Andreas Antonopoulos – “The spirit of crypto is alive in Argentina”

Andreas Antonopoulos – “The spirit of crypto is alive in Argentina”


I come to Argentina now, I think almost once
a year, or once every year and a half, two years, to be re-energized about the spirit
of crypto. Because the spirit of crypto is alive in this
country. And I come here every now and then just to
refill my crypto batteries, and be like, uh yeah that’s why we do it! Great, It’s great to recharge your crypto
batteries here. Hola a todos, hi everyone Welcome, we are here with Andreas Antonopoulos
in Buenos Aires. It’s an honour to have Andreas with us. Andreas for the people who may not know him
is one of the most popular speakers and educators on blockchain technology, bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. It’s a real honor to have you here with
us Andreas. Thank you. Let’s start with an open question. Why bitcoin matters today? Bitcoin matters because people need choices. And these choices can’t all be state controlled
money that people have very little option to change or to control in any way. The thing is, it’s very difficult to explain
why bitcoin matters to a north american or to a western european, because their money
works. But that’s the experience of less than 10%
of the human population. And for the other 90% it’s a bit like Argentina. When I try to explain bitcoin here people
are not asking why you need money that’s not controlled by government. They are asking, how do I get some? Because I already know why we need it. I mean, you only need free post national neutral
open borderless censorship resistant money if you live in a country that has a corrupt
government, or corrupt banking system, or organized chaos, or unpredictable human behavior,
or periodic crisis with your money, or currency controls, or censorship, or political instability,
or dictatorship. Oh, that’s the entire world, with few exceptions,
right? So… yeah that’s why. Ok, let’s say someone wants to get into
bitcoin for the first time, would you advice him or her to get into finance and the origin
of money, and to study more before getting into bitcoin? Would you say that would be the right steps? Uhm, no I wouldn’t. In fact, I don’t think that’s important. That would come later no more than if somebody
was asking me to use the internet for the first time, would I start explaining routing
algorithms, that’s not particularly useful. What I would usually do is help them choose
a wallet and teach them how to use it and how to make a backup, and then show them how
to a transaction. I am a big advocate of earning bitcoin, not
buying it. So I think it’s more important for people
to see how bitcoin can be part of their day to day experience and changing your relationship
to the currency from something you see as an investment that you’re going to buy and
store, and then wait, and then it gets much bigger, and the you sell it, and you’re rich,
and you get a lambo. Instead I want this other experience which
is: well, what do you do for a living? Are you a hairdresser? You cut hair? Great, offer to cut hair for bitcoin. You probably wont find any clients at first,
but maybe one day you will, you can make it part. You run a pizza shop? Sell pizza for bitcoin. You run a fruteria? Sell fruits for bitcoin. Whatever! Just incorporate it into your experience,
and live inside the economy instead of treating it as an investment. And how about technical barriers for people
that dont know about apps? Oh, the technical barriers are enormous. It’s difficult to use, it’s difficult
to secure, I mean really the only reason anyone would actually have to do all of the work
required to overcome these technical barriers is, I don’t know like, if your money was
collapsing at a ridiculous rate, let’s say 40% in a year just as a theoretical example. Yeah, let’s say theoretical And at that point necessity becomes the mother
of invention, as we say. Right? People will do the necessary work to learn
something that will help them escape a situation that’s outside of their control. So if what’s at stake is the future of your
children and you want to make sure that the small amounts of savings you have is actually
worth something in ten years, or even next week. Then you learn these things. And that’s the fundamental difference I
see in the attitudes between south america and for example north america. Ok, and you’re speaking about learning,
so not finance, and not technology you can overcome these things to get into crypto and
learn about why is it valuable? It’s very practical skills. It’s not learning the theory of how bitcoin
works, or the theory of monetary economics, or the politics and philosophy of cypherpunk. Those things will come if you’re interested
in some of the background information. It’s the practical skills. What is this thing that starts with a 1 and
has lots of letters after it? Can I show it to someone else? Is that safe or not? How do I change a price from Bitcoin to Milibits
and what the hell is a Satoshi? How do I know what the exchange rate is? What is a transaction? Why is my transaction less than what I thought
it was? Why is my wallet saying I have to pay a fee? Who gets the fee? Practical skills. These are the everyday ‘learn how to use
it’ skills. And they can be taught, relatively quickly. And once you teach those skills then people
will start incorporating this in their lives. Ok, these things can be taught but with other
technologies things move pretty fast, so things get outdated pretty quickly. The basics skills don’t change that much,
that often. I mean, the basics of making a bitcoin transaction
