Video - Exponential Innovation - Hackers Congress

This talk took place at the 3rd Hackers Congress Paralelní Polis (30th of September - 2nd of October) in Prague, celebrating the age of digital freedom and decentralisation. He talks about how Bitcoin become larger than one expected.


MAN #1: We are ready to start now. In case you’re still looking for a seat there are seats back there. People are raising hands so if you want to sit down go back and sit down. I will repeat the announcement, the filming crew, there’s a filming crew that is filming this talk from the back and they will also do audience shots. If you don’t want to be on the shots don’t look backwards because they’re filming from the back. And I would like to welcome Andreas Antonopoulos. He’s the author of Mastering Bitcoin and Internet of Money and this talk is called The Future of Money which he said that it keeps changing so his talk is always different so, we’re really excited to learn what’s the future of money is now. So, please a warm welcome for Andreas.

ANDREAS ANTONOPOULOS: Wow, it’s my first hackers congress! This is amazing. What an incredible (0:01:12). Thank you so much for coming here today, I really appreciate it. This talk will be on video in a couple of weeks on my YouTube channel but also it is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution. You could do whatever you want with it pretty much. So, feel free if you have to use a recording or you can just take it from my YouTube channel whenever you want. Thanks for coming.

The talk is going to be called A Tsunami of Innovation and what I want to talk about today is innovation in open systems. You’ve probably heard me talk about this before. One of the defining characteristics of the Bitcoin Blockchain but also of other open Blockchain systems is something we called permissionless innovation. And permissionless innovation is the idea that in a system that is decentralized where people can connect to the system without asking for permission where they can create their own applications without asking permission and they can launch these applications and use the platform without asking for permission, something magical happens. The best example of this, of course, is the internet and on the internet you don’t need permission to create a new application. You can assign it support numbers, you can write application protocol, you can distribute it by (0:02:51) your source code, anybody can run it and if they run it they become your market for that application.

So, what is the minimum market size you need to run an application on the internet? Two. Two notes, two people, two systems. As long as two systems want to use a protocol to communicate with each other that is an application. That is an application market. That is the basis for running a new application and you don’t need anybody’s permission to innovate on the system. But why is there support? Because in closed and permission systems innovation is determined by the least common denominator. If you want to run an application on the phone company’s network you have to find a way to persuade them that this is an application that will be broadly used by millions of people who are participating in that and you have to ask for permission and only if your application has a very large market share (0:03:57) and the essence of permission was innovation is that you do two things – one, you create the possibility of micro-innovation. Innovation for a market of two, a special purpose application that nobody in the world cares about except for these two people or this two systems and they can do micro-innovation in a tiny, tiny environment and create exciting applications for which the only two people who are excited are the ones participating in that application and that’s enough, it’s hyper-local, micro-innovation. But at the very same time it’s also a platform for macro global innovation. The very same application that appeals to two people can go two people, two thousand people, twenty thousand people, two hundred thousand people, two million people, two billion people. You’re probably going to need to optimize the code a bit but you have the possibility of (0:05:05) appealing to an audience as small as two all the way up to completely globalized all without asking for anyone’s permission. This critical function is offered by Bitcoin and other open Blockchains by the virtue of open access, but the virtue of a neutral platform that is not controlled by a central entity, by the virtue of being able to use that platform to develop (0:05:37) applications. 

And what happens with that is something that people often underestimate and we’ve seen how big markets underestimate the possibility of innovation on the internet and there’s a reason why you can easily underestimate this form of innovation. If you’re a big bank or big corporation and you’re paying a thousand very expensive, highly trained professional developers you have the cream of the crop, you have the best of the best innovating for you in a focused and directed manner. How can anyone compete with that? How can anyone compete with that budget, that marketing, that infrastructure, that support? I mean it’s almost ridiculous to think that you can take decentralized innovation and make it work on a large scale. Maybe you can do it for things that are supported. You can play with your little internet toys we have important work to do here in a large corporation. And one day some boards (0:06:51) the University of Finland who can’t afford to buy Microsoft Windows comes up with the most ridiculous idea I’m going to write a scalable multiprocessing operating system that competes with UNIX, right? And the only response to that by sane individual is “That’s ridiculous. There’s no way that will ever work.” 

