There are certain people you stumble across on the internet that speak to your senses. The first time I read Daniel Jeffries’ article, “The Crypto Currency Trading Bible,” I was immediately a fan. I quickly re-tweeted it and pinged the article to several of my friends. His tongue-in-cheek writing style was not only spot on, but it made me laugh. Upon deeper inspection, I realized there is a lot more to this guy. He not only writes articles for Hackernoon.com about Bitcoin, Blockchain, AI and other technology... He also leads a double life as a novelist who just released the beginning of a new series, “The Jasmine Wars.” I reached out to Daniel on Twitter to learn more about the man behind the pen (or should I say keyboard?).
Name: Daniel Jeffries
Years in the $BTC game: Since 2013.
How might people know you?
Mostly from my Medium writing, my science fiction novels, and from DecStack, a virtual co-working space for cryptocurrency and decentralized app projects.
How can people follow you?
On Medium, Twitter, or my Readers Group.
What is your technical background, education or formal training?
I’ve been an engineer for twenty years in various roles. I had a consulting company for a decade and now work in open source.
I went to NYU, where I studied whatever the hell I wanted. They have a “Make your own major” program that my buddy used to call “the school without walls,” so I took classes in business, computers, literature, film, art, philosophy and whatever else struck my fancy. In short, I ended up getting a real education where most folks just get a piece of paper.
My dad called me the day I graduated and said, “Congratulations, I’m paying your rent for six more months, get a fucking job.”
“I don’t think I know how to do anything.”
“That’s your problem.”
When it comes to computers, though, I’m self-taught.
I was working as a secretarial assistant at a software company. So I went to the computer guy and said, “Teach me everything you know.”
He would tear apart a computer and say, “Put it back together, and don’t ask me any questions unless you have to.”
That helped a lot. It forced me to develop tenacity and focus on figuring it out myself. A lot of admins I saw over the years just gave up at certain points. But computers are binary. They work or they don’t and a lot of times it’s just banging your head against it until it’s finished.
I BSed my way into my first computer job in the dot com boom and then spent all my nights there until 1 in the morning figuring out all the shit I said I knew how to do. Turns out 70% of computing is figuring out to do things yourself. The other 30% is refusing to give up.
When did you become interested in Bitcoin and Crypto?
Andreas Antonopoulos said that when he first saw Bitcoin he blew it off and thought, “Pfff, Internet nerd money. Total bullshit.” I’m paraphrasing, but that’s in the intro of his Mastering Bitcoin book.
He noticed every smart friend had the same initial reaction. Almost everybody does when they come across crypto.
The same happened to me. I blew it off. But then I started to dig deeper and it just grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. It’s like a fractal that goes down forever and ever.
Investor Chris Dixon has a post about how people react to life changing inventions. We all miss the point at first. Nobody is immune. The problem is you have no context for it. So it just comes out of nowhere. You think it’s not possible, so it can’t really be true.
Imagine you’re an Incan. You have this stable civilization and you don’t use any money. All of a sudden the Spanish show up riding creatures you’ve never seen, wearing shiny metal and carrying weapons you never imagined, and they want the useless metal you didn’t think had any value other than as an ornament. And they just completely fuck your whole civilization up. That’s how life-changing inventions can catch people off guard.
Bitcoin is an incredible technology. Even today many people don’t get it, especially from the traditional financial world, although that’s changing fast. Every day someone writes Bitcoin’s obituary and it just doesn’t happen. It’s not going to happen.
The problem is they’re viewing it through the lens of what they already understand and don’t realize this is something different and totally new. It’s not like any other asset class, like a security or gold or anything else. It’s a hybrid of those things and more. It’s like a share in an economy, not just a share in a company. Judging it by what you already know from the past makes you literally blind to its potential. Bitcoin is the first example of triple entry accounting and every time we’ve had an accounting revolution, we’ve had a major civilization upgrade in terms of complexity, productivity and creativity.
That’s why I call triple entry accounting the most important invention in the last 500 years. We’ve only had two other breakthroughs in accounting, single and double entry accounting (still the dominant system for the last 500 years), so any time you have a breakthrough there it changes the whole game for good.
