“No one knows what the fuck is going on.”
That’s according to Ronny Chieng, senior correspondent on the satirical news program The Daily Show, who took the stage at Ethereal Summit on Saturday with ConsenSys founder and CEO Joseph Lubin and Kavita Gupta, founding managing partner at ConsenSys Ventures.
Chieng, who spoke with Lubin in December on the show, again criticized the big promises and hype of the industry. He argued that many people in the industry use complicated jargon and words that were “invented” two or fewer years ago to camouflage the fact that they don’t actually know how the technology will change the world.
The Daily Show correspondent said at one point:
“You could talk about anything with these people. You could talk about the NBA playoffs and they’d be like, ‘Yeah we’re going to use blockchain to defeat LeBron.'”
In a room full of ethereum devotees, Chieng’s jokes garnered laughs, but also hit on topics that should cause blockchain enthusiasts to ruminate on.
For instance, Chieng was critical of all the attention cryptocurrency was getting, questioning its resurgence in interest since peer-to-peer technology has been around since decentralized file-sharing platform BitTorrent.
Lubin – who had trouble getting a word in – acknowledged this, but said the time is right for decentralized technology to take hold.
“BitTorrent was attacked in significant ways. It was stigmatized and didn’t come out at a time when there was popular sentiment,” Lubin countered, adding:
“Trust is lost in centralized institutions.”
Indeed, several speakers at the two-day conference mentioned Facebook’s recent scandal, which saw third-parties were collecting Facebook user’s private data, as an example of how the narrative around these centralized institutions is starting to shift.
Still, Chieng didn’t let up, saying that the drastically fluctuating prices of cryptocurrencies should be seen as an obvious sign of a bubble. Although he chided, he is more than willing to make money off of it.
Blockchain, he said, is “what dumb people like myself can make money off of in the short term.”
According to Chieng, he hasn’t succeeded in that mission just yet. He told the audience that after the initial Daily Show segment with Lubin, a viewer emailed him to thank him for making dogecoin, the silly cryptocurrency with a Shiba Inu dog mascot, pump (even though the show spoke about it in a negative light).
“And then I stupidly jumped on Ripple. What a mistake that was,” Chieng said, before declaring: “Fuck Ripple.”
Lubin tempered the exuberance over price, saying that ConsenSys has a policy that developers can’t talk about the price, suggesting the usual narrative in the space that the technology is much more important and interesting than the price.
But, Lubin said, bull markets are nice in that they spur more funding and participation by entrepreneurs and technologists.
“It’s great when the price goes up because it brings more resources into the ecosystem,” Lubin said.
Chieng still seemed skeptical, and speaking possibly to many outside observers’ feelings about the space, said:
“This is either the biggest scam or the most undervalued asset in humanity. It could still be either way.”
Kavita Gupta, Joseph Lubin and Ronny Chieng on stage at Ethereal Summit image via CoinDesk