Growing up I learned to never judge a book by it’s cover. Everyone has a story. Often times we are fooled by the outward appearance or captivated by someone who can speak eloquently. These same people often run companies or have tons of business experience which make people believe everything they say. The Crypto world has a lot of individuals like this. New Bitcoiners often buy into their false ideologies not knowing anything else. This is perpetuated even further by the inherent biases of the main stream and Crypto news sites who push their rhetoric.
For many of us, Twitter is where we go to get our news and information. It allows us to collect facts from primary sources, connect the dots and draw our own conclusions. Through my research I stumbled upon a Twitter profile @beautyon_. The tweets from this account had a lot of depth and passionately defended many of the fundamental virtues of Bitcoin that attracted me to it. Beautyon never minces words and has no problem calling out people who are bad actors in the Bitcoin space. These include many of the biggest businesses, CEOs and developers in the Crypto world.
This is what I love about Bitcoin. There are many sides to this equation. In traditional business models, big business usually prevails. In Bitcoin this is not the case. The decentralized nature of it does not allow it to be put in the hands of big business or bad actors who try to control or impose their vision of what they think Bitcoin should be to the world. People like Beautyon are on the front lines every day defending the core values and basic principles of Bitcoin as immutable and censorship resistant.
I became curious as to who the person was behind the Twitter profile and started turning over stones. The next thing I know Akin Fernandez a.k.a. Beautyon and I are on a skype call. The more we talked the more interested in his story I became. Akin has been in the Crypto game since 2010 and also has been an entrepreneur for decades. For the last four years he has solely focused on the conception and development of Azteco, a consumer Bitcoin procurement and payment platform, designed to simplify the process.
I had a long conversation with Akin that day, and he agreed to do this interview. I assured him I would not edit or censor his words. We started the interview before Segwit2x was called off, and I thought it was only fair to have Akin answer a few follow up questions, after the fact, about his feelings on how Segwit2x played out (See End of Interview).
After writing this, I came the conclusion that Akin is a very interesting guy, and this only scratches the surface into his brilliant mind. The only way to figure this out is to take a journey with me down the path and get to know Akin Fernandez.
Name: Akin Fernandez
Real Job: Azteco
Years in the $BTC game: 7
How might people know you?
My Twitter, Medium, Azteco, The Conet Project.
How can people follow you? Twitter and Medium
What is your technical background, education or formal training?
Assembler, Basic, LAMP, DTP, Repo, Math, Business Studies, Accounting, Contract Law.
When did you become interested in Bitcoin and Crypto?
Bitcoin in 2010, and “Crypto” in the 1990s.
What is the single best experience you have had in this space?
Seeing so many getting Bitcoin so wrong, and nearly always being right.
Tell us your biggest Crypto fail.
Not selling everything I owned for Bitcoin when I first ran into it.
Where do you personally get your Crypto news and info?
What type of Crypto wallet do you recommend?
Bitcoin Core, Samurai Wallet, Bither, Green Address
What do you do for fun when you are outside the Cryptosphere?
Discuss Launch Gliders.
Best tips you can give anyone new to the Bitcoin and Alt-Currency world?
Get paid in Bitcoin, and do everything in Bitcoin, including hold your savings. Use fiat only when interacting with nocoiners and nocoin businesses. Use only the wallets I recommended.
Your bio says very little about you other than, “Bitcoin is. And that is enough.” Tell us a little about yourself.
There is a link to all my medium posts in my profile, plus a link to Azteco. I think those are what are important, and they say a lot about how I think. Bitcoin has had a wonderful effect on people who’ve taken the time to understand it. Previously in money services, consumers had to trust other people; bankers wore suits and erected façades to manufacture an aura of solidity and trustworthiness. The State enforced its “regulations” to back up the illusion. In Bitcoin all of that goes away; the only things that matter are the private keys. If you control the private keys, you control your Bitcoin. The personal details of who developed the wallet are irrelevant; is the software sound and reliable, yes, or no? Is the business a custodial one, yes or no?