are exactly the same today as they were in 2012. I don’t think those skills are out of date. You might have to adjust them just a tiny
bit. If you do it for two or three years then suddenly
you see another address, oh this one starts with a 3, what’s that? Oh, let me teach you a bit more. And you know, but other than that you only
need some very basics to get started. Ok, so let’s talk about cryptocurrencies,
what are the main differences between the old bitcoin market, just only bitcoin market,
and the current existent with thousands of crypto assets available and a whole industry
around it. What are the main differences that you’ve
seen living both worlds in a such short period of time? Well, so for one thing, I predicted this back
in 2014 I started talking about the explosion of currencies and how we would first see hundreds,
then thousands then tens of thousands of different tokens, and some would have value and some
would not. And we’re gonna see this explosion of experimentation. People get very upset with this topic, they
think that the fact that I say the future is likely to be like this means that I want
it to be like this, or that I recommend it as a good thing. I’m just kind of observing that that’s
the direction we’re going. You can like it or not like it. But you can’t disagree with the fact that
that’s the direction we’re going. And so I like to think that if you’re a
maximalist in this industry then you have to fight with an increasing amount of contrary
evidence every year. Last year there were eight hundred cryptocurrencies
telling you that you are wrong to be a maximalist, this years there’s two thousand cryptocurrencies
telling you you are wrong. In five years time there might be twenty thousand
examples saying that we’re not going to a world of one system. That doesn’t mean we’re going to have
a world with tens of thousands of currencies that have value, or that have the same application,
quite the opposite in fact. Maybe only two or three will have any significant
value in use. But it’s certainly difficult to argue that
it’s going to be just one. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a
healthy perspective of the world. I think that in a world where we only had
one choice, and it was bitcoin, that would be a worse world because that’s a very dangerous
thing to do. Where the only choice we have, and if something
goes wrong there we have a monoculture of currencies, so I think that’s maybe a dangerous…
this is a very controversial opinion, and a lot of people disagree with me and they
get very upset, but here’s the thing: I’m very comfortable with the idea that I might
be totally wrong. And none of us know, because this experiment
has never happened before, and we’ve never had a system where by a six year old can bootstrap
their own currency and it might actually become popular by accident. We’ve never lived in that world, now we
are in that world and we are seeing it unfold. And we’re all just gonna have to wait a
bit and see how this plays out and be comfortable with uncertainty, and be comfortable with
being wrong. And be comfortable with that’s different
from what we imagined, I’m comfortable with that. We’ll see how it goes. And for this next future crypto world with
a few cryptos that are used for different kind of businesses of different kind of industries
and each currency with its proper use, what would be the things that have to happen for
these cryptos to become mainstream? I don’t know I mean the definition of mainstream
itself is problematic. Because I think these things can be very powerful
even if they are adopted by just a few people in some area, and that may be… A cryptocurrency that’s adopted just by
refugees, would change the world in a radical way, even if no one else adopted it. A cryptocurrency that’s adopted just in
three countries in South America, would change the world dramatically. And not adopted by their governments, just
adopted by many people. Mainstream doesn’t mean everyone in the
world uses it all the time. We might see, I think this kind of asymmetric
emergence of currencies, where in some area for some reason some application becomes very
important, some open blockchain happens to fit that need immediately and then suddenly
it erupts. And people may be surprised, you know the
people of Turkey escaping the Erdoğan dictatorship with their collapsing currency may choose
to use a cryptocurrency that happened to emerge in Turkey because someone translated the wallet
into turkish. And suddenly that’s the one that takes off,
and it’s not the one you expected, but that’s ok because it works for them. And again, I think we need to be comfortable
with this idea that it’s not linear, it’s not universal, and it’s not predictable. It’s going to happen in random places, for
random reasons, and these are emergence phenomena. And they follow chaos theory right? A small change in initial conditions, and
suddenly the entire the entire thing goes in the opposite direction and you don’t
know why, and nobody can know why. Ok, and how about, what’s different in the
US, I mean as Argentinians or as Latin Americans we’re seeing the necessity and we understand
that crypto has become so popular over the last few years because of that need. That’s what we’ve been discussing with
you and with other people all over this years and they all agree on that. But how about in the US, what’s the necessity
in the US where the situation is different? Well so, in the US there is a very different
culture towards innovation and technology than there is anywhere in the world, that’s
one of the reasons why the US is an amazing place to interact with technology and to build
