Chatting With Ari Meilich: Project Lead at Ethereum-Powered Decentraland Talking Bitcoin, gaming, AI, VR, and Yerba Mate
Ari is the Project Lead at Decentraland, the first decentralized VR platform. He has worked as an Analyst at Charles River Ventures, a leading Silicon Valley venture fund, and as the founder and CEO of Benchrise, a big-data company. Before entering the world of tech, he spent two years as a National Institute of Health fellow, performing neuroscience research on human decision-making, while running a BPO agency that catered to clients such as Amazon and General Electric.
You went from neuroscience and big data, to doing venture capital and crypto. What happened?
It seems like a weird path at first, but they were actually very interconnected. I first adopted Bitcoin to make ‘free’ international payments. I had an outsourcing business back in college, with over 50 people contracting from Argentina. At the time, the country suffered from strict capital controls, where the government dictated the price at which dollars had to be sold. But there was a black market price (“blue” dollar, in the Argentine jargon) of up to 100% more.
So initially Bitcoin solved a business problem?
At first, yeah. Bitcoin was a great way to bypass banks and fool a ridiculous economic policy. But pretty soon, this disintermediation convinced me that technology was an enabler of greater freedom.
Which technologies excite you today?
I think AI is fascinating since it’s making people realize that all the mental capacities that we thought were exclusive to humans could very well be outperformed by machines.
Then why then focus on blockchains over AI?
After doing a machine learning startup, I learned that to do it right, you need to have access to large, private datasets. This is why AI is dominated by an oligopoly with special access. I love blockchain technologies because they enable you to innova...