Video - Ulterior States IamSatoshi Documentary

Ulterior States, an IamSatoshi production, is an argumentative documentary project. The participatory development, production and post ‘guerilla-film-making-methods’, bounced between (non-academic) literature research, video interviews and studio sessions. This investigative process allowed having real-life conversations with some thought leaders within the Bitcoin ecosystem.

In an attempt to portray the community behind the message to adopt a network, being a one-man team allowed for easier access to the subjects. The enthusiasm and commitment that saturate through the lens in many parts of the film, expose how the adopters of Bitcoin want to explore, to probe and, to show the world, something important, otherwise overlooked.


Female:                       As I have been standing here, I've been thinking back to the last war.  When the bombing was on, and we heard that there was a heavy bombing around St. Paul's Cathedral.  So I immediately and walked over here and I stood down the road there.  Every building by St Paul's was ablaze and I said to myself, "The hand of God is on St. Paul's" And this morning, I went back to church and I was praying to God about you all and I thought I would wander over and then see what's happening.  You have every right in this world to make a protest and to create a situation.

Antonopoulos: I think there's certainly a disparity of justice going on which is the theme that's been occurring really for centuries, but when it starts affecting the middle class, people notice that there are multi-tier justice systems. And some people have always been getting away with the worst crimes and some others never get away with anything.  It's becoming quite noticeable in the states in the western developed nations now how there are multi-tier justice systems, but it's not different than the past.  It's just that the middle class used to not be the part of the lower justice tier.  The lower justice tier has expanded to include them.

Jaromil:                      We have an emergency of sociopathy on the top of this pyramid I mentioned.  The people truly are not empathizing with any social argument or any, and they are living in another world, in a world of segregation.

Daniel Hassan:          Why would people trust the banks?  I mean it's just common sense that people have gathered together to express anger at the way the things are.

Jonathan Harrison:   I kind of believe in "free market" stuff.  But even if you don't, even if you're far in the left, you're in green hill, wherever you are, we all kind of hate the banks right now.  They're parasitical, they don't do, they don't deserve the money that they make.

Chris Ellis:                 We're going to need better tools for dealing with a lot of the volatility that we see in the world.  We're going to need these anti-fragile systems.  These systems that can withstand short sharp shocks.

Julia Tourianski:       I guess, that's a criticism unlike the hippie-dippie movement for peace, without any kind of "the evils of monetary exchange" when the monetary exchange empowers individuals on a very basic, basic level.

Amir Taaki:               It's not a way that we can continue.  And, really, I think the goal is not to save the world, because some people don't want to be saved.  What we have to start to do is start to think how we can carve out a safe operating space for the future, where we as freedom loving people can survive, thrive, and grow.

Cody Wilson:             That the idea was how to introduce a hyper-real antagonistic symbol to what we see as a hyper-real order, the one that would induce in this reversions and cycles of trouble that couldn't be answered in traditional way.  So, it would be one thing like just give you a gun, well, you just get arrested, right?  But to give you like the capacity or potentiality of a gun, in the internet, and it's kind of like infinite replicability, and ever-presence all over the world was a challenge, like I kind of gift that the world system just couldn't respond to.

Rick Falkvinge:         As long as the code pays for it's own execution it'll keep running in the network.  And I think that opens up far more possibilities than we've considered today.

Sveinn Valfells:          Isaac Newton was an explorer, and he's tinkering with things that didn't work, gave him a great sense of what would work.  So, he was an innovator, a scientist, a hacker.

Jaromil:                      What a hacker is today?  It's a very debated, described, over-described.  We have books coming out on hackers, we have marked our presence in history as a culture, as a cultural movement.  And I think we have marked it very well so far, although we have losses and we have things to really worry and people to remember, yet I think we achieved already a good position, and the next iteration, our danger, our bigger danger is to be too self-referential, to not recognize the agency of other people, of other areas of expertise.  And again, the fact that we are social animals, that isolation is not an answer for wellbeing for the welfare that we look for everywhere, so we have to go a little bit more social.

Julian Assange:         As many people all over the world [crowd repeats] who have worked towards [crowd repeats] from Cairo to London.  [crowd repeats].

