Bitstocks’ Michael Hudson: For miners to feel truly secure, ‘we need genuine merchants’

In this interview with CoinGeek’s Becky Liggero, Bitstocks founder Michael Hudson explains what makes Bitcoin, Bitcoin.

Michael Hudson founded Bitstocks in 2014, when “Bitcoin was really Bitcoin.” In terms of its technical properties, such as ability to scale, Bitcoin Cash—now Bitcoin SV—continues functioning as an instant medium of exchange.

“So we’re now in a transition in our business where we are building an ecosystem. For us, if you’re building an ecosystem and you’re building a business, you want the most solid, robust foundations,” Hudson said. Bitstocks initially supported Bitcoin Cash as it has “the most solid and robust foundation for us to put our house, our ecosystem, our work on top of; however, Hudson announced at the recently held CoinGeek Week Conference that they will now use Bitcoin SV as the supporting cryptocurrency.

Practical application of the technology is most clear when this is embraced by merchants. “Merchants play a huge role, especially from a miner’s perspective as well. Miners are making huge amounts of financial investment which, over years, they need to get a return on investment,” according to Hudson. “In order for miners to feel truly secure and not flip-flop with their hash power, we need activity, we need genuine merchants. If there’s businesses built on top of this technology, then miners have the security to keep and continuing funding this initiative, funding this project.”

Hudson also pointed to initial coin offerings (ICOs), which he said were not bad in themselves. “ICOs gained a lot of traction in the space. There is some positive to ICOs. The negatives clearly are, you have a bunch of wasted energy, which is getting funded, to curate more inefficient wills than the original will. Bitcoin was the original will. So having projects being funded to create a more inefficient version is a complete, utter waste of time and resources. However, it has brought a lot of attention into the space,” he explained.

The important thing at present, he said, was to shift attention gained from ICOs, for real-world use. “What we need to ensure that we’re doing is that when this attention which is now being attracted to the space, the narrative and how they’re guiding that attention is done in a correct way. Education is there so people can now make real choices. We need to move from just speculation, and speculation is very fickle as well, especially with investors, to now real, genuine businesses,” he said.

Hudson also pointed to outlets such as CoinGeek as having “a very important role… in controlling this narrative and ensuring that the right education is being put out there, where people realize, ‘Hold on, maybe it’s not just all about this, this is real, this is not a fad, this isn’t just a way of making a quick buck. There’s real businesses being built on top of this stuff.’”

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Dr. Craig Wright engages in philosophical discussion about ‘hidden math’ of Bitcoin

Controversial Bitcoin visionary Dr. Craig Wright recently discussed the mathematical and biological models behind the Bitcoin protocol, in a talk on the philosophy behind Bitcoin released this week.

The chief scientist at nChain, Dr. Wright expressed his theories on the philosophical and technical underpinnings of Bitcoin in conversation with Michael Hudson, founder and CEO at crypto advisory service Bitstocks, in the first episode of the Bitstocks podcast.

Dr. Wright and Hudson also discussed the universal importance of the numbers 3, 6 and 9 in Bitcoin protocols, as well as touching on the role of quantum mechanics and Wolfram 110 of cellular automation in shaping the Bitcoin network.

The discussion explores the philosophy behind bitcoin in technical detail, as well as Dr. Wright’s views on the role of Bitcoin in the wider economy. He suggested that in order to become a global commercial currency, Bitcoin would have to become a universal unit of measurement.

According to Dr. Wright, “If we want one system that can become a global commercial backbone, we need something that can be as universal as a metre. If you take a meter, it’s the same metre here as in France as it is in America. That’s really what we want for money, and a backbone to the economy.”

On ICOs and tokens, Dr. Wright drew parallels with collateralized debt obligations, and the negative impact of the so-called shadow banking industry, which proved damaging to the wider economy.

“Everyone jumping on board this idea of creating tokens and tokenizing things for the sake of it is a more democratised version of the shadow banking industry,” he said. “All the problems that allowed us to have the boom a bust in the housing market and the false economy, we’re now seeing pumped into tokens to make a quick buck.”

One of the most vocal proponents of Bitcoin—now reborn as Bitcoin SV—Dr. Craig Wright summed up by calling for greater cooperation between divergent factions in the bitcoin space, to fully leverage the global free trade benefits of Bitcoin.

He said, “What people need to start considering is not any nationalistic idea of borders, but to remember we’re all one people in one world. That means we should be willing to open up and trade with everyone. Bitcoin allows us to have that level of trade…with free trade, we choose.”