People need to wake up to that or they’re going to be shocked by the changes that are coming, whether they believe in Crypto or not. Life doesn’t give a shit what you believe. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in guys showing up on your shore with new weapons, wearing shiny metal. When they show up, you’re still fucked.
What is the single best experience you have had in this space?
Starting DecStack. Sometimes the dialogue in this space gets a little toxic, with people just trolling each other and knee-jerk reacting to everything. It’s happening all over the Internet, invading every space, where people just yell at each other and don’t talk.
But It’s depressing, especially if you grew up with the hope that the Internet might unite us all across the world and lock in free speech everywhere.
Turns out, not so much.
The Internet can amplify the best and worst in us.
Actually, all technology can. Everything exists on a sliding scale from good to evil. A gun might live closer to the side of evil because it kills, but it can also protect you and feed your family. A lamp lives closer to the side of good because it lights up your life but I can also pick it up and bash you over the head with it. So far, DecStack has stayed a fantastic place for people to communicate across international and project borders. There are tons of different project luminaries in there from Ethereum, Dash, Democracy Earth, PIVX, and dozens of other big and small projects. It’s great to see people working across boundaries and collaborating. The space really needed that kind of place to get together, rather than everyone just sitting in their own private Slack echo chambers.
It’s good to get out and talk with the rest of the world!
The second best experience was doing a little writing for Bitcoin Magazine back when some guy named Vitalik Buterin owned it and was talking about this little idea he had called Ethereum on the writers’ Skype channel.
I wrote an article for them called Why Charles Stross Doesn’t Know a Thing About Bitcoin.
The prose of that article kind of makes me cringe now but I’m still proud of it, even though a few of my assumptions were kind of off base, like power consumption. I wrote it in response to one of my favorite sci-fi writers comments. Charles Stross, author of the incredible Accelerando, wrote a blog post called “Why I Want Bitcoin to Die in a Fire.” It pissed me off so much because I love his work and he’s usually so forward thinking. But I felt like he let his political leanings influence his ability to see how important and revolutionary the tech would become and so I just punked him.
Sometimes I feel a little badly about it but mostly not.
That’s what I mean by looking at every issue atomically and not having an ideology.
When you look at everything through the lens of left or right it can warp what you’re seeing so you’re seeing a projection of what’s in your head rather than what’s right in front of you. It’s better to look at everything on its own merits and judge it that way.
It doesn’t matter where you sit on the political spectrum, Bitcoin and blockchain has something for everyone.
Back then, Bitcoin Magazine was experimenting with the idea of paying Bitcoin based on how much traffic you drove to the site. So I submitted my article to Slashdot and made the front page. It drove a ton of traffic and that was the end of that system.
They never did pay me that Bitcoin.
Tell us your biggest Crypto fail.
Early trading and Mt. Gox. It kills me to think back to trading Bitcoin at $16 and then hitting the Mt. Gox disaster and thinking that maybe Bitcoin would really fail and some other blockchain would come to replace it. That was the crypto winter for me.
I lost faith and didn’t touch it for a year, even though I kept thinking about blockchain and all of its possibilities. It never lost its hold on me, I just figured we’d have to wait until version 2.0. It seemed like encyclopedia CDs to me then, something that almost got it right but that had too many drawbacks.
If I’d just held true to what I saw coming I would be in a better place today.
But I don’t get bitter over past failures. The past is gone. Leave it there. It doesn’t matter where you came from, or what you believed, or who your parents are, or how much money you have or don’t have, or if you failed in the past.
That was yesterday and today you can make the choice to leave it all behind and say, “screw this, I’m making my own way.”
Where do you personally get your Crypto news and info?
I watch the trading charts and read about coins on the move to see if they’re pump and dump bullshit or an exciting new project. I loved Coin Sheet so much that I became friends with the guy who runs it. Very sharp guy. I now help admin their Discord. Otherwise I just find things on Twitter or things that get pushed to my Google Now.