Twenty years later Linux has completely taken over every data center, every computer operating system, most of the people in this room are running it underneath their Android operating system which is really just Linux (0:07:34). This audacity that you can out-innovate the largest players on the planet combines with something really important, passion, interest and deep knowledge of the community of your users and it’s most powerful when the developers are the community of the users or come straight out of the community of the users. But when you have people who are developing an application that is for their own interest that they have emotional attachment to, that they feel passion for they will commit enormous amount of effort into building that and treat it with great care. Why? Because at the end of it software is art. And so just like an artist if you like creativity, if you like that spark you can have a corporation that hires as many in-house artists as you want. You’re never going to create great art it will be soulless, it will be empty and that’s what happens to innovation. 

When innovation is brought into large companies it goes there to die. When they sent their employees to workshops in seven hours to teach them how to think creatively in a four-hour or seven-hour on Wednesday afternoon innovation goes there to die, creativity goes there to die. And if by some miracle an inspired creator arises from within the corporation, creates something truly unique, creative, disruptive, expressive the entire mechanism of bureaucracy will stomp down on that idea and kill it very, very quickly. Tommy, we love your idea and your creativity. This is really a fantastic invention you’ve brought to us. 

Now we have conducted a focus group and assembled a committee and we don’t want to interfere with your creative process. We have a few minor suggestions to help it be more broadly appealing among our customers and more in line with our strategic goals” and that is the corporate sound of stop on creativity. By the time the idea comes out of committee it is pale image, a skeleton of what it once was and everything good and creative and wonderful about it has been sucked out and what’s left is a soulless corporate piece of shit and yet when presented with the decentralized innovation when showed a potential of everyone on the planet independently and on their own being able to innovate on the internet create contents to create beautiful works of art to contribute to human knowledge, when presented with the idea that’s an open Blockchain allows everyone in the world to create applications they underestimate it. They cannot fathom how an unruly mess of untrained, untutored and unpaid volunteers can ever compete with their finely geared machine and every time they missed the point. This happens again and again and we see it from history. You would think by now after 20 years of observing the internet at work this lesson would come through. But instead what you see is corporates, organizations and governments having innovation in workshops speaking about disrupting from within and all of this empty talk.

When I was at the (0:11:59) we did a couple days ago I found out that one of the key contributors to an amazing piece of software that was written revealed himself to be a fourteen-year-old kid from London with no formal training in programming who is outclassing many of the professional programmers in the space with passion and that is the most dangerous form of competition a company can face. That is unstoppable.

Here’s why it’s easy to underestimate the potential for innovation. When you placed two systems side by side and one of them has a 200-year tradition of slow and careful and methodical development, institutionalized knowledge and a solid foundation of trust, the banking system. And then you bring this ragtag group of weirdo (0:13:05) anarchists – I’m looking at you – with funny haircuts and (0:13:12) and wear t-shirts and (0:13:15) suits and they say “We’re going to reinvent banking” what can you do but laugh, right? Because the first version of what they present to the world is woefully inadequate, it’s kludgy, it’s difficult to use. It hasn’t been tested by a focus group. The design sucks completely and so you compare the two and you say “This is what they’ve done, this is what it took us 200 years to do” and you laugh because there’s no chance this all ragtag group of misfits is ever possibly going to compete with millions and millions of dollars in your budget but what’s you’re missing is the most important part of the equation.

When everyone is open to innovate without permission and when the outcome of their envision is open source and available to everybody else to copy, incorporate, integrate, mash-up and build the (0:14:24) what happens is an exponential curve. Every tiny idea is fed by thousand other tiny ideas and in turn spawns a new forest of tiny ideas that together create another generation of tiny ideas and gradually all of these things are building up. People who are free to do and follow their passion start creating applications you couldn’t even imagine and it build on other people’s work and give ideas to other people who then build on top of these and the momentum increases and it takes a long time for that moment to build up and it’s very, very gradual at first. The key characteristic of an exponential curve is that for the majority of its life cycle it appears to be a slowly climbing horizontal line. It looks like it’s taking a very long time to catch up with that (0:15:26) Pluto of 200 years of innovation and then surprise because here’s the one thing I can tell you about exponential curves. They have an elbow and the elbow is the inflection point where the horizontal becomes vertical, where all of the cumulative momentum building and building and building suddenly reaches that critical point and it starts accelerating, faster and faster and faster. And it takes a very long time for these applications to reach parity, to appear to do the same thing that the established industry does but the thing about an exponential curve is that one month after reaching parity it’s exceeded by order of magnitude and one year it’s exceeded by Tors of magnitudes and while the traditional institution continues its slow horizontal curve the exponential curve suddenly turns vertical. We’ve seen this happen on the internet. We’ve seen this happen throughout many technologies in our lifetime.

