Andreas M. Antonopoulos: Bitcoin Outlook 2021


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My guest is Andreas M. Antonopoulos, who has been one of my biggest inspirations on my Bitcoin journey. We are discussing Bitcoin, the ultimate fairness system, why we need to strengthen privacy now, and his outlook for 2021. His talks have been inspiring and ensuring that is the space where my personal values and ethics find a place to work on something that is bigger than me, where I can contribute to changing the world to become a better place. Andreas M. Antonopoulos is a bitcoin and open blockchains educator, he coined the terms “Not your keys, not your coins” and “streaming money” and is the author of Mastering Bitcoin, the Internet of Money series and is currently working on the book Mastering the Lightning Network.

Our topics:

  • Bitcoin, the fairness protocol
  • The danger of changes to the consensus protocol
  • Good bitcoin addresses, bad bitcoin addresses
  • The propaganda of self-hosted wallets
  • Fight for privacy
  • Taproot activation, Schnorr signatures
  • Doing Coinjoins, Wasabi, Samourai wallet
  • Outlook for the Lightning Network 2021
  • Kraken implementing Lightning
  • Phoenix, Breeze, Strike wallets
  • Macro-outlook for Bitcoin in 2021

“Resisting isn’t something that you do by breaking the law. Resisting is something you do by innovating to make the law irrelevant, obsolete, and ridiculous. Right. So how do you do that? By implementing consensus changes to the protocol, that strengthen privacy faster than they make changes. We need to strengthen privacy now, and fight back.” – Andreas M. Antonopoulos

“If you see too much drama happening around the price, switch your focus. It always works for me. Go back into the technology. Focus on education. There’s billionaires on Twitter and on TV going: blahblahblahblahblah. Turn them off.” – Andreas M. Antonopoulos

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Recording Date: December 18, 2020
Location: Online

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    Anita Posch [00:06:18] Hello, Andreas. Thanks for joining my show. It's the fourth time and I'm very happy to have you here again, hello.

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:06:28] It's my pleasure, Anita. I hope you're well.

    Anita Posch [00:06:31] I'm well, I hope you too. It's been a rough year, huh?

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:06:34] Yes thank you. It has but I've been incredibly fortunate and I'm in good health. I have a job, I have a house which is a lot better than a lot of other people. So, I have nothing to complain about.

    Anita Posch [00:06:51] Yeah, me too. Andreas, we have just recently seen a new all-time high or two or three all-time highs. It seems that a new hype cycle around Bitcoin is in the making. I'd like to talk with you about the importance of staying true to the values of Bitcoin and not get sucked into the, "hoorah, hoorah the billionaires here." And institutions buying into and promoting Bitcoin.

    In the second half of our interview, I would like to hear your outlook for 2021 in terms of the macroeconomic situation. Also of course, in terms of Bitcoin. Now, let's start with the basics. One of the reasons why I'm in this space and I think you too is, what you have called recently, 'the fairness protocol'. You have used the story of two of your cousins fighting about foods an example, can you please elaborate on what this has to do with Bitcoin?

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:08:00] Yeah. So if you think about what we're trying to achieve with the Bitcoin system. In my mind, if we look at it on a very big scale, what Bitcoin is, is a mechanism that allows us to achieve fair results without having someone in charge. That's really all it is and so, the interesting thing is that the ways that we've developed as human beings to achieve fair results have evolved over time.

    In the past, maybe we had a tribal leader or elder who decided. Or maybe a king or an aristocrat who listened to the disputes and one peasant with come and say, "So-and-so stole my goat."
    "Yes, he did cut off his head." And gradually we've evolved into systems that are more transparent, are more effective but ultimately the mechanism we still use to achieve fairness is through enforcement of fair outcomes. So we have institutions, we have law enforcements, we have a justice system, all of which attempt to provide fairness.

    Now I remember from my childhood and this is a true story. My two cousins fighting over a plate of fried potatoes which, every day was the exact same scenario. It was like every day as if the previous day was repeating. My aunt would make a very big bowl of potatoes and then my cousins would tear each other apart over who would eat more of them.

