Video - The Teacher - Bitcoins And Gravy Episode 41

Andreas discussed in this 53-minute video the relevance of having no third party on every send/receive transaction especially money. He also discussed how it works using Bitcoin and other digital currencies in the Blockchain.


Barrett: Welcome to Bitcoins & Gravy, episode 41. At the time of this recording, Bitcoins are trading at $346. And according to one year, on this very day last year the price of one Bitcoin was $324. That means today, Bitcoin is up 6.56% which is about $21. Thank you Bitcoin for helping me store a bit of value during the year. And my personal favorite, the coin that we can all earn if we know how. The LTB coin is trading at .00028 U.S. dollars. Now that's gravy.

Welcome to Bitcoins & Gravy, and thanks for joining me as I podcast from East Nashville, Tennessee with my trusty sidekick, Maxwell by my side. Say hello Max. Whoa, whoa, whoa, we're to Bitcoin enthusiasts who love talking about Bitcoin and sharing what we learned with you, the listener. Thanks for listening and I hope you enjoy the show.

Today, I feel so very fortunate to have on the show, my good friend, Mr. Andreas Antonopoulos. Mr. Antonopoulos is a passionate teacher who talks to us today about the University of Nicosia in Cyprus and the exciting news that they have launched the very first Master of Science degree in digital currency. This master's degree is now offered to students worldwide through an online format. So listeners don't bother pinching yourself, you're not asleep and you’re not dreaming. It is true. You can now earn a master's degree in digital currency. And of course, Mr. Antonopoulos knows a great deal about this degree because he is one of the teachers teaching the course.

On today’s show, I am honored and humbled to have as my guest, Mr. Andreas Antonopoulos. Mr. Antonopoulos is a passionate technologist, an accomplished public speaker, a coder, a tech entrepreneur, a charismatic commentator and the author of the book Mastering Bitcoin by O'Reilly Media. Andreas, welcome to Bitcoins & Gravy.

Antonopoulos: Thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be on the show.

Barrett: Well, thank you so much. You know, the last time I spoke with you is in Texas at the Texas Bitcoin Conference many moons ago. I enjoyed speaking with you then, and of course I enjoyed having you in the audience. I was honored once again as I played ode to Satoshi with you right there in the front row. I have to say in my memory that's probably the highlight of my musical career spanning over 30 years. Anyway, I really enjoyed myself.

Antonopoulos: Not as I much as I enjoyed that song. That was really a great show.

Barrett: Well, thanks, Andreas and hopefully we'll do it again sometime. Let me read something, if I may, a short paragraph from your website This year, he was appointed as a teaching fellow at the University of Nicosia, the first university in the world to offer a master's degree in digital currency. In this role, he helped to develop the curriculum and co-talk the introduction to the digital currencies course, offered as a MOOC, that's a Massively Open Online Course through the university. And as far as I know, this is a first. My listeners are poised on the edges of their seats right now, and they’re hoping that I will stop talking so that they can hear from you, Andreas, about the master's degree program, the curriculum, and of course, anything and everything that you'd like to share with us today. It's an honor to have you here.

Antonopoulos: Well, thank you so much. Yeah, the University in Nicosia was the first to start getting involved in Bitcoin. In fact, I think it was about a year ago that they announced that they would accept tuition payments in Bitcoin, and the University of Nicosia is a credited university with a variety of disciplines. I believe they have an economic school, an MBA program and a bunch of other disciplines. So this is a cross discipline program for the master's degree in digital currencies. First, they started accepting it as a currency so the students could pay, and in fact quite a few students made payments with Bitcoin for the tuition fees, especially students who were coming from abroad, from outside of Cyprus. And of course, imagine if you are studying abroad, and in order to transfer a significant amount of money that you need to transfer to pay for university tuition, your local government and your local bank, who may or may not be distinguishable from organized crime syndicate, decide they want to take, I don't know,10, 15, 20% of that payment, and you really don't have a choice, and so, Bitcoin, and so it becomes very interestingly, a very appealing option for the students because they can put more money to their tuition without having to pay an intermediary.

Barrett: Correct me if I'm wrong but Cyprus is a separate country, right? It is not part of Greece, is that correct?

Antonopoulos: Oh, yeah, that is correct. Cyprus -- Republic of Cyprus is an independent country. It is an island that is in the southeast part of the Aegean or part of the Mediterranean Sea, off the southern coast of Turkey, right there, bang center in an area between Greece and the Middle-East. It’s been a massive trade hub for commerce, not for centuries but for millennia.

Barrett: Wow.

Antonopoulos: And has been the host of many very important civilizations. The Greek Civilization has had significant impact and presence on the island of Cyprus, again for millennia, and Cyprus shares a common language with Greece. So the primary language in Cyprus is Greek.

