Poker Champion Tony G turns MEP Blockchain Champion!

in #busy3 years ago

Ok guys so this is a scoop. A big one. Right after lunch at the Berlaymont I rushed to the European Parliament for a conference called "Blockchain, the Game Changer of the 4th Industrial Revolution" organized by Lithuanian MEP (EPP group) Antanas Guoga.
On the way to the room I grabbed an brochure and waited for the proceedings to start. Here you can see the introductory address with high-ranking Commission official sitting next to MEP Antanas Guoga. The guy whose back you see, with the little manbun is Julio Alejandro, Global Communications for Aeternity blockchain (AE)

The panels were quite motley, here with former Estonian PM Taavi Roivas

Another one featured Julio Alejandro who acted like a Crypto Messiah (with such I guy in charge of Communication, no wonder AE mooned on the back of ... mostly nice papers)


Finally the last panel featured Chiara Tomasi from Google which was remarkable not for what she said but for what she didn't say. In a blockchain conference, she was the only person on the panel completely ignored the topic and avoiding even uttering the word, instead talking about AI (specifically AlphaGo).

I think it's fair to say that Google is for the time being completely ignoring the blockchain topic

The conference was followed by a cocktail during which I learned that the organizer, MEP Guoga is the same person as a former poker champion best known as Tony G! That came as a surprise, so wanting to know more I opened the brochure I had grabbed on the way in:

I quote from his biography:

Guoga, whose life reads more like that of a James Bond character than a political nerd, was a Rubik's cube champion in Lithuania before the age of 11, spent his formative years in Australia. From the age of 18, he started playing professional poker.
Elected in 2014, the Baltic MEP says, "I came into politics to change Europe for the better". he adds, "I wanted to have more meaning in my life life and be able to do something outside of business and playing poker"

Holy Molly ! My next stop was YouTube, looking for "Tony G". And sure enough, there he was !

Frankly, I'm absolutely thrilled by this! This is precisely what a revolutionary technology such as blockchain needs: not old, dusty, risk-averse politicians of the old school but mavericks that are not afraid to take risks and move fast! I'm sure his influence will be extremely positive.

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I think that lady, Chiara Tomasi, came to say what she had to say, in a panel which was remotely similar to her subject (at least in the revolutionary sense), and Google may or may not have interest in the subject of blockchains, but we can't tell from that. They may keep it internally right now.

As for Antanas Guoga, he seems ready to accept changes sooner. The question is how much influence does he have? I have a strange feeling these kind of politicians are kept around because they "do good" image-wise for certain targets of public, but they don't have much saying when it comes to changing or moving things in the right direction. Argh, that would be frustrating (both for them and for us)!

I doubt it. The moderator (a Romanian-born lady, by the way) was asking blockchain-related questions to each of the panelists in turn. There has been no other topic discussed but blockchain. And yet when she asked Chiara her opinion the latter went off-course asking if anybody knew about "move 37" and from there it was Alpha Go and AI. Right after she finished, the conversation went back to blockchain.

I think that says something: either they are completely not interested (at corporate level) or they are VERY interested and want to keep it in stealth mode.

About Guoga - saying "they are kept around" would imply that there is a higher kabal that pulls the strings. In national politics there probably is one quite often. At the EP level, the bunch is too diverse, too large and too fractious for any group to be able to pull strings.

Subsequently what you get is the result of a complex equilibrium where everybody pushes in his/her direction as hard as (s)he can, depending on the size of the fraction. So the question is: how strong is the "pro innovation" fraction ?

Let's count:
SPD: Eva Kaili (GR) + Jakob von Weizsäcker (DE)
EPP: Sorin Moisa (RO) + Antanas Guoga (LT)

Not sure if there are other pro-innovation MEPs

Yeah, it's strange she dodged the questions on such a manner. But she might still have no mandate to speak on the subject. I have no idea how Google internal policy works.

On the EP subject, looks like the pro-innovation camp(s) is/are pretty thin. Not a real threat to those with other agendas, I suppose.

Other agendas do not mean "opposite agendas" ... I don't quite see why the "anti-blockchain" camp would be much stronger or have higher resolve ...

Hopefully, you are right. Although they are not always as open and straightforward in their intentions as we are on the blockchain.

Tony G has been part of the strong poker guard in the past, a player respected by many players. If he could persuade some of his poker friends to enter the Blockchain scene he certainly will have a huge impact.
I expect that as the biggest poker player in the world, the Romanian Daniel Negreanu will come to the blockchain market as soon as possible.

There is a video on YouTube where Tony G plays Daniel Negreanu. I haven't watched it as I confess I do not understand professional poker ... I used to play something we all called "poker" long ago when young but I realise it has nothing to do with what these guys seem to be playing at tournaments :(

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very glad after hearing this news.