TPI Releases Video of Panel Discussion on Web3 and the Metaverse

TPI Releases Video of Panel Discussion on Web3 and the Metaverse

Experts Debate Whether These Emerging Technologies are ‘Real’ or ‘Hype’

ASPEN—At the Technology Policy Institute’s annual Aspen Forum, the premier tech policy conference in the U.S., skeptics and enthusiasts of Web3, cryptocurrency, and the metaverse debated the benefits and drawbacks of these emerging technologies.

The panel, titled “Are the metaverse and web 3.0 real or hype and what are the policy issues?” and moderated by TPI Fellow Sarah Oh Lam, featured Washington College of Law Professor Hilary Allen, Global Director of Public Policy at Meta Financial Tech Edward Bowles, Commodities Futures Trading Commissioner the Honorable Caroline Pham, General Counsel at TRM Labs Sujit Raman, and University of Pennsylvania Wharton School Professor Kevin Werbach.

Here are some key quotes from the discussion:

“The problem is that our experience with the blockchain already shows that it is just not gonna happen. … the bank for international settlement has said that it’s a decentralization illusion in crypto, and let’s be real. Of course, there are intermediaries to profit. Why else are all those venture capitalists pouring this money into it, right?” – Hillary Allen, Professor at Washington College of Law

“I think the U.S. government has now realized that it was slightly behind the curve, right? And it, through the issuance of the Executive Order a couple of months ago, has sought to … draw together a roadmap for how the U.S. can resume its role as the leader of innovation in this space[.] … Now, part of the challenge is the likelihood of legislation coming off the Hill is relatively low. And so therefore it does in a sense, come back to the agencies, looking at what existing powers they’ve got now to support and facilitate innovation in this space.” – Edward Bowles, Global Director of Public Policy at Meta Financial Tech

“So one thing is we need a lot more clarity here. Everyone sort of agrees on that. The problem is the industry say they want clarity but they don’t want a determination of what constitutes a security that goes more broadly. And even though everyone kind of understands much of what is happening here is either investment fundraising or attempts to circumvent. There is room for more than one regulator.” – Kevin Werbach, Professor at University of Pennsylvania Wharton School

“Web3 … it’s a vision in which humans will reclaim their data, the internet, and essentially their anonymity from large outside forces, whether it’s large corporate firms, whether it’s government agencies, it’s an idea in which the individual reasserts control over their information, who they are and essentially how they exist in the world.” – Sujit Raman, General Counsel at TRM Labs

“So the important thing about digital assets is that it is really, really broad. It is an asset with a digital representation. That could be anything. That could be a financial instrument. It could also be a piece of real estate, a piece of art, pretty much anything that you can create a digital representation of—it does not even need to be necessarily on a blockchain. … There’s no question that some of those products are securities based on what they’re being used for.” – The Honorable Caroline Pham, Commissioner at Commodities Futures Trading Commission

You can read a full transcript of the remarks here and see the full video here. In addition, see below a live illustration created during the speech by Karina Branson, a graphic recorder and proprietor of ConverSketch. Her sketches of every session are part of what makes the Aspen Forum such a unique experience for attendees.

TPI scholars cover a wide range of issues, including Web3 and crypto. See our work on those topics here. We are available for comment and interviews at [email protected].

Subscribe to our podcast, Two Think Minimum, for the perfect dose of tech policy expertise for your morning commute. Recently, the podcast was honored by FedTech Magazine in its list of “30 Federal IT Influencers Worth a Follow in 2022.”

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