Blockchain technology is hailed (and feared) as the most transformative technology since the internet. But is it tech-topia or dystopia – and does it provide more resilient alternatives to our existing institutions?

These questions and more will be explored in the first-ever Blacksburg Blockchain Symposium, “Promise and Peril of Disrupting the Trust Business,” Friday, April 20, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the Lyric Theatre in downtown Blacksburg. Hosted by Virginia Tech’s Global Forum on Urban and Regional Resilience, the event is free and open to the public. Registration is required at www.bburg-blockchain.io.

The Blockchain Symposium is the first event to bring together national and local blockchain innovators, academic experts, and policy makers to discuss the political, economic, and social impacts of this disruptive technology.

“Like no other innovation in a generation, blockchain technology has become synonymous with digital disruption, with promises to revolutionize traditional understandings of money, authority, trust, and governance,” said symposium director David Bieri, an associate professor in Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. “Never before has a technological innovation so instantaneously and comprehensively challenged the age-old institutions which underpin systems of money and credit, property rights, and production. What makes this symposium unique is that it moves attendees beyond the blockchain itself to a better understanding of the economic, social, and political implications that the technology brings.”

The symposium provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity for attendees to engage with leaders who are advancing the global blockchain discussion and answering pressing questions, including: What are the social impacts of this new tech-topia? What about its dystopian consequences? Does it provide us with more resilient alternatives? A detailed list of panel topics and participants is available at http://www.bburg-blockchain.io/.

Blacksburg is home to prominent blockchain innovators, entrepreneurs, and academic experts from all corners of the tech space. With a focus on finance and innovation, the Blacksburg Blockchain Symposium pursues a transdisciplinary approach to build a blockchain research cluster of scholars and industry partners from across Virginia Tech and throughout the Roanoke and New River Valley regions. The partnership aims to enhance the debate on blockchain technology across all disciplines and integrate research emphasizing Virginia Tech’s Data Analytics and Decisions Sciences and Integrated Security Destination Areas, and Policy Strategic Growth Area. The group aims to publish the first Global Forum Policy Brief on blockchain regulation and use the symposium as an ongoing annual event to spur new technological and economic applications.

About blockchain: Blockchain is a digital, decentralized, distributed transaction ledger, which is being used in many commercial, financial, and public sector applications. The key feature of blockchain technology is its public nature, which provides an open, verified, and visible transaction documentation.

About the Global Forum on Urban and Regional Resilience (GFURR): The mission of GFURR is to engage a broader public toward an understanding of cities, urbanization, and regional development. The Forum brings together university researchers and partner organizations to facilitate conversations about patterns and processes of urbanization and regional development, with a special emphasis on the long-term resilience of places and communities. The particular focus of the Forum is the evolutionary and transformational resilience of cities and the way that places adapt – or not – to flows of capital, people, resources, and ideas. To learn more, visit: www.globalforum.vt.edu.

The event is free to the public, to register, please visit: www.bburg-blockchain.io.

Contact: Davon Woodard, Graduate Research Assistant, davon@vt.edu/312.206.0398