Ray Kurzweil and it seemed the author has written a fantastic work called The Singularity is Near. I spoke recently of the Singularity University which is an organization founded by Ray Kurzweil and we discussed these issues of exponential growth. These exponential curves can be seen in many places in our post-industrial society. The acceleration of density of computer chips, computer memory, speed of processing, amount of data you can send through communication, the number of documents on the web, the number of documents on Wikipedia, the number of people connected to the internet, the number of internet of things (0:17:29) systems connected to each other, the number of people working on Bitcoin, the number of contributions to the Bitcoin Corp, the number of alternative Blockchains poking out, all of these lines have one thing in common – they exhibit an exponential curve. And for all of these when you look at it as a human being we tend to massively underestimate the impact of these exponential curves because we cannot fathom exponential growth. It is alien to nature. It only happens in very limited circumstances and it’s always surprising. We extrapolate linearly. We see the past and we think that it will continue at the same pace in the future. What we missed is the elbow of the curve when things turn vertical. The amount of data that you could fit on a storage device in the 60s was pitiful. You can watch photos online of IBM unloading a five megabyte hard drive from truck with four people carrying it, right? And it takes a very long time to go from five megabytes to ten megabytes to a hundred megabytes. But before long you stop counting in megabytes and you’re counting in gigabytes and then terabytes and the curve is vertical and we see with data, we see this with participation on the internet and we’re beginning to see it with Bitcoin. I used the phrase tsunami of innovation because one characteristics of a tsunami, a wave in the ocean, a massive disturbance in the liquid structure of the ocean is that the wave propagation happens at depth. If you’re a fisherman and you’re five hundred miles out from the coast and a tsunami pass this you can’t even distinguish it from the other waves, it’s a little slush that passes you by. There’s two hundred feet of slush underneath that you can’t see and it’s how that depth and then the wave reaches the continental shelf and as it hits the edge of the continental shelf it climbs. By the time it hits the beach it’s two hundred feet high and if you are looking out in the ocean it’s like oh, it’s a little wave, oh, it’s a medium wave, oh, it’s a big wave, oh shit, run for the hills. 

This is going to be the experience of institutionalized banking. This is going to be the experience of institutional regulation of government. This is going to be the experience of decentralized innovation on the web. This is going to be the experience of applications of trust. This is going to be the experience of the Blockchain powered internet of things. Every organization that is observing this is going to say “Oh, it’s an interesting concept. Oh, it’s kind of very interesting. Oh, it’s getting kind of bigger. Oh shit, run for the hills.”

The first indication you have in fact is that the water recedes and that’s the wrong time to go sun bathing on the beach. Right now it is very easy to underestimate the innovative potential of Bitcoin. Right now you see the early stage prototype. Right now you see the beginnings of a system that has some promise. But its biggest promise is not in what is there, it’s in what is to come. And the reason the promise lies in what is to come is because of the power of innovation without permission by individuals who have a particular interest. An interest that is not served and will never be served by the current system.

(0:21:50) is one example. Let’s say you’re a person with a disability. You have a problem with your hearing or your sight or a cognitive problem. You have some kind of difficulty with numbers dysnumeria or with words dyslexia and what can you ask you bank to do to make your life easier. Can you ask them to modify the online banking application to make it more suitable to you? Can you ask them to modify their ATMs to make it more useful to you? With great resistance they might try to serve you. In fact they’ll be able to do it a lot easier on the web than they can do it on their ATM network or their physical locations.