Vinay Gupta:             To me this brings back Phil Zimmerman, who is the guy that originally wrote Pretty Good Privacy which was the mother of all crypto inventions.  So, he took this work from academia and from the military, turned it into this package that offered military-grade encryption for civilian email and basically fired the first shot in this kind of 20-year cypherpunk war.  And Zimmerman fought like hell for about 5 years with the U.S. government.  And the USAF take the source code PGP, print it out into books, export the books and then scan it again to get through the technical loophole with the U.S. law about banning the export of cryptography software.  But it was no longer considered software if it was in the form of a book.  And the fact that the government was willing to go to extraordinary lengths to try to control cryptography, was an indicator that cryptography was fundamentally important.  And here we are now 20 years later, we're up to our eyeballs in the Snowden problem.  This was exactly the problem that Zimmerman was aware of as a potential, and he turned out to be exactly right in practice.  But because we never mass-deployed civilian cryptography of a high enough standard, we turned out to almost no defense against the government when it came to this huge power-grab that they've made.

Elizabeth Starks:       Professor Laurence Lessig, who, in 1999 wrote his book entitled "Code is Law" and, you know, codes are -- Technically, it's "Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace", but really the mantra that came out of that was "code is law".  The second is Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist and scholar of hacker communities and online activism.  Who has written about code and activism, and how code and free speech really aligned and we saw over the past I'd say almost two decades, this evolution where people didn't merely view computer code or the infrastructure that's built up around that as something that's external, like a bridge, but instead people viewed it as a means of expression.

Rick Falkvinge:         I think there is a rather large symbiosis between the hacker community and Wikileaks community.  The hacker community tends to regard truth and transparency as sacred values, so it's kind of a net generation values thing, I don't think there are two separate communities.

Jaromil:                      At the same time in which Wikileaks leader Assange, Julian Assange was awarded with the Sam Adams prize for integrity and intelligence for the first time a non-military person was awarded this prize opening up effectively in history the debate for what we need to do to actually evolve the way intelligence works in our time.  Cutting off without a sentence that way to actually receive donations from people that appreciate that effort, that has been a fundamental violation of network neutrality as it's perceived by most hackers around.  It is a violation of even more than network neutrality, because what we call "network neutrality" is the politics of the internet.  That is a violation of neutrality that we attribute to a network, the network of money on which the promise of capitalism is based on, that we can't just look over and just go on with, that's what most hackers thought.

Erik Voorhees:          What someone does with their own time and money is certainly one of the ways that they convey their personality to the world.  Just as I can use my words to convince other people of something that I believe in, I can also use my money to help fund a project for something that I believe in.  I don't think there is any material difference between those two things.

Rick Falkvinge:         The Wikileaks financial blockade woke a lot of people up to how unhealthy it is that the United States based financial system essentially has a finger of death that they can point at any organization world-wide.  That is a serious vulnerability, that is an unacceptable single point of failure.  That essentially means that the U.S. government holds a kill-switch for everybody's organization.  Let that sink in for a minute.

Julian Assange:         This movement is not about the destruction of all [crowd repeats] This movement is about the construction of all! [crowd repeats].

Nadav Rosenberg:     People like stories, I also like stories so if you go to the internet you're going to see all those stories of how money was developed, somebody invented it, but it never happened like that.  It's like language.  It was developed in many different parts of the world, nobody thought, nobody said and said, okay, I'm going to think about the concept of money, I'm going to invent the currency,  It did not happen.  That's why it is so hard to understand, because it's just intuitively, as humans, we use this thing.

Protester:                   Right, can you tell me, if most of the banks in Europe are owed money by the other banks of the other states in Europe, plus a few outside, how can they all raise each other out of the swamp?  When each one props up another one, well, by doing so go down itself.

Garrick Hileman:      It's just not something people ever questioned before or wondered about.  I mean I ask people in all sorts of countries "In your high school, your secondary education, did they ever sit down and explain to you how money comes into existence?" And I haven't found a single education system yet where that's discussed as part of the core curriculum.

Ian Grigg:                  It's a complicated issue.  Do we want to teach people, or do we want people to learn about the nature of currencies, the nature of payment systems, the nature of local currencies?  I think the answer would be it would be good to teach them about it, but we're facing an uphill battle.  The reason fundamentally comes back to the state's desire to hold a monopoly over the payment systems.

Brett Scott:                Currency is not absolute, it changes over time.  While right now we have a single, we tend to have a dominant idea of what currency means, that's not been the same throughout history.  And currencies have risen and fallen.

