Max Keiser sat down with the fireball Dark Wallet developer Amir Taaki in a far-reaching interview that touches on a number of cool topics: The anonymity-minded Bitcoin wallet as subject of a recent BBC piece, emerging political movements, and Apple's encryption scheme decried by the FBI. Mad about the state of democracy, bro? Curious about the future of Bitcoin? They discuss that too. Let's dig into it.
Taaki launched the conversation by criticizing the idea that Bitcoin is merely a streamlined payment method. Actually, he offers many reasons that it's not, stating that “the fees are not cheaper than credit cards, the transactions are slow, there's no consumer protection,” says Taaki.
It's not a ringing endorsement of the protocol. But he expands on this proposition, “Bitcoin's more than a way to move money around. Bitcoin is global. Bitcoin is anonymous—well, it can be anonymous—it's uncensored, it's decentralized.”
“Are we on the cusp of a political awakening?”
BBC recently released a hit piece and video that painted Dark Wallet as a tool for ISIS and other terrorist organizations to move money around without consequence. It didn't mention much else about the software. Keiser acknowledged this and also mentioned Apple's encryption scheme, which was decried by the FBI.
Keiser used these recent events as fodder for an interesting question: “Are we on the cusp of a political awakening that you're birthing into existence—technologically speaking?”
“I'm very disappointed in the BBC because they toned down my rhetoric a lot,” Taaki responded. Keiser giggled. But then he returned to the broader question. “Technology has facilitated global ideological movements,” Taaki stated, “whether in Russia, Arab Spring, or across Europe—ISIS included. The whole world is going nuts.”
“Rise of fascism in the states has been this kind of illusion, since the end of the second world war, that the 'great grand society' and the big institution and somehow the people inside of that are neutral,” he added.
Artistry and creating a better future
Taaki sprinkles mentions of creativity and artistry through the interview, describing forward-thinking developers as artists. He pits bureaucrats against these developers. “The fascists—whoever they are—they always have the resources. But we have a lot of imagination and creativity. We are making the tools with imagination of what's possible.”
Taaki once again touched upon the topic of neutrality. “You cannot say that any technology is politically neutral.” He adds, “The thing that separates the man from the animals is that man—rather than be content to be a figure moving through the landscape is a shaper of the landscape.”
According to Taaki, some Bitcoin advocates get it wrong. They are “playing the whole line of: 'we are the dispassionate engineers who are developing Bitcoin according to established process.' Not that Bitcoin is made by creative artists or individuals. But that's it made according to these big super-structures.”
“We need to realize that humans are not neutral. Humans are not robots.” He gives one example, that he's drawn to certain people because they “inspire him” and they share the same values. “If we're always going to need to be trusting 'that guy,' in these temples of power,” he waves over towards the window overlooking the Gherkin building, “they'll always going to treat themselves better first.”
A lot has changed in recent years. Silicon Valley is significantly more interested in Bitcoin. “Is Bitcoin going to survive this wave of beige and khaki pants?” Keiser asked, alluding to the corporate tone of recent Bitcoin conferences.
“There's always some process of assimilation to some degree. [...] How much do we preserve the integrity of the principles of Satoshi Nakamoto? We always have to be unyielding in our striving towards our vision with our imagination.”
See this video for the full interview: