But it was not an advertising event by Blockstack: in addition to developers who used this platform, representatives of the Democracy Earth Foundation and Union Square Ventures were also on hand. Of particular interest was what Santiago Siri had to say to the Democracy Earth Foundation on the subject of “money”: he explained that the US dollar is not in itself a fiat currency, but is now tied to oil. Since this has been the case since 1974, he believes that the US has a hand in the energy market.
Here, in my opinion, he has quite originally reversed a criticism against Bitcoin that is currently frequently voiced: Just as the US dollar is tied to oil, Bitcoin can also be regarded as covered by energy – strictly speaking, thanks to transparency, much more, since the link between Bitcoin mining and energy is well known. Therefore Bitcoin is, in his view, a direct competitor to the currencies linked to oil, such as the US dollar or, more recently, petroleum.
This is also the reason for the attacks on Bitcoin
Albert Wenger of Union Square Ventures has given some food for thought on the subject of “privacy”. He began with the provocative thesis that privacy is not a value in itself, but part of the solution. The Cypherpunk in the listener was of course irritated, but his thought was not bad per se. He showed that privacy brings with it various challenges: First and foremost, privacy alone does not protect against deep fake. Nowadays, it is easy to fake photos that, for example, fake compromising situations with which people could be blackmailed. If someone could prove an alibi beyond doubt, such blackmail scenarios would be out of the question – at the expense of privacy.
His approach is not “anti-anonymity”, he simply states that privacy is not a value in itself, but one of the many pieces of the puzzle that brings freedom.
Nick Szabo and Edward Snowden on society and privacy
With these remarks Albert Wenger did not want to turn against the two most famous speakers: With Nick Szabo and Edward Snowden, two giants of the Blockchain and Digital Rights movement were present. In the case of Edward Snowden, this was of course only a virtual presence via Google Hangout.
Nick Szabo, inventor of the concept of smart contracts and one of the supposed Satoshi Nakamoto’s, presented the dilemma of social scalability in his lecture. On the one hand, man, or life in general, strives for larger communities, larger networks or ecosystems. On the other hand, communism showed very well that societies and trust scale badly. But what can scale is money. Cowrie snails show that this has been the case for centuries. Money as a medium of exchange can reduce the need for trust in large societies or when they interact with each other. On a worldwide level, the blockchain is therefore an effective means of establishing a larger society.
But the blockchain also faces challenges: Just as money, when it becomes a medium of regulation, is less suitable as a medium of exchange, a block chain in which governance makes too many decisions loses trustlessness. Specifically, he addressed the rollbacks (i.e. changes in the blockchain) and the EIP 867 of Ethereum, i.e. the fundamental possibility of reversing transactions, as was done, for example, after the DAO exploit.
Edward Snowden was connected for an interview from Russia via Google Hangout. He presented the big problem in the regular Internet: All transactions, even if they are encrypted, leave fingerprints. If it is known that I regularly send money to a certain person, it is secondary what the reason for the payment is. Observers from outside then know that there is a connection here. Via e-mails, chat logs, Facebook and Google, networks can be constructed from relationships that give NSA employees or Google employees enough information about the individual. According to Snowden, projects like Tor or ZCash can do a lot to protect one’s own privacy.
Even though Edward Snowden finds the concept behind ZCash very convincing, he still speaks out against maximalism regarding crypto currencies. Maximalism was presented by another speaker very suitably as nationalism in the crypto ecosystem. It is about the focus of individual groups on a crypto currency – be it the focus on Bitcoin alone, be it the dream of flipping or something similar. This kind of maximalism contradicts