Barrett: I see. I know that last year, it seems there was this discussion on Reddit about whether Cyprus was part of Greece or whatever and I said no, no, no, Cyprus is a separate country. I’ve got a good friend. The guy went to college with who lives in Greece. His name is Bobby *00:05:59 and his children now are the age where they would be going to college. And he talked to me about how they've raised taxes to the point where it immediately took almost everybody that he knows including himself and threw them into debt where they hadn't been in debt before. So, I guess what's going on in Greece and what's going on in Cyprus is not dissimilar, is that right?

Antonopoulos: Well, yes, it's -- it's not dissimilar although what’s really notable about Cyprus was that Cyprus was the first place where they decided to experiment with bail-ins.

Barrett: Right.

Antonopoulos: And for those who are not familiar with the concept of a bail-in, this is where a failing bank is allowed to confiscate the account or part of the account of their depositors, even guaranteed deposits in order to pay their debts. And what happened was something that most people really can't even fathom, is that one Wednesday morning, people woke up in the morning and there was a piece in the newspaper that said all banks are closed until further notice. The banks have closed their doors. They didn't open for a week and when they did open, people found that 30% of their account had disappeared. So, basically the bank came in and took money out of the deposits. And so, this was the first place where you had this kind of confiscatory policy from the government in order to help the banks bail themselves out, and it really showed people very directly the fact that you have a number on a screen isn't really any guarantee that that money will be there tomorrow morning.

Barrett: Kind of like the same warning that you're giving to people about Mt. Gox --

Antonopoulos: Right.

Barrett: -- well over a year ago before they collapsed, right? You were saying hey, you don't actually have your Bitcoin. They're secure on the Blockchain. They're actually the custodian for this and it's really just numbers sitting on a screen, right?

Antonopoulos: Yeah, exactly. So, you know, it was a -- I think it was an important message in financial security for Western Nations. I mean, Cyprus is not some back country under-developed nation. It’s a modern European nation with very, very sophisticated banking services that are international in nature. It’s a trade hub. It’s a commerce hub. It's a country with a very modern high standard of living, and it was a very shocking example. And in fact, you know, people only think this is perhaps a bit of a conspiracy theory but in my opinion what Cyprus was, was an experiment. There was an experiment of, can we get away with directly stealing from citizens without triggering some kind of revolution, some kind of collapse in government or overthrow of the government or popular revolution? And the answer was yes, we can pull it off. Yeah, we can steal from the people directly and they won't raid the Parliament with pitchforks. And so, the end result, and of course, there was brutal suppression of protests and all of the typical things we've seen repeated in -- in many other countries with violence and police responds and brutality to legitimate protests of people.

Barrett: Right.

Antonopoulos: And so, that experiment was bad news because it proved to the banks that they could get away with this and the governments that they could get away with this. So, you know, Cyprus was the first, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and a whole bunch of other European countries are on the cusp of a repeat of that scenario, and it's a useful lesson also for people who have money in banks to think carefully about whether that money is really going to be there tomorrow morning.

Barrett: Or if you're in Germany, you woke up November 1st and you read that the Deutsche Bank or the Deutsche Skatbank is now charging .25 per cent interest to keep your money there. So, it's not as bad as what they did in Cyprus obviously but to charge interest to have your money there as opposed to earning interest, pretty telling about how the banks are doing in Europe, right?

Antonopoulos: Yeah, and this is something that's happening all across Europe. I think it's -- it's a hard truth to swallow but the truth is really simple. All of the large banks are insolvent. They have been insolvent since 2007. They are still fundamentally insolvent. They failed the stress tests which are constructed to allow them to pass by, assuming best-case scenarios or worst-case scenarios that are not really bad if you want to put it that way, and even those they failed. All of the big banks are basically insolvent, and the only thing that has allowed them to continue is incredibly inflationary policies and Central Bank intervention that has never been seen before. And you know, this will not end well. We’re seeing an unprecedented currency and banking crisis that started in 2007 that has not been resolved. That in fact has become worse, and that has been fed by interventionist policies by the Central Banks. So, you know, I think the Western world is going to begin to see what it's like to live in a hyperinflation banana republic because that's where we're headed, and we're going to find out that the economy, as most people perceive it and experienced it today, is a zombie. It’s walking dead. Consumers are not consuming because they don't have any spare cash to consume with. Wages are reaching the level that they were in the 90s. People are making less in terms of purchasing power now than they were two decades ago, and this is the first generation of Americans that know that they will not be better off than their parents. And so, you know, this is the new reality.