Now, imagine what happens if you’re a software engineer and you have a disability. Or if you’re a software engineer and your best friend, you cousin has a disability and you look at Bitcoin and you say “My friend doesn’t have a good way of remembering PIN numbers. He would be or she would be much better served with pictures of animals. My friend doesn’t have a a good way of visualizing small information. She would be better served by the information being magnified. My friend doesn’t have good understanding of social engineering and cognitive threats. He or she would be better served by community management through multi-sig.” How many people do you need to persuade to write that application? No one. You write it. You improve the world in a tiny way for one person and others will find it and they will say “This is the application I’ve always been looking for. I now have being empowered by the innovation of a complete stranger and I can use it” and the tsunami builds, and the momentum builds and every single developer operating in this space were not solving big universal problems, were solving small local problems that matter to us because we control where we want to invest – our creative energy and our passion and there’s nothing in the world that can stop that once it gains momentum. It is an absolute tsunami of innovation and it is coming. Thank you.

So, we have an hour and I don’t want to bore you with my talk anymore and I would love to have a conversation with any and all of you. So, I think we have a mind (0:24:59) here for the audience, if you would like to ask me a question I would be delighted to answer it for you. Thank you.

MAN #2: Hi, (0:25:11) I just want to ask – I read an article recently that said the European Union is planning to register all Bitcoin users and their transaction, keep a database all of these centralized, I don’t know –


MAN #2: I just wanted know if, you know, the (0:25:30) what kind of resistance they would face or if it’s even possible.

ANDREAS ANTONOPOULOS: One of the really interesting – so the question was about European Union creating a registration database of some Bitcoin users because the idea that they can create a registration database of all Bitcoin users is a pipe dream and I think several people in this room would make sure that doesn’t happen.

In an open system people have choices and decentralization and centralization are not an equal symmetric scale. In order for a centralized system of control to be effective it has to be near-absolute. But in order for a decentralized system to provide freedom it doesn’t have to be absolute. All it has to do is undermine the system of control.

If you have a stadium with a concert and the stadium has a hundred doors how many of these doors do you need to check tickets so that concert do not be a free concert? One hundred doors. Ninety-nine doors is not enough the moment one of the doors is not being checked everybody text everybody, nobody shows up at the ninety-nine doors you’re checking and they all go through the backdoor and you have a free concert. Control has to be complete, has to be end-to-end for it to be even marginally effective, but it gets worse. Because what happens if you have a system where some people those who are educated, technically literates or motivated enough can choose to use the backdoor, can choose to use the system without registration, can be nimble enough with their communications and their protocols and their use of Tor and all of the other things that they might need to use a system that isn’t registered. Who are you left monitoring? The innocent and the idiots and everybody who perhaps you should be monitoring is choosing to use the unmonitored avenues and there are thousands of unmonitored ways to do. You cannot impose end-to-end control on a completely open protocol that is global in nature that uses the internet as its underlying mechanism that is in essence a content type, a form of speech, a communication medium on the internet, you cannot control it. Do you know why I know this? Because they can’t even control it North Korea. You can get American movies depicting American actors killing a simulation of Kim Jong-un in North Korea on a USB drive. I imagine the penalty that applies to that is a bit higher than what the European Union will be able to pass legislatively and yet they can’t stop it. And if you can’t stop it there what chance do you have of stopping it in a multicultural society like the European Union or in a open border world like the one that Bitcoin creates. Let them try they’re wasting their time and it gets worse. Because what are they going to end up doing? They’re going to end up collecting the private information of millions of people who by the definition that I just gave you are innocent and some idiots. They will collect all of these people’s information and they will create one of the European Union’s largest honeypots of private information and then they will fail to secure it as they always do because there is no way to secure a concentrated data and it will get hacked and they will end up hurting the consumers that they are actually presenting as protection, right? So, one, it doesn’t work for the stated reason of protecting against criminal activity because if criminals have a choice they will subject themselves to it. One of the characteristics of a criminal is that they don’t follow the law. (0:30:10) Goldfinger. Two, it will actually reduce the ability to innovate within the European Union and it will hurt most the (0:30:20) organized legitimate small businesses that are creating jobs in the space. And three finally, after failing to achieve all of its goals it will hurt the very citizens that it aims to protect because it will expose their private information and we’re going to see this happen again and again and gain in this world. Thank you. let’s take another question.

MAN #1: Okay. We had a question from people watching the stream so I’m going to read it from the phone.


