Making Good on the Promise of Blockchain: An Interview with Emil Wagner

After creating applications and web-app projects for Sony, Telefonica, VW, and Montblanc, Emil was drawn to blockchain because of its potential to change the global distribution of power.

Photo by Daniel Hansen

As Co-Founder of our æpps team development partner, Ape Unit, in Berlin, Emil Wagner is no stranger to creative innovation. After creating applications and web-app projects for companies such as Sony, Telefonica, VW, and Montblanc, he found himself drawn to blockchain because of its amazing potential to change the global distribution of power. He is thrilled to have the opportunity to make this technology accessible to everyone, creating the foundation for new business models and applications based on the disruptive potential of the æternity blockchain in particular. We recently sat down with him to talk about his views on accessibility, equality, and why the success of blockchain is a win for everyone.

What got you into this blockchain thing?

I got interested in blockchain because I was excited by the idea of decentralization and because I like connecting people globally. Without borders or nations, we could potentially have one ecosystem with equal access. This is still a promise that we need to make good on. Currently, the real accessibility of blockchain depends on your access to and understanding of the technology itself. One of the main goals of æternity’s æpps team is to lower that bar and to make it more accessible to everyone.

Is that one of your main goals, to deliver on this promise?

Yes, this is a priority in the future. However, right now we are trying to make blockchain ready for mass adoption. One of the main goals of our æpps team is to make it easier for a broad spectrum of users to develop decentralized applications. But there are a lot of challenges when you are essentially doing something that has never been done before on this scale.

If you had to choose one term that interests you most about Blockchain, what would it be and why?


Right now, our chances as individuals are not distributed fairly. So many of our opportunities are completely dependent upon our birthplace. At this point in time, humanity has not yet been able to provide structures that allow everyone to be treated equally. In many ways and for many people, the dream of this technology is about giving power back to the people. Our work revolves around giving this power back to the users of these applications.

What is the biggest challenge of your work at the moment?

One of the challenges is conceptual: that we as a community move our trust from the current structure. Right now, we are used to trusting central organizations.

Blockchain technology, however, provides a way for things to be trustless: We write the rules in code and we collectively agree to those rules.

But to make sure that this works for everyone, the code must behave as intended. One of our jobs as creators is to make sure that the code works in order to solve this paradigm.

So, would you say that making the code work is your biggest mission?

Making it work is actually just the beginning. For us in the æpps team, the mission is finding a way to make things more accessible. This is difficult because we are developing a new smart contract language, using functional programming that requires a lot of communication to increase accessibility.

We are trying to lower the barriers to entry, which is no small challenge.

If you could give your younger self a piece of advice what would you say?

Buy bitcoin — no, MINE bitcoin!! But seriously, follow your instincts! We had actually been interested in blockchain for a long time but it took some time for us to get involved. If we had trusted our instincts we might have taken some bigger risks (the kind that lead to bigger rewards) from the beginning.

Outside of work, how might a friend describe your personality?

My friends tell me I care a lot and that I am always really busy. I care deeply about collaboration, particularly when it comes to ideas and responsibilities. I always try to inspire self-responsibility and trust while simultaneously keeping things together. Some might also say that I work too much, especially recently, but this only happens when I am really excited about a project or cause.

æternity is precisely such a cause.

Get in touch with Emil in the Forum.

UPDATE: æternity Universe One — the first conference dedicated to the latest R&D in the blockchain space and æternity, took place on September 20–21, 2019 in Prague. Emil Wagner held a talk on the topic: “Introduction & Guide to æternity’s AEXPansions”. Watch it below:

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