Barrett: It's funny because if you were to go right now to Park Slope in Brooklyn, one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in the United States, certain areas of San Francisco, let's say the Marina District, in San Francisco, one of the wealthiest districts in the United States, and even parts of Nashville, if an alien landed here and looked around or landed in Park Slope or landed in The Marina in San Francisco, the alien would guess, hey the economy here on this planet is doing really well. This is the roaring 20s. This is the heyday of spending, and anybody who lives in one of those cities would listen to what you just said, Andreas, and they would say that's hogwash. The economy is doing great. You know, real estate is up, boutiques are opening, restaurants are thriving. This is the roaring 20s. What would you say to them?

Antonopoulos: It definitely is the roaring 20s. it’s the gilded age and the one per cent has increased their wealth, not really even the one per cent, the one per cent of the one per cent has actually increased its wealth since 2008, as a result of a stock market that has been fuelled by quantitative easing that just ended this past week, by the way.

Barrett: Yeah.

Antonopoulos: So let's see how long that bubble lasts. But yeah, absolutely there is this segment of the population, but speaking of real estate prices and things like that, you know, what a lot of people probably didn't notice, San Francisco experiences first decline in the Case-Shiller real estate index.

Barrett: Oh wow, I didn't know that.

Antonopoulos: You know, even that growth is pretty hollow and didn't really achieve parity with 2007 yet but the rest of the country knows the ugly truth, and the ugly truth is that inflation and the things that matter food, energy, healthcare is rampant. Wages are stagnant or retreating, and the average middle-class family is in dire straits and has absolutely no breathing space to handle another crisis and we're due for another crisis based on the cycle. So, all of this is fertile ground for talking about alternatives, and talking about change and talking about the fact that we need to look at the system of government and money that we have and start thinking about separation of money and state, because the collusion of money and state has brought us to this dire situation.

And I think that's one of the appeals of Bitcoin, is that people now no longer believe in this kind of winner-takes-all nationalist competition where we gain at the expense of other nations. People believe in an international economy and operating on a broader basis but the benefits of globalization haven't really touched the average person. They've been exploited by corporations.

Bitcoin is a currency that potentially opens the door for globalization to be rewarding for the average person by creating a financial system and economic system that is not dependent on states that does not pay attention to borders, that is not controlled by banks but instead is managed by the people and is used for the people.

So this is the environment in which we're working. It's not a coincidence that when Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin, the message he embedded in the genesis block was one talking about this crisis. It's at the times through January 2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks. That was the -- that's the message embedded in the birthday block, if you like, of Bitcoin and upon the collapse of that institutional system. We have been failed by all of the institutions around us. And so upon that, we can build new institutions and these institutions are going to be decentralized. That's the truth truth. That's the trend of the century.

So I'm really excited to be part of this because I think in all of this gloom and doom and the really difficult reality for many people around the world, we have this little glimmer of hope. We have the ability to -- to look at the future with some hope, and think that at the same time ingenuity and innovation and experimentation, and that spirit of innovation that is so well-developed, especially in the American culture, is something that can get us out of this mess. And so I'm really excited about that. So I don't want to only focus on the gloom and doom. I want to focus on, for example, the fact that Bitcoin as an industry is generating thousands of jobs, and lots of start-ups doing very interesting and innovative things that have never been done before.

Barrett: Pretty exciting time.

Antonopoulos: Yeah exactly, and that means a lot to young people who are entering the workforce for the first time. That means that here is a set of skills that they can learn and gain from, that will give them opportunities for employment. And that's really exciting. It's a bit like learning how to develop an iOS application six, seven years ago or how to develop an HTML website 15 years ago. It's the kind of skills that you can build a career on and launch a career on.

Barrett: You know young people are getting onto computers earlier and earlier obviously right, and if you were to advise, let's say, the parents of a five-year-old or a 15-year-old, someone who's just, you know, a freshman or a sophomore in high school, what advice would you give them? Would you say, hey, you want to get into the Bitcoin world, the digital currencies, and all of this? You want to understand block chain technologies. What classes would you advise them to take or what studying on their own would you advise them to do?

Antonopoulos: Well, I mean that's exactly what we're trying to do with this program at the University of Nicosia. The Massively Open Online Course is available for free. It's an online course where you can study material on your own, material that’s sourced from my book, Mastering Bitcoin, which is also available under an open source license and people could read for free.

Barrett: Okay.

Antonopoulos: And then, complement that with Q&A video sessions that we do on a weekly basis with the instructors of the course, to answer questions on the materials and do interactive sessions and exercises. And in the end, that culminates with an exam that provides credits as part of an accredited master's degree. So, even if you're not ready to do a master's degree or be interested in furthering the education, the course itself is free. And it's only one of now dozens of courses on Bitcoin, not just programming but understanding the currency and learning about it in such a way that you can build a business or get a job in related fields. You know Bitcoin companies are not just hiring programmers, they're hiring from every discipline you need in a start-up from communications, marketing, operations, finance, audits, accounting, you know, you name it, there's jobs in this space.