MAN #1: What about Bitcoin democracy and profiling as well as Bitcoin mining companies gaining more and more power over Bitcoin network? Do you see decentralization of Bitcoin network to be a dangerous thing or not (0:31:05) centralization?

ANDREAS ANTONOPOULOS: Yes. Bitcoin minus (0:31:09) decentralized and my theory is the reason that Bitcoin mining and mining (0:31:15) becomes centralized is because over a period of seven years we saw at approximately one million times increase in the performance of mining equipment. We saw essentially two days worth of development of semiconductor, capacity and density express itself in seven years of Bitcoin from mining off a laptop which was what Satoshi did during the first several months even in two years to mining on a graphics card to mining on a field programmable gate array to mining finally on a ASICs at 16 nanometers and then ASICs at 48 nanometers and then ASICs at 36 nanometers and ASICs at 24, ASICs at 18, 16 and now we’re hitting that level where it’s about at 16 to 12 nanometers. Basically what you’ve done is you replay the history of the semiconductor industry in seven years in fast motion. And what that means is that if you create a piece of mining equipment in a semiconductor fab in Shenzhen it has approximately 12 weeks of usable life before it is obsolete and how far can you get this piece of equipment in 12 weeks and make it useful? If you put it on a ship it leaves Shenzhen as a highly sophisticated piece of very expensive electronics and it arrives in Los Angeles 16 weeks later as scrap metal. So, instead you get hired to build it, it goes on a truck, it ends up in a warehouse in the neighboring province hooked up to power as quickly as possible where it sits on a shelf for one month, one and a half, two months at most and then it gets thrown away and the cycle starts again. That automatically means you can’t expand the availability of this equipment. But something magical had just happened and nobody has really noticed it, we hit the front of Moore’s law. We went from performance increases of 1000 or more per year to 2X, two times better every 18 months, that’s Moore’s law. In every other area of computing Moore’s law is amazingly fast, in Bitcoin mining it is 10,000 times too slow.

Now, that piece of equipment that comes out at 16 nanometers cannot be obsolete for two years because there is no better than 16 nanometers. You have to invent the technology, build a factory. And so that piece of equipment can now travel broadly. In fact having a warehouse full of this equipment is now a disadvantage because if you put all of the equipment in one warehouse and it burns down you lose all of your capital. If you put it all in one warehouse and your workers go on strike you lose all of your capitals. You put it in one warehouse and your power is cut for four days you lose all of your capital. But if you take a hundred thousand of these devices and you sell them and they get plugged into a hundred thousand kitchens and they use to make hot water for tea then the reliability (0:34:32) to that network changes dramatically. So, I believe that the Bitcoin mining ecosystem is going to get re-decentralized because the fundamental economic pressure that exist, the most important economic pressure has now changed dramatically. It’s going to take at least two years until we see being packed (0:34:50). I also think people overestimate how much actual power the miners have that doesn’t involve in destroying their own financial interest.

And finally, quite honestly if Bitcoin failed to achieve its decentralization potential there are many people who understand how it works and so we start with a new one. I don’t think that’s going to be necessary. But if it is necessary I would like to buy some when it first starts. All right.

MAN #1: I think the question also covered the not-so-open innovation access to Bitcoin Core commit, right? So, not everyone can actually develop Bitcoin Core software there are some doors you need to pass first. So what about this democracy? Of course there are other alternative Altchains so you can always move it, right?

ANDREAS ANTONOPOULOS: There are alternative options. So the reason Bitcoin Core has the choice of many of the companies that choose to use that and many of the users that choose run the software is because at the moment they deliver better software and how do I know that? Because the market chooses to use it.

This is an open market basis and you could write your own and if it’s better it will win. And you could write and I would very much doubt that if you have commits that are broadly viewed as valuable to the ecosystem you don’t have any difficulty yet (0:36:14) to Bitcoin Core or any of the other platforms that work around Bitcoin. It’s a multilayered system and we’re going to see.

Now, granted we do have some elements that are more centralized than I would like but I have faith that over the long-term the important things are maintained and maintained well. Okay, who else wants to ask me a question?

MAN #3: (0:36:47) Bitcoin as a distributed but centralized system because it looks to me that to make any change on the protocol level you need to have the majority of the miners to agree to it and we can see (0:37:01) block size (0:37:04). What’s you take on that?