Bitcoin removes the need for gut feelings, proxies and social cues to tell you how safe your money is. You can know how safe it is at all times. Furthermore, you can’t just claim you have 1000 Bitcoin on a piece of paper and expect to be trusted; in Bitcoin, you can irrefutably prove that you have it by signing a message with the key that has the authority to sign a transaction to spend it. Proxies of the kind used for generations in money matters to gauge trust are disrupted by Bitcoin. Who you are doesn't matter any more; what you can do is what matters - do you have the private keys, yes, or no?
How did you come up with that screen name?
Beautyon is one of the names I recorded sound under. You can hear one here:
Beautyon: “To Swil Ping”
Your Medium page has articles dating back to 2013. Tell us how you got into Bitcoin and what attracted you?
My first Bitcoin article was published on December 10th, 2010 and I've been interested in replacements for fiat currency since the 1990s. I have one of my old proposals from that time that I’ll be publishing shortly, which I think will surprise many people. Thanks to my interest from those days, when Bitcoin came along, I instantly knew what problem it solved and what it might be able to achieve. I was also intimately familiar with all the arguments that would be mounted against it, having heard them all in the 1990s.
What inspired you to write about it in 2010?
I knew that something very big might be about to happen, and I use writing to organize my own thinking and to get feedback on ideas. I had been writing a blog since 2001 and so quite naturally, I started to write about Bitcoin once it started to take up my attention.
What do you see in Bitcoin that others (people outside of Crypto) might not see?
Bitcoin is going to change the world. When I say that, I am thinking of a different “changed world” to other people. You can tell that there are some people out there that really don’t believe that Bitcoin is going to transform everything; what I call, “The Transformation”. Here are some examples of what they believe. They believe that:
Fiat will exist forever.
Banks will exist forever.
The state will never change.
Bitcoin will never be the default global money for everyone.
Every fiat currency that has ever been printed has gone to hyperinflation and died, without exception. The average lifespan of fiat currencies is 16 years. No fiat today is exempt from this. States have come and gone throughout history, and there are ruins everywhere to prove it. The fiat dollar is the global default or “root money” for everyone today; such an idea was unthinkable in the years between the first and second world wars, and now it is a fact.
Big changes can and are coming to the world, and they are coming very quickly. We now have an environment with the internet where new tools can spread very rapidly; WhatsApp is the example I like to use; 100,000,000 users globally and all of them safe from prying eyes thanks to the work of just 15 developers. Bearing this in mind, do you really think that Bitcoin, with all the developers working on it both inside and outside of Core are not going to trigger a deluge of societal changes? We haven’t seen even the beginning of this; many big events are coming in Bitcoin, where in a matter of days, everything will change. Blockstream’s satellite downlinks are a very good example, but because it doesn’t have an immediate user impact, people are scratching their heads trying to figure out why it’s important and how it can be used. The products that are coming will use platforms like that, and other things, that will make today’s Bitcoin look primitive. Take a look at Amazon’s first website and compare it with the behemoth it is now, and you get a sense of the immense growth in size, scope and sophistication that is coming with Bitcoin. And if you think $8000 per Bitcoin is a big deal, you have absolutely no idea of what’s coming next. This is a once in a 500 year event, that will change societies globally forever, and that will have side effects that only very brave men try to predict.
What are your thoughts on Alt-Coins?
Alt-Coins are a product of the market. When something successful is launched, entrepreneur copy cats always clone it. This is true from Pet Rocks to the clones of western music and products that you used to find in the Soviet Union from their Space Shuttle clone to USSR copies of SONY’s “Walkman”. Eventually the market kills things that aren’t useful. If you have a use for them, it is rational for you to use them. If we’re thinking about Bitcoin in the way that we think about internet protocols like TCP/IP, there can only be one set of fundamental network layer tools. Now that lightning can bridge these alt-coins, perhaps that will be the TCP/IP layer. Who knows? All I know is that people need tools and services to use Bitcoin and these are all in their infancy in terms of UX/UI and ethics. There is a lot of work to be done, and the companies that choose the right problems to solve and use the right methods will be successful, and that is the only thing that matters.
What do you think are the biggest challenges for $BTC and Alt-Currencies in the upcoming years?