What do you do for fun when you are outside the Cryptosphere.
I love amazing food, so we eat out a lot. And the wife is the most incredible cook. She spoils me. It’s sometimes hard to eat other folks’ food after tasting her perfect cooking. She’s like an engineer with it. She tries out little tests with small portions and gets it right before going to production. She’s exacting. Precise. Perfect.
We exercise a lot, almost every single day. We try to walk everywhere we can.
I read all the time. I’ve forgotten more books than most people will read in their life and my library has 2,000+ books. I love to travel when I can, but I love being home more.
And writing. I live for the moment I get to write every day.
It’s not always fun. It’s joyful, but that’s not the same thing. Joyful can be hard. But when you’re doing what you were meant to do, you can go to bed and not worry about anything. When I write, I feel like if I die that night than it will be alright because I did my work.
Hemingway said something like: There’s nothing like writing and when you’re done, you’re just trying to survive long enough to get to the next day so you can do it again.
That’s how it is for me.
When I haven’t written and the world gets in my way with all of its “urgent” and utterly meaningless bullshit, or when my own internal weakness beats me for hours on end, I’m a miserable person. I don’t want to do anything unless I can write and I do everything else like someone is dragging me kicking and screaming if I haven’t done it yet. But if I can write, everything is glowing and golden and clear.
I can’t find the exact Hemingway quote right now and maybe it’s just my paraphrase of what he said to The Paris Review which is also perfect:
“When you stop [writing] you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.”
Best tips you can give anyone new to the Bitcoin and Altcurrency world?
Learn about security. There is no reset key, no take-backies. There is nobody to complain to, to get your money back. There may be one day, as I suspect crypto insurance will come along, but right now if you lose your money it’s gone for good.
Your bio says you are an author, engineer and serial entrepreneur. Expand on this.
I started a few companies and worked with about a dozen startups over the years. Most of them did all right. A few of them mooned. None of them made me super rich, but a few did pretty good and I did too. I think I was mostly in the right place at the right time with the right skillset. Thinking, flexibility, communication, and risk taking were all skills on the rise in the world economy and that worked for me.
I finally committed to becoming an author about seven years ago after screwing around with it for a decade before that. When it happens it’s an internal shift and you just know. The best book about the experience is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s really the only book you need to read about creating art.
Pressfield was driving a cab and hating his life and then one day he’d had enough and just came home, did the dishes, dug his typewriter out from under a pile of shit and started writing. From that day forward he knew he was a writer. It took him another decade to sell his first book, The Legend of Bagger Vance.
That may seem crazy to people, but that’s how it works. First you commit to learning kung fu, and then you learn kung fu. You can’t do the second part without the first. Commitment is the first step. Always. That’s some Tony Robbins and Gary V level shit.
Commit. Make a fucking decision. Time is running out.
Memento mori. “Remember that you must die.”
You’re going to die, so what the fuck are you going to do about it?
Pressfield remembers doing everything but writing. He avoided it like crazy. Most authors go through this at some point in their lives. A few lucky ones don’t, or at least say they don’t, but I don’t believe them. I avoided writing for years and focused on whatever made me “happy” which didn’t really make me happy. Or I went to seminars on writing and read books on writing. It’s all crap.
I tell young writers “talking about writing, going to seminars about writing, reading about writing, thinking about writing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing. If you’re doing all the other shit and not writing every day you’re just fooling yourself and you haven’t made the leap to professional.”
Some writers get so mad when I say that but I keep saying it because it’s true. They tell me everyone is different. No. They are not. The people who write professionally do it every day. Period. Steven King writes every day, including Christmas. I do too. You’re not different. You’re different in the sense that you have something unique to share with the world but you don’t get to skip the process. Nobody does. The process is the same for everyone. If you want to learn kung fu, you have to practice kung fu. Thinking and dreaming about kung fu is not practicing. It’s cheating yourself.
If you don’t know it it’s because you’re still trapped in a delusion. Maya has you by the fucking balls. She’s whispering in your ear that you don’t have to do anything, just stay right where you are and it will all be fine. No it won’t. It’s the biggest lie in the world.
