology open source on the web, and another community hundreds of kilometers away can also start using it in parallel and we don’t need money for it. But we just start doing the same things everywhere. And we can adapt it. Every community can update it and create its own version, share it again with the world. And everywhere where the small initiatives start popping up they start chewing away at the established centralized structures like governments or big corporations and so on. Therefor a way of transition will not be a way where its all of the sudden this huge counter movement, no, its so many little things shifting it that you can barely resist it. There is no central thing to fight, there is no central person to attack or take down or chew at their credibility or whatever because you’re against it.
[0:35:52] No, its all these local small initiatives that you can barely stop or control. And I think the beauty is that also with centralization you have centralization In a geographical way but you have also centralization that the government takes care of maybe 12 aspects of your life. It can be health the defense, agriculture, economy whatever. They have like all these departments. But maybe with the blockchain technology I start saying like “okay, for an insurance I want to join this group and for my feeling of home or group I belong to I want to join this group. And for my laws in regards to god knows what aspect of life I want to join this group. And slowly parts of the things will be eaten away from the traditional routes and I think that’s how its gonna change.
[0:36:36] Its not gonna change with one giant wave, no, its gonna change with very tiny drops everywhere. And the beauty of this new system is just like this mindset of sharing. Like, if it can benefit us just put it out there. Like again the example with a tree I hope if I build it next day 20 people in 20 countries supply it to a tree in their city and they get 20 people taking about it. And there is no game but its just about this rapid distribution of putting it into the world. That’s what I really really like about this mindset of the blockchain. Whatever you create it can benefit others. So, put it out there, and if you put it out there you get rewarded again because all these connection start building to what you did.
It’s not about money Its about seeing the impact that you contribute to others and that’s the beauty.
[0:37:26] Mike: I like how that mindset strips away a lot of the extra steps that would normally be in place if you started a corporation or a startup. Like now you just need a small team of a designer and an idea person an engineer and you can put these things out. What were’ talking about with this incubator idea is stripping down all the things that are unnecessary with these bigger corporate entities and just having rapid prototyping and rapid storytelling to get these things out there and get them marketed properly but without this money-making scheme behind all of it, its really cool.
Vince: Yeah I think its also the beauty of creativity in most cases is if you try to force it and we start sitting here and we star drawing on paper like we now need to have a golden idea, it never works out. But if you’re under the shower or on the toilet you have the most creative moment because you’re doing something totally different and you’re just trying it there is no limit on how you need to think in such a moment.
[0:38:21] There is no force on how you need to think, it’s just the freedom of letting it roam and start to experiment. I think that’s the beauty of an incubator with that freedom is that you can just try it . There shouldn’t be a reasoning behind it already when you start gaining something out of it. It should be just about trying it and seeing how far you can get with it.
I think that a lot of initiatives in the world, they are polluted by this constant need for money or a return or a deadline when they will break even. A lot of things are also very valuable only when they are together with other things.
[0:38:56] I can invent something and just put it in this incubator and maybe half a year later another initiative needs actually the solution that was created half a year ago. But half a year I didn’t know that we needed it then but it’s, you need to have this random synchronicity of things coming together and just trying them for the magic to start happening.
And that’s why its really important to experiment and not be too much focus on reasoning all the way through until the exit strategy all this bullshit that startups get indoctrinated with. I think its polluting.
[0:39:27] A lot of startups in the US they get into this cyclic thing of grow big then sell it these founders get indoctrinated with this mindset of valuation and it becomes like this mindset of growth for growth. There is no why behind it of a substantial thing they’re adding.
I know it sounds negative buy I mean it in a sense of like if a buy it at a local farmer place I can really feel the passion of his work I can really sense how he does his business how he knows all the plants and all these things and I think for a lot of companies when they try to gain the world. User-base wise or sales-wise, they totally lose this identity of why they did it and its all about growth for growth.
[0:40:07] The whole thing gets lost of why things are done. And I think that’s what needs to get back . Just like do it because it feels like a right thing to do and later it will show its value. And I think that’s also something that like in the art world that interests me a lot is that you can do things without literally need to have a practical use, or a needing to have like a fixed reason. You just do it because you feel like you need to do it or express it.
