What a great welcome. I don’t know
if I can keep up with that level of energy.
I really like that demonstration of the
cognitive and statistical biases in selection.
Are you familiar with survivorship bias?
It happens when you do a poll like,
“How drunk were you at the party yesterday?”
The only people here are the people
who didn’t go to the party [last night].
[Laughter] Your results are skewed.
Where are the people who are hung over?
They are [certainly] not here,
so they can’t participate in the poll.
Those results are not scientifically accurate.
I love little statistical tricks like that.
I am so happy to be in Berlin.
I am so happy to be back at ‘We Are Developers,’
speaking with you today about trust and security
in this new model that we have
using open public blockchains.
When I say “security,” what comes to mind first?
Is it a lock? A door? A wall? A safe?
You think of physically restricting access.
If you are an information security professional, you
probably think of firewalls and inspection devices.
Systems that control access.
When I say “trust,” you probably think
of friends and people dear to you.
Someone you have a personal connection with.
We associate “trust” with people
who are in our local surroundings.
When we try to engage with more people than our local
surroundings, our brain starts playing weird tricks on us,
like the statistical bias I talked about before.
We trust people who have the same
background as us, people who look like us.
Evolution has taught us to trust our tribe
because that is a mechanism for survival.
In our modern society, that type of cognitive
bias can lead to horrible outcomes: racism,
sexism, ageism, ableism, and
other forms of discrimination.
[This informs your] judgements about trustworthiness
because your brain is wired to use these short-cuts.
It is an efficiency machine that does pattern matching.
These patterns are easy, obvious,
and you learned them from birth.
It is a very bad model for trust,
but it is the only model we have.
When we operate in a society that is greater
than one hundred people, we must find new models
for trust and engaging with others.
We must extend trust to a bigger circle.
How do we do that?
We use intermediaries, trusted third-parties.
We rely on our bank to protect us from
someone else’s check or payment bouncing.
We trust authorities, organizations, and institutions.
We expect them to operate
through a series of rules and policies.
That model is flawed too. It scales a bit better,
but it does something very dangerous.
It gives power to the intermediary
that acts [on our behalf].
It gives power to financial services
companies and banks, but I’m Greek,
so that trust doesn’t go very far in my country…
And my country is not unique.
I can name two dozen countries where,
if you say “trust your bank” to an audience this size,
the laughter would go on for ten minutes
and I wouldn’t be able to finish my talk.
“Trust your government.”
Germans can say, “Ja, voll!”
But 80% of the world will say,
“Haha, I don’t trust my government.”
“They are a bunch of crooks, probably
worse than the bankers they appointed.”
Trust in intermediary institutions doesn’t scale [enough].
It doesn’t allow us to solve the
global problems we need to solve.
Each of these institutions has a narrow jurisdiction;
it usually operates within the confines of one country.
Norms are different in each country.
So trust hasn’t scaled with the models we have.
They afford too much power to the intermediaries,
power that corrupts and leads to abuse.
Ask someone in the United States
how they feel about trusting the police.
You don’t call the cops in the U.S., because
they are more likely to shoot you “accidentally”
than to the solve the problem.
Trust in power is a dangerous thing in
a modern world and globalized economy.
Think about the models of trust and security
we have become used to over the years.
If you visit European cities, a common
tourist attraction is some kind of gate.
The Brandenburg Gate,
or the ring of gates on the outskirts of Paris.
Those gates used to be part of the
medieval wall that surrounded the city.
In medieval society, a wall was security. That was
how you kept the barbarians out: you built a wall.
The Great Wall of China.
The not-so-great wall on the U.S. / Mexico border
that will never be built, and thank God for that…
Walls are the model of trust and
security we’ve had for millenia.
But walls fail.
They fail not just because of ladders, catapults,
or airplanes, but because of the need for trade.
If you build a wall, you still need
gates that open most of the time,
so people can come in and out
of the market to sell their wares.
If you are under siege and close the gates,
it may be a matter of days or months
before everybody inside starves.