Robin Teigland:        There is a book recently, where they actually did inventory of alternative currencies around 6000.  Such as one with the WIR in Switzerland, it's been around since 1932.   You have  Naya paisa coin with the Lakota Indians in North-Western United States.  You have -- you could even say you have some coin systems reward, so you have many different types.

John Karanja:           Certain Kenyan tribes in the past used to trade with coin shells, because it was a limited currency, so it was a good medium for exchange.

Garrick Hileman:      Let me get to your main question, which was this relationship between, say, alternative currencies and debt.  So, one thing that's interesting when you look at things like the level of debt following World War I, where debt levels kind of climbed, of course, leading up through to The Great Depression, after World War II.  And again today, as you see these kinds of spikes in debt levels and alongside that you have the introduction of new types of currency, new alternative currencies during the 30s, 20s, after the war, during the war, there's other examples of alternative currencies, certainly, you know, the one of the most famous, of course is in Berlin, following the collapse of Nazi regime.  They used cigarettes and alcohol as alternative currency.  And then today with this massive build up in debt outside of any war which is the one big difference between today and the 1940s, or 1920s or 30s.  We didn't have a World War, but we have world war-levels of debt, you can again see a large proliferation of alternative currencies.

Ian Grigg:                  What tends to happen and we've seen this process many times over history.  As the economy dives because of problems in the way the economy has been managed centrally.  Local currencies start to emerge like mushrooms after rain.  And they pop up in all the little different towns, where people have discovered that "Oh gosh! The bread maker is here, but he's got no work."  "The butcher is here, but he's not selling any meat."  "The hairdresser is there, but nobody can afford a haircut."  So the people will realize that all these people are here, if they just have a token that circulates locally, they can get a little bit of trade going, so that the meat flows, the bread is made, the haircuts are done and all of the local traders can actually get a little bit of activity going.  Everybody's there and waiting to work, but nobody's got some cash.  So, we'll create some cash and give it to the people.  So, if you like let systems and local currencies are local quantitative easing.  They're quantitative easing that bypasses the banking system and gets right down to the people.

Male:                          This is called "fractional reserve banking", they need to hold 10% of the money in the account back to them.  And I say, well, because someone owes us that money, technically we have that money.  So, they loan now someone else 9 million of that, and then they sell the loan to the next person 8,100,000, and so on down the line.  And then if they pay effectively laundered millions and millions of pounds worth of cash, just off this 10 million that they were legally allowed to create it.

Male:                           A great Ponzi scheme.

Male:                           A great Ponzi scheme.

Simon Lelieveldt:      The human mind is perfectly able to deal with huge amount of coins, rather than just one fiat currency and a single note design and a single coin design.  We can do even more than that, but we forgot it, over time we got used to this central system.  We can go back to the other system if we want.

Ian Grigg:                  The world of finance is extremely jealous of its territory.  As soon as they see a version of finance popping up, even if it's just a little internet toy payment system, they get rather aggressive.  Phone calls are made, the central banker's annoyed, the FSA is annoyed, the various regulators are annoyed.  And they are pushed to do something about it.  In the late '90s, after DigiCash, there were lots of different ventures starting up and getting into the business and a lot of them failed partly because they got no support from the finance people.  One particularly famous system was E-Gold.  E-Gold started up in about '97 doing gold on the internet.  And built up its pace up until about 2000 or so, when it started to become profitable and started moving forward.  Unfortunately, E-Gold got into trouble, came to the attention of the Feds and the Feds walked in there with weapons, SWAT teams and so forth, and took them down.  After a period of 2 years with court cases, the whole thing was basically rolled over and although E-Gold was still running, huge numbers of accounts has been seized, nobody particularly trusted it, and nobody has particularly trusted the result.  In essence, it was shut down.

Daniel Hassan:          Getting rid of the networks is a different matter than your hard drive failing or subpoena against a server.

Ian Grigg:                  The problem with our classical view of payment systems, Alice pays Bob, but goes through Ivan, the server is that somebody, it doesn't have to be the State, it can be anybody, can attack the server and shut it down or steal the money et cetera, et cetera.

  1. Antonopoulos: Because we couldn't do decentralized currencies, we did centralized ones.

Ian Grigg:                  And here's where Satoshi Nakamoto had his, shall we say his genius stroke.  Let's not use some sort of heuristic.  Let's not use some sort of algorithm, let's not use some sort of hierarchy.  Let's do a lottery, let's create a lottery.  We don't care which of the transactions goes forward, as long as it's only one of them.