The Bitstocks podcast is available on YouTube from Bitstocks TV and Spotify.

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Expect ‘much bigger blocks’ for 2019, nChain’s Steve Shadders says

Steve Shadders, director of solutions and engineering at nChain, wants to make one thing clear: there will be no more split down the road for Bitcoin SV.

On the sidelines of the CoinGeek Week Conference in London, Shadders explained why the chances of a potential split down the road for Bitcoin SV “are pretty unlikely,” saying: “The reason for that is because everyone who has come along and followed the Bitcoin SV roadmap understands that part of that roadmap is locking down the protocol. And that is all we really actually had to fight about and the only reason why there was ever going to be a split.”

Sure, there will be disagreements, but people will deal with these “by building whatever it is that they want to build and compete”—and none of these will affect the base protocol, he stressed.

For nChain, the roadmap for the next couple of months will be “much bigger blocks,” with the Teranode project taking the original Satoshi Vision to the next level. Teranode is not a monolithic “one size fit all” implementation. Instead, the project separates four core functions into a modular microservices architecture approach—making a separate Business (RPC) Layer, Network (P2P) Layer, Process Layer and Storage Layer. It will also seek to solve a technical issue that arises with a massively scaled Bitcoin network with terabyte-size blocks: how to optimize the unspent transaction output (UTXO) database maintained by nodes to prevent double-spending of Bitcoins.

Shadders, however, pointed out that collusion double-spending is highly unlikely “because it’s not in the miners’ interest to undermine the value proposition of the very coin that they get paid in.” For other types of broadcast double-spends, Shadders said there simple mitigations—just make sure that the merchant knows about it.

“Right now merchants aren’t really doing that. They’re not going out and querying the miners and we don’t have an easy mechanism for them to do that but that’s one thing that we’re planning on, not just planning we’re in progress, building right now so a merchant will be able to query multiple miners and check on the status of their transaction. They will be able to check with the miners and find out what minimum fee is required to guarantee you’re going to mine this transaction,” he explained.

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Is it a type of fraud to use the Bitcoin name if you are no longer Bitcoin?

If you have a restaurant and you advertise all you can eat crab meat dinners and you serve a type of white fish pressed into crab sticks this would be considered a type of fraud. I cannot understand how exchanges, wallets and payment processors can get away with calling Segwit BTC and ABC BCH a form of Bitcoin and not also be committing a type of consumer fraud as the general public does not know that these platform no longer use the Bitcoin technology or economic model.

Bitcoin was born an adult. Satoshi Nakamoto himself said this when he posted this in 2010, early in Bitcoin’s life:

“The nature of Bitcoin is such that once version 0.1 was released, the core design was set in stone for the rest of its lifetime.”

The thing that makes Bitcoin Bitcoin is its amazingly genius economic model enforced by the core design of its technology. If you change the core technological design, this changes the economic rules and what you have is not bitcoin. This has now happened a number of times and there are all sorts of charlatans out there using the Bitcoin name and not being bitcoin. The exchanges who then sell the unsuspecting public a token as bitcoin when it’s not really bitcoin are responsible for the losses that they are all now suffering as the world starts to understand that there is only one bitcoin and that is the only platform that uses the oritional economic model and technical enforcement and that is what is now called Bitcoin SV.

I think someone in the US who has suffered losses from this kind of exchange fraud should consult with lawyers and see what remedies are available to them in law.

In the mean time the original bitcoin, now named Bitcoin SV for Satoshi Vision, is the only platform that scales and therefor has utility as sound money and is the best place to retreat to to preserve value in your crypto portfolio.

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Calvin Ayre: The only one that’s got sustainable business model is Bitcoin SV

The one good thing that has come out of the recent so-called BCH hash war is that the original Bitcoin is back—now in the form of Bitcoin SV (Satoshi Vision).

Bitcoin SV is the only cryptocurrency with a blockchain that massively scales; it’s the only one that has utility value and the one that can do it all. At the CoinGeek Week Conference, taking place at The Mermaid at Puddle Dock in London, CoinGeek founder Calvin Ayre explains how BSV is set to take over and replace other non-scaling platforms, and then also grow utility value.

