Andreas M. Antonopoulos Talking Bitcoin Mass Adoption and Pesky PMs on Crypto Clothesline Podcast
Money Season Finale on Crypto Clothesline and you get to discover our two-episode conversation with Andreas M. Antonopoulos: a frank and fearless thought disrupter/influencer in the cryptosphere responsible for educating both noobs and experienced cryptonaughts with insightful, humanity-driven ideas and power-challenging paradigms.
Andreas M. Antonopoulos Part 1:
- his early history
- GFC II + crypto = ?
- mass adoption globally vs. locally
- stupidity: Australia’s math-law-defying ex-PM
- anti-encryption laws drive criminality
- how to dress for a conference so you sell instruction not sex (ie. the anti-objectification of women conference contract)
How Did You Get Involved?
Andreas, with a background in computer science, became fascinated by the cypherpunk movement of the 90s, actually claims to have been distracted by ‘other things’ and missed the early Bitcoin boat back in 2009, (thinking it was associated with online gambling) until he stumbled on the whitepaper in 2012 linked to another article. Totally immersed he ‘…went into a state of obsession and emerged four months later [to then] dump all [his] clients and go on to focus on Bitcoin one hundred percent.’
“I think everyone was surprised that this thing worked.”
What Would Happen To Cryptocurrencies In The Event Of A Global Financial Crash?
There’s this certain glibness in some crypto circles (some Facebook groups come to mind) where an almost all-male terrain spouts “when moon lambo” poetry and brags about how well-ready they are for when the ‘crash’ comes. How the ‘others’ (people who haven’t bought crypto) will miss out. Andreas brought this to our attention when we asked about what he thinks will happen to cryptocurrencies in the event of another global financial crisis.
“I think there’s almost a gleeful attitude within crypto that I think is toxic in its assumptions that the world economy or even a regional economy crashing would be good for crypto…That’s very much a ‘let them eat cake’ attitude, which says ‘as long as I got mine, the fact that millions of people will suffer is a good thing’.”
While we recognise that Bitcoin and the technology behind it is instrumental in creating change in the financial world, differing from any kind of ‘money’ we’ve seen, it’s also as liable for downfall as any other currency, and thinking one is protected from the effects of a worldwide economic crash due to owning crypto assets is both naïve and arrogant.
“Bitcoin as a technology does play a critical role in being a unique, neutral, borderless, non state-sponsored open and public currency and network and money…
“Crypto also acts as speculative assets…”
When people are cashed up in an economy, they have a higher risk appetite, but when the market falls, so does confidence, and people tend to pull out from risky assets in a heartbeat:
“…this could go completely in the opposite way of most people’s expectations.”
Mass Global Crypto Adoption A Long Way Off
Mass adoption is a generic term, and with it come generic assumptions. When I thought of mass adoption before speaking with Andreas, I thought of it ethnocentrically in terms of buying a coffee at my fave café, whipping out my phone wallet and buying lunch or even paying bills, but never in terms of the global reach and effect of cryptocurrencies in developing nations…
“One of the reasons why cryptocurrency is such an interesting topic to me is because the world is a picture of vast inequality…”
This brings to mind our episode and tear-jerking discussion with Venezuelan crypto-journalist Diana Aguilar, when she wrote:
‘Bitcoin Can’t Fix Venezuela: I Should Know’ because although crypto is used at times in that flailing economy, from what Diana tells us, it’s either for trading back into $US cash so that people can pay the hugely inflated prices for food etc, or it’s kept and used underground, so that the state can’t seize it…
“The things that a Japanese citizen needs or American or Canadian citizen, is very, very different from even a South American or Southeast Asian. And very, very different for someone who lives in a country with robust democratic institutions versus someone who lives in a relatively lawless place with corruption and crises, and opportunistic governments and criminal banks.
“There is no mainstream because, because this doesn’t make sense to speak of it towards a global average because the global average is meaningless.”
Local or regional use-cases that are relevant to people in a given area, are a more effective way of determining adoption:
- cross-border payments where there are legally-challenging aspects
- sanctions avoidance for countries that are under embargo or cut off from the banking system (especially for the people in those countries who are not involved in the politics and are just suffering the consequences)
- micro payments
- robust and flexible global commerce
- games and gaming currencies/ enterprise use etc (which are more first world applications that come much later)
Because of scaling issues and immature software, we simply cannot onboard large numbers of people into any cryptocurrency today:
“Crypto isn’t ready for that kind of adoption.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do to be ready…”
Local adoption is happening in certain pockets but it seems we’re a way-off getting all economies and nations on board.
*Looking at local adoption in the Fremantle area in Western Australia (where there are now nearly 20 merchants, retailers, and businesses accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies), we’re observing that little by little, conversations are opening about Bitcoin and its crypto cousins. People are seeing the “Bitcoin accepted here” stickers around in shop windows, they’re becoming familiar with its existence, how to buy it, how it’s used and its applications, and also obviously, how to spend it…
Regulation, International Law Shopping & Citizens Flipping The ‘Coin’
Andreas turns the idea of governments controlling the populace through regulation right on its head…
Although in totalitarian, authoritarian countries which may have banned crypto, people are more likely NOT to get into it, most of the world he says, lays somewhere in the middle.