    Anita Posch [00:09:44] Sorry, what did you get? [laughs]

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:09:48] Oh, no. I got to watch all of this. Usually, I'd already had lunch by that point. Mine was separate. I did not have to fight them, fortunately, but it was a thing that happened for quite a while. I think it was my mom who actually proposed the solution because they had tried everything. They had tried just making more potatoes. They had tried having my aunt split them but then she was accused of being unfair or being favoritist towards one cousin. It was a whole thing.

    So my mom suggested a game that she knew from her childhood called you split, I choose. This is where one cousin would split the two portions. Then, once there's two portions, the other cousin gets to choose. Very quickly, they figured out that if they cheated and made one portion larger, that's the one the other person would choose. So they'd end up with a smaller portion. So they'd lose.

    There's no way they too have a lose-lose situation in this. You either have a win-win where both parties win or you have a win-lose, which is the fault of the person who tried to cheat. They're the one who loses. So this is a self-reinforcing protocol.

    Basically, this is a classic game theory. Now in mathematics, we call that game theory. It's a mechanism of incentives or disincentives. It's what happens when you have two parties that are competing or trying to cooperate, that maybe have different interests and are trying to achieve them within a specific context. The interesting thing about systems like this, is that you don't need to enforce fairness.

    All you need to do is keep both people in the game. You need to make sure that they can't break the rules of the game but they can try to cheat. But if they do try to cheat, they lose. So to me, that's what Bitcoin is. It's game theory but applied to the broader game of security, trust, money. We're seeing this now across other open blockchains, being applied to other things, with things like decentralized finance. I call that the fairness protocol, just because there's not a very good name for how these things work.

    The best part of it is that, 99% of the time, the participants figure out what the game is and then stop cheating because it's not in their interest. So you use basically market forces and you use self-interest to achieve fairness.
    No one has to intervene. No one has to apply the rules. We do this in Bitcoin mining. So Bitcoin miners could include an invalid transaction if they wanted to but if they do or if they tried to give themselves a bigger reward per block, then their block gets rejected by everyone and they've already spent the electricity, so they lose.

    So it's not in their interest to do that. It's not in their interest to cheat. It's not in their interest to even attempt to cheat or attack the system and they figured that out very, very quickly. The same thing applies to the Lightning Network. I came up with this idea mostly because I wanted to explain some of the more complicated parts of the Lightning Network and that's what the fairness protocol is.

    Anita Posch [00:13:14] Yeah, I think it's a perfect example for everything that Bitcoin handles automatically, with this mathematical rules. This was also a very good talk of you this year, rules without rulers. I think these two talks of you are basically the foundational explanation of what Bitcoin and open blockchains are. I guess should be because I can only guess, that this was also the intentional idea behind it.

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:13:51] It was but with rules without rulers, I talk more broadly and abstractly. I found these from trying to explain it this way, that when I say mathematical rules, most people go, "Oh, I don't understand mathematics. That's it, I can't. I can't do this. Mathematics, complicated. I didn't understand it well at school and honestly, I'm not very good at math."

    That's not the point. The whole point of me explaining it by how you split a bowl of fried potatoes, is that everyone can immediately recognize how this game will play. It's still mathematical rules but it's mathematical rules at the level of a child's game. At its basic, the most effective fairness protocols are really that simple. Lots of other things may be happening but if you cheat, you end up losing is something that everyone can understand.

    Anita Posch [00:14:44] Exactly. If you haven't done that as a child, you experienced it as an adult then as a parent, I guess. So everybody can relate.

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:15:01] Let me ask you, is there a name for the splits and choose protocol? Did you use that in your childhood? Did it have a name? Has anyone done that with birthday cake or chips or something like that as a child?

