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拥抱区块链的竞争——这对全球经济实力平衡又意味着什么/The Race to Embrace Blockchain—And What It Means for the Global Economic Balance of Power

译文/Translated:

Block.one主席Rob Jesudason认为,区块链行业现在还没有一个地理上的重力中心,但是在这场开放的竞争中,中国处于领先地位。

去年中国政府禁止首次代币发行(ICO)和加密货币流通,这似乎标志着共产党反对区块链技术。

同样的声音也误解了中国过去20年设立防火长城的意图。很明显的一点是,这个长城让诸如阿里巴巴、百度、京东、腾讯等世界级的中国科技公司得以诞生。这些例子中,保护主义实际上给这个国家带来了长期利益和科技的领导地位。

今天我们很容易忽略的一点是中国在加密货币上的立场和它在区块链上的立场截然不同。

实际上,中国政府清晰地表达,它很看重区块链技术。中国的国家媒体报道,2017年全球注册区块链专利最多的组织是中国的央行,中国人民银行。

五月份,习近平主席称区块链技术为“突破性技术”。在科技巨头阿里巴巴所在地杭州市,其市政府承诺要投资15亿美元用以发展该技术。同时,中国科技三巨头(BAT)——百度、阿里巴巴、腾讯——都投资研发自己基于区块链技术的系统。

中国执政党已经习惯了控制,然而区块链技术一般来说都和去中心化和透明度紧密联系着的,因此中国政府是否会允许这个技术的自由发展还有待观望。但是,很明确的一点是中国清楚,不管是从经济上还是策略上来说,在发展和驾驭区块链的潜力上最重要的是什么。

这些发展区块链的动作值得我们观望,对于某些国家来说,这甚至说得上是值得警惕的信号。

历史可以给我们很多的提示,让我们知道技术发展需要怎样的前提,当我们评估某地发展繁荣的科技生态的时候,如果能一并考虑经济和地缘政治力量如何随之发生变化,那就更好了。

历史学家萨缪尔·亨廷顿用“大分流”这个词来描述19世纪西方是如何作为崛起成史上最富有、最强大的力量,实际上,亚洲和中东历史上曾经的统治者在当时的西方面前都黯然失色。简单来说,大约到了1850年,资本主义、技术进步、工业革命,这三个因素让欧洲和美国完全统治全球经济。

这个状态直到后来亚太国家开始减少和西方的差距才得以缓解,这个阶段被其他历史学家称为“大汇流”时期。在上世纪90年代左右,亚洲国家,尤其是中国,重新崛起,使得全球经济朝着东方偏移,很大幅度上实现了全球经济的重新平衡。中国和美国现在是全球两大经济重心,而欧洲在整个经济总量上的相对份额减少了。

中美贸易战已经打响,有些分析师也警告未来还会有一次全球经济衰退,这种情况下要去预计这个多极化的经济万花筒最终会呈现怎样的光景是愚不可及的。此外,全球经济内在是联系在一起的,它不是一个零和博弈。但是涉及到科技以及科技如果带来经济效益这方面,如果有哪个国家还没有意识到它处于全球大竞技场,那它可能要失分了。

想要在比赛中取得好的名次,想要培养明天的世界冠军,每个国家都要拥抱创新和创造力。

在区块链这个事情上,现在我们在处于一个中间阶段,Block.one等公司在技术基础设施、改进技术、解决大规模应用的问题上投资。不像当年的硅谷和后来的深圳,它们都是网络革命的同义词,时至今日,区块链革命还没有一个地理上的启明星产生,但是重心城市很可能还是会产生的,而且很有可能他们会在支持自主创业和投资、采用积极、前瞻的政策和管理框架的国家出现。

互联网革命年代,美国的科技先驱,如脸书、苹果、亚马逊和谷歌,能够发展壮大,其原因在于政府支持他们冒险、支持他们破坏传统行业。彼时,政策利好鼓励企业发展、税收优惠、贸易环境宽松,这几个条件都推动了这些公司的繁荣。

中国BAT的崛起复制了这些公司的经历,可能讽刺的是,BAT之所以能产生,还是因为前面提到的防火长城,这个年代,中国借鉴了它屏蔽的美国网络服务的产品,带来了本地的相应产品,从而实现了其经济的发展。

诚然,世界各地的消费者都能从网络革命中获益——主要体现在选择面增加、供给提高、价格有竞争力——但是科技行业在不同市场的足迹也是不平衡的。这和历史上的一个规律相匹配:发展最快的国家——不管是工业革命中的英国,还是战后几十年的美国,甚至是过去二十年的中国——都是鼓励创新和投资的国家。

美国和中国的这些网络巨头现在都是世界上最大的公司。相对地,同时期的欧洲却没有发展出任何规模上可以相匹配的科技公司。

不是每个国家都和中国一样对加密货币和ICO持有保守态度,但是这不意味着竞争的国家和经济在共同体大方向上就走在中国前面。

美国政府和企业正在拥抱区块链带来的机遇。联邦机构在探索如何把区块链和政府运行结合在一起,毕马威分析表明2018年上半年美国在区块链上的投资超过了2017年综合。但是,欧洲的情况不是这么明朗。最近咨询公司高知特的一份报告表明,欧洲政治家普遍不愿意了解区块链,这个月早先欧洲议会的关于区块链管理的辩论也没起到什么作用。

芝加哥、伦敦、香港和瑞士的楚格都表示它们在募集区块链的资金。这将会体现在世界领先的区块链公司在哪里出现,哪些地方会有更多的创新技术。但这反过来这还依靠着创造有利的政策环境和有建设的商业环境。

这是所有国家都要参与的竞争,但是政府要清楚,机会就在当下。等着看这个行业怎么发展最后的结果就是为时过晚。要知道,中国已经决定,它要走在前列。

原文/Original:

Block.one President Rob Jesudason observes that the blockchain industry has yet to establish a geographic center of gravity, but argues China has its nose ahead in an open race

When the Chinese government moved last year to ban Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and circulation of cryptocurrencies, it seemed to some a sign that the Communist Party had turned anti-blockchain.

