Bitcoin Q&A: The future of digital money – Open Blockchains or Dystopia?


[GIACOMO ZUCCO] Many financial
institutions are studying the traffic. They are starting to understand that if you have
permissioned, known, identified, and federated… actors who are validating the chronology of
the blockchain, they don’t need proof-of-work. Many of them are also understanding
that then they don’t need blocks [either]; they can just sign every transaction,
and they don’t need [them in] a chain. When they understand that they don’t need a chain,
blocks, or proof-of-work for private blockchains, do you think it is worth the terminological
battle, for the sake of clarity, to tell them, “You are not using a blockchain,”
or should be just strategically leave them be? “Okay, you are using a ‘blockchain,’
but I will keep the ‘bitcoin’ word.” Would it be more honest, more useful for clarity,
to stress how much a replicated database… only with digital signatures, but without
blocks or chains, is not a blockchain? [ANDREAS] I don’t really care about terminological purity.
We shouldn’t define terms simply to enforce purity. “What you are doing is not what I do.”
What I really want to do is clarify the issue. When I use the term “open blockchain,”
I am clarifying the issue by saying “open.” That is a characteristic which matters;
here is why, here is what you will get with it. The “blockchain” part is really an implementation detail.
Blockchains are the best way, we have found, to run… open, decentralized, global consensus. But as a technology itself, it is not that interesting.
The blockchain is the least interesting part of Bitcoin. The proof-of-work is much more interesting. What is really interesting is combining all of these
[components] together to make something that is… non-national and independent. When you are presented with the world “blockchain,”
that is not an answer but a prompt to start asking… a lot of questions, like “what is the consensus algorithm,”
“how decentralized is it,” and “is it open to innovation?” Does it afford anonymity and privacy? [GIACOMO] So we should rename
ourselves to “Open Blockchain Lab”? [AUDIENCE] Is it censorship resistant?
[ANDREAS] Is it censorship and coercion resistant? The important [aspect] is this: in the next twenty years,
we will [come to] live in a world of digital money. This is not a possibility, this is a certainty.
We will live in a world where the vast majority, if not all, transactions will be entirely digital. We have a choice. We can live in a world where the
norm is that my identity is tied to every transaction, and give the power of complete financial surveillance
to whichever government we elected last week, hoping that this is good one but knowing that the next
one could be [even more] crazy than the one before. In many countries, they know that there is not
anything good about them, that they are evil. If we give the power of financial surveillance… over every human being on this planet to centralized
authorities, we will be walking down a very dark path. It is a path in which, when you say the
wrong thing, your bank account disappears. Or when you go to the wrong protest, your life savings
disappear, without any judicial process or recourse. That is not a world I want to live in. [Applause] The alternative is a world that re-establishes the
balance between the governed and the government. That is a world in which individuals have transactional
privacy, as we have had for millennia, without any… horrible things happening, because most people
use their money to buy food, shelter, healthcare, clean water, and to express themselves. We can live in a world where we have privacy and
governments don’t have secrecy to hide [their crimes]. They are [required to exercise] transparency;
this is how the balance should work. We will live in a world where there are no borders for
our ability to trade and do commerce with other people, a world in which everyone can participate. This is the choice we face today.
The future is digital money. The question you must ask yourselves is,
what kind of future do I want to live in? That is a really important question.

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