Lucas Cullen A Blockchain Developer and Dad on Crypto Clothesline Podcast
‘Brisbane’s Bitcoin Grandpa’
This week we interview Lucas Cullen, often referred to as ‘Brisbane’s Bitcoin Grandpa’. We could write a whole blog just on his achievements alone but it is safe to say that this would not tie in well with his humble and grounded approach to life.
To summarise: Lucas is a dad, a blockchain developer, a contributor to the Standards Australia blockchain standardisation project and a founding Board Member of Blockchain Australia. One journey however, (and one that the Brisbane crypto community are glad Lucas embarked on) was founding the Brisbane Bitcoin and Blockchain meetup which is now home to over 1700 members including the Crypto Clothesline Podcast.
It did take us three attempts to tie this man down to an actual interview, and it was a pleasure to finally chat with him about his life, observations, thoughts and predictions on the future of crypto and blockchain.
Skin In The Crypto Game
Anyone with ‘skin in the crypto game’ can tell you that the infancy of the space fosters collaboration and innovation, but we’ve also seen the emergence of contention and separation. Lucas shares his experiences in the first five minutes of his interview stating:
“Everyone comes from a different angle, but it’s finding a common thread and I hope that people can come to the meetups and these groups and be respectful of each other’s opinions.”
And on reflection of the darker side of the crypto space, he went on to say:
“We’ve finally found a technology that can bring so much. But then we’ve got this ugly side, whether it’s a power struggle or whatever, or it might just be technical opinions, but just feels like the community often gets split in fighting and it’s disheartening.”
Agile Methodology – Answer To Burnout
Often we see burnout as a consequence of years devoted to a cause or project so we were genuinely curious as to how Lucas was able to manage his ever-increasing responsibilities over so many years (and we were slightly worried this highly sought after developer doesn’t do anything other than work)… To our surprise there was a method and its simplicity was comforting:
“I guess the key is just try and be a little bit more efficient so I practice the agile methodology and the philosophy of last responsible moment of making a decision.”
To explain the agile method, let’s head to the coding horror blog which is always a humorous place to find answers. They say:
“Decisions made too early in a project are hugely risky.
Early decisions often result in work that has to be thrown away. Even worse, those early decisions can have crippling and unavoidable consequences for the entire future of the project.”
Although this remains a little confusing to the organisational demons rummaging away in the human psyche convincing us to ‘be prepared’ for everything, perhaps the boy scouts and their mantra of being prepared is outdated and the future is living in the now.
You can always catch Lucas at the Brisbane Bitcoin and Blockchain meetups where you’ll find him engaging with and welcoming everyone.
You may be wondering though, why on earth he keeps going, particularly in his dedication to the free Meetups? Lucas loves what he does and is passionate, he’s found his community and it’s as simple as that.
“I guess the best thing is about finding your tribe.”
There’s a worldwide community of cryptocurrency enthusiasts and a Meetup is usually easy to find close by. If there is no Meetup close to you, there exists an opportunity for you to create one for your community (and find your tribe)!
In terms of what can we expect from 2019 in the cryptospace, Lucas makes reference to the overzealous creation of websites and ‘self-published’ authors brought on by the development of the internet back in the 90s. He claims that after most of the ‘fluff’ has disappeared, there will most likely be only 2-3 major blockchain players:
“…these little dodgy websites hanging off the back of (the internet) which were opinionated and badly programmed and that’s where we are right now…
Everyone’s creating their own technology, which is great. Go for it. It’s a free market, but most of them will die out or (we’ll end up) picking some inspirations from them.”
Utopia or Dystopia?
In a panel discussion at BLOCKConscious 2018, with Lucas moderated by JP Parker (see our earlier interview with her here) Lucas claimed that the hype around blockchain was pretty much useless unless developers were able to deal with the challenges that blockchain development is ongoing – ie. if we can’t fix the tech than the tech can’t fix these various world problems that blockchain is evangelised as being able to solve.
“We’ve got to really set that expectation for what this technology can and can’t do. Or where it can assist the business process and work hard… I think we’re seeing these massive harps and unicorns and rainbows and then soon we’ll realise where the rubber hits the road so to speak: which bits of the business process we can replace or augment with this technology.”
What Are The Most Important Applications Of Blockchain Technology Outside Of Cryptocurrency?
When asked what he thinks are some of the most important applications of blockchain technology outside of cryptocurrency, he responded that we could replace many of the registration processes encumbering the tax payers’ dollars with decentralised systems that record within 12 seconds the:
- Payment of a bill
- The lodging of a tax return
- Or the registration of a vehicle license
“I believe we should be challenging the role of government or the government-based ledger. We should be asking why.
“…we can start to remove these functions of government from government and arguably taxpayers’ money
It’s really approved improving efficiency isn’t it in by improving efficiency, saving people money in the long run.
“We just get an invoice and then blindly sign it and pay it without having the tools to review and be skeptical about it.”
“There are harsh penalties if you don’t lodge your tax return before the 31st of October… but the only people who can assert that you have lodged on time is the ATO (Australian Taxation Office).
“…the hash of a return on a chain so we can say, here’s the timestamp plus a minus 12 seconds network. Then I do have evidence. We do have a neutral party that we can have some recourse. Blockchain is a fantastic use case of it.”
Who doesn’t want to pay less tax and have proof of innocence in the face of the current legal system, which governs our paying of bills, submitting our tax returns, and registration of our legal documents – which begets the notion of ‘guilty until proven innocent’?
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