The Big Interview

How the financial crisis changed my outlook on life: Irish blockchain expert Darren Dineen

Irish-born blockchain strategist Darren Dineen was profoundly moved by the 2008 global financial crisis and more specifically its aftermath. He was a teenager then but mature enough to perceive the devastating effects of the banking crisis and how Irish taxpayers paid nearly half of Europe's collective debt and how this made him become obsessed in finding ways to implement systems to prevent it from happening again. Dineen is currently working for Solo Energy, a blockchain firm hellbent on helping people around the world save money on electricity

Coin Rivet: When did you first get involved in blockchain technology?

Darren Dineen: My entry point in working with blockchain would probably be deemed unorthodox to many, but a normative reaction to some. The aftermath of the 2008 banking crisis was especially grim in Ireland because Irish taxpayers paid 42% of Europe’s collective debt. I was 16 when the collapse happened, and it fundamentally changed my outlook on the world. As a result, I became intellectually obsessed with how a systematic failure like this could occur and how we can build better systems to prevent it from happening in the future. I devoted most of my time to studying economics, philosophy and psychology. The documentary “Zeitgeist: Addendum” and Bernard Lietaer’s book “The Future of Money” which I discovered in 2008 accurately encapsulate the genesis of my involvement in blockchain. I started writing about blockchain and AI (artificial intelligence) at university when Bitcoin was only spoken of by my contemporaries as a means to procure certain things on the dark web.

CR: What inspires you to be involved in the industry?

DD: Assuming your readers are aware of at least one or two of the regime change enacting or paradigm shift inducing blockchain solutions that are possible today, we have to come to terms with the fact that just because these magnificent solutions are possible does not mean the mission is complete. I, like many, have a great degree of contempt for the misrepresentation of blockchain both inside and outside of the industry. Seeing is believing and the only way for this technology to touch millions of lives is the evolution of the technology from the conceptual realm to consumer-facing applications in production. Accelerating this process is my inspiration.

CR: How do you believe you can bring about change to the world we live in today?

DD: By staying true to your values and projecting that change outward into the world every day. So many great thinkers and builders in blockchain are disincentivised as a result of becoming unexpectedly wealthy. This is a trap. We must continuously remind ourselves where we came from and not become complacent.

CR: Based on your experience and knowledge of blockchain and crypto, how can these bring change to the world?

DD: As a general rule of thumb, I refrain from using the term crypto to describe the utility of blockchain because of its negative connotations. At its core, blockchain technology is a philosophical belief about trust and human nature. When we critically analyse any historical model of governance, finance or any other system through which we organise ourselves socially, one common denominator rears its head again and again; centralisation. In other words, we have always relied on a centralised authority as a single source of truth, and it is almost universally agreed that this is a critical error. Blockchain represents a way in which societies and individuals can organise themselves to decentralise trust and in my view, finally live in a democratic world. The upper limits to that reality can potentially dissolve the boundaries that have divided humanity for centuries.

CR: How long before the the mass adoption of blockchain happens?

DD: It depends on how we define mass adoption, but during peak blockchain bubble in 2017, many commentators likened this to the dot-com bubble in the mid-‘90s which in some ways is not a bad analogy to use. It took 16 years to get from the release of HTML in 1993 to the Facebook mania of 2009. By that logic, blockchain will hit the mainstream around 2025 which sounds like a reasonable estimation in my book – but technological advancement happens at a faster rate nowadays so that it could be even sooner.

CR: When do you believe cryptocurrency will become mainstream?

DD: Again, it depends on what we mean by mainstream. One thing is sure: we need to cut through the tsunami of misinformation and tidal wave of noise about blockchain to pave the way for mainstream adoption. The strength and conditioning exercise that the market has been undergoing are working wonders for this. Companies are waking up to the fact that they can avail of the benefit of blockchain technologies without interfacing with the hype at all. This is an early sign of mainstream adoption.

CR: Do you feel cryptocurrency will replace fiat or do you believe they will co-exist?

DD: This is the trillion dollar question. I believe this is a more complicated question than people realise. There is definitely a way for these two monetary paradigms to fuse together and there are already examples of this today. If we are to witness another cataclysmic event like the economic depression of 2008, then perhaps we will experience a global consciousness shift toward the adoption of cryptocurrencies. However, it is imperative that we do not commit the fallacy of thinking this hypothetical crypto new world will necessarily be good. If this were to happen, we would have to tread very carefully to get it right.

CR: Do you believe blockchain has the potential to eradicate poverty, corruption and inequality?

DD: Yes, yes and yes. However, there is an important distinction to be drawn between something or someone having potential and the practice of manifesting this reality through hard work.

CR: When did you get involved with Solo Energy?

DD: I first came on board with Solo at the beginning of this year. Killian, Mark and I are all from Cork, Ireland. Killian attended a talk I gave towards the end of 2017, and we had our first informal meeting shortly after. I must have spent half the day with the guys hearing their story and talking blockchain – as they say, the rest is history.

CR: In your view, how important is women’s participation in blockchain?

DD: As important as women’s participation in any development, technological or otherwise that affects society. I am sure if Mother Earth could chime in on this one she would advise that both her sons and daughters contribute to the development of new tools that assist in the evolution of the planet.

CR: What is so unique about Solo Energy?

Solo Energy exemplifies the next stage in the evolution of blockchain. They represent the well-needed change from flimsy whitepapers and faulty tokenomics to experienced professionals in the relevant fields with the integrity to build the future we all want. Solo is an established business operating for three years with a software platform already in production that a prospective blockchain implementation improves and helps to realise the vision of a 100% renewable future.

CR: Where do you see Solo Energy in 10 years’ time?

DD: I am not a fan of making predictions, but I genuinely believe that Solo will be synonymous with the 100% renewable grid of the future.

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