How well would you fare in the high-stakes world of blockchain and cryptocurrency? Could you navigate the complexities of decentralized technology and its potential to revolutionize society? In this episode of Unlearn, Barry O’Reilly sits down with Anne Connelly, a blockchain expert passionate about leveraging technology to transform lives in emerging economies.

As a faculty member at Singularity University and Boston University, who has also lectured at Oxford University, Anne teaches about how blockchain can enable us to redesign the foundations of society . She is also the author of “Bitcoin and the Future Fundraising,” a guide that guides charities on how to accept crypto donations. Anne shares her journey from the nonprofit sector to the world of crypto, highlighting the importance of risk-taking and unlearning traditional structures to embrace innovation.

Embracing Risk and Making Tough Decisions

Anne’s journey into the blockchain space began with a pivotal decision to forgo a promotion in the nonprofit sector for a career in an emerging industry. She reflects on the momentous choice she made, stating, “I would rather try and fail than never have tried at all.” Even in the face of extreme uncertainty, there are times to take a risk and be open to new opportunities. Anne’s story serves as a reminder that sometimes the path less traveled can lead to unexpected and fulfilling outcomes. As she navigated the decision-making process, Anne’s willingness to embrace uncertainty and step outside her comfort zone ultimately propelled her towards a path of innovation and growth. [Listen from: 02:38]



Transformational Experiences at Singularity University

Anne’s experience at Singularity University’s Global Solutions Program marked a turning point in her understanding of the potential of technology to address global challenges. She discusses the fusion of her passion for social impact with the innovative solutions offered by technology. Anne believes in rethinking the traditional approaches to problem-solving, stating, “We could make this a little bit better, but why? If we completely transformed it, we could make such a difference.” Anne is a champion for using the power of technology to drive meaningful change on a global scale through a holistic and impactful approach to addressing societal issues. [Listen from: 13:44]

Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs)

Decentralized Autonomous Organizations have an incredible disruptive potential in reshaping how we govern ourselves as a society. Anne explains how DAOs enable groups to collaborate without traditional hierarchies, leveraging blockchain technology for transparent decision-making processes. She highlights a real-world example of Constitution DAO, where a collective effort raised funds to purchase a copy of the US Constitution. These decentralized systems offer unique possibilities by democratizing decision-making, which allows for meaningful innovation in traditional governance models. [Listen from: 20:05]

Onboarding and Adoption of Crypto Technology

Anne shares the challenges of onboarding newcomers into the crypto and blockchain space, especially when it comes to accessible entry points. She shares a story about introducing a group of skeptics to Bitcoin. Their resistance held firm until they had a true, hands-on experience, which shifted their perceptions entirely. There’s a disparity in crypto adoption rates across different groups and regions, and Anne highlights how crypto often resonates with populations facing financial instability or limited access to traditional banking. If we want to encourage broader participation in the crypto ecosystem, we must focus on creating more inclusive strategies. [Listen from: 26:17]

Start Small and Invest Time in Learning

Hands-on experience is the key to Anne’s pragmatic approach, and it’s as simple as setting up a wallet and purchasing a small amount of cryptocurrency. When you invest less, you remove the financial pressure and are able to focus more on the educational aspect. There’s no need to dive in head first, either. Anne encourages others to “just do it for an hour,” allowing for a gradual immersion in the world of blockchain technology. The learning process of crypto technology should be a journey of discovery and exploration. Be curious and stay open-minded when navigating the complexities of the crypto landscape. [Listen from: 32:51]