Kyle Drake:               Well, I kind of have been calling myself a decentralist, which is this notion of preventing anyone from having so much power.

Ian Grigg:                  We don't really care anymore, which transaction was accepted, we only care who's got the biggest number.  And that is something that we can guarantee that cannot be spoofed.  It cannot be attacked.  Because the calculation of the hash, the proof-of-work thing, this magical, cryptographic blah-blah-blah.

Matt Corallo:             Not depending on traditional cryptographic security but really depending on economic incentives to encourage good behavior and as long as they work on a macro-scale, the whole system remains secure and has this distributed consensus property.

Ian Grigg:                  So if I give it an input, which is different.  I cannot create that big number without going through massive amounts of processing.  Everybody is therefore on the same footing.  It is therefore a lottery, a fair lottery across all of the machines, one person gets to win the lottery, they get paid their 25 Bitcoins for that.  And that person is the one who chooses which transaction goes through and therefore we have solved the double-spending problem.

Chris Ellis:                 "Messages are sent on a best-effort basis.  Nodes can leave and rejoin the network at will whilst trusting the longest proof-of-work chain whilst they were gone." [excerpt from Bitcoin whitepaper] This is all about what happens when we turn our backs on the system.

  1. Antonopoulos: Here's the difference. If we had a 51% solution in an election, like in a democratic election for political party, that 51% would be able to temporarily, in a democracy without any other tax and balances.  Seize control of the governing body and make changes.  What changes could they make? A coup would go too far, so they would probably be subtle changes.  But in most democracies those changes would reverberate through 4 years of governance, until they get kicked out.  Well, in Bitcoin terms that's 10 minutes.  And in those 10 minutes all they can do is double-spend a few transactions.  The broader issue would be if you had a sustained 51% attack, whose primary motivation would be to change the core protocol, essentially to pull a coup on Bitcoin by changing the mechanics of the core protocol.  In order to do that you would not only need a 51% attack, but you would have to make that coincide with an upgrade of the system.  So that the majority chain actually move to a different version of the protocol and to a different version of the software.  That scenario is impossible.

And the reason is its impossible is because it's not just the miners who have parts in the consensus system, especially when we're talking about protocol changes.  The miners can affect what is the longest block.  But in order to affect which is the prevailing software choice, they have to persuade the users to change, they have to persuade the web wallets that represent millions of users to change and they have to persuade the merchants to change.  If the miners were to take the protocol in a direction that the users don't want to go to, they would find themselves on a majority chain, but they would find themselves on a majority chain empty of transactions because all the users would stay behind.  A minority chain with actual transactions and merchants is the majority chain, because that's where the value is.  And so you can't really hijack Bitcoin, the software and Bitcoin, the algorithm or any crypto-currency with a 51% attack long-term in a coup, because you would lack the consent of the user wallets, and the web wallets and the merchants, who wouldn't follow you down that path, because it would be obvious.

Mark Edge:               I said, sure, I want to know about Bitcoins.  Apparently, I had some at that point.  And they, like somebody had sent them to me, but I didn't really know anything about them and they were kind of in some wallet, some place in the internet.  But I'm like, sure, I want to know about.  So, he came up and we had lunch with Gavin Andresen.  And we had lunch with him in a Thai Restaurant and actually I picked up his cab and he paid me back in Bitcoins when he got home.  So, we -- you know, he sent me the Bitcoins and they were 25 cents at a time and I guess if they had a 9 dollar tab, we're talking about 36 Bitcoins, which are worth, not up to abaout 4 grant right now.  So those were very profitable lunch for me, and I'm glad that Gavin came up.  But so, we learned about Bitcoins that day, he talked about and we were sceptical, we were like well, you know, there's been a lot of alternative currency ideas floated about in the libertarian community before, but you know, we're really interested.  So, we talked about the money and I think it was that night and it might have been the night I have with another 100% sure.

Denis Jaromil Roio:  Let's look at it just like as a small phenomenon.  It was people that were going on online servers, like casinos, playing among themselves and actually the service providers had nothing to do with them, their community, their money and what they played and what they loved to play.  So, they just wanted to play by themselves.  They just wanted to have a channel to have transactions among themselves as promised by the game and go on and play it.  These people got very early, in a very early stage involved in Bitcoin, because of a need, because of a felt grass-root need.  Pardon me, if you're like really strong political believes that grass-roots must be only people fighting for social justice.  But I think that we must also see some constituency into the fact that people are coming out of the system in a transversal way of the system that forced them into entering the temples, the palaces of the automatized administration of their games.  And build their own little community.