    Anita Posch [00:15:14] Oh, I can remember that. I did it sometimes with a chewing gum but it was cheating on a higher level because I did it with my small sister. So she was very much younger and I could influence her. So I said, "Okay, I'm tearing the chewing gum apart and we share."
    And of course, when you tear it apart, you have a bigger part in the smaller part. And I took the bigger part, ate a piece of it and said, "Now it's half-half. Here, you have your half." So yeah that was cheating, of course, but I understand the game.

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:15:57] [laughs] Yeah. It doesn't have a name in German?

    Anita Posch [00:15:58] I don't think so, I'm not sure.

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:16:01] Ah, very good. The next one I was hoping to do, is the use of random functions in order to distribute power fairly which is another children's game. It's called roshambo or rock, paper, scissors.

    Anita Posch [00:16:22] I don't know how it's called so we say schere, stein, brunnen.

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:16:30] Yeah, so rock, paper, scissors.

    Anita Posch [00:16:31] So the paper floats on the water and stuff, yeah.

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:16:33] Right. So that game is a very simple explanation of how, if you have two or more parties, you can select someone to be a leader, to go first, to do something, instead of someone else without having any influence over the outcome.

    You don't need someone to be in charge to choose. It's a decentralized protocol for achieving a fair choice between random participants. We actually use that in Ethereum 2.0, that's what the Beacon Chain does. It just does it with hashes and random numbers but it's basically the same concept.

    Anita Posch [00:17:12] This is not also an explanation for smart contracts?

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:17:18] For some smart contracts, yes. Exactly. You have a set of very simple rules. Everybody knows what the roles are and as long as you synchronize and play by the rules then, the outcome is decided fairly. You can't really cheat in that environment.

    Anita Posch [00:17:36] Yeah, exactly. Now we are having this wonderful fairness protocol but it seems to also be in danger because I think one of the important parts is the consensus, of all participants. You said in another talk that, when more and more big institutions and big billionaires come into the space, they could basically influence coin consensus.

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:18:04] Not directly, I don't think. Yes, I think that's an important distinction which is and I've actually heard back from some people who are like, "Hang on a second we're investors in this space. We have no intention of changing the consensus protocol, of course not. That's not how you start." So this is a classic example of where what happens is, what seems like a small sacrifice or a small change in how things are done cascades and turns into a forced change of the consensus protocol. Nobody's going to come and say, "Hey, by the way, we're going to do 24 million Bitcoin. Is that okay?" Because everybody's going to go, "No, that's not okay. It's 21. Here's a book, it's 21. See?"

    No one's going to go and make that change directly. No one's going to go and say, we want to do surveillance on all addresses. No one's going to go and say you are only going to allow transactions to government-approved Bitcoin addresses. They're not going to start there.

    They're going to start several steps before. They're going to start with, "Well, when you withdraw from an exchange, we want to make sure that you own the wallet you're withdrawing and you're not using the withdrawal function to pay someone. So you need to sign a message with your wallet to prove that you own it."

    Okay, great. Now we're going to request that exchanges do not allow withdrawals or sending to this list of bad addresses. It starts with a block list. These addresses belong to bad people who did bad things. Not bad people in governments, not bad people who are funding Wars, not bad people who make military weapons. No, no, no, no. Not those kinds of bad people, no. Bad people who sold marijuana, bad people who are sex workers, bad people who have political ideas that you don't like. It's very important to understand that that's where it gets applied.

    And so, they're going to say you can't send to these addresses. Well, that's not a very big thing, so you can send to those addresses but I didn't want to send to those addresses anyway. Right? So then the problem is they put that rule in place. What happens next? What happens next, is the "bad" people start making more addresses and they bypass this rule. They make more and more and more addresses.

    And then someone comes up and says, "Listen, we already have this rule in place. You all agreed it was necessary to stop crime. We just need to modify it a tiny bit because it's not working because they're cheating. So all we have to do is make it just the other way around. We just make a list of addresses that are all good addresses and that way they can keep making new ones and all you have to do is submit your addresses to the “Bundes”government or whatever, to the office of authorized Bitcoin addresses. Together with your driver's ID or your national ID and it's fine."