If you close the gates because you don’t like the
people outside, the interesting and vibrant market
will emerge ad-hoc right outside the wall.
Your marketplace is now outside, not inside.
Walls in our modern society
have failed because of trade.
We need to constantly move people, goods,
and value in and out of our globalized cities.
What happens when we create an information
economy on the internet, a new environment…
for us to trade ideas, goods, and value?
We still try to build walls and imbue them
with fire, and we call them “firewalls.”
It sounds very impressive until you actually see one:
a black box with one LED. What does it do?
It creates a [digital] barrier to entry, replicating
the model of a medieval city onto the internet.
There is an inner core, a trust center, where corporate
data lives and dies as stale, useless content.
Uncollaborative and unshared.
But there is a very nice firewall protecting that core data.
You won’t use it [for anything interesting], because
in order to do so, you would need to open a gate.
As soon as you open a gate,
“bad things” could flow through the gate.
Who has gone on a vacation and
taken their work laptop with them?
You might have come back with seventeen trojans,
three viruses, and a porn toolbar.
Did you bring that laptop back
inside your corporate firewall?
The barbarians are now inside.
What should you do now? Close the gate? No.
Build concentric circles: an inner circle,
a medium circle, and an outer circle.
The inner circle has the confidential corporate data.
The intranet has your wiki, with broader access.
Then you have the open public systems.
Just like in a medieval city, when you close the gates,
the market ends up growing outside the walls.
All of the interesting work, value creation, content,
and code is open-source and outside your firewalls.
It is happening on GitHub and
Wikipedia under open licenses.
It is happening on the [wild] spaces of the internet.
Maybe your company isn’t participating in any of that,
because you are too busy hiding behind the wall,
scared to connect to the broader internet.
When I started consulting companies
about the internet in the 1990s,
this concept was the biggest challenge to explain.
They would ask me, “Why would we
open ourselves up to the internet?
“It is full of pornographers,
criminals, terrorists, and scammers!”
Today, we have a new model for trust and security.
This model is not closed.
It doesn’t use walls or gates.
Open public blockchains creates trust by developing
a platform that can mediate without being…
under the control of any one organization or institution.
It can allow individuals to scale
operations to people they don’t know,
because they can trust the rules of consensus.
They will have settlement of transactions
and verification of data on an open, public,
neutral, transparent platform.
It is also censorship resistant, which totalitarian
states hate because they cannot shut it down.
You can’t take Bitcoin out of your country,
but you can take your country out of Bitcoin,
and miss out on the benefits.
This applies to every open public blockchain
that is resistant to censorship and control.
Platforms where we can build trust between
individuals and collaborating organizations.
They enable new forms of collaboration.
Ad-hoc companies, decentralized
autonomous organizations (DAOs),
and charities that are truly transparent because
we can track their spending across the world.
They enable international payments across
any borders, without needing the privileges
that all of us in this room share.
I don’t just mean having a bank account,
but more importantly to have an identity that
We can be full members of a society rather than
a hunted immigrant, refugee, or oppressed minority
in a country that prohibits them from owning property.
The blockchain sees none of [those differences].
These characteristics are invisible to these
open platforms, therefore they are neutral.
Rather than a model of closed concentric circles,
we have a model where everything
is open and auditable by everyone.
Security emerges not through control by
one institution, but from the collaboration of
tens of thousands independently checking each result,
and then coming together in consensus…
to say, “This is the truth… of the last ten minutes.”
I can’t control it, but I can verify it.
This model will change how we handle trust,
security, and collaboration across the world.
It will change the nature of the modern
corporation, commerce, and trade.
For the first time in human history, every human being
on the planet could have access to financial services
without asking for permission, without showing identity,
or needing to belong to a certain class.
It doesn’t matter if their government
doesn’t want them to have it.
Through the simple installation of an application.
Software is the new form of banking.
A lot of you may have heard that these open blockchains
are about making a one-world currency.
There could be nothing further from the truth.
Or [you have heard that they are about]
banking everyone, to bank the unbanked,
those who did not have access.