If you want to write, you have to write and no amount of sitting and wishing you were writing will change that. One day you’ll end up on your deathbed wondering why you didn’t do what you wanted to do. Don’t let it happen to you. If you were meant to do something, then get started now. Don’t wait. You’re running out of time.
Tell us about your entrepreneurial endeavors and what cool projects you are working on?
I am working on a way to gamify the delivery of money at the point of creation. It’s a mashup of my ideas from the Cicada project with some other architects’ ideas, which came out of years of thinking about blockchain and from my science fiction. We call it the Meta DAO, the DAO of DAOs.
Some people think Cicada is just some marketing plan. It’s not. I fully admit that it started out that way for like the first week of its existence. I figured I’d just pick a technology from the future from one of my books and slap a website together and call it a day. But as soon as I sat down to write the white paper, I thought, “I’m an engineer, I can’t just bullshit this or everyone will see it. It has to actually have a chance of working.”
So for a year I stared at my whiteboard trying to solve all the most unsolvable problems in the world. It was crazy and wonderful and insane.
It drives me nuts when people dismiss it or don’t read the two white papers or understand what I am trying to say.
Cicada is a meta-pattern, a pattern of patterns, and even if I bungled some particular aspect of it, I have no doubt that the eventual system that wins and changes the world will fit much the same pattern that I outlined there.
I have to answer the same questions over and over again about Cicada. Most people either haven’t read the white papers, or they’ve imported their own assumptions which means they don’t get it.
But occasionally people message me to say, “I get it. How do we build it?”
I say, “Join DecStack and let's talk.”
You write a lot of articles for Hackernoon. What is Hackernoon.com, and how long have you been writing for them?
I wrote an article about Universal Basic Income and posted it on a Reddit forum that was run by one of the folks behind Hackernoon, so he asked me if he could include the article. At the time the magazine was a lot smaller, but I didn’t care, as I was just ecstatic that someone liked my work.
Turns out the fellow who runs it is a really sharp cat. He comes from corporate website building and was one of the first people who said, “Let’s post real content from third parties instead of crappy press releases that nobody reads.” After a bit he figured he could do it better himself, so he quit and founded his media company and runs a few magazines there.
In short, basically I got lucky to get in on a fantastic magazine on the ground floor.
He’s also great at getting his various magazines out there, and I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the ride as Hackernoon rockets up the charts of most-read Medium magazines.
You also write a lot about Bitcoin, Blockchain, AI and other technology. What got you interested in the Bitcoin space?
I just started reading about it and it seemed that Satoshi had come up with a solution to every objection. It was brilliant. It amazed me that something could move billions of dollars and not get hacked. I remember reading an article by security researcher Dan Kaminsky, who pounded on it for months and couldn’t crack it. He said it was almost “preternaturally secure.”
And then he said something that I’d thought, but never said to anyone. “It almost seems like alien technology.”
Let’s be very fucking clear, I don’t believe aliens actually created Bitcoin.
But there was this feeling as I looked deeper and deeper into Bitcoin that it was almost supernaturally perfect. It just should not work but it does. If I were an advanced alien race and I wanted to drop one technology on humanity to completely level up the whole civilization, Bitcoin and blockchain would be it.
You wrote an article “Bitcoin is the most stable store of value in history.” in June 2017. What was the response like from that article? How do you feel now that Bitcoin has broken the $4k threshold?
It’s got a lot more to go. I stand with VC Chris Dixon and others who think that Bitcoin will hit 100K or more, because they’re not just an asset but a share in a global economy. I’ve talked about why in my articles, so I won’t rehash it here.
That article got some hostile responses and some good ones too. I figured it would. I don’t care as long as people are talking. My job is to start conversations, and I was tired of reading about Bitcoin volatility.
To be clear: It’s not really “stable.” That’s me using creative license to wake people up and make them think.
My point was that it’s short-term volatile but long-term the trend is up and up, like the S&P. It’s still on the way up. Ignore the short term. Buy and hold.