These same voices misunderstood the motives that created the so-called Great Firewall of China in last 20 years. What has become apparent is that the Firewall allowed world-class Chinese technology companies to emerge such as Alibaba, Baidu, JD and Tencent. It was a case where protectionism actually created long term benefit and technological leadership for the country.

The key point that has been missed today is that China’s stance on cryptocurrencies is very different to its views on blockchain.

In fact, Beijing has made it very clear that it is taking blockchain technology very seriously indeed. According to state media, the organization that registered the highest number of blockchain patents globally in 2017 was the country’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China.

In May, President Xi Jinping called blockchain a “breakthrough technology.” And the city government of Hangzhou — home to the technology giant Alibaba — has pledged US$1.5billion to develop the sector. Meanwhile, the triumvirate of Chinese tech behemoths — Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, known collectively as BAT — are all investing in their own blockchain-based systems.

It remains to be seen whether a ruling party accustomed to control will allow free rein to a technology commonly associated with decentralization and transparency. However what does seem clear is that China understands what is at stake, economically and strategically, in the race to develop and harness blockchain’s potential.

This concerted approach to embracing blockchain is worth watching, and for some countries it might be considered a warning signal.

History is a good guide to what conditions are needed for technology to develop, and when assessing which regions of the world have developed prosperous technology ecosystems it is useful to consider parallels with how the balance of economic and geopolitical power has tended to shift over time.

 ‘The Great Divergence’ is a phrase coined by the historian Samuel Huntington to describe how the West ­emerged in the 19th Century as the wealthiest and most powerful civilization yet seen, eclipsing any that had held sway in Asia or the Middle East. In crude terms, by about 1850, capitalism, advances in technology and the Industrial Revolution meant Europe and the US completely dominated the global economy.

This state of affairs persisted until APAC countries started closing ground on the West in what other historians have termed ‘The Great Convergence.’ Since 1990 or thereabouts, we’ve seen Asian countries, most notably China, re-emerge in a way that has done much to re-balance the global economy eastward. Along with the US, China is now a major center of economic gravity, while Europe’s relative share of the overall pie has shrunk.

With trade wars afoot and some analysts warning of another global recession ahead, it would be foolish to predict how this multipolar economic kaleidoscope might settle next. Moreover, our inter-connected global economy is not a zero-sum game. But when it comes to technology and its ability to deliver economic gains, countries that don’t realize they are competing on a global playing field surely miss the point.

Embracing innovation and creativity are necessary to stay ahead of the game and nurture tomorrow’s global winners.

In the case of blockchain, right now we’re in an intermediate phase where companies like Block.one are investing in the technology infrastructure, refining it and generating solutions that will hasten its mainstream adoption. To date, this revolution doesn’t have a geographical polestar in the way that Silicon Valley and later Shenzhen became synonymous with the internet revolution — but it’s likely that new centers of gravity will emerge and that they will be in countries that support entrepreneurship and investment and put in place conducive, forward-thinking policies and regulatory frameworks.

In the internet revolution, US tech trailblazers like Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Google thrived because they were supported to take risks and disrupt traditional businesses. They were able to benefit from constructive, incentive-driven regulatory, tax and trading environments.

The success of those companies was then replicated in China with the emergence of BAT, a trinity which — ironically, perhaps — owes its genesis to the above-mentioned Great Firewall, as China retrofitted its economy with homegrown versions of the pioneering American internet services it had blocked.

These American and Chinese internet giants are now among the biggest companies in the world. By way of contrast, Europe in the same period has not produced any tech companies of comparable size.

Of course, consumers everywhere have benefited from the internet’s evolution — mainly through increased choice, supply and competitive pricing — but the tech industry’s footprint across different markets has been uneven. And this is consistent with a pattern throughout history in which the countries that prosper most ­­– whether Britain during the Industrial Revolution, or America in the decades after World War II, or China in the last 20 years or so — are those where innovation and investment have been incentivized and encouraged.

Not everywhere has been as obstinate about cryptocurrencies and ICOs as China, but that doesn’t mean rival nations and blocs are ahead of Beijing when it comes to the bigger game.

In the US there are signs that government and businesses are coming to embrace the opportunities blockchain presents. Federal institutions are exploring ways of integrating blockchain into the running of government, and analysis by KPMG shows that blockchain investment in the country in the first half of 2018 exceeded that for all of 2017. The situation is less than crystal-clear in Europe, however. A recent report by the consulting firm Cognizant found widespread reluctance among European decision-makers to understand blockchain; and a debate on blockchain regulation in the European Parliament earlier this month did little to move the dial.

Cities as diverse as Chicago, London, Hong Kong, and Zug in Switzerland have all laid claim to being rising blockchain capitals. The proof will be in where world-class companies emerge and where innovation is given most license. And that in turn depends on creating favourable regulatory regimes and constructive business environments.

It’s a case of all to play for, but governments need to be clear that the opportunity is now. Waiting to see how the industry develops may be leaving it too late. In the meantime, China has already decided it wants to take the lead.

原文链接/Original URL:

https://medium.com/block-one/the-race-to-embrace-blockchain-and-what-it-means-for-the-global-economic-balance-of-power-8f1c1ee541b7

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