Erik Voorhees:          Yes, yes, that's why I'm interested in it, is because it is a brilliant way of resistance without violence.  These are usually the best ways to change people's minds.  Because if you have to get violent, then it's very easy for opposition to vilify you and often with a very good cause.

Vinay Gupta:             Bitcoin doesn't have a strong property right that allows top-down control of the Bitcoin systems.  Because it was originally written in a very anarchist form, where it was run by a voluntary corporation, there is no owner of Bitcoin.  So, if Bitcoin had been developed by a proprietary company, Bitcoin, Inc.  There would be no denying that when it came push meets the shove, the property right could decide who is in charge in Bitcoin, Inc. and could own the Bitcoin network.

Julia Tourianski:       The kind of anarchist vision is very, it's -- that community is very small in Bitcoin I find, even though it was the community that maybe birthed it.

Elizabeth Starks:       Our IRS, our Tax Office has said that Bitcoin is property.  The New York state and California and others are trying to regulate Bitcoin as money.  The SEC that deals with securities is looking at Bitcoin as technology for stocks and equities.  The CFTC is looking at it as a means for futures.  The FED is looking at it as a new form of central banking and issuing money.  So, I do believe Bitcoin is it's not just one thing, it's many different things to many people.  But what's underlying it is this open-source peer to peer network and protocol.  And without that you couldn't have any of the other uses.

Lui Smyth:                 Crisis, the word crisis, actually has the same root as the word critique.  So, a crisis is at any moment in history when the status quo stops functioning.  And so, the natural result of a crisis or natural reaction is a critique.  Which is when people come in and they point out why the system is not functioning properly and they propose alternatives.  So, in that sense, of course, I mean, it's natural that the global financial crisis of 2008 and onwards, I don't know where you draw the lines.  It's only natural of that crisis sparked a critique, and I think Bitcoin is a part of that critique.  It's a group of people saying, this is a different, an alternative way of managing money.

Toni Lane:                 It is effectively the future, and the faster we embrace it, the farther we'll be ahead when the game changes.

Brett Scott:                In a world where we're increasingly moving away from physical cash towards more electronic transactions, you kind of start to need a digital equivalent of cash and I think that's the really important role to play.  So, if you look, say, for example, cash in our current society, it probably only makes up, I guess probably 3% to 5% of the money supply.  I mean, I'm not sure if it's even that much.  So, it's actually quite a small part of the actual transactions that we do but it could be succulent to the important part of the transactions that we do.  And without it, people would be very unhappy I suspect.  So, Bitcoin can fulfill that role in the sort of, you know, cashless world, become the digital version of this thing, that's a very positive thing.

Peter Todd:               My transactions are speech.  Bitcoin assumes that I have, I'm free to go publish who's transacting.  I'm free to tell other people about that information.  Bitcoin assumes that data is easy to spread, hard to censor.  That's a fundamental assumption in how Bitcoin works.

Rick Falkvinge:         When I'm building my next business, I will not accept anybody else, in particular not on a foreign power, to hold a kill-switch to my organization.  So, I think that blockade of Wikileaks, will have much much more far-reaching implications for the price of Bitcoin and for the adoption of Bitcoin than what we've seen in these years.  Because it planted an idea that I don't like the concept of a kill-switch to my organization and people will start rebuilding that and that will take years before we see the full impact.

Garrick Hileman:      It's really exciting to be the part of this, this kind of opening up, if you will, of money to a wider conversation.

Ian Grigg:                  The great thing that came out of Bitcoin was the realization that we, the people could do our own money.  It doesn't matter who we are.  We didn't have to go and get permission.  We didn't have to run an audit, we didn't have to pay a fee.  We didn't have to follow a rule-book.  We simply had to do it with the bit of software that got it up and going.  And this is a huge opportunity to tell everybody that innovation belongs to us.  And we can go out there and do whatever we want to, as long as we make the software work.  We don't need to go back to history and say oh, the British government has run the Pound sterling for how many years, 3 Centuries.  Therefore, we can't do money.  No, that's all over.  We can do money if we want to, if we can make it happen.  If we can bring together community to make it happen.  That's a viable option now.  That wasn't there before Bitcoin.  Up until 2009, people like myself were working to produce these systems and we got told over and over again we can't do that.  Not that we believed it.  It doesn't matter whether we're right or wrong, what it meant was there was no support, there was no market.  Bitcoin has created a market and we can do something together.  We can actually mediate these situations together.