“It doesn’t matter what governments do. And the reason it doesn’t matter what governments do is because governments act within a specific jurisdiction, and this is a global phenomenon.”
A global phenomenon, how?
“What’s going to play out is a very extreme version of jurisdictional arbitrage. Jurisdictional arbitrage is something that multinational corporations do what they say, what kind of laws would I like?
“Great! Hire 10 lawyers, have them go and look at every possible legal jurisdiction out there out of the 194 countries, and shop for the best set of laws. And if they don’t have them, propose them and see if they’ll pass them if we give them big enough campaign contributions.
“Multinationals go: ‘Ireland has good taxes. Sweden has good this. This country has lax environmental laws, so we can dump our shit in the river. This country has a lax labour laws, so we can exploit workers. We’re going to set up a series of inter law corporations to take advantage of whichever law we want. So, people vote for laws, but companies buy laws and they buy them by going shopping for laws.
All Right, So What Happens With Crypto?
“Well, what happens is actually the democratisation of that.
“Because… what happens when your citizens can start playing jurisdictional arbitrage?
“You don’t like my start-up here? Bye bye! Singapore said ‘you’re welcome’ or Malta or whoever’s the next crypto haven, right? So now there’s this intense competition because…”
If You Mess Up The Laws In Your Country, You Don’t Stop Crypto From Being In Your Country. You Stopped Your Country From Being In Crypto
(And taking any advantage of the growth.)
“It’s still there. It’s still going to be traded. You’re going to drive it to black markets where you’ll have zero visibility, zero controls. With zero contributions and zero growth coming from it. No jobs, all of the start-ups are going to leave.
“We’ve seen that happen in the United States, which has a patchwork of conflicting and also in some cases, hostile regulations like the capital gains approach.
“We’ve seen that happen in Australia in a very destructive manner with their regulations on encryption. Same thing in New Zealand. And it’s only going to get worse in both of those countries after the recent terrorist attacks.
“And we’re seeing completely the opposite approach from jurisdictions like Switzerland and Malta, Canada, which is taking a wait-and-see approach, etc.
“Basically, it’s not crypto that is affected by a country’s regulation. Countries are competing for who will get the benefits of jobs and growth of this environment of this space and who will lose it because of ham-fisted moves.
Governments: We Can’t Trust Our Own Citizens With The Ability To Protect Their Privacy . We Need To Control Them.
How Is The Person On The Street To Manage?
OK so if private enterprise and smart-thinking start-ups can afford to push off Australian waters and go fund their businesses in other more crypto-friendly countries, then what happens to Ma and Pa Kettle on the street with their crypto portfolio, who can’t go buy-in to the latest Malta Move? Everyday people who are stuck here in Regulation Central?
By Breaking The Law. It’s Really That Simple.
If your basic human rights are being violated, yes you can actively push out your government, you can hustle, create uproar, make waves…
But honestly, how many people, myself included, changed their Facebook accounts when the Zuckerberg Sneakies sold off our information? Not me, not yet.
It’s going to take waking the masses up with an almighty violation of human rights that hurts deeply before anyone really takes action… We’re all too busy being busy, whingeing about things and hoping someone else fixes the system. In the meantime, we all become stealthy digital finger-print avoiders?
We learn how to encrypt our conversations, avoid the organisations that are handing over our info, and lurk about in the semi-criminal dark?
Many of us are doing this anyway – avoiding ridiculous laws. That’s how many of our ancestors ended up here in Australia in the first place – sent out on convict ships for stealing the proverbial loaf of bread. Hungry jailed victims of an industrialised nation, sent out to this new land due to? Ridiculous Laws!
How to Corrode Human Rights While Keeping Criminals Plush
So these ridiculous laws, supposedly created to avoid money-laundering and terrorism (a blanket generalisation to hide all manner of abuse), make light of people’s privacy, drive privacy-advocates underground so that the regular person on the street is forced to break laws in order to maintain her/his right of information-protection and ensures that criminals with the resources to really hide their data from prying eyes will do so.
“If you make it so that only criminals can have freedom of expression, then the rest of the citizens’ jury has to decide if they want to be criminals under these stupid laws, which is just the same as what happened in Prohibition in the United States.
“And it encourages organised crime. In fact, the fuels it.
“And it corrupts law-enforcement as we’ve seen this kind of blanket prohibition erodes justice and it creates inequality.
“What it doesn’t do is stop criminals from using these technologies.”
So The One Thing It’s Supposed To Do, It Doesn’t Do, But It Has All Of These Other Side Effects That Are Corrosive To Democracy And Corrosive To The Freedoms Of Citizens
“So citizens have to decide, do they leave, do they stay but break an unjust law because they’re not doing anything wrong or exercising their human rights of privacy. Or do they try to change their government?
“All you’re doing is encouraging people to break the law in order to regain their human rights.
“And criminals will do that more easily and better-funded than everybody else first because they have more to lose. And so, it’s obviously a naked power game.
