Blockchain: The View Ahead

Joi Ito, MIT Media Lab, Simon Johnson , MIT Sloan School of Management , and Robleh Ali, DCI, MIT Media Lab

Our closing plenary session examines the potential implications for every business to consider in the decade ahead.

Joi Ito, Director, MIT Media Lab

Joichi “Joi” Ito, the director of the MIT Media Lab, is currently exploring how radical new approaches to science and technology can transform society in substantial and positive ways.

Ito is chairman of the board of PureTech and as served as both board chair and CEO of Creative Commons. He sits on the boards of Sony, the Knight Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the New York Times Company. In Japan, he is executive researcher of KEIO SFC, was a founder of Digital Garage, and helped establish and later became CEO of the country’s first commercial Internet service provider. Ito was an early investor in numerous companies, including Flickr, Six Apart,, littleBits, Formlabs, Kickstarter, and Twitter.

Ito’s honors include being named to Time magazine’s “Cyber-Elite” in 1997 (at age 31) and selected as one of the “Global Leaders for Tomorrow” by the World Economic Forum in 2001. In 2008, BusinessWeek named him one of the “25 Most Influential People on the Web.” In 2011, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oxford Internet Institute. He is coauthor with Jeff Howe of Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future (Grand Central Publishing, December 2016).

Simon Johnson , Professor of Global Economics and Management, MIT Sloan School of Management

Simon Johnson is the Ronald A. Kurtz (1954) Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he is also head of the Global Economics and Management group and chair of the Sloan Fellows MBA Program Committee. He cofounded and currently leads the popular Global Entrepreneurship Lab (GLAB) course, in which MBA students have worked on more than 500 projects with startup companies around the world over the past 16 years. He also works closely with Joi Ito, head of MIT’s Media Lab, on the Digital Currency Initiative.

Over the past seven years, Johnson has published more than 300 high-impact pieces for the New York Times, Bloomberg, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, the New Republic, BusinessWeek, the Huffington Post, the Financial Times, and Project Syndicate. He is the coauthor (with James Kwak) of the bestseller 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown and the follow-up book on U.S. fiscal policy, White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters for You.

From March 2007 through the end of August 2008, Johnson was the International Monetary Fund’s chief economist and director of its research department. From April 2009 to April 2015, he was a member of the Congressional Budget Office’s Panel of Economic Advisers. In July 2014, Johnson joined the Financial Research Advisory Committee of the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Financial Research; he chairs the recently formed Global Vulnerabilities Working Group.

Johnson holds a BA in economics and politics from the University of Oxford, an MA in economics from the University of Manchester, and a PhD in economics from MIT.

Robleh Ali, Research Scientist, DCI, MIT Media Lab

Robleh Ali is a research scientist at the MIT Media Lab's Digital Currency Initiative. His main focus is on how national currencies can be issued digitally outside the existing banking system and the role of central banks in such a system. The overall aim of the work is fundamentally reforming the financial system by changing the way money is issued. He previously led the research into central bank issued digital currency at the Bank of England.


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