Or don’t and cling to your beliefs that it’s all a bunch of Internet nerd money and don’t get rich. Fine by me.
But being “right” when you’re actually wrong in investing means you lost money. The market is the ultimate equalizer. It doesn’t care about your beliefs.
One of us will be right. I guess we’ll find out. But I’ll put my prediction track record up against anybody’s, any day of the week. I’ve been getting paid to be right about the future of technology as both an engineer and sci-fi writer for twenty years.
What is your favorite article you have written about Bitcoin or Crypto and why?
Why Everyone Missed the Most Important Invention of the Last 500 Years. That one just exploded onto the scene. Some people bitched that I framed it with Yuji Ijiri and not Ian Grigg. The critiques were right in some ways, because Ian Grigg’s system was much closer to what Bitcoin actually uses, and that’s why it’s linked on the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute websites.
But I spoke with Ian Grigg and he appreciated the frame. He saw it as interesting and tweeted the article himself.
He’s a super smart guy and very humble. He was quick to point out that he stood on the shoulders of giants. Everybody does. Great innovators all know this. A bunch of books from the 90s influenced him. He wasn’t worried about perfect attribution. Attribution is tricky. The only people who worry about that are the Internet troll police. Real creators know that they’re influenced by thousands of other factors, and that’s what Grigg is, a true innovator.
I pulled this quote from your article. “DISCLAIMER: Be a big boy or girl and make your own decisions about where to put your hard earned money. I am not a financial adviser and this is not financial advice and if I really need to tell you this then it’s best to keep your money in your pocket anyway.” How do you feel about all the various talking heads in the Crypto space and watching inexperienced people make investing decisions from their advice?
I stand with Bruce Schneier. We refuse to accept risk as a society. We want to completely stamp it out and it’s just not possible.
When I was a kid we didn’t have cellphones. My parents told me to come home before the streetlights came on. We got into some trouble and did stupid things, but we survived. It was nothing serious. We got dirty and muddy and broke bones and got in fights, but we lived. Now we hover over everyone as parents and as a society. We want to protect everyone. It’s gotten a little ridiculous.
You hear about one guy selling his car to buy crypto or mortgaging his house and then politicians feel like they have to make a rule to stop those idiots from doing it. That’s absurd. I mean, I think balanced legislation is essential, but too often we’re trying to protect morons from doing something stupid. Those people will just find another way to be stupid, and now we’ve crippled the system for everyone else.
I remember when I first started trading the regular stock market. I didn’t have enough money, so I could only do a few “pattern day trades” a month. It made me so mad. It was so arbitrary. I felt like I was smart enough to make my own decisions and the politicians robbed me of that right. Now I might get proven wrong and lose all my money, but that’s my fucking fault. They don’t need to make the decision for me.
The rules came out of people who lost their money in the Dot Com bust. I see why they did, and I kind of agree with the spirit of the law, but it’s just overreaching. It’s my money. I should be able to lose it if I want.
What do you see in Bitcoin and Crypto that others (people outside of crypto) might not see?
It’s not like any other asset. Stop trying to compare it to gold or something else. It’s something new. It’s not just money but a whole new world of financial technologies. It will change the world.
What do you think are the biggest challenges for $BTC and Altcurrencies in the upcoming years?
We have a couple of different screws-ups that are inevitable and will set the industry back for a few months or years at different points.
The first decentralized exchanges will likely get hacked.
Smart contracts will be attacked with more frequency and lose people a lot of money. The security will take time to get right, maybe a long time.
There will be stupid and overreaching legislation in some countries. Some countries will overreach on ICOs and put a chill on the industry for a time before everyone just deals with it.
In the end, the blockchain will punish anyone who stands against it.
No one person or entity or government can control it, so if they make rules that are overly harsh, those rules will blow back on that country and hurt only its citizens. They will suffer, while the rest of the world roars past them.
Take ICOs. Countries will regulate them. That’s fine. I don’t worry about that at all. It’s inevitable. But if they go too far and make it so only rich investors can invest, it will just blow back on them. They need to take an approach similar to Kickstarter and let everyday people invest with ease.