Alt-Coins have the problem of finding a market use. Bitcoin’s problems will be UX/UI and on-ramping. We’ve solved on-ramping with Azteco; it cannot be made more easy. As Bitcoin spreads, new challenges will manifest themselves. For example, we all know that Bitcoin’s volatility is decreasing, but while it's still wild west days, tools are needed to reduce fluctuation risk for retailers choosing to receive Bitcoin instead of money. The 15 minute window used by some companies to complete a purchase is an example of solving that problem. OpenDime is a very good example of something that no one could have predicted, that solves a problem no one knew they had. It is extraordinarily simple to use, and solves many problems for the user, who is presented with a small stick that they can use as a form of money; a bill that has an arbitrary face value.
This is the sort of innovation you can expect going forward, and every company making these innovations is going to be swamped with orders and business once the tipping point is reached. Bitcoin will suddenly become the new reality, the new “normal”, just as email and IM services have, only with those services, the learning curve of the public was steep because they were the first in a new class of service. Now everyone has an iPhone or Droid, everyone is very familiar with text messaging and IM and will take to Bitcoin like baby ducks to water. The old land line telephone networks are being abandoned for calls, and so are the cellular telephone networks; everyone is switching to an app for calls (what used to be called “VOIP”). Now, no one calls it that, it’s just “AppearIn” or “WhatsApp” or “Signal” or whatever else they want to use.
What other Bitcoin or Blockchain projects do you want to give credit to or that you think have potential?
There are no “Blockchain projects” there is no “Blockchain without Bitcoin”, and this piece in American Banker by Professor Saifedean Ammous sums it up perfectly.
How do you feel about the various governments trying to regulate or ban Bitcoin?
I feel very good about it. The governments that want to ban Bitcoin are governments that will be burned to ashes because they are bad governments. If they were to accept Bitcoin, they would be able to survive intact. By banning Bitcoin, it becomes impossible for them to survive; their multi colored funny money fiat currencies will be laughed at internationally, and they will all collapse. We know this is possible, and inevitable, because literally every fiat currency collapses eventually.
Correctly run governments like the ones you find in Switzerland, already accept Bitcoin for the settlement of tax bills. As Bitcoin’s value increases the Swiss will have a hoard of Bitcoin worth trillions expressed in shrinking fiat. This will make them a world financial power again. Governments that encourage (by staying out of the way and not “regulating” or drafting special Bitcoin legislation like the toxic “BitLicense”) Bitcoin entrepreneurialism in their borders will be the end points of Bitcoin transactions, allowing them to skim taxes off of world commerce. These governments will collect a fortune in taxes, as I describe here.
Governments that ban Bitcoin will not have access to global ecommerce. They will be cut off from the international flow of money. Their citizens who know how to program will flee. Their entrepreneurs will run for the exits; this is already happening in China. People inside the country will use Bitcoin in secret, with well designed apps like Samurai Wallet, and on the extremes, Brain Wallets and other impossible to detect methods. The money these people are using will transit through those countries and terminate in countries run by sane governments. The economies of anti-Bitcoin countries will become non viable, and this will be exacerbated if Bitcoin is the way international business is done. They will be cutting themselves off from world trade; it would be like banning SWIFT from their country. Why do you think financial sanctions include being cut off from international bank transfers? It is a way to cripple a country. Doing this to yourself by banning Bitcoin is suicidal. Invest in popcorn manufacturing, we are going to need a lot to watch that entertaining show!
Where do you see Bitcoin going in the next 5-10-20 years?
Bitcoin will be email for money. It will be everywhere, from parking meters (oops sorry, no parking meters in the future; you’ll pay for your autonomous Uber with Bitcoin!) to the post office. You will use if for everything; it will act just like money. You will be paid in it, and you will save in it. Everyone will ask for Bitcoin first, if fiat is still around. No one will want pieces of paper, or some government created scamcoin, no matter how cleverly its supply is managed. You can see what this looks like in Venezuela and Zimbabwe. We will look back on the price of Bitcoin today (and all the things we used it to buy) with total astonishment. This is happening right now.
People I know have been demanding to be paid in Bitcoin. One of them recounted to me how he received a payment for a few thousand dollars three years ago and took his money in Bitcoin rather than fiat. The value of that payment now is over five times more in fiat than it was when he requested the payment. Getting paid in Bitcoin makes sense, and encourages saving. The Austrian School of Economics is going to be put into practice on a global basis, changing the way everything is done and benefitting man in ways we can only just begin to imagine.
