Just a few weeks ago we hardly heard anything from Germany and wider Europe as far as blockchain technology is concerned, but all the sudden German legislators, companies, individuals, are popping up everywhere to talk about blockchain tech.
The French are making some appearance too, especially after Macron was elected, but Germany, the industrial powerhouse of Europe and the world, is begging to make a wider, perhaps strategic, mark.
Blockchain technology, especially ethereum’s smart contracts, promise a considerable transformation to the point where some scholars have begun calling it the beginning of a fourth industrial revolution.
Because machines, and that means anything from specialized one movement repetitive bots in manufacturing factories to cars to fridges, might now be able to have some very basic and highly primitive level of intelligence.
The combination of computer advances, including data analytics, cloud computing, sensors, wireless tech and smart contracts, can allow machines to gain some sort of autonomy through operating largely on their own in a very automated fashion.
The potential gains in capabilities could be at the same level as when railroad tracks were laid out or energy bulbs came to houses, which makes it strategic too, because the last time there was an industrial revolution Britain went on to become the empire where the sun never sets.
So it’s not surprising Germany has now seemingly entered the fray. We reported a few weeks ago Germany’s energy giant was using ethereum’s public blockchain in hundreds of electric car charging stations.
Their aim is to link that to cars themselves, a very competitive German industry, and furnish the cars with smart contracts so the car automatically manages payments and the rest, freeing your time to go have a drink and not worry about any of it.
That was followed by news Netherland’s national grid is piloting blockchain’s use for energy grid management to better co-ordinate thousands or more energy devices so as to retain a balance between supply and demand. Pilots launched both in Netherland and Germany.
But it wasn’t until the comments of Jakob von Weizsäcker, a German politician and Member of the European Parliament, made at an EU Parliament level workshop regarding blockchain tech, that Germany sort of announced their strategic bid regarding blockchain tech.
Because his tone was a complete uturn. Unlike a previous somewhat cold attitude by European regulators primarely focused on risks while discarding advantages, the German politician, speaking in a very British accent and pragmatically focused, simply asked this space what can legislators do to help.
A question raised because, he said, blockchain technology could become of systemic relevance. Indeed, we’d argue of potentially strategic relevance too because it appears a race is under way, a race so far dominated by USA, UK and China.
A race which, realistically, as far as regulator’s tone is concerned, has both USA and China far behind, making it potentially a primary race between Germany and Britain, the former focused on industrial use while the later perhaps in financial use, with both potentially, or, more realistically, hopefully, complementing each other.
The two neighbors, which have long admired each other and have led Europe as well as, at times, the world, might be going head to head once more. Britain is somewhat ahead. The former British chancellor has actually bought some bitcoins. The former British Prime Minister opened the offices of blockchain.info. They had the foresight back in 2014, when NY, their real competitor, had no clue what they had, shunning it and gifting it to Britain.
However, the report by Coindesk today that Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, a former head of Germany’s armed forces, rumored to be a potential candidate to replace German Chancellor Angela Merkel, reached out to them to tell them he aggressively invested in the blockchain space, clearly indicates Germany now sees a strategic and potentially systemic angle in this space.
So, Germany is clearly entering the race and with it much of Europe, with the focus now probably shifting to the high end industrial powerhouses and America, rather than between the low end developing as well as authoritarian Chinese nation and the west, not least because China, like New York before it, just gave up and gifted its advantage to its industrial competitor, Germany, just like NY gifted their advantage in 2014 to their financial competitor, Britain.
Because neither China nor NY seemingly know or knew what they have, while both Britain and Germany can, apparently, see very clearly the potentially immense advantage they could gain, at almost no cost.