Adam Cleary:            150 pounds to 90 pounds, trade it.  Closing bells, ring-ring-ring-ring.

  1. Antonopoulos: I didn't at first get it. I think I was in a place where I wasn't ready at the time.  And then the second time I heard about Bitcoin, for some reason I decided to try and go to the source and read it from Satoshi Nakamoto's paper.  And so, I started reading Satoshi Nakamoto's paper and I remember how at some point it just clicked.  And I had this almost revelatory experience where I suddenly realize, oh my God, it's not a currency, it's a network.  And I get networks and I understand networks.  And not only it is a network but it achieves something incredible, it achieves consensus, it achieves trust without centralized authority.  This is so much more important than currency, it's so much bigger than currency.

Chris Ellis:                 When people talk about Bitcoin they always talk about tech, it's fin-tech, it's all about the buzz-word.  It's not, all of the tools that Satoshi employs in the implementation of Bitcoin in the Bitcoin whitepaper are all tools that were made before the year 2000, right.  You got Merkle trees, going back to late 70s.  You've got public key infrastructure, what's that, early 90s.  And then you've got proof-of-work.  And Back, 97, right.  We could have done this 14 years ago, if we'd really, really wanted it, but we didn't want it enough.  And I think any kind of system that allows two people to enter into an agreement with one another without requiring expensive court systems and expensive legal processes, is a very, very powerful thing.  Because if you're trying to say that, Justice is the preserver of the rich, then really what you're saying that there is no justice.

Ian Grigg:                  Triple entry takes us from this inside the corporate trusted scenario and extends it to other customers to outside the company border, into other companies.  Because what we can now do is cryptographically sign an entry.  Alice signs her payment to Bob, it goes out to some intermediary which could be the block chain, it could be a server, which gets signed again, and then it goes across to Bob.  And now, we've got three entries which are sitting there.  We've got Alice and Bob sitting with their primary copies and if they have any dispute, Ivan or the blockchain is sitting in the middle, which guarantees we've all got the same thing.  And cryptography guarantees we've got it, the third party guarantees that it's not lost.  So, if Alice, for example, loses her copy, Bob can then say well it didn't exist, but Ivan can say, yes, it does exist.  And this is where, for example, the presence or absence issue is solved by that third party, is solved by the blockchain.  You can't lose an entry once it goes to the blockchain.

Peter Todd:               Step by step it kind of makes sense.  It's just kind of crazy to go from, like, accounting to somehow making decentralized money happen by burning energy.  It takes a while to get your head around to find.

Julia Tourianski:       It allows these people to have a voice without having to be necessarily in the structural framework of the systems, right.  They have created their own system, and if they like it they are going to keep building on it.

Amir Taaki:               It's really now that we're seeing the applications of these things come to fruition.  You know, who'll say, it's not just about Bitcoin as a payments innovation, Bitcoin is much more.  It's something deeper.  It's about tools of resource management, tools of, you know, organization and collaboration between people, the tools of self-governance, you know, tools of trade and business.  These things that we can use to rethink how we can construct the society around us to build systems that work better.

Elizabeth Stark:        What I've seen people do is they will provide evidence, they'll go find evidence and they use the blockchain to verify that the evidence existed at a given time, they'll use a public key and they'll time-stamp it.  And that's a really interesting way of creating this kind of -- it's funny, we call it a paper-trail, but it's not a paper-trail.  It's a trail based on a public-key cryptography, that then can be referenced, not only by the media outlets but anybody who's researching this topic.

Jessi Baker:               We need the blockchain, because we need to have a trust network.  Like that's super, super essential.  We need to have a trust network, so that we can carry information along supply-chains without revealing keys, without revealing who exactly people are in the supply-chain in order not to compromise competitive advantage.  And we'll need to carry lots of different types of information, from verified certifications perhaps, depending on whole manner of things.  But also, information that perhaps isn't having a third party to agree it being correct.  So more intangible types of information and we need a system that can allow us to do that in a trustworthy way, which is what the blockchain provides so beautifully.