It’s a totally different mindset, think we’re locked in this financial mindset reasoning wise.
[0:40:40] Mike: I like how Luciano explained this, an app developer for the meditation app. He was saying how in the blockchain you can build a piece of the software like a single contract that has a single function that other people test. And then you can just reuse that for other kinds of applications. So, every one thing you develop, you only have to develop it once and you an find examples of this all over the blockchain so you can kind of build your whole app in the chunks. And I really like how that switches the mindset, you’re almost like building on top of the shoulders of giants. Every time you start a new thing
[0:41:12] Vince: This is the future in programming. Of course we had open source already but with open source you always had to like really adopt the whole project that someone already built . And I think with the blockchain you really chop it down into very small reusable pieces and you don’t have to be a technology guy to even use these lego blocks in the future. It’s just like these tiny black boxes with an input and an output that you can read in a human format and basically any problem that you have you can start diving into these lego blocks and look like “is there already a lego block that fits my input/output?” “yes, then I reuse it if not it’s a very small task for someone to build it and the next person that needs it can benefit from it.”
[0:41:56] And then all of the sudden the knowledge can start growing and then we can start doing really cool things instead of always reinventing everything by ourselves. And wasting so much time and talent on doing the same things all over the globe. I think were’ such a repetitive species in that sense. Almost anything that you a lot of people are actually doing the same thing its pointless.
Mike: Yeah I like this kind of plug in automation mentality. Like, “if this then that” that’s the same kind of thing, put that on the blockchain and people can reuse these blocks of software, that’s really cool. But the other thing you said today about expiring like a corporation or an entity like when the job was done you disband, you’ve made the thing.
[0:42:32] Vince: Yeah, exactly, that’s also something I think is very interesting like most things get started and then they have some success and then they get in this mode because they have certain type of investor or reasoning behind it that they need to continue it. Say for example with the clothing store someone starts out of passion of creating this new kind of sweater, it takes of it becomes a hit. They create a store or whatever.
And then it starts growing it starts hiring people, all the sudden the founder is not anymore, the person selling it and then the company fades away from how it all started and then the investors and the accountants and so on they start reasoning like okay next year we need to grow a bit bigger.
[0:43:11] So we’re gonna do the same plus 3%, now how are we gonna sell the same products? Yeah, last year it was a green sweater now we’re gonna do red and next year it’s gonna be pink or whatever. And you just create this cycle of tiny tweaks or updates to the products instead of really creating or inventing something again.
And I think our whole society is in that way kind of polluted with this never-ending stories of ideas that were once good but that still need to be sold in huge amounts and therefor are pushed in our throats consistently
I think we should focus more on the beauty of temporarity or temporality or how you call it. And the beauty of that something is just that it’s short. And the thing that inspired me in Amsterdam was the example I gave there, was that a club opened and it told upfront its closing date within two years.
[0:44:01] And it forces this mentality that it will be gone and it will be something that you need to enjoy now. And it brings value to it. And I think for a lot of shops and a lot of products and services and whatever its fine that they still get used but they’re not shocking anymore, they’re not beautiful anymore, they are just small updates from something that once grasped the attention.
And we need to find this beauty again in a lot of things. And the beauty starts from trying things and the beauty starts from, yeah, just sending it out there and people starting over again. There is no shame in starting over, like, people think success is like this thing of continuing never ending success stories.
[0:44:40] You had a golden idea and then every year 3% and within 20 years I’m gonna sell it. And no, I think it’s a mind numbing thing to do, if you have the talent to create something, and you just perpetuate It for 20 years with the growth of 3% you’re not using your talent. Your talent you should use to start again and start again and create this and you have so much more to offer to the world that continuing the thing that you already brought there.
Mike: That’s why a lot of founders burn out too, cause they love the startup creation phase and they’re just like shareholders meetings, 3%…
Vince: Yeah and it’s a weird mindset that actually the people that are these creators that they get forced into this mindset of repetition. And yeah I think we should incentivize people to be more like that and that’s again a reason for incubator to be so free.
[0:45:40] Just give this platform to these founders because these founders are probably the people that are gonna bring the beauty to the world and give them all the freedom and facilitate them how you can. And you’ll be amazed at what comes out of it. Its Also that people need to stop labeling people with a certain talent. I see a lot of people if they build for example a clothing brand they get forced by their environment to always be in their clothing niche. Maybe this person Is just a really good founder and he could start fruit company, or he could start a new rock band like the example we gave with the professional sports player.