You are very outspoken on Twitter and have strong fundamental beliefs about Bitcoin. Can you explain to someone who might not know you, your view on things?
I don’t think there is such a thing as being “outspoken” when we are talking about math or software. Math in computers is binary; it's either on, or off. Bitcoin either works or it does not work. If it does, then you have to deal with it on its terms. This is not “a strong belief”, it is a practical, realistic and normal one, and saying 1+1=2 is not strident or outspoken.
Bitcoin (which is made entirely of math) is not a matter of opinion, perspective or feelings. It is not nuanced. Some people refuse (which in itself is an absolute position, demonstrating that they are irrational) to think about Bitcoin in any way other than it being nuanced, that it is a matter of perspective. I couldn’t disagree with these people more strongly. Bitcoin is one thing designed for a specific purpose. That purpose is not a matter of opinion or perspective and it is not nuanced. You may not like what Bitcoin was designed for, and that’s fine; go and work for Chase. If you want to work in Bitcoin, you have to accept its rules and abide by them. You cannot enter Bitcoin with your own ideas and try to change it to obey your limited imagination. Bitcoin does not exist to serve you.
Bitcoin’s purpose is to replace fiat currency and make going back to fiat impossible. Its purpose is to change the entire world. It is not here to help you buy coffee from Starbucks. Of course, it can be used for any purpose, but it is important to understand what Bitcoin is for, and to be patient as its capabilities are ramped up.
You have been outspoken against segwit2x and the CEO’s and companies supporting it. Can you explain why?
Bitcoin is a database and a network. It has no specific purpose or meaning in and of itself; it has utility and a specification. If your business model can’t use or profit from Bitcoin within its specification, then your business model has to change; you can’t change Bitcoin to suit you, and you have no right to change it and force other people with other needs to adapt to your business model’s deficiencies. It doesn’t matter how many users you have either; Bitcoin is not a democracy, and users of a service are not a constituency and don’t have a vote.
It doesn’t matter how big your business in terms of how much Bitcoin you own or move, or how many users you have. Both of those things are characteristics or attributes of your business, not of Bitcoin. AOL used to be a very large ISP. Their size didn’t confer the right to change the rules of the basic internet protocols, and the same is true in Bitcoin. The companies trying to change Bitcoin are trying to steal the network and “pull up the ladder”, so that only a class of users that is equivalent to them can run a full node. In fact, anti-Bitcoiners have said explicitly in public that if you can’t afford to run a full node costing $20,000 then you don’t belong in Bitcoin. That is clearly absurd.
In the Bitcoin we have now, anyone can run a full node for as little as five dollars a month on rented hardware, and the hardware needed to run a full node yourself is not expensive. Increasing the block size will cause this to cease to be true, and no, the 2mb block size increase is not the last increase. These companies, rather than adapting their software to take advantage of the capacity increases offered by SegWit, will just shift the burden of their bad design choices on to the network at everyone’s expense. All network participants will face increased costs if the block size is doubled and redoubled, and they will be paying to run the 2X company's Bitcoin Network access. This is not acceptable, and will be refused by all participants.
The other reason 2X must be rejected is that it is not a logical course of action, and is being done solely to “fire Core”. There is a deep lingering resentment and jealousy from certain corners when it comes to Bitcoin Core; the leaderless, atomized...thing...that un-controls the Bitcoin specification. Some actors aren’t comfortable with the idea that no one is in charge of Bitcoin; they are unfamiliar with how Open Source software is developed. They love centralized hierarchical authority structures, Foundations, Industry Groups and other worthless junk, and the idea that no one runs Bitcoin is incomprehensible, even offensive to them. Who do you contact if you want changes to be made? Who do you sue if something goes wrong? This is the thinking of the “Normies”; the computer illiterate Statists who are strangers to the practices of Open Source software development and the philosophy of Bitcoin.