    Then, of course, miners will start mining transactions to bad addresses or they maybe will not mine to good addresses. So then they come back and they say, "Well, we need a number of small changes. It's not a big change, you've already accepted all of these things." This is called a slippery slope argument.

    "We just need to make sure that its miners do not do this. If any miners do, we will prosecute them." So then miners keep doing this and you try to prosecute them but maybe you can't find some of them. So then you're like, "Well, we tried to do it the nice way but you weren't playing fair. So now we're going to need the miners to license because if the miners aren't licensed, then anybody can be a miner and then they won't follow the law. It is the law. So what is your problem? We're just trying to stop bad people from having Bitcoin."

    Gradually, now you've turned it into PayPal. You've centralized. Now, here's the last step. The easy one. This is the one you can explain to the billionaire investors so they can understand why they should care about this. And that is, there's all of this Bitcoin that's in bad addresses that are not allowed to be used anymore. So out of the 21 million coins, already 3 million coins are in bad addresses. Really what we should do is take those out of the blockchain. They take up a lot of space, gigabytes. Really, we don't need them in there.

    Then of course, since they're already there, maybe we should replace them with fresh Bitcoin that we can give to all of you. Especially the licensed miners who have been such good partners in our crime enforcement. That's how you end up with 24 million Bitcoin. You just made 3 million of them unnecessary. Then of course, once you've done that once then you say, "Well we're having economic crisis. A pandemic happened, we really need more Bitcoin to be issued."

    The point is, that you can't have a system that is somewhat consistent with the rules without that gradually getting more and more and more restrictive. There is no bureaucrat, no regulator who will accept partial control because every time someone bypasses that control, they see that as an attack against their authority and they will want to find a solution to that. The solution is always more control.

    Anita Posch [00:23:36] But what can we do about that? It's going to happen, I think because it's the same with the banking regulation. They want to do that with Bitcoin too. It's starting with misleading words like 'self-hosted wallet'.

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:23:55] Yes, exactly. What a wonderful propaganda. So what we need to do is be aware. Not only of what is happening but also where it goes. I think it's a very big ... First of all, a lot of people don't think this is a problem. That's the first step we have to do is explain why this is a problem.

    And they say, to use the chess example because The Queen's Gambit is a very popular show right now. It's just a pawn and you just sacrifice that pawn. It's no big deal. So what if you lose one pawn? Well, what if I tell you that if you lose that pawn, you are five moves from checkmate and there's absolutely nothing you can do to save yourself if you lose that pawn. Well, suddenly that pawn is the entire game.

    Self-hosted wallet regulations, blacklisting and block listing addresses. Then whitelisting addresses, then licensing of nodes, then licensing of miners. All of these things follow one from the next. If you sacrifice the first, it starts rolling downhill and we've already lost a lot. You already have to do all of this KYC to sign up to an exchange and then they send all of that information to the government.

    Once you understand why it's important, then we start resisting. Resisting isn't something that you do by breaking the law. Resisting is something you do by innovating to make the law irrelevant, obsolete and ridiculous. So how do you do that? By implementing consensus changes to the protocol that strengthen privacy faster than they make changes that break privacy. You can't use a blacklist if you can't see what the destination address is. You can't create white lists if everything goes through the white list but the white lists are just ways to send to somewhere else. You use layer two technologies like the Lightning Network. We need to strengthen privacy now and fight back.

    Anita Posch [00:26:00] And do you think that in 2021, one of the changes that would be good for more privacy is taproot? Do you think that-

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:26:09] Yes, absolutely.

    Anita Posch [00:26:10] ... Will this be implemented this year?

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:26:15] I think the code will be merged into Bitcoin Core this year which will be the start of an activation process that can take anywhere from one to three years. It very much depends. I hope we'll do it faster than three years but nothing moves too fast in Bitcoin for good reasons. Taproot is a very, very important privacy-preserving technology. It's also a building block that allows us to build other, even more important privacy-preserving technologies.