I’m here to tell you that these platforms give us
a choice to engage in [decentralized] consensus,
trust in many, to scale our social
organizations to massive levels,
to the whole international population
of humanity without barriers.
It is not about “banking the unbanked,”
it is about unbanking all of us.
It is not about creating new trusted institutions,
but creating trust without them.
Trust through software.
Trust as a protocol. Trust-over-IP (TIP).
What do the companies say when you tell them this?
That you can use this new platform and configure
trust parameters, through a protocol that…
is open, public, transparent, and neutral?
The same thing they said to me in 1995.
“Isn’t that the platfrom being used by drug dealers,
terrorists, pornographers, and scammers?” Yes, it is.
Just like the internet. It is also being used
by two billion people sharing cat videos.
It is being used by thousands of people today,
hundreds of thousands of people tomorrow,
and millions of people the day after.
It will help them provide sanitation, education, and
a future that cannot be confiscated from their children.
[Bitcoin] cannot be seized, currency controlled,
or shut down by every totalitarian government.
It gives people voice and freedom of expression.
Because without the freedom to transact
and associate, your vote and freedom of expression
mean absolutely nothing.
If we go to a world where digital cash is
the only cash that exists… if we eradicate cash,
as so many governments are trying to do…
if we eradicate the ability to transact anonymously,
individual to individual…
Every government controlling that system could
turn off your economic life with the flip of a switch.
Did you go to the wrong protest?
Did you vote for the wrong party?
Did you talk to the wrong person on
the internet? You will no longer exist.
You will have no income.
You won’t be able to buy food.
You couldn’t travel on the trains or take a plane.
If you think I’m exaggerating, this system already exists
today. It is called Sesame Credit, being trialed in China.
It has excluded 100 million people from public
transportation and flights across the country.
It denies people access to fundamental services,
by virtue of how they politically engage with others.
Every citizen of a country that empowers their
government like this, is one bad election away…
from losing their freedom forever.
We have a choice.
We are at a crossroads.
We must pick between a future where trust is
a decentralized open protocol that everyone…
can participate in, or a future where trust is controlled
by a narrower and narrower set of interests…
that use it to control our lives.
They want to prevent us from
engaging with each other.
They want to create tiers, not just of citizens
and non-citizens, but of human and sub-human.
They want people to be judged by their credit
score, [to figure out] whether they are worthy
to participate in the global economy.
Do you know what open public blockchains
like Bitcoin say to that? Everyone is worthy.
You don’t even need to be a human to participate;
software agents can do it for you.
There is no requirement for identity,
or to prove you even have a heartbeat.
“On the internet, no one knows that you are a dog.”
Remember that expression?
On Bitcoin, no one knows that your dog is a millionaire.
Maybe not, but it is a really interesting
future we are building here.
For the first time in history, we have the
ability to scale trust and security to a global level.
It will be based on an open protocol that
no one can corrupt, co-opt, take over, or control.
With that model, we can seek freedom.
We can build tremendous applications, software
that is unstoppable, speech that is uncensorable,
and commerce that cannot be deplatformed.
We will take back the internet from companies
who think they can decide that hate speech is okay,
but female nipples are terrifying to our children.
Do you know what is actually terrifying
to children? Fascism. Not nipples.
[Applause] They have an intimate and natural
relationship with nipples for the first years of their life.
We should be terrified for the future of our children,
not because they will be exposed
to nudity, but [violent] radicalism.
The same companies, which have
adopted a puritanical morality…
that you didn’t vote for and doesn’t match your interests,
don’t give a shit about environmentalism.
They don’t give a shit about LGBTQ issues.
They will only put up a giant rainbow sign that says
‘MasterCard’ on it. Are you fucking kidding me?
Those companies are selling fake morality
that has been focus-grouped, packaged and delivered…
as a dopamine engaging algorithm that
tweaks our brain until we are mindless drones.
We will take back the internet.
We will take back our data.
We will take back our privacy,
which is a fundamental human right.
We will do all of that by building unstoppable platforms
and protocols for the next frontier in trust and security.
Thank you! [Applause]