[0:46:04] The thing is, the creators are creators not in the specific subject but they have this creative mindset that you can apply to any subject. So, don’t lock them in and give them the freedom to try new things.
Maybe they create great music or great art because they just have this experimental trying mindset instead of the mindset of repeating things.
Mike: It’s like what we expect from CEOs, you know, if you play in a band, you’re not gonna record one album and then keep changing the artwork every year and that becomes your only job. Like you’re gonna make more music or ongoing. So why don’t we expect the CEOs to do the exact same thing.
[0:46:38] Vince: Very good analogy and yeah, I think it all has to do with how we think in school. Like, we go to school and we are taught that we need to learn something and then repeat it our whole lives and we apply the same logic to almost anything and I think that’s a weird thing also in the future that we need to break. It’s all about experimenting and trying things. You cannot do anything wrong If you just keep trying, in my opinion. Its all about just let things happened and just go with it.
Get back this freedom to create
[0:47:12] Mike: I think there’s momentum with that creativity too. If you’ve got a group of people constantly coming up with new ideas and they’re releasing them and theres no responsibility to make this thing improve 3% each year. You’re just like okay it’s out there and other people in the community or the blockchain can take it over if they want to and improve it.
Vince: And its also like what I said before like a lot of ideas they are a bit ahead of their time. And the ideas then get shot down because they cannot be monetized at that moment or they cannot be fully accounted for why should it be there. But that shouldn’t be a reason for why it shouldn’t be built already In my opinion. Just get it out there and put it up for the world to share it, open source it or whatever you wanna do with it because someone who is starting out with their idea might google it and might need exactly what you just created but you couldn’t have predicted it when you’ve created it.
[0:48:04] If you just put it out there you create the building blocks for other people to do great stuff.
Maybe there are 7 links in between of all these crazy things that nobody understands but then some guy in Canada comes up with an idea and he thinks I need these 7 things, lets google if they are there. And he comes exactly at these things and then all of the sudden the need for these things becomes clear.
And this can take ten years and there’s no shame in just putting it out there for ten years, you never know who you’ll inspire or who you’ll empower with what you’ve created.
[0:48:32] Don’t try to predict it, just believe that the fact that you put it out there is a creation already because you can think of it you can execute it and you can put it out there so now it’s already in this sphere of being simply indexed already by google it’s already the first start. People can start randomly coming up to, you never know how they got to it but it starts living, and its start being like an organism, like a baby you’ve created and it will get momentum in the end.
Euvie: It could even send micro payments back to each of its components that it uses and the components that end up being used a lot like seven years after their creation.
Vince: Yeah I think this might be in the future that it’s about finding these small things where you can take some of your knowledge and thinking power and just defining it in the blockchain and thereby helping people maybe a hundred years after your death still.
[0:49:26] But it will be recorded and it will be impactful and it will still contribute to whatever you want to support.
Like we also had this example today that with blockchain we can start building wallets in time. We can say that this park here in the city needs to have four trees always. And if it detects that there are not four trees it should trigger a message for four trees be planted. And we can program the software to be active only as if in hundred years so we can start impacting things even in the future like that.
[0:50:00] And it’s all about connecting all these things and just contributing your part for the future generations and for anyone else on the planet to do better things and to greater things. Why waste time on doing the same things all of us. Let’s just all do everything once and then continue and build on that.
If we do that with 8 billion people, my goodness we can do crazy things.
[0:50:21] Euvie: I love that yeah, even in business you know I’m thinking about how many things we had to start from the ground up and do the same things that somebody else already did and it’s so repetitive and its taxing on you. Because you only have one life and you’re doing all this redundant stuff.
Yeah and your unique talent is the creation after you’ve done all the repetitive tasks.
All the repetitive tasks take away so much of the energy to actually get to this. I think in the future also ,like, business is also a concept that’s also outdated. I think for every task you should have like a micro business. To just act for one transaction, say for example you create this artwork for me or you write this article or whatever. I just set up a business between the three of us where we share just for this item that we’ve created.

