Bull City Summit Day 2: Tech Talks on Blockchain, AI, Esports, and V-Commerce

North Carolina Esports Academy CEO Caleb Smith, right, talks with UNC's Dr. Todd Cherner yesterday in a session on the future of Esports.

Having returned for its second year, the Bull City Summit (BCS)—a week-long festival and conference celebrating music, art, science, and technology—held a tech-centric Day Two on Wednesday in downtown Durham. Numerous local tech leaders and founders, alongside global speakers, led panels and presentations on topics ranging from ethics in AI to the future of Esports. 

Let’s take a look at some highlights:  

  • Opening Keynote with Local Investor Mark Yusko:

Wednesday kicked off with a fireside chat with investor Mark Yusko, in which he discussed how blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies—like Bitcoin—have the potential to transform the global financial system by decentralizing trust and finance. 

“What blockchain does is it liberates finance, banking and trust,” Yusko said to the audience. “Hundreds of billions—actually tens of trillions—of dollars of wealth in the banking and finance industry will migrate into the people. You and I will be able to exchange value.” 

Yusko is the CEO and CIO of Chapel Hill-based Morgan Creek Capital Management.

  • The State of Esports: 

Caleb Smith, the owner of North Carolina Esports Academy (formerly Contender eSports Cary), and Dr. Todd Cherner from UNC-Chapel Hill discussed the opportunities within Esports and how to develop it into a sustainable industry.  

Smith said it will take time and the right business models, but the upward trend lines are already clear. 

  • V-Commerce Revolution:

Durham-based startup ZROverse is introducing its newest project ZROin, which is centered around v-commerce—an online shopping method that uses virtual reality to provide an immersive, 3D shopping experience. With ZROin, you would be able to virtually “walk around” in the digital twin of a city like Durham or even inside a specific store, and buy products. The best part: no headset required.

Samya Potlapalli, a junior software developer at ZROverse and undergrad at UNC-Chapel Hill, presented how the platform works, and how it will reshape everyday customers’ shopping experience. 

  • The Future of AI Ethics: 

Nihal Mehta, a Co-Founder and General Partner at New York-based VC Eniac Ventures, shared his thoughts on the rapid progression of AI and how it will impact many industries and jobs. The conversation was moderated by GrepBeat’s own Pete McEntegart with one key twist: some of the discussion questions were generated by ChatGPT.

Mehta said there may be some jobs that can be automated through AI, but most careers—for example, those that require empathy—are here to stay.

“That’s not commoditized,” Mehta said. “It can’t be replaced by a machine.”

The pair also discussed in depth how to prevent AI from, well, destroying the human race.

All BCS panels and presentations were held at The Durham Armory on Wednesday. Other events this week have been (and will be) staged in live music venues, office spaces, and public squares throughout Downtown Durham. The conference lasts from Sept. 18-24.

About Jackie Sizing 109 Articles
Jackie is a reporter and producer at GrepBeat. Along with writing about tech startups and entrepreneurs, she oversees all social media platforms and produces digital media content. Before starting at GrepBeat, she graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in media and journalism in May 2021. She has written for The Daily Tar Heel and Boston Herald. In her spare time, you can catch her at a hot yoga class or volunteering to walk dogs at the local animal shelter.