companies. One of the things that’s very difficult
to appreciate is this raw entrepreneurial spirit that exists in the US. It’s the kind of place in the world where
if you come up with a very very radical idea, instead of everybody telling you that there’s
no way that could work, and you shouldn’t even try, people are like; oh that’s interesting,
yeah go for it, America is exactly the place where someone can say: How about we make money
without governments? And in most countries everybody goes: What? What are you talking about? That’s ridiculous. And in the states people go, huh… There’s a very different attitude, so people
think that things are possible. And that’s an infectious idea. And it’s not always right, and you know
it’s not always based on fact or reality, sometimes it’s just an audacious delusional
idea, and the fact that the culture allows for audacious delusional ideas to happen without
asking anybody’s permission, makes it a very very interesting place. Especially for technology. So, if you decide you want to build a rocket
and launch it, or dig a tunnel under L.A., you can actually do that. Weird things like that happen all the time. So, in the US we’re gonna see a different
attitude towards cryptocurrencies. It’s not necessity driven, it’s driven
by innovation, it’s driven by speculation, its driven by experimentation, and by a desire
to try things that are new and different. In many countries you have this conservative
culture where people fear change. In the states, good or bad, people love change
and they are ready to throw away everything and start new. And reinvent themselves, their career, their
companies, their products, the way the world works from their perspective. So, that gives us opportunity. Now, not all the culture is like that, and
there are many broken things about that too. But it brings a very different attitude, which
is why you see a lot of the software engineering, a lot of the, some of the new innovative ideas,
and a lot of the most advanced companies operating out of the United States. And having visited Buenos Aires, and Argentina
several times yourself, what are your thoughts on the entrepreneurial and innovation aspect
of Argentinians? So, uh I mean In the crypto ecosystem or outside it. Yeah, so Argentina has a lot of people who
are willing to try new ways of doing things just because in many cases things don’t work. Like, when things break you find creative
ways to get around them. That creativity from necessity, necessity
to find ways to get around the fact that your currency is broken, or you go to the ATM and
you put your card and they don’t have any cash. It;’s like, you’re a cash machine, you had
one job, you don’t have cash, what are you now? A nothing machine. People don’t appreciate, i think it’s really
funny is if you put an American in that situation, they put their card into the machine and the
machine says we don’t have any cash, they would just look at it, and they’ll probably
spend ten minutes going, what? Because this is a inconceivable idea, right? Where as here it happens every Friday. And then, the reason it happens every Friday
is because they refills machines on Monday, and then you have to be there on Tuesday and
stand in line because you know, by Wednesday you’re gonna get hundreds, by Thursday you
can only do one withdrawal, and by Friday sorry find another bank. That makes people creative, it makes people
adventurous, it makes people willing to try new things, and through that hardship you
find a lot of spirit, right? Now, the other thing that Argentina has, which
is incredibly important, Argentina has a young, educated, literated, numerous population with
technological skills. And it’s also an enormous rich country in
terms of resources, and it has a very deep tradition. So, all of those things, and its a gorgeous
place to visit as well you know. I say that as a tourist, I love being here,
but with all of those things there’s so much potential. Which is why I see so many crypto companies
have big staff here, and they are doing really really good work. I come to Argentina now, I think almost once
a year, or once every year and a half, two years, to be re-energized about the spirit
of crypto. Because the spirit of crypto is alive in this
country. And I come here every now and then just to
refill my crypto batteries, and be like, uh yeah that’s why we do it! Great, It’s great to recharge your crypto
batteries here. It’s a great thing to say. With a lot of steak and malbec to go with
that. Yeah, of course. And, let’s talk about the not so good things
now. Had systemic corruption and hyperinflation
opened the door for cryptocurrency to flourish? Just that, or is there something else we are
not paying attention at, on economic and political side of corruption and hyperinflation and
the other economic issues. Yeah, I mean I don’t know if Argentina can
be properly characterized as hyperinflation yet, I think it’s certainly very very bad
inflation, but i don’t think it has quite gone into hyperinflation yet. And I hope it doesn’t, because that enormously
destructive for any country. Yes, political dysfunction is one the drivers,
but it’s not enough, right? I mean, look at whats happening in the country
I call my home in the United States, talk about political dysfunction. Uhm, anyway… that’s not enough, and an
economic crisis alone is not enough, and inflation alone is not enough. It takes a combination of factors and a willingness
of the culture to explore alternatives. So it’s not all bad, it’s not just like,
you know the other day I’ve heard a quote by some executive at JP Morgan who was saying
