It’s that time again - Liberty Crypto time! Read on for the latest from the front lines in the fight for the future.
The Radicalist of Exchanges
If one needs any more evidence that the crypto community is full of systemic thinkers and change seekers, one need look no farther than last weekend’s RadicalXChange. The event from the nonprofit by political theorist Glen Weyl is designed to ask major questions of fundamental reorganizations of our social, political and economic institutions, and had significant participation from the crypto community, including a keynote by Vitalik Buterin. Check out this great thread about the event or this write-up from the fine folks at BreakerMag. Who knows, maybe Vitalik will be the next great political theorist?
Fear & Loathing At The Fed
Especially for those looking at Bitcoin and crypto as a hedge against monetary debasement at the hand of central bankers, the actions of the Fed are of significant interest. More than a few noticed that the intense political pressure being put on the Fed is seeming to make an impact, and the great experiment in easy monetary policy continues. Former CEO and founder of WisdomTree and now crypto investor Rayne Steinberg puts the move in context. For more on this topic, check out this thread from Ari David Paul on how both Bitcoin and Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) are (very different) responses to the grand experiment in money printing.
The Technology-Surveillance Complex
Ahh governments behaving badly. This week, it’s Mauritius jailing bloggers who were in the midst of exposing Ponzi schemes involving members of the government. Speaking of Africa, an interesting and sad article from Quartz suggested that the longer that African leaders are in power, the more likely they are to try to shut down the internet. The real challenge is that government surveillance and control is aided and abetted by technology companies in a new version of the Military-Industrial Complex. See, for example, this article about IBM providing surveillance software to Duterte in the Philippines, or this one on how US tech firms are helping Orwell come to life in China.
Tech As Allies To Liberty
Of course, not all technology companies are throwing their lot in with dubious regimes and shady citizen tracking. In its latest product announcement (which included an Apple credit card), Apple doubled down on its commitment to privacy and against consumer data tracking. Unlike some other companies who have been recently changing their tune on privacy, it has been a core tenet of Apple going back to Jobs. It, of course, helps that their business model is selling stuff, not selling data. Even more directly exciting for the crypto community, Square and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that Square would be paying the tab for 3-4 developers and one designer to contribute directly to Bitcoin open source projects, reporting directly to him and not subject to the financial goals of the company. It was widely and rightly heralded as a tremendous way for a company in the Bitcoin ecosystem to contribute to that ecosystem.
Do people *want* to be their own banks?
A couple weeks ago, I kicked up a surprisingly active conversation on crypto twitter by arguing that, although the slogan is catchy, most people don’t actually want to “be their own bank(s).” In fact, it kicked up so much conversation that it turned into a live-streamed discussion with TruStory CEO Preethi Kasireddy. Two of the standout takeaways from that conversation were that 1) it mattered greatly where people were from and what financial infrastructure they had access to; and 2) the simple fact that some people could choose to exit the existing system and be their own banks could influence the traditional infrastructure to improve for everyone. Check out the video here.
Liberty Quick Hits
Crypto At The Venezuelan Border | Over the last month, a number of companies led by AirTM have been actively engaging with the crisis in Venezuela. One part of that was a series of events at the Venezuela-Colombia border, recapped in this video.
Privacy & The Poor | With the rising tide of surveillance, it is the poor who are most negatively impacted. This is due to the simple fact that less resources means they frequently have to trade data for digital services and can’t afford to opt out through alternative pay options.
Do people have the right to a freedom to transact? | Another fascinating thread on a very interesting topic. This one is also turning into a panel discussion/debate at Consensus.
More Swiss Voting Flaws | The hits keep on coming for the Swiss e-voting system, which had more vulnerabilities revealed. It is not at all clear that we’re ready for digital voting.
The Radical Origins Of Crypto | Breaker Mag is back with a great interview with author Finn Brunton, whose latest book delves deep into the radical roots of this movement we’re all a part of.