Barrett: I told my friend Connie about the course that you're offering and her first question was, well you know, I know a little bit about Bitcoin but I don't know much about Bitcoin. How much do I need to know to start this course and not feel like I'm completely lost, and I said you know what I don't know, I'll ask Andreas because I'm going to talk to him tomorrow, so that's a good question, right?

Antonopoulos: Yeah, you don't need to know anything about Bitcoin. The course is designed to introduce Bitcoin from the very beginning and introduce the concepts and explain, you know, basic principles of money, the history of money and currency and then gradually introduce the concepts of what Bitcoin is and how it works, all the way through relatively advanced concepts in Bitcoin. But you really don't need to know anything about Bitcoin to start the course. So, you don't need to be a programmer.

Barrett: Okay.

Antonopoulos: You just need to be technically minded, to be able to grasp these concepts which you know pretty much means you're either someone who has a technical aptitude or you're under 30, in which case everyone.

Barrett: Nice, yeah, that makes sense the *00:19:23.

Antonopoulos: For an internet generation, this stuff is obvious.

Barrett: Yes.

Antonopoulos: And it's really interesting because Bitcoin really does have that generational appeal. You know, you discuss Bitcoin with people of a certain age and it seems like this bizarre, weird complicated, technical thing that is difficult to understand and involves pressing a lot of buttons etcetera, etcetera. And it just seems alien and difficult and -- and all of that but you discuss it with someone from the internet generation and -- and not only does it seem familiar but the opposite, the idea of doing a deposit with a paper check and negotiating an ACH for a wire transfer that takes three to five days to settle in the age of the Internet, that seems bizarre. When their bank asks them to send them a fax machine application, that seems bizarre. So, the generational thing cuts both ways, right?

Barrett: Yeah. Good point.

Antonopoulos: Whereas Bitcoin seems familiar and intuitive because it's a mobile app and use you know scan the barcodes and make a payment. And that seems comfortable and it behaves as expected, so it's interesting how this plays out.

Barrett: Yeah, you know for me it's a fascinating study in human nature. I see young people that I speak with about Bitcoin, they're very excited. They may be befuddled or they may have a tech background and understand it but they're excited about something new that's coming along, some change, right? But then as you talk to people in their 40s, 50s and 60s, you start to get a very different response and it's very interesting. You get into talking with people in their 60s and 70s, and they'll give you a flat-out warning oh stay far, far away from that, as if it's rock and roll music you know. And of course, I've come to accept that some of those people, family friends acquaintances think that I'm a nutcase, a radical, a crazy man, right?

Antonopoulos: Yeah, that's perfectly all right. I'm used to being the, kind of, forward-leaning crazy one. I had a modem in 1986 and I used it to dial up bulletin board systems and connect to people. I said oh people will be communicating like this in a couple of decades and it will be amazing and nobody believes me. And I was on the internet and said, you know, one day we'll be doing all our shopping this way and said well, why would you want to do that, so I can just go to the corner store and get whatever I want, so. And of course, I'm not going to go buy things off a website when I want to go and see them and touch them in a store.

Well, you know, crazy is sometimes a matter of perspective and context. And over time concepts that once appeared crazy appear more and more common and that's the challenge we faced with Bitcoin, which is that the rate of technology change far exceeds a society's ability to absorb that change and to understand it. And it will take another decade before my mom is using Bitcoin on her iPad or whatever device she has at the time. But I have no doubt it's going to happen. It literally is just a matter of time. Right now, it's a technology that is in the early stages of maturity. It’s kludgy, it's difficult to understand, it's difficult to use. And two things are going to happen, on the one hand the technology is going to get a lot easier, and on the other hand society is going to get used to this concept and the two shall meet in the middle and suddenly it's a mainstream technology.

Barrett: Yeah, you know, my background is in communication and culture and I've studied the media for over 30 years. It's been really interesting to me to listen to the media talk about Bitcoin. You know it started out they were making fun of Bitcoin and now it's almost a hands-off. It's as if their managers have told the talking heads, hey you know look, governments are taking this thing seriously. We're regulating, we're talking big business, venture capitalists coming in, so don't make fun of it anymore but make sure that you still seem sceptical about it. We have to show a healthy scepticism here and make sure that people really feel that scepticism.

Antonopoulos: And here's the thing. I mean, most of the people who first see Bitcoin start off as sceptics and that's good. That's really good. I started off as a sceptic. When I first encountered Bitcoin, I thought it was silly and I ignored it at first. And every single person I've met, who is an advocate today, started off as a sceptic. But as you look at it closer and closer, you realized that it's not perhaps as simple as it seems at first glance. And then, you start seeing some of the depths behind this invention, and you start exploring the possibilities and it gradually starts growing in your mind until you realize that this is a lot bigger than you originally thought.