    Anita Posch [00:26:42] Yes. Can you please elaborate on that a little bit? I think it enables pay join and other stuff.

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:26:52] Yeah, Taproot is basically a collection of three different technologies merged together. The primary are, first of all, it's an implementation of Schnorr signatures. So as part of the taproot package is Schnorr signatures which are signatures that have some unique properties.

    One of the unique properties is that you can aggregate them. So what that means is, for example, if we have five private keys, five public keys and five signatures, we can add up all of the signatures and add up all of the public keys. So, that looks like a transaction created by the sum of all of the private keys and sign that way. So you can't tell the difference between a transaction that was signed by five people and a transaction that was signed by one.

    This allows you to then take other protocols that use multisignature and hide them and make them look like a simple payment. So a transaction cashing out from a Lightning channel, for example, looks like of very simple payment from one person to another. You can't tell the difference, that's critical. So, Schnorr signature aggregation.

    The second big technology is what's called Merkelized Abstract Syntax Trees but basically, this is what it is. In Bitcoin, we have a scripting language that allows us to tell you why and how something is being spent. So you can say, "This is being spent because it's protected by a multisig and here's three signatures which solve this multisig." These scripts can get rather complicated. You can say, "If one of these keys or two of these keys or this key after three months or that key, signs." So you have four different conditions.

    As it is now, you would have to show the whole script and then which part of it you executed. Now, the beautiful part of this new taproot development is that you can hide all of that script as a tree that is a Merkel tree with its hash in the script. Then you only show the branch who executed.

    So you say, "Well in here, was the thing that said one of these two keys. What else was in there? You don't need to know. It's some other hashes. You never know what it is. So I'll show you only the parts that I am executing. In fact, even better using Schnorr signatures, I will then take that and make it look like a single signature of a single script." Now you don't know what is happening behind the scenes. So it's a major privacy upgrade. It's a scalability upgrade. It's an efficiency upgrade and it's a script upgrade.

    Anita Posch [00:29:34] Would you recommend regular people, I say more Bitcoin users like me, to do CoinJoins on my coins at the moment?

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:29:44] Yes, under some circumstances. I'd love to see more people using privacy-aware wallets. Probably the two best in Bitcoin are a wallet called Samourai which is a mobile wallet and a wallet called Wasabi which is a desktop wallet. Both of those have a variety of privacy-protecting technologies.

    They have technologies that allow you to use Tor so that your connection isn't monitored. They have technologies that allow you to take a single transaction and use several addresses in between. So that you put some distance between you and the final recipient. They have technologies that allow you to do CoinJoins where you make a transaction but you make it with five other people so that your privacy isn't violated. So that no one can immediately see what you are paying for, what somebody else was paying for.

    So these are all great technologies and the more people using them, the more effective they are. However, today if you do a CoinJoin, it is very obvious. If you look at a CoinJoin transaction, it's an obvious CoinJoin transaction. Usually, you have to have the same amounts being sent to make a good CoinJoin transaction.

    So you might say, "I'm going to do a 0.01 Bitcoin CoinJoin." You might do that in order to increase the privacy of your own coins. Everybody has to pay the same amount so then you can't simply say, "Well, I need to pay 33 coins and Joe paid 27." Then on the other end, here's someone getting paid 33. Here's someone getting paid 27. So that's probably Anita and that's probably Joe. But if it's all 0.1, 0.1, 0.1, 0.1, you don't know who's paying who.

    Taproot makes that transaction, much less obvious that it's a CoinJoin and so, then all of the signatures get merged together and you make it appear as one transaction, one payment. So, you could start using it today. It's certainly going to make your privacy better. It's going to make everybody else's privacy better because the more people doing it, the more privacy everybody has but we really need to do better than just that.

    Anita Posch [00:32:06] I think, for a start, the most easy and most important step is to not reuse Bitcoin addresses.

