Amber Baldet, a former Executive Director at J.P. Morgan Chase who previously worked as the bank’s Blockchain Program Lead, has argued that “when people use decentralized applications (dApps), they should be able to focus more on what the app does than what’s under the hood.”

Baldet, who had helped launch Quorum (at J.P. Morgan), an Ethereum-based blockchain platform for business owners, has now become well-known for her stance against “single chain maximalism.” The co-founder of Clovyr, a platform that allows users to develop various blockchain-based applications, has previously stated that “this decade will be remembered for surveillance capitalism.”

In addition to warning consumers and governments about the potential dangers of economies which adopt surveillance capitalism, Baldet delivered a speech last year at the 2018 Ethereal Summit New York (NY) – which focused on encouraging users to break away from Maximalist thinking.

Supporting Projects Involving Privacy-Oriented Blockchains

As most crypto enthusiasts know, Maximalists believe that the cryptocurrency they support, like Bitcoin (BTC), for example, is the only legitimate use case for blockchain technology. According to Baldet, this type of thinking can impede the potential progress that wider applications of distributed ledger technology (DLT) will allow us to make.

Baldet, a former application developer and Database Administrator, supports initiatives involving the development of “hybrid, privacy-preserving blockchain networks.”

In a recent interview with ConsenSys’ management team, Baldet confirmed:

Companies are hoovering up data at an increasing pace. Many of them have decided that in order to run machine learning programs, more data is always better, but these data lakes create a lot of technical risk for them. And now that technical risk is creating legal, regulatory and monetary risk as well.

She added:

It’s also becoming [more challenging] for smaller companies to compete with larger companies within their industry vertical. Increasingly, juggernauts like Google are amassing so much industry specific data that they can credibly compete with the best-in-class in every industry. Companies are realizing that they’re going to need to collaborate in order to derive the business insights that help them compete.

According to Baldet, “federation and decentralization applied to data science” is not necessarily related to governance issues or tokenizing assets on blockchains. She also recommended not placing all user data on DLT networks as the data structure’s main purpose is to allow users to implement algorithms that can “cross trust boundaries.”

Surveillance Capitalism

In response to a question about her views regarding surveillance capitalism, Baldet clarified: 

Lots of people that seem really focused on “privacy tech” these days need to understand the difference between what is private (free from intrusion) and what is confidential (authorized access, with expectation of consensual use). I am okay with vendors having the data that is created as I use their service, but I’m not necessarily okay with them selling it to a hedge fund or ad-tech company.

She also revealed that her current efforts in the blockchain space involve building a “developer suite that makes it easier” to create Ethereum-based applications. Her team’s proprietary technology reportedly allows users to build solutions for public networks or for large-scale consortium projects.

Moreover, the new developer suite is based on a platform that “connects tools people [already] know [how to use] … with some brand new things.” She also noted that her team will be “releasing some dev-ops pieces imminently, and tooling incrementally on top.” She further stated:

Ethereum is still so new that delivering high-level abstractions requires a lot of inventing the universe first.