And here's the thing, when I look around the Bitcoin space, what I see is some of the most intelligent people I have worked with or met in my professional life, some of the most sophisticated programmers, some of the most experienced and sophisticated entrepreneurs, investors, some of the most intelligent economists, people who really, really are thinking of this, 10/15 layers deeper than -- than most of us. And I see this concentration of incredible raw talent in Bitcoin. So many, many people who are really, really sharp, and they all get it. And when I look at the comments of the sceptics, what I see is kind of a very shallow, dismissive attitude. There really isn't an expression of, you know, looking at this and understanding it and dismissing it because you understand it deeply and -- and have studied it, but rather a very casual, dismissal of this and a lack of curiosity. And that tells me that there's something special in this community, there's something special in this technology.

Barrett: Uh-huh. I think there's a correlation between intelligence and curiosity. And I've always said that the people who I know who are always curious and always wanting to know new things, you know, they pick a belief and they wonder what tree did this fall from. And they look around at the trees and they say oh, it came from this tree because the same kinds of leaves are on this tree. And they wonder about the bark, and over time they learned through their lives about different kinds of trees. I bring that up because it's the fall here in Nashville, and it's beautiful and I love the trees and I love looking at of all the changing of the leaves and all of that.

So, I think being curious is something that can even transcend intelligence. You know, I may not be the smartest guy in the world but if I'm super curious, right, as I go through life, I'll continue to learn from people because my mind will be open. And I think it's so sad when people aren't curious, they just take what they're fed and they move on but I think a lot of those people are sad and very closed.

Antonopoulos: Well it's -- it's not as easy also to escape the narratives and the contextual framework that is imposed on us or that we absorbed through our broader culture.

Barrett: Yeah.

Antonopoulos: I think it's sometimes difficult to look at something that is as different as Bitcoin, and to really understand why it's different and how it's different. The truth is that most people have a very, very vague understanding of money and how it works, banking and how it works, and an even more importantly, central banking and fractional reserve banking and how that works. And so to come from that context and try to understand something that is as fundamentally different as Bitcoin, it's a really big intellectual leap and leap of faith, to be able to open up and be willing to think about things slightly differently.

And you see this based on the questions that people ask about Bitcoin and money in general. There are certain fundamental assumptions that are part of the narrative of money, assumptions that in many cases are entirely untrue and yet they're repeated and not by idiots but by very intelligent, very sophisticated people, investors, economists, etcetera, who just simply assume certain things and take them for granted, things that are demonstrably not true. I've had very, very serious commentators and financial journalists and people in the business ask me things like, well how can you trust the value when it's not set by a central bank?

Barrett: Yeah.

Antonopoulos: And you know it's interesting because last time I checked, central banks don't set the value of currency. They tweak an interest rate dial and hopes that what pops out at the other end of a free floating market of currencies, is something that represents the purchasing power of the currency. But you know import/export and trade deficits play a role and a hundred other factors play a role and it's a delayed reaction. And how many central banks get it right and for how long do they get it right? And if you look at the statistical information, if you look at the track record of central banking, the conclusion you draw is not that central banks deliver stay whole currencies. The conclusion you must draw from the statistical information in the track record is that all currencies based on central banking eventually collapse in a hyperinflation mess because that is the reality of the track record --

Barrett: Yeah.

Antonopoulos: -- with a few short-lived exceptions, which currently in today's monetary environments are under tremendous strain. So if you want to tell me that's a good model, you know the data says otherwise. The data says that every single currency that's been managed in this way has collapsed eventually with a few notable exceptions, and those exceptions are under a lot of strain. That's not a very good track record. That's not a rule, that's the exception.

Barrett: Right, and I love hearing you talk about that, just like I love hearing you talk about regulation, when people are waving the flag of regulation saying it's so important that we get this regulated and then you bring up the fact that, hey, look regulation doesn't really work like you think it does, and in fact it doesn't really even work that well, right?

Antonopoulos: Yeah, how's that working for you? I mean that's the real argument. Before you come and regulate my currency here, tell me how regulation has helped to avoid the things that you supposedly protect from? You know, let's talk about ends rather than means. Regulation is means. The end is supposed to be consumer protection, detection of fraud and prevention of fraud or at least punishment of fraud.

And you know if you look at the track record of regulation, it doesn't actually achieve those ends. And we have some very obvious examples from 2008, where consumers were not protected, fraud was not detected. And then when fraud was detected, there was no punishment. There was no consequence for that fraud. In fact, if anything, it was rewarded. And so you know you see these things happen again and again and again, and then I understand that your job depends on preserving the means but you're not achieving the ends. So, pardon me if I choose to try out a different mechanism.