Eventually everyone will understand Bitcoin, how it is organized and why it has to be this way. It will all seem perfectly normal, and the descendants of the people railing against it will defend it with their lives, in the same way hysterical, frustrated, ranting SEC board members go ballistic over their inability to pick up a book and understand Bitcoin for themselves:
Bitcoin is extraordinarily resilient and secure. This is because it is well designed; a result of over 30 years of research and development in many different mathematics and software disciplines. People who are newcomers to these ideas, who are young, impatient, and not motivated by philosophy want everything to change immediately to suit their short term and selfish goals. What they are asking for is irrational, unreasonable and doesn’t take what Bitcoin is and where it came from into account. In the same way that AOL and many other internet giants of the past had a rise and fall once everyone understood how to design business models for the internet, these companies and hangers on will decline in significance or go out of business entirely.
Bitcoin is not a private network that is owned by a company or companies. It belongs to no one, is not tailored for any specific business model and should never be subject to the needs of any specific business. It is a purely technical problem of how to do one thing as efficiently as possible while maintaining Bitcoin’s essential character. Businesses who are not aligned with Bitcoin are free to form their own private networks, like Compuserv and AOL, and live or die by that decision. It seems like some of them may be heading in this direction. Look at this SegWit2X mailing list post, where it is suggested that 2X companies split off into a vapourware “mesh network.”
Clearly, a “viable mesh network” whatever that is, is not Bitcoin, if they can even write the software to power it, and if they are that skilled, why would they not write the software to adapt their businesses to SegWit instead? The latter is a much simpler task, that doesn’t involve creating a vapourware “mesh network” from scratch; why would they waste their time doing something that spreads uncertainty, confusion and that ultimately cuts them off from the network? They also claim that consumer confusion about SegWit is a reason not to deploy it, but these same companies are listing Bitcoin and the alt coin in the same app, calling it “BTC” and “BCH” with logos that are identical save the angle of the “B”
None of this makes any sense, until you realise that it is all a cover for an effort to “fire Core” and none of it has anything to do with serving customers, protecting Bitcoin or anything rational.
Many people have dedicated their lives over decades to solving the problem of fiat currency; now on the cusp of the greatest change to how things are done since the Guttenberg press, a bunch of narrow minded, near horizon, simple minded, computer illiterate nobodies turn up and try to corrupt the project. This will not be allowed, under any circumstances. They’re missing the fundamental components to do anything significant in Bitcoin - being able to develop software - and all the people that do have that ability have openly declared that they will never work on an unethical crony capitalist system. Bitcoin wins. GAME OVER.
Why do you think there is such divisions in the Crypto community?
There is no “Crypto Community," any more than there is an “email community." This sort of thinking confuses people; it makes them think that there is a “community organizer” in charge of Bitcoin, who they try and seek out to speak to, and when they don’t find that there is one, they very foolishly try and create one. The fact that there is no community is a feature, not a bug.
Do you think this will ever change?
Yes. Eventually people will realize that there is no “Crypto Community” and that the correct way to characterise what’s happening is to say, “people are developing software”. There is no “instant messaging community”; the makers of WhatsApp and Signal don’t belong to an IM industry group that runs to congress asking to be “recognized” or desperate to be understood or go on “missions” to the Middle East to explain what an Avatar is. Or run to “regulators” to create abominable “BitLicenses” What no one seems to be able to explain is why they think Bitcoin needs an industry group and instant messaging does not? Who asked these people to go to lawmakers and “represent” other people? No one asks these questions, and a change everyone can look forward to is the annihilation of these groups and the disturbing mentality that fuels them.
What is your involvement in azte.co and what it is about?
I conceived, designed and wrote Azteco. Ryan Dippmann, who is a payments veteran with 15 years under his belt joined us four months ago, to bring his wealth of experience to the table. I am answering these questions now thanks to him. We are in the middle of raising a round, and this is entirely due to Ryan’s connections and skill as a communicator and facilitator.
Azteco is consumer Bitcoin. We will be as ubiquitous as pay as you go mobile phones. The numbers and projections we have are insanely huge. If we capture only a small percentage of international remittances our service will be worth billions, and that is without the many future products we can offer built on our platform.
Azteco is about changing the face of Bitcoin. It is about making it ubiquitous; as ubiquitous as mobile phones are today. You will know we have succeeded when we will make Bitcoin commonplace, ordinary and dull. Like PayPal. Only much better.
How did you come up with this idea?