Elizabeth Stark:        Similarly, I can envision a scenario in which people from not just occupied, but any movement, that want to have proof that a given, say, statement existed at a certain time-frame, or that a given event happened, say either via video, or media, or otherwise, can use the blockchain based technology to have that verification.  It could be also useful in refuting, say, media outlets in tracking media coverage and then you could envision the blockchain that could track the media coverage and could be used every time something, say, comes up in media coverage that is false.  You could have kind of trace that back to evidence showing that it's untrue.

Jessi Baker:                The blockchain has this affordance, that is so perfect for that problem which is that allows you to transfer information in a secure way, in a trustworthy way, without having to reveal exactly where that information came from which basically transforms the supply-chain transparency completely.

Vinay Gupta:             If we're going to protect the past from the tyrants of the future, we need cryptography.  And right now, the best available mechanism for protecting the past from the tyrants of the future is the blockchain.  We can take what's happened already, we can secure it with a vast amount of it's a super-computer level computation or other cryptographic mechanisms.  And at the end of that process it does not matter how much a future tyrant wants to change that past, they just don't have big enough computer to do the calculations to alter history.  It is critically important that we protect the past from the future, because if we don't do that in the 50 or 100 or 200 years, Gandhi would never have existed.  The ideas would be so dangerous they'll be mopped out of reality and algorithms would very carefully gloss over the holes.  We must make sure that it is impossible for a future dictator to erase the history of humanity that might cause people to understand that they pain they feel is the pain that has been felt for centuries before them and that can be cured by political action.

Antonopoulos: I see a lot of parallels with the early internet and to me Bitcoin is a platform and it is not just one but a series of protocols. At a very basic layer it is a peer to peer network for rapidly propagating blocks and transactions.  On top of that, you have a TCP-like almost transaction layer within the scripting language inside the transactions.  And already we're seeing other protocol layers above it.  One of the things that people don't realize in retrospect looking at the early internet today, it appears as if it was the perfect protocol and it never really had that much competition.  But that's not true, even TCP/IP had plenty of competition and also plenty of criticism.  Throughout the 90's, the prevailing attitude from the telecommunication providers was this will never scale to the level of voice.  It can't do a quality of service.  It can't do video.  It can't scale to large levels and that's why, we need to continue using these legacy fiber-optic networks. Today, all of those legacy fiber-optic networks are running on top of TCP/IP.  Turns out it could do voice, it could scale and it did scale.  TCP/IP is a story of a protocol that was good enough and reached the scale where it achieved viral network effects and embedded itself in computer science curricula, and in hardware, and in software implementations and become so successful that now we can't even upgrade it to IPv6, because it resists its own successor.  I don't think, we're going to see Bitcoin permanently displaced by a successor.  I think Bitcoin is good enough.  I think Bitcoin has achieved the viral network effect.  And I think it has already absorbed enough investment, that that creates momentum and inertia that will take Bitcoin very far.  I do expect to see a lots of alternative currencies emerge.  In fact, over time I've revised my opinion, and now I believe that instead of 100s or even 1000s of alternative currencies, we're going to see hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of alternative currencies.  And all the way down to single person, pseudo-currencies that are reputation management schemes or funding schemes for individuals.  Novelty coins, and fad-coins, and meme-coin and coins created by 5-year olds and six year olds in school to trade with their friends.  We're going to see millions of currencies.  However, all of these currencies will come as successors to Bitcoin and I think many of them, the ones that will achieve monetary value will achieve it in collaboration with Bitcoin synergistically.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if we see several coins backed by Bitcoin, where Bitcoin acts as the reserve currency, as the store of value for the long-term consideration.  Over time we may see Bitcoin be used mostly for very large value transactions, very much like the gold standard.  And then more nimble currencies take on a more transactional role for day-to-day purchases and things like that.  But if they do so, they only strengthen Bitcoin.  They don't replace it.

Denis Jaromil Roio:  Imagining the future or what it means future is today and what it really means to ambition society, try being, with humans in there in the future.  Now, I'm not asking for purity at all.  I love cybernetics, and the Cyborg Manifesto by Donna Haraway and everything that came after that.  So, I think we can be transversal enough to cross several fields but we have not to forget that we are also humans, and we live among humans.  And the most fun we have is with humans, even not in front, even if you're a gamer, you have humans on the other side and that's what makes it most fun.