[0:51:12] And now we still have this idea of creating a business and everything I do in a year I bring under this business and I think this is also mindset that we need to let go of. That everything needs to be so formal in a fortress behind walls with pyramids and all this stuff in place.
I think we should think lightly about interacting with each other. I think all these necessary rules that we think are necessary right now, they are just blockages for things that are so simple in nature. I just want to do a transaction with you guys, what’s keeping me? Why should I set up all these things in place just to do that? It should become lightweight and therefor and also become more democratic for everyone to start doing that. I think there are so many people who don’t feel comfortable starting a business.
[0:51:58] Because they heard about the paperwork they heard about the tax offers, the checks and god knows all these things. And they feel fear that this part they cannot do. They’re very confident about their own niche or about their creative idea but the whole business part around it they don’t feel comfortable with.
We should make it as easy as possible and take all those things away and I think a lot of people would be entrepreneurial. Yeah I think that’s a very important thing in the future.
[0:52:24] I love thinking about it from the maslows hierarchy of needs perspective. Where you take away all of the crap that people have to do in their daily lives that’s just, it’s just repetitive, like taking care of their food and clothing and even setting up social interactions. And so they can focus on self-actualization and doing the things that really bring value to the world.
I think it’s also the, another example is that, transactions are so wasteful with the blockchain that you can divide a salary for example into tiny drops of every microsecond during the month so your salary can come in every microsecond instead of one moment in the month. Because the behavior of the people now of how they look at their bank account. The money comes in and it’s a high amount in their bank amount, they pay rent and they pay all the other expenses. They think in the staircase mindset of needing to achieve a high staircase and so that it can pay for all the bills that follow it.
[0:53:23] So, you have this mindset of reaching an absolute height constantly. I think with the blockchain you can start shifting this behavior and if you have the droplets of salary coming in consistently. And on the other end you start paying things consistently in micro seconds, like your energy bill or whatever. Instead of this mindset of seeing staircase going down you will start seeing flows that need to be in balance. And you start thinking different about money, there is no point anymore in having something really high, you’re just constantly looking at your bank account and it could be visualized just as the scale that needs to be in balance.
[0:53:58] And there’s no need to go for a bigger this or higher that, and whatever. Its just about finding the balance between what your input and your output.
Mike: What do you think are some of the other business models like you mentioned micro transactions coming off of each contract you create. There’s like creating would be another one of crowdfunding, creating basic income for developers to be constantly creating new things.
[0:54:21] Vince: The thing with most people is that they get great ideas in the weirdest moments but they also realize that they might not be the best possible entrepreneur for it or that they don’t have any entrepreneurial experience at all. Because its outside of their field or whatever. But they are willing to maybe share that idea, put it on the blockchain and then put a small bounty behind it like for example 5 euros if someone fixes this or that problem for me.
And maybe within a month two thousand other people all across the world they will all do the same thing, and all of the sudden you get this incentive list of problems to fix where the funding is in place already, it’s just a matter of finding an entrepreneur. And you totally shift the landscape around that is existing now, that an entrepreneur needs to find the money because most entrepreneurs, this also applies for myself. Like I’ve been in many different industries because I just enjoyed problem fixing I enjoyed a process of tackling something.
[0:55:14] I don’t have a particular passion for a certain industry but I enjoy this process. So for me it would be super optimal to see all these opportunities laying around. And if then the idea with virtual reality gets combined we can start listing not only opportunities for businesses but you can also say we have a lot of minor tasks like “swipe the streets” or “mow this lawn” or whatever. It’s just gonna put it on there, and five people are gonna like all walk through the park and they all contribute 20 cents to if the lawn gets mown.
And if you then have VR or AR and you just walk through the park, you see literally money laying there or incentive laying there to start mowing the lawn. You can just apply this to the whole world, you can just walk around and everywhere just see these opportunities where you can contribute something because other people have specified that there is a need for something, and they already put in place for people to pick this up.
[0:56:11] And I think that way you can look differently at work. Now, at work we have a specific role for our entire year or whatever. But maybe then going to work is just putting your goggles on and start walking around and start picking up all these needs that people have and start fulfilling them. You can feel needed by mowing the lawn in the first hour of the day and maybe afterwards you’re coding some software. It becomes totally fluid how you contribute and thereby earn money. And you just walk around. The whole world can become interactive like. Its’… It’s a beautiful world.
[0:56:46] Euvie: I think it’s amazing because it also makes you feel really connected to the people around you. You’re constantly contributing something good to your neighborhood.
Vince: Yeah and you can see literally if you just walk around with the augmented reality, that you can see the faces of the people that left the money there and you can see maybe instantly the relations you have to these people.
Its literally like for example in the music industry that when you bought the cd only the producers were thanked, but maybe you should thank all the people buying the music. And maybe with that park, you will literally see a thank you from that park for all the people that contribute to the park.
[0:57:21] And you feel like the park is something of you, because you once contributed to mowing the lawn, or you once put bounty there for the need.
And I think that way you will start feeling a responsibility for things around you instead of feeling separated from that. And like “the municipality needs to take care of this” or whatever. Its about connection again.