Barrett: Yeah, you know, it's interesting. People that I know that are in banking, people that I know that are in finance, when I ask them about the HSBC, when I asked them about Wachovia and say, hey what do you know about the money laundering in the Colombian drug cartels and through Mexico and all this, they have no idea what I'm talking about. They've never heard of this. So, it was basically really suppressed. The facts of this were suppressed by the media, and you know you had a little blurb here and a little blurb there, and nobody went to prison. And that's called regulation, right? That's ridiculous. I mean take Lansky, Siegel, Al Capone those guys never had it this good, right? Ridiculous.

Antonopoulos: Yeah, the entire narrative has far too many holes in it, and so it works well if you only look at it from a great, great distance and don't focus too hard. But if you pay any attention, you immediately see that it really is just a narrative, and that narrative is a really important narrative because it sustains the common illusion of stability and control. And you know very serious people are very much in control of this very serious economy. The truth is that, these people are not very serious. They don't know what they're doing, and they’re not in control of anything. And you know, you realize the more you look at, the reality of what's happening in the financial systems across Europe, across the Western world, you know, especially since 2007, is the emperor has no clothes, and you can keep telling me otherwise but I have eyes and I can see.

Barrett: Because you're paying attention and you're curious and you've looked into these things. It would be nice if people would just be a little bit more curious and just look into things a little bit more deeply as you have. And that would encourage all of my listeners to definitely go online and to check out all of the videos you can see featuring Andreas, and of course to check out his website, which is, not the easiest name to spell but with a little practice you'll get it.

Antonopoulos: is my website. I'm on Twitter as A-A-N-T-O-N-O-P, yeah and I do a bunch of things on YouTube. You can see my videos. It’s fairly easy to find. Unpronounceable name plus Bitcoin, that's me. And I think you know the challenge on the -- the challenge with seeing things as they really are, is that in order to have the motivation, people are busy, people have lives, they have other things to do. There are experts who are supposedly paying attention to these things, and therefore these experts should handle these things.

Part of being free and part of being affluent or comfortable is that you don't have to worry about these things, and you can get on with the rest of your life raising your kids, giving them education, succeeding in your career, making a fulfilling life for yourself and your family and that's what people focus on. In order for them to focus on things like, does inflation matter, and is my currency really stable, and what is my government spending its money on, and why are banks failing left, right and centre, in order to pay attention to that it has to hurt. It has to cause discomfort that is proportionate to the -- to the ease of not paying attention to these things, right? It has to hurt, it has to matter.

And the truth is that, for most Americans it doesn't because it hasn't hurt enough or at least the pain is somewhat shielded by other factors. And it's not easy to see where it's coming from, so you can you know blame immigrants and blame the very harsh winter we had, and blame this and blame that and blame other things as to why the economy isn't going well and not pay attention to the real causes. Here's the thing. That's a luxury and that's a luxury that very few countries have, and sometimes it takes going to a place where they don't have that luxury to see how clearly people do get involved in these things and how clearly they see these things.

My visit to Argentina was really informative and changed my perspective in many ways because I got to interact with people who were all very, very well-informed about these issues. And the reason they were very well-informed about these issues is because monetary policy has destroyed their lives three times in the last generation. And it's not some kind of vague, theoretical thing that only economists deal with. It's the reason your kids doesn't go to college. It's the reason you don't have a job. It's the reason that people see their bank accounts draining.

Now, I hope that most of us never have to feel the discomfort that's necessary to start paying attention to what banks and governments do when the state and money are closely tied. And money can be used as a tool of power to basically enrich a few people and create control over populations. But the truth is that, that's how money has always been used and the exception, the very, very rare exception is brief periods in history where money has had some breathing room to expand. Exceptions like the 13 colonies that, instead of using the British money started printing their own money, and each colony had its own money and Ben Franklin himself was one of the printers who was printing this colonial money. And you know the Crown didn't like it and there was a big reason why there was war and tax and all the other things that led to the American Revolution.

And now we've got another brief moment in history, a rare opportunity where we have the possibility of creating some money that is not under direct state control, and it's not going to be used as a tool of power by the few to control many. And that brief moment in history is very rare. These things don't happen very often. When they they do, if you managed to get to see that opportunity, it's a good time to grasp it. It’s a good time to try and see if you can make this last because these are the moments that changed history.

Barrett: I agree, and once again the Crown doesn't like it. The Crown doesn't like the colonies with their new funny money, right? It's bothering them. Do you think that there’s any way that we can get out of this thing without, you know, suffering, without experiencing what Argentina is experiencing? Is there any way that this roaring 20s, you know, the good times that we're having an East Nashville, there in Park Slope, Brooklyn, there in The Marina in San Francisco, is there any way over Silicon Valley, you know, down in Palo Alto, they're partying it up, is there any way we can get out of this and not feel the pain? Is there any way we can slip by and just, you know, have things keep going and not see a downturn in the economy? Is there any way out? That's what people want, right? Don't they want to a way out? What's the way?