Vinay Gupta:             Let me start with the quick story of what is the state.  Max Weber's definition of the state is that the state is the entity that has the monopoly on violence inside of bounded geographic territory legitimacy.  So, the problem is that in the places where you really need to identify the state like, say, Gaza, this test fails.  Because there is no monopoly on violence, but there are four or five entities that all act like the state and to all intents and purposes there are many states sharing a single territory, there's no monopoly on violence but there's plenty of guys with guns running around, telling you that they're in charge.  So, I prefer to say that the state is any identity that can retroactively pardon a crime.  If you pardoned murder, you get an army.  If you pardoned assault, you get police.  If you pardoned theft, you get taxation.  And this notion that there is sovereign ability to change the rules for limited numbers of people and license them to do things which are otherwise criminal gives you a really clean definition of the state.  The state is the thing that washes your hands when you do something which is inherently wrong.

Then we look at this question of what you do when the state breaks down.  You go to refugee camps, you go to civil wars, you go to any situation where everything has gone wrong.  and suddenly you've got this fundamental problem, which is yes, if we can't really organize without the State, we don't have anything which is washing hands, we don't have a police, we don't have an army, we don't have taxation, we don't have services and it's all gone horribly wrong.  Sometimes those situations self-organize and reasonably functional like Somalia under the union of Islamic Courts, which allegedly have a pretty stable standard of living and not too much violence, but most of the time everything just goes to hell in a handbasket, stays there and the worst people in the society wind up in charge.  Which is what you saw for example, in most of the post-soviet area, where the state withdrew and you just wind up with mafia and government refuse it, terrible situation.  So, state-in-a-box, is a pre-blockchain concept, about how a bunch of software, which if you equip all the pieces together, allows you to do half-a-dozen or so core jobs of the State.  It gives your property rights, it gives you identity registers, it gives you the possibility of taxation, it gives you electoral democracy and a few other features like this.  And you can imagine, this is basically being a website that you log into with a secure ID token that is either biometric or tied to a biometric.  And then once you've asserted that you are a citizen, you get to interact with the processes.  Here's my bank account, I've made these transactions, I owe this much in taxes, it's been automatically deducted.  Here are the bills that are currently being voted on, here are the people I have asked to represent me on these issues, these are the decisions that they've made and they're up for my approval.  This is a patch of land that I own, on it there is a house, here's all the information about the people that are providing utilities to that house and the legal commitments that they have to meet in exchange for my payments.  And you can imagine web interfaces that manage all of that stuff.

That only works if your legal system is a small, clean, simple and rational.  You can't take 70,000 pages of U.S tax code and put it into a website that ordinary user can understand.  It might even only work inside refugee camps and similar crisis areas, where the majority of the complexity has been washed out of society by disruption so you're kind of rebuilding from scratch and you just need something to get you through the first few years as time passes, case law get filled up and those systems become less effective.  So, what you get out of this, is the idea that in the event that you've got a failed the State, you come with a bunch of smart phones, and a bunch of computers, and a bunch of networking gear and everybody gets a website that performs the function that you used to go to the state for.  Ooh, that's a bit interesting and then you think, well, hmm, okay now we got blockchains, it's not a website anymore, it's a distributed application.  Where you could potentially run kind of state-like entities on something like a theoretical and yeah, you totally could.

So why would you want to do this?  And the answer is the same way of governing refugee camps, is as if they were micro-states.  Self-government, participatory democracy, participatory budgeting, proper identity databases, proper health-care, medical systems and all the rest of these things, collective budgeting and collective bargaining.  And all of the little enclaves where we've got a break-down of external governance where people want to be able to treat each other decently, but don't have the machinery, could run on this kind of systems.  Anytime you're under-governed you set up a system, everybody votes and everybody cooperates inside those systems and what you get is the re-emergence of local control where central government has failed.

And I think that would see huge use of that systems in the slums, we could see huge use of that in the refugee camps, war-zones at anywhere there's so much systemic disruption where you need software to take over from the government just to keep the basic functions as going for long enough that you can stand up essential services.  And I think the world is filled with that, I think there are hundreds of millions of people or more that are systemically unable to access reasonable quality state services because of state failure, because of corruption or because they're so poor that they're not putting anything into State.  And so, the state just ignores them or tries to treat them like wildlife.  State-in-a-box is a way of allowing the citizens to patch the cracks where the conventional was failing a nation state is failing to provide services.


Written by Melvin Draupnir on June 27, 2015.