Web3 Summit at MIT Shows Tech Enthusiasm for Crypto Is Relentless Despite Crypto Bear

Despite the cold winter storm that has depressed cryptocurrency prices, entrepreneurs, developers, venture capitalists and digital asset enthusiasts gathered in Cambridge MA today for the Imagination in Action Web3 Summit of Link Venture, where movers and shakers ranged from blockchain tech co-founders Stuart Haber and Scott Stornetta to Web 2.0 grande dame Esther Dyson and Bitcoin author Ben Mezerich
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Billionaires and the book that inspired the Oscar Social network.

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Hosted on the top floor of MIT’s Media Lab, the Imagination in Action Web3 Summit brought together more than 580 Web3 developers, investors, creators, and scholars to discuss the future of Web3 technology. The list of speakers was overflowing, including John Wu of Ava Labs, Bill Barhdyt of Abra, Yat Siu of Animoca, Ramesh Raskar of MIT Media Lab, Kleiner Perkins Bing Gordon and Mike Federle, CEO of Forbes.

“I wanted all the speakers to be ‘imaginers,'” said John Werner, founder of Imagination in Action. “These are difficult times, [a] a down economy, so we need people with imagination,” he added. Along with Sandy Pentland, director of MIT Connection Science, Werner launched the Imagination in Action summit with the goal of facilitating conversations between investors, creators among panelists and attendees. Today’s conference marked the first of three in the coming year, with a summit scheduled for San Francisco in October and one in Davos in January 2023.

The summit was split into three different sessions – Imaginators, Explorers, and Web3 Pioneers – and began by taking everyone back to the 1990s with the start of blockchain. Speaking to Forbes’ Michael Del Castillo, blockchain creators Stuart Haber and Scott Stornetta took it back to the mid-1990s and early blockchain, building a system that decentralized trust. While blockchain technology was largely silent until Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin white paper in 2008, Haber and Stornetta’s creation served as the basis for the $861.67 billion cryptocurrency market which, at its peak, reached a market capitalization of $3 trillion in 2021.

While most of the talk had an optimistic tone, there were a few words of concern about the current state of the crypto market.

“It’s a cascading comedy of errors,” said Bill Barhydt, founder and CEO of Abra, during a panel on Web 3 and the economy. He specifically pointed out the Terra/LUNA
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the early May crash and recent liquidity issues at Celsius, as well as the collapse of crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital.

As Web 3 enthusiasts rallied Bitcoin fell below $20,000 today to $18,000 for the second time this month, Singapore-based hedge fund Three Arrows Capital was sentenced yesterday to the liquidation by a British Virgin Islands court and billionaire FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried admitted to Forbes that some crypto exchanges are already insolvent.

While for some this may be too volatile, others argue that now is the time to build.

“To me, Web 3 is the Internet of Value,” said John Wu, president of Ava Labs, which created Avalanche.
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blockchain. “We have to ride these [market] highs and lows.”

“The current downturn is a good time to step back and ask ‘what does society really need?’” says Ramesh Raskar, associate professor at MIT’s Media Lab.

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