If they don’t, every ICO will be set up overseas and just block all the people from the regulating countries. It’s guaranteed. Capital from the new economy will flow over the water and they’ll suffer because they crippled a brand new financial innovation and now their people can’t take part.
But overall, I see these as speed bumps on a long road. We will get all this stuff right. And blockchain tech will absolutely flourish.
How do you feel about the number of ICOs popping up lately and how do you think it will affect the space?
I talk about this in Why ICOs are Here to Stay, Even if Cryptos Crash. Look, there will be a crash. So what? The media will get to join the “I-told-you-so” clans and thump their chest and say, “See? I was right.” Except they’re not. Maybe 95% will go to nothing, but the other 5% will change the world and become the tech powerhouses of tomorrow.
If that ratio seems like a complete failure then you don’t understand much about business. Most businesses fail. It’s hard. Timing, the people you have, the market, and a million other factors can crush you.
VCs know this. They invest in ten companies and nine fail and one takes off. That’s what ICOs are. They allow regular folks to act like micro-VCs. Most projects will go to zero, but the others will rocket up.
The smart VCs have already figured this out. With traditional VC investing, you invest all your money and have to wait years to see how it plays out. With a successful ICO you might get your money back right away on most investments, which means you can invest in more companies, which means you can dramatically scale the number of new companies going to market. You can even take a shot on riskier ones with higher upside.
Everyone who thinks all ICOs are scams are binary thinkers. It’s all black and white to them. But it’s not. There are some scams, some standouts, and everything in between.
You have been around the block and seen more traditional ways that tech startups use to raise money. Do you think ICO’s are a legitimate new way to raise capital or a shortcut to get around regulations?
You can’t escape regulation. That’s a myth. People need to forget about that bullshit.
But in a way, all new technologies start out as a way to innovate around legislation that has gotten too restrictive. Take Uber and Lyft. They came up with a new way to get people around. Some folks hate on them, but I’ve taken a lot of cabs in my life, and I’ll take Uber or Lyft any day of the week.
Regulation strangled that industry. In NYC the license for a cab, called a medallion, cost $200,000 or more. Ridiculous. Only the richest of the rich could own them, so like three companies own all the cabs in NYC. Awful. Total monopoly that led to the absolute worst and most frustrating service, because the cabbies don’t have to give a shit about doing a good job.
I went to Budapest and they passed a stupid law banning Uber and Lyft. It was like going back in time, waiting for a crappy cab service to show up while it was freezing cold. So stupid.
But make no mistake, legislation always catches up with innovation. If we’re lucky it’s good legislation. The blockchain community should engage with legislators, not try to avoid them. That’s how you end up with smart regulations instead of knee-jerk reaction legislation that protects an ancient and dying business at the expense of us all.
What are your thoughts on Altcoins? Some people hate them. Some people love them.
There will be some great ones, but most will go to zero. Simple as that. A lot of innovation is happening in alt-coins, like decentralized clearing houses and experiments with better governance models and supply chain management.
You wrote an interesting article on NEO and are one of the few people who pointed out the PR savviness of their marketing team recently when they rebranded from Antshares. What is the main takeaway you think people should know about NEO from your article, “Is Neo the one?”
The main takeaway is that NEO represents a new kind of system, one that mashes up the old financial system with blockchain tech. That may not fit the goals of the original crypto creators who wanted to completely disrupt the old system, but they’ll have to get used to it. If governments and companies want someone to build a blockchain that is easier for traditional business and government to digest, you can bet people will line up to do it and they’ll believe it’s a good thing. If someone in the fully decentralized space wants to outmaneuver them, then they better innovate and deliver a killer product faster or it will be too late.
Do you think NEO can grow to the point where it rivals Ethereum and why?
I don’t know at this point. Maybe. They have a bit of a ways to go. Ethereum has a lot of folks behind it and some strong momentum. I can’t call it right now, but at this point I am leaning towards no. I think they will both coexist for some time and have their adherents.
What other Blockchain projects do you want to give credit to or that you think have potential?