I had run Mojo Nation and Chaum’s eCash previously, so I knew the basic problem that was being solved with Bitcoin. It wasn't a question of what Bitcoin was; the question for me was, “Is this the one?” Is this going to be the system that cracks the problem of how to release a money online that doesn't have a central issuer or central point of failure?
Anyone who understands movie and music piracy knows the story of how everything moved from centralized services like Napster, to Gnutella and then to BitTorrent. That story is identical to Chaum’s eCash to Bitcoin without a peer to peer step on the way to total resilience. I downloaded the Bitcoin client and mined some.
A few months later, I tried to buy Bitcoin and did so through Amir Taki’s Intersango. I had to make a bank transfer to Intersango’s account after which the Bitcoin was sent to my address. This is the actual receipt for that purchase:
Interesting fact: that £71.41 is now worth £84.26 taking inflation into account. After receiving this Bitcoin, which took days to complete, I realized that getting Bitcoin this way was inefficient, and since there was nothing physical being delivered, there was no reason why this number credited to my Bitcoin “wallet” could not be credited with the method used to “top up” mobile phones. Imagine having to top up your mobile phone via a bank transfer that takes days to show up on your phone. There is no technical reason why Bitcoin can’t be delivered instantly; all that was needed was a company to provide that efficient service. So I decided to build it.
It would be a software only service, taking money as inputs and outputting 16 digit voucher codes that are redeemable for Bitcoin. This system is widely used globally to deliver credits for retailers of every kind, from Amazon to iTunes; it is something millions of people already understand. They already top up mobile phones; this top up is one that is not locked to their phone network, but is one that can be transferred to other phones. That is exactly what Bitcoin is (in our model); it is a top up that can be transferred. If you think about Bitcoin correctly, and don’t mischaracterize it, the proper business models are obvious.
Where would you like to see it go?
We expect to see Azteco outlets selling our voucher codes globally, and we already have vendor applications from all over the globe. We want to become the most commonly used method to buy Bitcoin, permanently breaking the hypnotic spell over everyone who mistakenly thinks Bitcoin is money. On top of this, we can build many other services that we’re not prepared to talk about yet, but when you think correctly about Bitcoin, they are obvious. When Bitcoin is treated as a disposable container to send money from A to B, it takes on a completely different character, and the models built on that idea will be very disruptive, and profitable. This is a very different mindset from “Bitcoin as investment”, “asset” or “store of value”, but in that last use case, only in the amount of time you store it for. Eventually as Bitcoin spreads everywhere, there will be more Bitcoin to Bitcoin hops between people who accept Bitcoin, and last hop where it is turned into fiat will be far away from you. When no one converts Bitcoin back into fiat, The Transformation will be complete.
There are a lot of talking heads in the Crypto space. Who are your favorites?
Talking Heads, not so much; Wire, every time: Over and Over.
Who would you recommend to stay away from and why?
I recommend that you follow these general guidelines:
Never use any service or wallet that demands personal details or your email address
Never use any service that does KYC/AML
Never use any Bitcoin custodial service
Never use any wallet that is not recommended by Bitcoin.org (with notable exceptions)
Companies that demand information from you to provide you a service may be well run and well intentioned, and they can be useful, but they don’t need that information from you to be able to transfer Bitcoin to you. There have been many services that don’t require any information from you, and that should be the norm in Bitcoin. Similarly, KYC/AML is anti-Bitcoin and you should not make yourself a customer of any company that does it. Some companies are being threatened into doing this, and I have great sympathy for them; they are not bad people. It is the practice of KYC/AML that is unethical and that I am against as a matter of principle, not the victims of it. Remember; many millions of people top up their phones every week without having to identify themselves, and Bitcoin is no different to that, no matter what anyone tells you.
Ideally you should manage your own Bitcoin and store it yourself, just like you manage your paper money or jewelry. There are many ways you can do this, and you should never use any service that stores Bitcoin on your behalf and shows you a number on a screen that is not Bitcoin. You only control your Bitcoin if you directly control the private keys. Read “The Flat Screen Dilemma”: Medium for a description of this problem.
Of course, for people with many millions of dollars in Bitcoin to store, they may opt for a software professional to store their Bitcoin private keys for them. There is nothing wrong with this as a business, but it should not be the market default for all Bitcoin users, where even if you own $20 dollars worth, you don’t have the power to send it anywhere you want without permission.
