As 2020 kicks off and Bitcoin enters its second decade, Andreas Antonopoulos, a long-time supporter of cryptocurrency, says he’s surprised by the sheer amount of innovation in the industry.
The best-selling author and educator highlights several developments, including smart contracts and payment channels, as important innovations that he would not have been able to predict. They indicate the tremendous amount of ingenuity in the space and how far developers are willing to go to create a new reality in terms of money: what it is, how it moves, who controls it.
A key goal of Bitcoin and decentralized platforms, he argues, is to drive universal access to basic financial services that can outperform traditional banks and support personal rights and freedoms.
In the latest Brave New Coin podcast hosted by Andy Pickering, Antonopoulos describes the great clash between the invigorating, open Bitcoin ecosystem and people who are fighting for centralized power or a competitive advantage.
“At the same time, [I’m] equally surprised by the very rapid emergence of human nature as a way to mess everything good up, and bring drama, bitterness and division to things that really do not need it. We’ve seen quite a bit of that in this space. But at the same time, I’m full of hope and optimism because I keep meeting amazing people who are committed to these very important principles that we all share about human freedom, about empowerment, about incorporating more individuals into the world economy, about bringing more choices to people around the world, creating a more open, equitable society including financial affairs for everybody.”
Bitcoin is now one of the largest decentralized networks in the world. On-chain metrics show BTC blasting past several all-time highs and setting fresh records in terms of transaction count, transaction volume and hash rate. Despite another volatile year of price action with Bitcoin bouncing from $3,831 to above $13,000 before settling back down around $7,360 at the close of the year, the number of blockchain wallets continues its steady climb, surpassing 44 million.
Antonopoulos says Bitcoin is thriving despite its detractors.
“It is the story of something that refuses to die, that refuses to conform to expectations and narratives, that simply is, every 10 minutes, like a heartbeat of the internet, continuing to operate reliably – and that’s a magical thing.”
The narrative also encompasses the story of the global financial system, which Antonopoulos characterizes as increasingly fragile, triggering radical efforts to stabilize it. On the flip side, Bitcoin highlights an enduring alternative.
“The future that traditional systems are building has grown more and more dystopian. So in all of that, the fundamental principles of Bitcoin shine brighter and brighter with each passing year because we keep going deeper and deeper into this very, very dark future that centralization is bringing us…
It’s this idea that a healthy economy is one that is carefully controlled from the center, that stability comes from control over interest rates and central banks, that economies can only be healthy if they’re stimulated constantly with injections of free money, and that societies can only be safe if they’re subjected to totalitarian surveillance of all financial transactions and control over all financial endpoints.
All of these ideas are not only false, but they’ve become accepted wisdom without questioning. And this is a toxic situation in formerly free societies. That is creating systems that are brittle, fragile in every way, where decisions are made, as far removed from the consequences of those decisions, and from the knowledge that should inform those decisions, in a centralized place, where increasingly radical, reactionary, authoritarian measures are taken to try to control everything. And where people are constantly being told that they must fear letting go of control and having open systems because those are dangerous. Instead, safety comes from giving control to a few centralized institutions and people who surely will act in the best interests of everyone.”
You can listen to the full interview here.
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