‘the only way crypto succeeded in the world is a doomsday scenario’. And I hear that in crypto terms as well, a
lot of people are like, ‘and then the world economy will collapse and bitcoin will go
to the moon, and we’ll all be rich’, I mean that’s a ridiculous idea. And also we shouldn’t want that. I don’t believe in the apocalyptic scenarios,
and the idea that crypto only thrives if you have a disaster, an economic disaster of fundamental
proportions. It’s just that, if you have a crisis, and
then another crisis, it doesn’t have to be a disaster, and another crisis, and another
crisis, and another crisis. Then eventually you grow up in an environment
just as I did in Greece, where your parents teach you from the very early days, ‘oh
no no, pesos are for spending, dollars are for saving’. And when you hear that as a child and that’s
beaten into you, and you were like ‘no, we spend it today because tomorrow it’s
not gonna be worth anything’, that kind of inflationary attitude towards money, distrust
towards banks, distrust towards government institutions, it’s bad, but it also is a
healthy and realistic perspective on the world, because that’s the norm. I grew up like that in Greece, I remember
distrust towards banks and governments was part of the culture. You can’t imagine how surprised Americans
would be if they had hyperinflation as they did in the early part of last century again. They are not prepared for that, not culturally,
not generationally, at all. For anything like that. They’re not prepared for 15% inflation,
let alone 40% inflation. So, what that does, that slow change in the
culture, that’s what you need for crypto. You need to have an understanding of why the
principles of neutrality, decentralization, and open platforms matter, and why those give
you choice. And to do that you have to stop believing
the fairy tale, the mythology of strong government money which is a lie. ‘It’s ok, they’re in control of the
economy’, and in Argentina you’re like, they’re not in control of everything, anything,
what are you talking about? And in Greece if you say ‘dont’t worry
the government is in control’ everyone in the room starts laughing. That myth needs to be broken, before you can
see alternatives. You have to go for yourself, you have to think
for yourself. And speaking on strong government money, how
about regulation, is there any good or bad regulation? You need regulation when your money is controlled
by humans who are infinitely corruptible and political processes that change every four
years, and where people are appointed to office based on which party they supported and the
previous election. I remember one of the things that would happen
in Greece, was every four years when we had an election and we were doing this thing were
we flipped from one party to another, the new party would come in and they cleared out
the entire civil service and replace it with their own people, because they supported them. And then four years later they cleared out
again and put them back in. That’s crazy, but that happens a lot. I kind of lost the train of thought here,
but this idea of this instability that you have in this political systems, they create
the need for regulation to control human institutions that are failing. Well, in crypto we have regulation. This is one of the biggest misunderstandings
about cryptocurrency, people are like ‘cryptocurrency isn’t regulated’, are you kidding me? It’s the most well regulated system of money
that we have ever built. I can tell you exactly how much bitcoin is
going to be issued in November of 2027, down to the Satoshi right now. Because we already know how the issuance work. I can tell you exactly how the algorithm is
going to work, we know exactly how well regulated it is. It’s regulated to that heat beat, that’s
being beating for ten years without pause. So many people and companies have tried to
change the system and they can’t, because the rules are working so well. That’s regulation, that’s predictable
regulation. I wish we had more regulation in traditional
currencies like that, where you could at least predict what’s going to happen next week. Or tomorrow… The problem with regulation is that it’s
so easily modified by whoever’s interest happen to be in charge. Now, if you have very strong political institutions,
then you can have regulatory organizations that are somewhat transparent and functional
and they maintain consistency, and develop some predictability. But if your political institutions are weak,
then regulation is just a tool used for whoever’s interest is in charge each time. And then truth is that the majority of the
world falls on that side. It’s easy to say, let’s regulate these
things more cleanly, by using institutions when you live in one of the five countries
where institutions work. It’s a lot harder if you live in one of
the other hundred and eighty five countries where they don’t, or they do sometimes. And, how about privacy then, most of us are
concerned about the growing surveillance on citizens all over the world. It’s happening in the US and Europe, and
it’s happening all over the world now. So, what are your thoughts on that, and how
it affects privacy on a citizenship level? To me cryptocurrency is one of those tools
that we can use to assert our privacy. And I’m a very strong advocate of privacy. I think privacy is a fundamental human right. Not just a fundamental human right, but also
a foundational human right. Which means that, it becomes very difficult
exercise your other human rights if you don’t have privacy. So, you have freedom of speech, great! But if you say the wrong thing, and they know