Finally, there are in Bitcoin, as there are in any market, bad actors. These bad actors lie, cheat and mislead, and should not be trusted by anyone. The entire 2X (and now Bitcoin / bcash) saga has shown this, where bad actors misuse the word “Bitcoin” to try and trick users into downloading running their attack client, failing to implement replay-protection, misleading by appropriating Bitcoin’s trademarks, impersonating clients by lying. These are all the actions of criminal scammers, not ethical market participants.
In what we call “Ethical Bitcoin”, software developers respect the users of their products, do not lie and will not create systems that can abuse or defraud customers now or in the future. It is nearly impossible to audit every single software offering; all you can do is provide guidelines and outsource this task to others. The Bitcoin.org site is a good resource to use for outsourced guidance, so I recommend starting there. We also recommend Samurai Wallet, which is years ahead of everyone in wallet software, and which is run by ethical Bitcoiners.
In Ethical Bitcoin, service providers don’t ask for any information that is not directly related to the delivery of the service. For example, fifteen word mnemonics are directly related to wallet operation and so that is acceptable. Bitcoin’s operation doesn’t have anything to do with who or what you are, and practices that rely on who or what you are are left over thinking from the era of banks. Bitcoin service providers are not entering into a contract with you, and there is no “Bitcoin Company” that you are under contract with either. Saying otherwise is like asserting that the manufacturer of a typewriter is responsible for your bad grammar. Bitcoin wallets are tools to control your keys; what you do with them, and the story you write with them, is your business and responsibility only.
Who do you want to give props to that helped you or influenced you along the way?
I won’t name any names because there are many, but I will recommend that everyone read Murray Rothbard’s “For a New Liberty” which will help you understand Bitcoin.
What do you want to say to the next generation of Bitcoiners that have not yet stumbled upon Bitcoin?
Learn how to say “no”. When someone asks you to, “Sign up” watch out, you are the product. Be an Ethical Bitcoiner. Only use wallets that don’t abuse you. You have a right to privacy. No one has a right to know how much Bitcoin you have or where you spend it. Get paid in Bitcoin, and save it. Learn how to keep your Bitcoin. Never use Microsoft Windows. Ever.
Any last thoughts or words of wisdom?
7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
[Interview questions added 11/21/17]
You wrote everything up to this point before segwit2x was called off. What are your thoughts now about how things played out?
I told you it would fail. Everything pointed to its failure, and now we see that our assertion that one developer can’t maintain a clone of Bitcoin Core was correct. The failure of the 2X developer to spot the “OBOE 494784” error is a perfect example of why peer review is needed. This was not a syntax error or something that can be picked up automatically; it is a type of error that only a human can spot. That’s why you need many eyes on Bitcoin, and to proceed with extreme care at all times. Given how easy it is to make a catastrophic mistake, the achievement that is SegWit is made more vivid. It works, without flaw, is opt in for all participants and did not need a hard fork to activate. This is down to not only the innovation of the person who invented it, but the powerful collaborative environment of the people contributing to Bitcoin, who are able to work together patiently, thoroughly and diligently for everyone's benefit, without asking for a penny in compensation.
Explain to people what you think might have happened had they gone through with the fork.
The entire network would have been rendered unusable. Jimmy Song lays it out here: https://bitcointechtalk.com/segwit2x-bugs-explained-8e0c286124bc it would have been a total disaster, with the transaction record unable to proceed beyond block 494784. Not only would this have been a technical disaster, but confidence in Bitcoin would have been shattered, perhaps irrecoverably. Thankfully, we will never know. But we do know that anyone claiming that they can “fire Core” is not serious, that developing the critical infrastructure of Bitcoin must be done in public and subjected to withering, unrelenting, unstinting and uncompromising peer review, and that the process as it is is working very well. We not only have a network that is extremely efficient with historic uptime, but it is also being innovated on in a safe and conservative way that protects and benefits everyone. The new features that are coming will make Bitcoin even more powerful, and most alt coins will not be able to incorporate them. This is why Bitcoin will be the number one network in the future; all derivatives are doomed to wither away because no one is working on fundamental improvements the way Bitcoin Core is.