Antonopoulos: I really don't see a soft landing, not for most people. That's the painful truth. I don't think we're going to see significant change in people's attitudes or in the trajectory of this economy or any of the economies unless things get far, far more dire than they are today before things changed. Unfortunately you know even though that's really what's the governments and the banks try to engineer after 2008 was a soft landing just to make the party go on for a bit longer without having to make any significant or fundamental changes. And I don't think there is a soft landing. All you do is you -- you keep postponing the inevitable. It just makes for a harder and harder landing. So, I'm not tremendously optimistic that a lot of people won't suffer through more economic distress and recession in the years to come.

Barrett: What encouraging advice can you give to people, people who are listening who are into Bitcoin and people who are listening, who are just getting into Bitcoin or who don't really know about the Bitcoin sphere yet? What encouraging words can you offer? Because I mean, you do it all the time, people love listening to you but just here on the show, just some encouraging words for us.

Antonopoulos: Well, I think as I said before, invest in skills that can have a long lasting impact, and I think digital, decentralized crypto currencies, as they’re called Bitcoin and other currencies like that, the pattern behind them, the design methodology, the decentralized system that makes them work, those are skills that are going to have a significant impact in finance and banking, in economies worldwide. And I think also, you know, the opportunity to empower billions of people around the world who, their standard of living can't necessarily get any worse or much worse, so they can actually benefit from some of these changes and increase their standard of living.

Whereas for most of the people in developed world now, the only hope is to just maintain what you have and not fall further behind. But for the developing world, there's an opportunity to increase the standard of living and bring prosperity to more people around the world. And I think that one of the fascinating things about Bitcoin is that it is the first true trans-national currency that just ignores borders, and has the opportunity of connecting billions of people who have not had access to international finance with the rest of the world. And that's one of the things that drives me and interests me in this particular space.

Barrett: Well, you are definitely driven and you are definitely sought all over the world. Let me ask you, what's next on your travel plans? I love hearing you speak in different parts of the world or different parts of the country. Do you have a place that you're going to next you're excited about?

Antonopoulos: I'm going to be spending the next six weeks on the road, in fact starting off a long series of travel. I'm going to be in Portsmouth, New Hampshire next week speaking at the Cybercrime Symposium. After that, heading off to -- with a quick stopover in LA, I'm going to be doing a presentation for the Los Angeles Bitcoin Meet Up Group on November 13th at I think 6:00 pm was the time we scheduled.

And right after that, I'm leaving for Australia and New Zealand. I'm going to be in Australia and New Zealand for a number of weeks doing some events in Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, followed by Bitcoin South, a conference organized by Brave New World, a New Zealand company that's involved in Bitcoin and that conference is in the South Island in Queenstown. And after that, I'm coming back via Los Angeles between the Joe Rogan experience on December 1st, the third iteration of the Joe Rogan experience podcast, and then I'll be settling down for the end of the year, so a bit of a whirlwind tour with about 16 flights over the next six weeks.

Barrett: Whoa, that sounds like a lot of fun and a lot of work, and I know that wherever you go, people really appreciate the opportunity to hear you speak, that I know for sure.

Antonopoulos: That's one of the things that I enjoy doing the most, which is meeting the local community and seeing how people are using Bitcoin in different countries in different cities around the world. So, that's the most rewarding part of my travel, is whenever I go to a city, I try to do a local meet up as a free event and get to meet as many people from the local community as possible. And honestly, that's -- that's what keeps me going. And then coming back, I've got some interesting final developments after about a year-and-a-half of work, my book Mastering Bitcoin is finally with the publisher. It's in production right now.

Barrett: That's great, it's great.

Antonopoulos: The first edition is going to be printed in mid-December and will hit the stores December 27th. I'm also going to be receiving a number of copies that I'm going to be signing and shipping out to people who participates in the pre-sale for that for Bitcoin. And so, I’m going to be doing a lot of signing and stuffing books in envelopes. And hopefully start January with a book tour visiting various cities and talking a bit about how to use the Mastering Bitcoin book, to do a curriculum on digital currencies for postgraduates and undergraduate education and try to promote as many opportunities to get Bitcoin into university environments. To teach kids in computer science, in finance and business, in law, in entrepreneurial classes how to use these new digital currencies to start businesses to fuel innovation, and to gain skills. So, that's really what I'm going to be focusing the first part of next year on.

Barrett: Well, that's exciting you know Nashville is referred to as the Athens of the south. We have a number of universities here of notoriety. I wonder if it would be possible for us to get you to come to Nashville. If so, how would we do that?