who you are, then you can be punished. So you don’t have freedom of speech without
privacy. You have freedom of assembly in political
association, good like trying to do that if they can get a list of the members of the
illegal party and put them all in jail. So, if you have privacy then you can have
speech, if you have privacy you can have association, if you have privacy you can have expression,
you can have freedom of religion, you can have all of the other fundamental rights. Privacy is fundamental, and we’ve created
a world that’s upside down. In my opinion a moral and just world is one
in which the average person, if they haven’t committed a crime, and there’s no evidence
they’ve committed a crime, should have absolute privacy. Meanwhile, the government, which is acting
as a representant people should have zero privacy. Should have no secrecy, as they call it. Which is their version of privacy, it’s
the special privacy, the luxury privacy. Is when you have government secrets. So, we live now in a world where it’s exactly
the opposite. Our governments have maximum privacy, so that
we don’t know what they’re doing. And they know everything about us. And yet they work for us. That’s wrong. It’s the wrong way around, and we need to
take that back. Rights are like muscles, you have to exercise
them or you lose them. So, you don’t ask for your rights. You don’t say ‘please may I have some
privacy?’. You assert your rights, and you say ‘I have
privacy, respect it. Or else’. That’s how the politics of rights works. You have to take your rights, hold your rights,
and assert them. And so, when it comes to privacy, when people
tell you the world won’t be safe if we can see what everybody does with money, you know,
we have to see what everybody does with money, we have to see where you spend your money,
otherwise, terrorist, pornographers, pedophiles, whatever. The world operated for eighty thousand years
on 100% private money, that was completely untraceable, and no one had any idea what
anybody was doing, and what did people use money to do. Feed their children, house themselves, build
education, healthcare, sanitation, clean water for the next generation, that’s what they
did with fully private money. In fact, if you give governments the ability
to control and surveille money, they are the ones that are committing the massive crimes
with money. And they are making sure their “secrecy”,
protects them from scrutiny. So, privacy is fundamental. And privacy in money is equally fundamental
because money is a very important tool in our society. With it you can express your powers as a citizen,
you can contribute to political parties, you can engage in trade and commerce, these are
important activities for humans. So, I will continue to be a very strong advocate
of that, I think privacy is something that we need to strengthen in Bitcoin, not weaken. I think that regulations of exchanges and
the demands to have small start up companies store the private information of thousands
of users are idiotically dangerous. And will only result in people losing their
private information, and in the end they don’t protect anything. Because you collect all of the information
on the innocent people, and the criminals use the wallet that doesn’t require their
identity. It’s not hard to understand that. That if you make it criminal to operate without
identity, then the only people who operate without identity are criminals who are already
doing the criminal things. And they dont have any reason to give you
more information. You’re punishing the innocent, in order
to catch the criminals, which is ridiculous. And speaking about this dystopian scenario,
yesterday you said we’re getting into near a Huxley Brave New World dystopia, I agree. But, is it possible that the whole blockchain
revolution ends up on the wrong hands? What would that scenario look like? Oh, some of it will. Some of it will. The question is, can we keep some of it in
our hands? Because this is the basic idea of technology
in general which is, technology is simply a tool. It’s neutral, it’s agnostic, it doesn’t
see purpose or morality. It’s what you put that tool to use. And some people will pick up a tool and use
it for evil. You can look at a hammer and say I can build
a hundred homes for the homeless with it. Or you can use it to bash your neighbour over
the head. The intent is not in the tool. Blockchains and cryptocurrencies are neutral
tools. And some people will use them to control others,
to surveille others, to limit their choices, to present them with fake freedom, and fake
money that they can use to control them. And some of us will use them to get more freedom
and more privacy to the world. And let’s hope more people choose our path,
and that’s the best we can do. Great, one final question, as we are humans
ready for a global open fully connected economy? I think we are absolutely ready for a global
open connected economy, in fact because we have had a global open connected economy for
thousands of years. The recent development of nation state borders
that limit the scope of trade is the aberration. The norm has been an open global economy,
and walls for thousands of years. So yes, we are absolutely ready for that. Ok, let’s hope for the best then. Fantastic, thank you so much for this. Thanks you very much Andreas for visiting
us. Los invitamos a visitar Cripto247, el principal
medio de noticias cripto en espanol. Y a suscribirse al canal de RipioTV, para
recibir videos y updates semanales del mundo cripto Muchas gracias, thank you very much. Hasta luego.

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