Euvie: So speaking of municipalities, how can they get involved for example if a politician or a big investor wants to contribute to something like this but they just can’t get their had around the idea.
[0:57:50] Vince: Yeah I think that for the government or municipalities its about seeing the opportunities that you can actually leverage the willingness and leverage the power of the communities instead of seeing it as something that you need to correct for them. Because if you start incentivizing people to fix the problems that you have as a society or municipality or whatever. People will start picking it up and doing it for you and there can be way smaller government than there is now.
Or there can be a totally divided government where maybe you have like 2 3 people elected as park management people that get over the lawn mower selection. I don’t know.
[0:58:28] You can put the need there but it’s only a pool of people that can mow the lawn. Like you can create a new kind of government in a sense. But it’s also that for investors I think that the financial system as it is it’s not gonna be the biggest system anymore in the world.
The future is about these connections that we constantly make and I think the investment that you should now make is to position yourself as early as possible within these all these connections. The earlier you are the more connected transaction will get. Like if I do transaction now in the blockchain, the transaction will make so many rounds in the next 5 years in comparison to a transaction done 5 years from now. I have way more transaction reputation already.
[0:59:10] So I advise investors to get in early even if they don’t know fully yet that they’re gonna get a financial award out of it but position themselves as the facilitators and the connectors because in the future you will get a back reference of where you connected of where you made an impact and that will position yourself to do something. So get in as early as possible.
I know the blockchain is still a hype thing for people, but its also about to change in a very quick time. People are thinking it’s something that’s gonna go in the far future but it’s going extremely fast. And I honestly think that if like banks are falling down that you will see a quick adoption pretty quickly.
[0:59:49] Mike: I love this idea that you can be someone who’s maybe a little more financially well off and walk down the street and throw bounties and everything just to improve. Its like micro investment in your community.
Vince: Yeah exactly, and in the future you can also start connecting this to politics for example where you might say okay, we only want people to be representing us as a village or as a city, that have a clear reputation of contributing to this city. So start building your reputation because you might be needing it in the future. Because if you don’t bring value to us as a whole. Yeah, it’s difficult to maintain the position in the future. It’s very good to start being transparent about it instead of just a financial gain. It should be about the impact that you make
[1:00:36] Mike: Being a politician change will change into like a high honor thing that the society bestows upon you that it’s a badge of honor.
Vince: Yeah and it’s the same now with the big investors where they do it maybe for the capital gain or something like that. I think we need more entrepreneurs or investors that wanna show off that they made this park so beautiful instead of that they made a million euros. Like what’s the status about earning a million euros because you outsmarted someone. No I think there is way more pride to be gained if you can say he I contributed here, and I’ve facilitated that. This and this could happen and this person could do this and this people can do that and it will make you feel more needed for the world than anything else.
[1:01:19] And I think that’s in the end what it comes down, the feeling of happiness is the feeling of belonging and being needed and connected and loved. This all starts with getting all these connections going. And it can be super small tasks but they all matter in the end.
Euvie: I love the idea of a governments incentivizing certain things and looking at things as an opportunity rather than the problem that they have to correct so if there’s a broken path somewhere, instead of looking at it like “oh its an eye sore” they can put a bounty on it and then certain company could come in and fix it. And you could regulate this company like, they have to have at least fifty paths in the past so that they qualify, so they have to be good.
[1:02:06] Vince: Exactly, and then also for municipalities about creating opportunities for citizens instead of monitoring and correcting them. So, a government could be something that is loved so much because of it because it’s this bringer of opportunities.
Like, it can totally shift around of how people look at politics.
Mike: There could also be this element of quality control where there is bounties for people to check that he job is done. Instead of having to create this complicated software architecture, you could just say “yep, the job is done.”
[1:02:35] Vince: Maybe also with the super market products like if I buy the coffee, instead of just paying the super market, I’m also paying again someone to check that the farmer really was treated well. Also, I don’t just buy the product and give it value, but I also apply some logic to the transaction to also make sure that there is some good to the transaction. And thereby I improve the system for the next buyer and the next buyer.
Mike: It’s a fascinating combination involved in all these things, augmented reality laying bounties out, artificial intelligence interpreting what you want.
[1:03:08] Vince: Its like Pokemon GO! but then for adding value for humanity and for the people around you. And you saw how Pokemon GO! got popular pretty quickly.
So I definitely see an opportunity if you build something like this. The beauty of it again is that you can start so small it just takes a couple of people to program something and experiment with it. We can try it here in the city, you share it with the world. And it can be implemented everywhere super quickly. And it doesn’t take a huge investment, it doesn’t take an army, it doesn’t take a factory, it’s just laptops, some good idea and people really fairly distributing tasks and saying like hey I would like if someone did this, I would like if someone did that.
[1:03:50] And other people really feeling like “hey I can contribute here because someone appreciates what I do here.” And that’s also this feeling of appreciation, like most people have a job but they don’t feel appreciated. Whereas in this system you can walk around and appreciation is all around you, if you contribute. It makes you feel good, it makes you feel happy in life I think, yeah.
Mike: Fantastic. So exciting.
Vince: Yeah, exciting times.
Mike: Vince, thanks for joining us it was really great to have you.
Vince! Thank you very much and I’m looking forward to the incubator and all the great things that you guys are gonna build. So uhm..
Mike: To the future!