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:32:15] Exactly and that's a step everybody can take simply by using, a BIP 39 mnemonic based, hierarchal, deterministic wallet. Which is a lot of words to say, a wallet where you have the 12 to 24 words that are your seed and that wallet, you'll notice when you start using it, generate a new address every time you want to make a transaction. It sends the change to a new address every time, not back to the original address. That makes it a lot harder for someone to track all of your spending.

    Anita Posch [00:32:47] Now, let's talk a little bit about the Lightning Network. You're currently writing a book about mastering the Lightning Network. Do you think that-

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:33:00] Yes but I want to clarify, I'm writing it with two other people. So we're writing it together. My co-authors are Olaoluwa Osuntokun, who is the chief technology officer of Lightning labs. One of the key scientists who's doing the implementation of one of the more popular Lightning clients. And René Pickhardt, who is a data scientist and teacher who's doing his Ph.D. at the moment and also, very influential in explaining and advancing the technology. So it's not just me. I wanted to clarify that.

    Anita Posch [00:33:32] René is a great explainer, also. He's a German speaker.

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:33:39] Yes, he is. He's a fantastic explainer and apart from that, we're writing this book open-source on GitHub. We have thousands and thousands of other people collaborating already who are adding corrections, who are clarifying things or even writing, whole paragraphs.

    Anita Posch [00:33:57] Cool. So you are a co-coordinator too, not only an author?

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:34:03] Yes. In fact, over three books of doing this in this style. The Mastering series which are open source books, I've gradually moved much more to being the Maestro. I wrote about 85%-90% of Mastering Bitcoin. I wrote about 45% to 50% of Mastering Ethereum like wrote the text itself. What I did was a lot of editing, polishing, making sure the narrative flows, coordination, managing the community. Mastering Lightning,
    I'm hoping to write less than 30%. We'll see how that goes and do more of the Maestro work.

    Anita Posch [00:34:45] Great. Do you think that in 2021, we will see some kind of mainstream adoption of Lightning? Like newbies coming into this space and immediately use Lightning for, I don't know, podcasting 2.0. For instance, paying podcasters, like me in the Sphinx Chat app with streaming money, a term you coined. Now it's real. Streaming money is here. I find that so fascinating. Have you used the Sphinx app? Have you seen this tool?

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:35:16] I have not used Sphinx. Is that the messaging protocol for chats over Lightning?

    Anita Posch [00:35:24] Yes, exactly and they now implemented podcasts into their chat. Let's say it like that. It's called tribes and me as a podcaster, I have my podcast tribe in the chat room basically. It's connected to my RaspiBlitz, to my Lightning node and as soon as somebody is listening to my podcast in the chat app, they send automatically to me, to my node. It's really fantastic.

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:35:55] Fantastic.

    Anita Posch [00:35:56] So also, I heard that Kraken is going to implement lightning. Do you think that it's going to be more usable for newbies too?

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:36:08] I think so. I think we are where Bitcoin was towards the end of 2012, 2013. I remember then, there was really only one Android wallet. It wasn't very good. 2013 was when hierarchal, deterministic wallets were invented and mnemonic phrases and hardware wallets. All of that happened between 2012 and 2014.

    That led to a revolution in wallets which made wallets easier to use, more accessible, easier to back up, easier to understand, more private, all of these things. I think we're right there with the Lightning Network. The wallets have gotten much easier. Now the Lightning Network has been running now, effectively for two years. The testnet was running for another here before that, so maybe three. I've been running a node now on the Lightning Network since there were 17 nodes on the network. So one of the very, very early nodes and gradually, it's getting easier.

    It was not easy to use but now you have wallets like. Phoenix and Breez and Strike that actually make it a lot easier to set up a lightning wallet and to use it. It feels and looks very much like a Bitcoin wallet and you don't need to worry about channels and incoming channels and outgoing channels. All of that detail is taken care of but it's still non-custodial, you control your funds.