There are a bunch. Democracy Earth is very close to my heart and I’ve talked with the founders there a lot. It reminds me a lot of my Cicada designs. Mostly I think the payment systems like Zcash, Monero, DASH and PIVX are useful. We will need a basket of different types of assets, some that appreciate in value and some that are more stable for day-to-day spending.
The most important ones right now are infrastructure coins. Until we’ve properly built the railroad tracks of the future, none of the other coins that need those tracks to run will get much traction. Ethereum, Qtum, EOS, Neo, Waves, Blockstack and Tezos all have a shot at being “the platform” or part of the platform.
Where do you see Bitcoin going in the next 5-10-20 years?
It will have upgraded to a fantastic governance system and it will have unlimited sized blocks with shared historical blocks to shrink the blockchain size for clients.
It will likely stand as a potential reserve currency for the world, along with a basket of other fiat and cryptos.
And it will be worth an insane amount of money.
I see you active on Twitter. What do you think when you see the smartest engineers in the world trolling each other and arguing about the code that supports billions of dollars?
I haven’t been much of a fan of Twitter until recently. I avoided it for years. To me it always seemed insane to express yourself in such a restrictive format, like trying to write shitty haiku. I just didn’t get it.
But I’ve gradually come to enjoy it. I’ve started to meet some awesome folks there and follow some really smart folks.
I think that it can be too easily abused though, and trolling back and forth is a complete and total waste of time and energy. If you don’t like something you read, ignore it. Don’t waste more time writing something about it. Just move on.
I notice you write a lot about AI. What is your take on where things are headed? Will this technology kill us as many critics claim?
It’s not going to kill us. That is such a stupid idea. I just wrote about that very subject in an article called Why Elon Musk is Wrong About AI. There are real problems with AI and we’re worrying about insane ideas like superintelligence wiping us out. That’s like worrying about an alien invasion or a meteor striking the Earth. We can’t solve a problem that doesn’t exist.
And it’s distracting us from real problems we have right now, like how easy it is to trick deep learning image recognition systems. Spoofing traffic signs or obstructions to a self-driving car will kill people. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
We need to start worrying about real problems, like using AI for sentencing algorithms. That’s just horrible. It will only ingest the biases of the last hundred years and keep putting the same folks in jail that we always put there, whether they deserve to be there or not.
You wrote a book “The Scorpion Game.” Give us a quick rundown on what it’s about.
The Scorpion Game is a mashup of detective fiction, film noir and nanopunk. It’s about a cop chasing a vicious serial killer in the distant future. The tech is crazy advanced and dominates all of society.
Most folks think it’s my best book. It’s a lightning fast read and filled with wonderful ideas. I completely let go while writing it and threw every advanced idea I could at it.
I deliberately designed the first few chapters as a litmus test. They’re shocking and overwhelming. The technology comes in a tidal wave. It’s designed to shake out anyone who hates that kind of thing. A few people persist and leave a bad review out of some weird feeling of obligation that they have to finish a book they don’t like. If you don’t like The Scorpion Game in the first three chapters, throw it down. It’s all right. There are other books.
But I find that most people who stick through the first chapters tend to rip through the rest in a few days. That’s very satisfying. A number of folks have compared it to one of my favorite books of all time, Nueromancer. That makes me very happy, because I loved that book so much as a kid.
What inspired you to write this book, and how does your job as an engineer influence the storyline?
I created a thousand-year future history timeline of cultural, technological and political events when I was twenty. I’ve updated it a few times since, but mostly it’s the same. All my stories live on that timeline. It unites them.
Most of the tech in the book is organic. The buildings grow. Everything is alive. Everything is wetware.
The idea came to me when I was drunk on my friend’s balcony in New York one night. We were up on the twenty-fifth floor and I just looked out and saw the city as a giant biocomputer. The lights zipping through the streets were like photons or electrons running along nervewires. The buildings were bulbous compute and memory towers of information. That image stays with me to this very day.
While researching you for this interview, I realized you have five novels under your belt. Congratulations! This is quite the accomplishment. How do you find time between being an entrepreneur, engineer and writing books like this?