What was your reaction when Jeff Garzik rolled out buggy code and segwit2x did not activate?
My reaction was one of disbelief, mixed with a lack of surprise. Disbelief that the error was so profound and damaging, and that it made the case for Bitcoin’s development process as it is better than anyone could, and lack of surprise because we know that Bitcoin is extremely complex and adding to it can only be done by the world’s top developers in close collaboration in the open. 2X was doomed to fail. It was a question of “how and when”, not “if”.
What can we all learn from this after the fact?
Stay away from trying to interfere with the Bitcoin Core process, unless you are a properly qualified software developer. If you are such a developer, and have something to contribute, then you are not in opposition to Bitcoin, and your contribution is welcome, on the same terms that all other contributions are welcome.
Stop trying to impose your ideas of how Bitcoin development should work. If you are not already contributing, you have nothing to say about it. If you are an entrepreneur, you should ignore the Bitcoin Core process, and work solely on your business model, making sure that it is suitable for Bitcoin, while keeping one eye firmly on new Bitcoin features made available to you that can help you.
Do not believe that you can change Bitcoin to serve your business model. Bitcoin doesn’t exist to serve you or anyone in particular. It doesn't matter how many users you have; you as a business are not any more important than any other Bitcoin user. Bitcoin is not a democracy. Your users are not constituents, you don’t “represent” them, and no one gets a vote.
Engineers do engineering. Executives do...executing. Executives have no role to play in the Bitcoin Core process, have no right to demand anything or insist that features be added or changes made. You must work with Bitcoin, not against it. If you go against Bitcoin, you will lose every time, and will end up having to obey the rules just like everyone else does, after having wasted everyone’s time and incinerating your reputation. Learn how to listen and take advice.
The culture swirling around Bitcoin is not Bitcoin. Bitcoin is software. Blocking voices that come from a culture that is different to yours will not help you understand Bitcoin, and you need to understand Bitcoin if you want to innovate and disrupt. Your boardroom behavior and culture won’t help you get anything done, or create new features for your users. Embrace Bitcoin culture. If someone is saying something to you that makes no sense, rankles, and has hundreds of upvotes, the problem is you. It's you that doesn’t understand Bitcoin, it’s purpose or what’s going on, and blocking the messenger will not make the truth go away.
There is no Shangri La Safe Space that you can run to where this truth has no effect. If you're trying to run away from “Bitcoin Twitter” the problem is you. It is you that is out of sync with Bitcoin, you who are in the wrong, you that doesn’t understand, and it’s you that has to allow persuasion to correct your bad thinking. When someone says something to you that is totally contrary to your thinking, even shocking, pause. You may be in for a bit of free education, and would be well advised to do one simple thing: ask for an explanation.
Because Bitcoin touches so many disciplines, and the discipline that has been subjected to the most propaganda, Economics (everyone brainwashed to believe Keynesianism is correct), it is unlikely that most people will ever be able to understand Bitcoin at any level. We see symptoms of this with the scramble to try and define it in terms people already know, “It’s an asset”, “it’s digital gold”, “it’s a store of value” and the other nonsense we see over and over on the financial news channels.
In the end all of these people are well advised to look at Bitcoin through the lens of the applications that offer them services in it. Like any other data, the presentation and context totally shapes perception. There is no one way to look at Bitcoin. It is being used in OpenDime and stored on paper in vaults, shorted on exchanges and carried in people’s pockets on mobile phones. The sooner you stop trying to squeeze Bitcoin into the space of your limited imagination, the sooner you will be able to think correctly about it, and take full advantage of it.
The correct attitude to Bitcoin is tied closely to the misguided desire to control Bitcoin Core. Stop. Stop trying to impose your ideas on Bitcoin. Stop trying to control it. Stop trying to define it. The key to Bitcoin is not controlling it or other people using it, but to use it as a resource. If you use and think about Bitcoin in that way, then you're left free to innovate, profit and benefit from it without restriction. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or does on Bitcoin; the only thing that matters is your business model, and whether or not you are serving anyone’s needs. That is the big take away from the failure of 2X. A stern warning about boundaries that everyone thinking about trying to change Bitcoin would be well advised to heed.
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