ANDREAS ANTONOPOULOS: I think for the block size debates demonstrates that if there is a bottleneck in one part of the development process what happens is that different paths emerge. People find alternative ways to achieve the same goal that are perhaps more creative. So we’ve seen the development of both alternative clients, we’ve seen the development and better mechanisms for estimated fees and prioritizing transactions which was really critical for the stability of the network. But we’ve also seen the development of second layer technologies Sidechains and Lightning Network, bidirectional payment channels and things like that and quite honestly segregated witness and some of the other transactional optimizations that are coming out of Core itself. So, I don’t think there is any limit to the number of choices that may be presented, so the scaling problem. And quite honestly it’s not a dire problem if people are not trying to bypass the system that we have and the truth is people are not. If the miners thought it was a dire problem and it affected their financial interest they would switch in a day and we would see alternatives. Also, you know, quite honestly we have a broad open market for competition and so other systems choose to use bigger Blockchain, block sizes, different rates of transaction creation etc. Now the argument is that ends up centralizing the system even more and that some efficiency is the price you pay for liberty. And the nice thing about this is that you have this whole ecosystem where all of these questions can be resolved in a way that is completely volatile. So people can voluntarily choose to use the currency of their choice, the Blockchain of their choice, the client of their choice, software of their choice and by having these choices they pushed the development to the direction that the (0:39:06) wants to go. And then the amazing thing about having something like Bitcoin is it open the door to give you choices. And now that we have the door open you can switch your Bitcoin into any other currency in less than two minutes using a variety of open systems in a very anonymous way. And so if you have choices the question is what are you saying? Are you saying the market is wrong about choosing the current system versus another system? And I think there are many opinions but in the end the choices of the market really speak loudest because that’s where you have the intersection of personal freedom and personal interest that gives you the best answer. It’s really hot up here.

MAN #4 Is there a chance that Bitcoin will have better privacy protection or better anonymity in the future?

ANDREAS ANTONOPOULOS: Absolutely. There’s not just a chance that Bitcoin will have better privacy protection, better anonymity there are a number of actively tested beta test level solutions that significantly increase the anonymity and privacy of Bitcoin. Bitcoin at its core the first situation is loosely pseudonymous and if you invest a lot in very, very good operational security you can take it from loosely pseudonymous to weakly anonymous and that’s about as much as you can do. Developments such as confidential transactions which is a collaboration between, I believe, Gregory Maxwell and Peter Woo which allows for (0:40:55) encryption of the value of a transaction, that’s a very important development, store signatures some of the features that are coming out to the Lightning Network that will allow you to essentially have an off-chain (0:41:11) routed, multi-party, double blind, (0:41:16) network without really knowing who is sending what to who and that’s a whole layer you could put over Bitcoin. All of these developments both on their own increase the fungibility, anonymity and privacy of the network put together they can make Bitcoin and quite honestly many of the other open Blockchains very, very strongly anonymous. But something else again which you have to look at is the ecosystem because if I have Bitcoin and I also have Monero and Dash and Zcash then I actually have the opportunity to use the currency that gives me the right level of privacy now, right? And/or use the currency that gives me the right level of security or the right level of value store or the right level of retail accesses that’s why I care about and switch between them and switch between them at very low cost and very quickly and perhaps even in a programmatic and automated fashion until your wallet picks the currency that is most suitable for the current use. Maybe if you have Tor on and you’re buying something on a website then it automatically switches to use Zcash because it says okay well, we’re in a privacy low drive now and maybe that’s what you need.

So, I am actually very optimistic about these developments I think we’re seeing as I said before this innovation’s momentum is picking up and everybody’s like “Hell, look over there you see the block size problem they had? They can’t solve it, they’re not talking to each other.” Meanwhile, right behind them there is these giant teens doing incredible innovation in Bitcoin and there’s this big, big shinny distraction. I hope the banks continue to underestimate Bitcoin because of the block size drama and don’t pay attention to innovation that is picking up momentum.