Vince Meens Interview about Blockchains as Building Blocks of Society on Future Thinkers Podcast with Mike Gilliland and Euvie Ivanova

Vince Meens

Blockchain technology has been making its way into the mainstream over the last year. Far from its anarchist-leaning Bitcoin beginnings, it has been getting adopted by large banks and governments like Dubai. Because of its adoption by financial institution, blockchain has become almost analogous with financial technology (fintech) in the minds of many. Even outside of fintech, the blockchain is still a wallflower in the technology world.

But there are many other applications for the blockchain, both with and without financial transactions.

In this episode, we speak to Vince Meens, serial entrepreneur, technologist, and ex-CEO of Jetwise. Vince describes many unusual and innovative ideas about the blockchain to do with the sharing economy, identity and reputation, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, decentralized large-scale projects for good.

In This Episode of Future Thinkers Podcast

  • Blockchain as a connective technology
  • Blockchain for supply chain transparency
  • Creating different social incentives with the blockchain
  • Doing things that are bigger than ourselves
  • Sharing economies & the internet of things
  • Identity & reputation on the blockchain
  • Interfacing with artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and other technologies
  • A different perspective on supply & demand
  • Technology of connection and community
  • Investing in new technologies

Mentions and Resources

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1 Comment

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  1. Warren 8 years ago

    What I found useful was the language and ideas conveyed were more ‘human’ and less ‘engineer’. It really helped to bridge that gap for people like myself who have a basic understanding of blockchain technology yet lack the required knowledge to see what that looks like in different, potential real world examples. Also, for me the penny really dropped when you guys talked about finding pre-existing blocks that have the required input out and using them to build with, as oppose to having to create everything from the ground up. It really was liberating to think that was possible and gave me so much more optimism to pursue new ideas this technology brings and inspires without worrying so much about the back end coding and building it will require. I can use existing blocks or put the request out there for something to be built, maybe with a bounty, and this can be created for myself but then also be used for future projects. That was huge for someone who thrives in the creation of an idea but can be deterred by my lack of coding ability regarding blockchain tech. Pumped with ideas and enthusiasm.


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