    So those are great developments. I think we're getting there. Will it happen in 2021? Probably not. I think it's still going to be an esoteric thing but you know what? I paid my first payroll in Lightning, just a few months ago and I did so again recently, for a second time. Where I paid a contractor or an employee, with a Lightning payment.

    Anita Posch [00:38:07] Just directly from you to the person? Not with a tool like I don't know, BitWage or something? Just you to the person.

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:38:17] Oh, yeah. Absolutely no, direct. They had a BlueWallet or Breez, I think it was a BlueWallet. I have a lightning node ... well, I have several actually but I have one that's connected to my shop which is part experiment, part real e-commerce. So I use that to send out payments.

    Anita Posch [00:38:39] Now I've lost the question I wanted to ask you but anyhow, what's your forecast in general for 2021 for Bitcoin? We won't talk about the price but I guess, there is a big new wave coming in of new people who are interested in Bitcoin. Together with the COVID crisis and the new money coming in, like the printer going, "Brrr."

    What do you think, are we going to see this year? It's also a question to you because I know you're very educated on that but do you think the vaccination really will help us to lead a more normal life next year, again?

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:39:26] I hope so. I don't think we're going to see much normalization in the first half of the year but maybe in the second half of the year. From July onwards, maybe we'll start seeing some normalization but again, what is normal? Do we want normal to be what it was before?

    Do we want normal to be unemployment, economic inequality, out of control corporations, police brutality, government surveillance, geopolitical warfare, currency wars, nationalism? Is that what we want those normal? I'm hoping we don't go back to that normal. I'm hoping, in fact, that some things change and we'll see because I honestly think that before it gets better, it's actually going to get worse.

    Especially in the US, I think it's going to get a lot worse over the next four months because the real wave of disease hasn't yet peaked. It won't peak until probably March. So that's a big problem. Still a very bad situation and then the other thing is that the economy, especially in the US but I think also in Europe, the real impact, the economic impact, it hasn't been avoided. It's been postponed. It's been pushed back and it was pushed back effectively, by almost a year but it can be pushed back any further.

    So every time it gets pushed back, the price we pay is bigger and the amount of effect that has on the economy is smaller. So this is not a sustainable approach. So I think we have some very, very difficult times ahead of us. I think the currency crisis environment, is going to reach levels that have not been seen in 100 years. All of the things that we thought were stable and forever, turns out were not forever and not so stable.

    Now, that's not good for Bitcoin. It's certainly not good for Bitcoin's price. In the short term, it's actually bad. Right now, if you have an economic recession and a crisis, a lot of people who are even trying to invest in this currency suddenly find themselves with no disposable income, jobless. Well, it doesn't matter. They're not going to be able to do anything. We can't build success in global currency like Bitcoin based on six billionaires.

    This is not the plan as I keep telling people. If that is the plan, then enjoy it. I'm going to find something else to do because that doesn't interest me. We really need to anticipate the fact that in the short term, things will get a lot more difficult. Crisis is not the way that we achieve success in Bitcoin. I think a lot of people in our industry tend to be optimistic about disaster which I think is incredibly cynical and also doesn't recognize the human impact these disasters are having.

    So honestly, I would rather like to see the Euro and the dollar not being destabilized. I'd like to see the US and European economy stabilizing a bit so that people can actually have more opportunity in their lives. Even if that means not as much opportunity for Bitcoin but unfortunately I don't think that's going to happen. Again, I think things are going to get more difficult before they get better.

    Anita Posch [00:43:12] Yeah. It's hard to stay optimistic at the moment, actually. I also read that a lot of people are now in therapy because of depression. I mean, mental depression and I think we just have to live through this and do the best, what we can. Okay. So, do you have anything that you can tell us on a more optimistic side? What are you excited about?

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:43:47] Yeah. Well, I think it's important whenever I find that current politics, the world at large, all of these crises and problems are happening. I find that the best way to respond to that is to think on a much smaller basis and say, "What can I do to take care of myself today? Can I protect my mental health?" I'm a big believer in therapy but also dancing to silly music in the kitchen, whatever works. Taking care of loved ones.