“This is not about crime. It’s never been about crime. It’s about control and power.
“You’re gradually teaching people that the law is a joke…”
Ban Encryption! Actually Hang On… Just Ban Maths!
“And I remember your prior Prime Minister saying, ‘You know in Australia the laws of the state trumps the laws of math.’
“And all that does is it confirms he’s an idiot.”
Malcolm Turnbull claims the laws of mathematics do not apply in Australia:
“Well the laws of Australia prevail in Australia, I can assure you of that. The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia.”
“We’re talking about an abstract, intangible series of arithmetic truths, mathematical truths…
“You physically, realistically can’t implement a ban on all arithmetic, it won’t work. Anybody who wants, can source this stuff from everywhere in the world.
(Ouch, that was embarrassing. What more to say?)
Boothe Babes or Dressed for Respect?
In a recent Tweet Andreas made clear he was not prepared to speak at events or conferences where people were not dressed appropriately. He was quick to clarify this is not an issue of morality: contextually, people may dress as they please he says. He has no moral fibre wrapped around individual choice.
More, it’s a question of respect.
As more and more events are taking place around the world, literally thousands every year, less and less are organisers and even many participants, are caring about how they market their events and what happens, where. They are literally just getting bums (bare or otherwise) on seats.
Naked women have always been effective at getting large numbers of males (especially) to pledge attendance, so, like the Mediterranean Blockchain Cruise last year (see our interview with Tone Vays here) where we saw literally hundreds of bikini-clad non-English-speaking ‘companions’ paid to parade around in next to nothing (ostensibly hired to ‘talk’ to the passengers), we’re super proud of Andreas for stepping out and declaring respect for all women.
“What I don’t want is people being exploited as props or objects for marketing purposes.
“First of all, we’ve gone more mainstream, right? The more mainstream we get, the more opportunistic money-grabbing, greedy people who are seeing an opportunity to make money, and do not care what the product is, including other people being the marketing prop or the product.
“I’m very comfortable with people dressing any way they want. Depending on the context.
“Even if that’s their profession. I have nothing against professionals who want to do modelling or use their beauty or body or whatever to make money, even sex workers who use their body to make money. I absolutely support the freedom of someone to do whatever they want as long as they’re not being exploited though force into that position. It’s not my business. I have no moral objection to a strip-teaser. This is not about morality.
“It’s not appropriate to use women as objects.”
Of the 400-plus passengers, many—I’d guess at least 150—are “hostesses” from Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus, and many are offering services unspecified. Most blockchain events have a gender balance problem. The cruise organisers have allowed the decentralised free-market to solve that problem the best way it knows how. Not enough women? Just hire some. Not as actual employees of your company, god no. To stand around looking delicious and fascinated. What else are women for? [Ed: CoinsBank, which also offered rooms for “18+ only” ladies, did not reply to multiple requests for comment.] The sea-swell swaying hallways are full of moody Eastern European teenagers in impractical heels. “We’re here as…as help,” one of them tells me in the elevator. She doesn’t look up from her phone. That evening, one guest tells me that male attendees are having room numbers discreetly sent to them on Telegram…
Excerpt from Laurie Penny’s at BreakerMag: Four Days Trapped at Sea with Crypto’s Nouveau Riche
Once a precedent is set, then we’re all thrust back into the Dark Ages where equality and respect and inclusion for brain cells, not boob cells, is no longer the expected norm. Stories abound of clothed women being treated differently, poorly and sleazy expectations tend to spiral when half the room is near-naked.
“It’s not appropriate because it’s a professional environment and people are there to do their job and they should not only be free to do their job, but also if you start doing those other things, what it does is it changes the tone and people’s behaviour.
“And this has been measured repeatedly, people’s behaviour changes. So when people see some women at the conference being objectified and some other women who are there to do their job, who certainly didn’t ask for that, they tend to behave the same way to both.
“There’s no room for that kind of behaviour and I won’t tolerate it.
“I encourage other speakers to make similar pledges and to take that up in their contract. It’s a very powerful contract calls because what it says is if the conference organisers do not adopt a code of conduct, publish that code of conduct and then enforce it in full, they’re in breach of my contract, in which case I simply walk away. Right. No refunds. Bye Bye.
“And that’s a powerful call because it means they have to think about what the code of conduct they’re going to use. They have to talk that, they have to publish it widely and they have to enforce it. ”
Andreas’ contract was written by attorney Pamela Morgan (@pamelawjd) of Empowered Law, and is under a creative Commons license. You can see the contract here and amend it to serve your own circumstances.
Next week in our second part of the conversation with Andreas, we look deeply at what money is, and what it’s not:
“…and we see that no matter how many blessings the government gives us, when money is no longer used in the economy, it turns into toilet paper. Colourful toilet paper, but toilet paper in value.
“And then it drops below that: toilet paper is too scratchy. It then drops below goat shit as the famous quote from Zimbabwe merchant… They asked him, ‘Why don’t you burn it?’
“And he said, ‘Because goat shit burns longer.’”
Find out more:
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