This is the first in a series of Q&A’s profiling “The Women of Blockchain.” In this edition, we hear from Cristina Carrascosa Cobos, Head of legal (Blockchain) at Fluon Foundation in Spain. She co-authored of the book “Blockchain: the Internet industrial revolution” where she coordinated the legal chapter. Be sure to check back regularly for compelling profiles on inspiring professionals in the technology field.
When did you first become interested in blockchain and what drew you to this technology?It was 2013 and I was working as head of the IP department at a law firm. I have always been an intellectually anxious person, so surfing through the Internet led me to the technology underlying bitcoin, and I remember thinking, “Okay, bitcoin is cool, but I see a limited use in it. Let’s discover what’s behind it”. And I read, and read, and read, and finally understood how Blockchain worked.
Simultaneously and whilst I was doing this, I learned of ethereum and the smart contract architecture and said, “This ethereum Blockchain has enough potential and flexibility (in comparison to the bitcoin one) to revolutionize the internet as we know it, and that’s when my love story with this technology began.
What are the biggest changes to the legal field you have experienced since the emergence of blockchain technology?
I could mention many but I’ll stick to the most upcoming ones: the first one is the impact on the IP business, with a new era of open source coding and no more privatization of software. Business does not lay anymore in the licensing of a product for big companies, as developers and creators are now individually empowered to exploit the generation of their own IP. In a more and more technological society, this is quite a change of paradigm for both lawyers and companies as they need to change their business models and their way of thinking.
The second one affects the management of data, and data protection. As laws become more and more harsh on data breaching, the Blockchain presents itself as a great mechanism to be compliant, and this basically affects ANY company out there. Some of them are still quite reluctant, and are doubtful, for example, about the compatibility of this and the “right to be forgotten”. Others are currently exploring how to implement the technology.
And of course, tokens are hugely changing the legal field. New concepts, no applicable law that fits them. New funding mechanisms invented through these tokens, no regulatory pronouncement (in Spain) about them. So uncertainty is something lawyers now have to deal with, which is something we are not very used to, as we have a legal system that goes back to the Roman centuries.
What advice do you have for others who are skeptical of cryptocurrency?
My first statement is that I deeply understand those who are skeptical of cryptocurrency. But I must say that this can also be attributed to the fact that our society has lived in a world in which currencies are centralized institution instruments, imposed on us by territorial powers. But wait, centuries ago, people used anything as currency, didn’t they? A farmer exchanged a cow for wheat. There weren’t any economic policies, nor national currencies, nor obligation of using “money” for exchanges of value.
I mean, Andreas Antonopoulos explains this far far better than me, but the point is that we have never even imagined the possibility of having currency as a language, a means of expression, even though it has something historical, like in barter times.
So my only advice would be to please try to widen our minds, and to work on being somehow tolerant to new phenomena. Not trust it yet, okay, but at least giving the chance of proving itself useful.
Looking ahead, how do you see blockchain’s influence in 5 years? In 10 years?
I definitely see some time of craziness, like the one we’re living now, and following it, a period in which common sense will come by and there will be a natural filter of projects, cryptocurrencies, ideas…etc. But I also believe it’s the logical process: whenever a new technology appears, there is some kind of transitory madness that ends up being cleansed.
And I would like to see Blockchain having solved certain technical and social problems, I must say. For example, I believe it has enough potential to lower the existent entrance barriers to financial systems, or to empower individuals with their own data, so that they finally become the ones deciding who can use them.
Has the adoption of blockchain technology been quick or slower to catch on in Spain, where you are based?
In comparison to other technologies, I must say the adoption of Blockchain technology in Spain has been rather quick. There is currently a quite big and very knowledgeable community of very different Blockchain experts: from architects to cyber security experts, as well as lawyers or professionals who work in energy-based companies who are willing to make this community grow and expand as widely as possible. This is one of the things I like the most about Blockchain and people around it, the vast majority are inclusive and very open to listen to other’s opinions.