It’s not five really. It’s three, although the Jasmine Wars Omnibus Edition is as long as a Song of Ice and Fire novel so that’s like three books in one! I have a short story collection called The Shattered Man, my first novel, The Scorpion Game, and the first book of the Jasmine Wars saga.
After the first Jasmine Wars came out I broke it into two books because it's so long, just for easy digestibility. It will be a big series. I wanted to write something massive and all-consuming like A Song of Ice and Fire.
As for where I find time to write, that’s simple: I make time. I steal it from wherever I can.
People always ask me where I find the time? That’s the trick of life. You won’t ever find it. You have to make it.
The world will eat up every single second of your life and it won’t care. You have to fight back and say, “This is my life, and I’m going to do what I’m meant to do, even if that means sacrificing TV or time with friends or going out.”
This is what I’m meant to do. Nothing is going to stop me. My purpose is set to iron rails.
Find a way. Your dreams can’t wait. Everything else can.
You wrote a series called, “The Jasmine Wars.” Tell us a little about that.
The Jasmine Wars is a Chinese civil war saga where China rises up and throws off communism and becomes the world’s first direct democracy, that runs a decentralized, distributed AI voting system.
It mirrors the format of the great Chinese epics like Water Margin or Romance of the Three Kingdoms with a huge cast of characters and a generational sweep and scope. When people see some of what comes in the series, it will blow them away. After the third book is finished and published people will look back and think the first book is amazing. It’s a little harder to see now and some of the reviews have missed the point, but I take the long view. This is an epic and it will pay off more and more with each passing book in the way that something like A Wheel of Time did.
Where can people learn more about you and get your books?
At my website, and on Amazon. And my Facebook Readers Group, the Nanopunk Posthuman Assassins.
You are an interesting and accomplished individual. What tips would you give to any young people who want to pursue a career in Crypto as an engineer, writer or investor?
The path society lays out for you is designed to keep you in a box. Break out of it as soon as you can.
Joseph Campbell wrote about The Hero With a Thousand Faces. It’s the metapattern of every great hero in mythology.
But it’s not just a story.
It’s your story.
You’re called to adventure.
Will you accept the call or refuse it?
You can refuse and live a boring, buttoned down life and do exactly what was laid out for you and be miserable, or you can strike out to strange new lands, take chances, have adventures, see the world!
You’ll try and you’ll fail, but you’ll keep going, keep finding a way, and then you’ll look back and realized you lived a life to be proud of and everything you were doing was leading up to this very moment all along.
Each person’s adventure is different, but the underlying pattern is the same. You have to say yes to life!
It won’t be easy, but there really is no other story worth living.
Get out there and live your life. Stop thinking that you can just sit and do nothing and it will all come to you like some brilliant revelation while you’re sitting there waiting for enlightenment. It won’t. You have to answer the call and strike out into the great game.
As Tyrion Lannister said, “You’re in the great game now and the great game is terrifying.” Yeah it is.
It’s also the only game worth playing.
Who do you want to give props to that helped you or influenced you along the way?
My high school English teacher was my greatest mentor, Mr. Dawson. He’s still a friend to this day. The smartest, most well-read, most well-traveled man I ever met. He believed in me when nobody else did and helped me believe in myself. A true teacher and a great man on so many levels.
Any last thoughts or words of wisdom?
Do something amazing today. What are you waiting for?
Editor’s Note: I want to thank Daniel Jeffries for the time he put into writing this. The Crypto space is filled with press releases, technical articles and breaking news. I realize people are busy and want to digest quick and easy to consume content. Unfortunately, our feature interviews will never fall into that category. My contribution to this Bitcoin and Crypto community is to tell the stories of individuals like Daniel and give them respect and recognition they deserve. My agreement with the people I interview is that I won’t change their words. What you see is what you get.
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Daniel Jeffries Lecturing
Fermat Community Conference, Budapest 4/28/17- 4/30/17
IDs of the Future | Talk with Daniel Jeffries & Guillermo Villanueva