    Then if you want to look more at our work side of things, if you see too much drama happening around the price, switch your focus. It always works for me. I do it all the time. Go back into the technology, focus on education. There's billionaires on Twitter and on TV going, "Blah blah blah blah blah." Turn them off. Open a book, learn something. Learn something new, study something you didn't do before. Take a project that you never thought you could complete
    and try it. Now let me ask you before you set up your RaspiBlitz, had you ever done a Rasberry Pi-based Linux system?

    Anita Posch [00:45:09] Never ever, of course not. To be honest, I organized help of course because I have friends-

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:45:17] Yes but how much fun, right?

    Anita Posch [00:45:19] It's great. I never thought that I can do it and now I'm a little bit scared because I have to change the SSD because it's too small now. And I have to do an upgrade to be able to set it up for the Sphinx Chat.

    In a few days at the Chaos Communication Congress ... It's an online event this year, of course, I'm going to present how my experiences is with my RaspiBlitz and the Sphinx nodes and podcasting 2.0. I actually never thought that I'm going to do something like that but it's great.

    And yeah, you're right. I grew a lot with Bitcoin, with all that I learned and I'm learning every day it's new. It's exactly how you say it as soon as I am on Twitter, on YouTube and everybody's talking about, "Wow price and the crisis is good for Bitcoin because people want to buy Bitcoin."

    Of course, you're right, they don't have money, so how should they buy it? Also like you said, I think it's better to earn it. That's something I started now. Also, I have two video editors and somebody from South Africa, from Nigeria and one woman in the US. They work for me as freelancers and I offered them to pay them in Bitcoin or to tip them, at least in Bitcoin. The one said no, she doesn't want to but the one in Nigeria was like, "Yeah, of course."
    [laughter]

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:46:55] Yeah, exactly. It goes a long way and it can change people's lives. It's been something that, for those of us who are fortunate to have been involved in this space a bit longer, we maybe have a little stash of Bitcoin that we can use to help others, to hire others, to pay others. So that we can build more education.

    But what we really have is a whole mountain of knowledge that we can share with others. So here's the bottom line, the value of your knowledge is going to the moon. I can predict that confidently, no matter what happens to Bitcoin we can enrich our lives, intellectually. We can enrich our lives socially by meeting people and helping them. We can enrich our lives, in an education.

    Anita Posch [00:47:50] That's absolutely true and it's also something that everybody can do. It has no barriers to entry. That's the great thing about Bitcoin because everything is open source. There's so much free education out there. Also, your online courses. I think you now have a free online course, online workshop you say?

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:48:10] Yes. There's actually a couple, yes and we're building more. There's all new ways to share and collaborate and learn. It doesn't matter where you are, where you come from. I have students who joined on a very, very low bandwidth connection from Android 7 phone from Lagos, Nigeria and from Botswana, from India, from Pakistan, from Bangladesh who join and take these, online courses.

    Maybe they're going to find a job because of this or, at least learn something. Maybe that job is going to allow them to earn some Bitcoin in the future and with that, they're going to buy a slightly better Android phone and it's a building process.

    Anita Posch [00:49:09] Yes and it's great to be in this space. Thank you, Andreas, this was the last interview of 2020 and tomorrow ... the release is on the 31st. It's going to be a new year. I wish you all the best for this new year and thank you for all the educational work you do. Please let our listeners know where they can find you.

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:49:35] So my username, aantonop which you might be able to see on your screen, A- A- N-T-O-N-O-P. You can find me as aantonop on Twitter. My YouTube channel, aantonop and my website aantonop.com where I have free education. You can find all of that online.

    Anita Posch [00:49:51] Great. I will put that in the show notes that everybody can find at anita.link/92. Thank you very much, Andreas and bye-bye.

    Andreas M. Antonopoulos [00:50:01] Bye-bye, thank you, Anita.

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