Antonopoulos: You know, I work a lot with the students associations as well as the local Bitcoin meet-up groups. So, for any group that's interested in having me come to speak at their event, there's a website form on my site where you can submit some information about a conference invitation and that helps me organize things a bit.

Barrett: Okay.

Antonopoulos: And yeah, I'd love to. I've been to Nashville, let's see, three times already and I'd love to come again.

Barrett: All right man. We would love to have you here. Andreas, thank you so much for being here today and for taking time from your busy schedule to be my guest on Bitcoins & Gravy, and thanks for sharing with us what you're going to be doing the end of this year and the beginning of next year. Thank you very much for talking about your book and also for giving us some information about the master’s degree in digital currency, very exciting stuff. Thanks a million, man!

Antonopoulos: Always a pleasure, John, I hope to be back on the show soon.

Barrett: Great. Hey, thanks a lot Andreas.

Antonopoulos: Thanks. Have a good one.

Barrett: You too.

Antonopoulos: Talk to you soon, John, bye.

Barrett: Bye.

Male(singing): Now, climb aboard you all. This train is bound for glory, and there's plenty of room for all. Well, Satoshi Nakamoto, that's the name I love to say. And we don't know much about him but he came to save the day. When he wrote about the way things are and the way things ought to be, he gave us all a protocol this world had never seen.

Oh, Bitcoin as you've gone into the old block chain of it, call it. I know you're going to reign, going to reign, tune everybody knows that everybody knows till everybody knows your name.

Down the road it will be told about the death of old Mt. Gox, about traders trading altered coins and miners mining blocks. But damn good all boys back in Illinois, you know, down to Tennessee, see if they don't care to be a millionaire that just wanted to be free.

Oh, Bitcoin as you've gone into the old block chain, oh Bitcoin I know you're going to reign, going to reign till everybody knows, everybody knows, till everybody knows your name.

From the ghettos of Calcutta to the halls of Parliament, while the bankers count our money out for every government. Oh, Bitcoin flies on through the skies of virtuality, a promise to deliver us from the age of tyranny.

Oh Bitcoin as you've gone into the old block chain, oh, Bitcoin I know you're going to reign, going to reign. Till everybody knows, everybody knows, till everybody knows your name. Till everybody knows, everybody knows, till everybody knows your, give me some exposure, everybody knows your name singing, oh Lord, ask me some more. Oh, Lord before I have to go, oh Lord pass me some more. Oh, Lord before I have to go.

Barrett: Thank you, East Nashville. You all be good to each other out there, you hear?

Barrett: I know that it may sound absurd but I have for you a magic word. And today the magic word is degree, D-E-G-R-E-E degree as in the sentence I am excited about earning my master's degree in digital currency from the University of Nicosia. I would like to thank my good friend, Andreas Antonopoulos for taking time out from his busy travel and speaking a schedule to join us today on Bitcoins & Gravy. Thank you, Andreas, and all the best to you, sir, as you travel and teach around the world. We all appreciate it more than you know.

To find out more about my guests and sponsors, check out the show notes on the Let's Talk Bitcoin page on SoundCloud or on Thanks for tuning into the show. And if you really do like the show and you aren't just faking it, please tell your friends about it or send them a link to the show. And remember, the Bitcoins & Gravy hotline. Have you ever wanted to be a podcaster? Then call Bitcoins & Gravy at 615 208 5198 and leave a message with your comments, questions or complaints. This is your chance to give me a piece of your mind and tell me what you really think about the show. And if you give me your permission, I will put your call and comments on the show. And, of course, I offer a number of ways for you to download all of the past podcasts. You can go to or directly from SoundCloud, or you can go to the website which, of course, is

If you've enjoyed the show, please take a minute to leave a review on SoundCloud. And remember, it's your reviews and comments that help new listeners discover Bitcoins & Gravy, plus all the other great podcasts, articles and links that can be found on the Let's Talk Bitcoin network. I also thank you for your generous donations in Bitcoin or Litecoin that helped me keep the lights on and coffee in the kettle.

Signing off now from East Nashville, Tennessee, I'm your host John Barrett with my trusty companion, Maxwell, say, goodbye Maxwell. Wishing you all a great week. You all be good to each other out there now, and remember the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing.

Male(Singing): Mr. Antonopoulos, please come to my metropolis, and tell me, tell me, why is the world so bloody cruel and if they send me back to school is it too late to learn what I never really thought I'd know? Oh, Mr. Antonopoulos please help the world to stop all this unfairness, going on and if there is no God above then please at least tell me that love is somewhere hiding, and we'll find it just in time. And I could rhyme all day. I'll cry and carry on like a fool who's lost his way but I guess I better just get on with my day.

Written by Andreas M. Antonopoulos on November 10, 2014.