MAN #5: I just want to (0:43:21) one is that who are the people that are typically knowledgeable and they know how to use Bitcoin anonymous (0:43:30) but this, for me, would be the minority in comparison to large adoption of Bitcoin which would be required for it to be completely use as a, you know, (0:43:39) currency. So, my concern is – is it even feasible or is it even a possibility that, you know, you got the typical community and they are doing (0:43:50) the best way and then you got the normal way which would be the banks for example (0:43:55) out of the Bitcoin world into their (0:43:58)


MAN #5: And they’re saying “Hey, guys look, thanks for making Bitcoin (0:44:02) we’ll take it from here” and they just kind of take the scene and take mass adoption themselves and tell people “Yeah, (0:44:08) and that for me is a huge concern because –


MAN #5: – you know it’s like (0:44:21) pushing for liberty and freedom or whatever the reason that may be (0:44:26)

ANDREAS ANTONOPOULOS: Yeah, that’s happening. The future of money is going to be purely digital, digital currencies. By the time your children grow up they will see cash in museums and it will be banned everywhere. Cash as a mechanism will gradually be withdrawn until the only people who use it and saying people who go to a café here and say “Do you accept gold?” and the café owner goes “Excuse me?” “Gold, I have gold coins.”

So, you’re going to be the grandpa Cook who is just weird and wants to pay it cash. In a world where currencies will become digital and we will have a choice. Do we want digital currencies that have borders that are controlled by governments, that are giant surveillance mechanisms those will be available or do we want to use currencies that are open, borderless and anonymous. And in order to make the second option appealing to people we need better user interface design, better infrastructure, better software development so that an anonymity is not a choice, it’s built into the everyday activity, it simply becomes an essential characteristic of the system. Now (0:45:46) the good news is the advantage here is that there’s almost five million, four and a half to five million people who have very, very limited access banking, who are not being served by the existing systems and if we get them to (0:46:04) the technology and just go directly to broadly anonymous digital currency space (0:46:10) Blockchains then we have the majority of the population on this planet utilizing the free system of money and there’s a minority that will continue to use the slave system of money and that is going to be a fundamental choice that people will face in the future.

If you have these two systems juxtaposed in parallel one of them is closed because in order to apply control you must close all of the doors. You cannot have an open, borderless, immutable, censorship resistant, open innovation, open access, permissionless system if it’s run by a single entity (0:46:53) because if they control it they then automatically have the responsibility to censor any transactions that every government chooses to tell them are not allowed. So they will have to close it. They cannot swallow the bitter pill of an open, borderless system. They will choke on it and that’s great because they will build the closed system and the closed system will be limited in use and most importantly it will be a system of closed innovation and it will innovate slowly, it will become the internet of money where you run the Microsoft Outlook of Blockchain wallets and there will be some people who use it, the same people who asked you to fax them a document and sent you a Microsoft Word document full of viruses and communicate by e-mail call you on the telephone which I haven’t done in two years. There will be people who use that and the banks and the governments will be left surveiling the innocent and the idiots on these antiquated systems but meanwhile what happens to the open systems? They feed on each other and they explode in innovation and they start to delivering applications you simply cannot do on the closed systems, right? So, to me I don’t fear this comparison but what I do recognize is the one lesson we learnt from the internet is that if you want to make privacy effective on the broad scale you make it invisible, you make it owned by default and you make it broadly available and easy to use. The most widely spread system of cryptography as broken as it is is a little green padlock in the top corner of your browser that you didn’t ask for, that’s why it’s magical.

How many people in here use PGP? You are not a mainstream audience. Just for the people who’re watching from the cameras that was about two-thirds to three-quarters of the audience. How many people here uses a cell? Okay, that’s a tricky question, we don’t do, right? And so does my ma, and so does your grandma and so does your grandpa and your weird uncle who doesn’t trust computers and they still use as a cell and they don’t even know they use as a cell and that’s effective security. 

When we make privacy and anonymity in Blockchain systems invisible, easy to use, owned by default and then we add to that open innovation to create applications that are unimaginable in the closed systems, that served the needs of tiny minorities but empower them incredibly that are completely borderless in nature, if that’s the basis of completion we win without a doubt.

Okay, I think that was (0:49:50). Thank you so much. Thank you.

Martin, do we have a book-signing (0:50:04)? Is that something you want to announce?

Written by Andreas M. Antonopoulos on November 5, 2016.