“I believe firmly that the business models of all the alternative coins, the ICOs and the digital gold and whatnot are actually not real business models and that they actually, it’s a bit of an illusion or a mirage that is being sold to people, and people who don’t understand how this stuff works are being sold a bill of goods. I think one positive outcome of the hash war is the fact that people were forced to focus on the technical choices in front of them, and I think a lot of people got educated on what the differences are,” he said. “The only one that’s got a sustainable business model, that can have growth and take enterprise investment is Bitcoin SV, which is the original Bitcoin. It’s the original economic model.”

The CoinGeek Week Conference is the perfect place to hear from thought leaders about the implications of the world’s first Bitcoin Hash War fought according to Nakamoto Consensus. The three-day conference, with a special invitation-only Miners Day kicking off the week’s events, is important for anyone already involved in crypto, as well as those looking to get started. As the only cryptocurrency that is being developed to truly serve as a digital currency, Bitcoin—now in Bitcoin SV—has the most potential to make a difference in the retail industry.

Ayre said, “This is about learning, but it’s also about planning. We’re getting a lot of thought leaders together here to plan how to move ahead to actually finally show what the power of the economic model is in Bitcoin. Because now the people that were kneecapping the business model aren’t here anymore so from that perspective, there’s a lot of euphoria about the opportunities and a lot of planning going around it, but it’s also a celebration of sorts. I mean, it’s the 10-year anniversary now of the birth of the original Bitcoin and it’s also ironically the rebirth birthday, so instead of having two birthdays like what we thought we had with BCH and BTC, we’re back to having one. And that one birthday is the birth of Bitcoin because Bitcoin SV is Bitcoin.”

There’s still time to secure your seat to the last day of CoinGeek Week, where a major announcement is about to be made. Don’t be stuck on the sidelines watching as history is made at CoinGeek Week Day 3, buy your tickets to the conference via Eventbrite today.

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Galaxy Digital suffers Q3 losses as crypto bear market continues

Cryptocurrency merchant bank Galaxy Digital Holdings reported a loss of $76.65 million for the third quarter, as it was weighed down by persistently low digital asset prices over the past year.

“The current quarter loss was largely a result of realized loss on digital assets, unrealized loss on investments, an impairment loss on goodwill and equity based compensation accruals,” the latest report read.

For the first nine months of the year, the company’s losses amounted to $175.68 million.

Galaxy Digital, formed on November 30 last year, has cryptocurrency investments primarily in BTC and ETH, whose prices are down 54.6% and 82.1% respectively since January 9. Adding to difficulties was increased competition in the trading business, which has led to narrower spreads for arbitrage activity, according to the company.

“While we continue to improve and strengthen our trading business, lack of overall trading volume in cryptocurrencies has been a headwind for the business,” the report read.

The trading segment was responsible for $47.47 million of the third-quarter loss. Over the first nine months of 2018, trading losses amounted to $150.74 million.

Total net realized loss on digital assets for the quarter was $38.1 million, with $22.1 million of this coming from ETH, $9.7 million from BTC, and $2.6 million from Ripple. These losses were partially offset by $1.9 million worth of gains from Ethereum Classic.

The previous quarters had smaller net realized losses, partly because of gains from short selling, of $33 million and $21.9 million in the first and second quarters, respectively.

Total assets as of September 30 were $435.50 million, compared to $54.75 million as of December 31, 2017. Total liabilities, on the other hand, were at $48.99 million as of September 30, lower than the $151.40 million as of June 30 and the $53 million as of December 31 of last year.

Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz, in a Bloomberg interview, expressed optimism that the cryptocurrency market will be picking up soon, saying that come next year, “Q1, Q2, if the institutions start coming in, [cryptocurrencies] will put in new highs.”

The report pointed to increase use of cryptocurrencies and blockchain in recent months, including with Fidelity Investments, which launched its digital assets company last October. Such advances, the company said, “lead to wider adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. This adoption should lead to increased volumes and prices, which should benefit all of our businesses.”

With many cryptocurrency prices down, now is a time to look for underpriced assets in the sector. Calvin Ayre recently said that Bitcoin SV, maintaining the original vision of Bitcoin as a global digital ledger, is “seriously undervalued now, and the token best positioned to grow in value.”

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Why the future of mining is tied to massive scaling and that means Bitcoin SV

By now, everyone knows Bitcoin SV successfully mined a 64 MB block, the largest ever on a public blockchain. It could mine a substantially bigger one if not distracted by the wasteful Hash war Bitmain and Bitcoin.com forced on the industry because they forked away from Bitcoin to their new ABC coin. This proves that Bitcoin SV scales today as we have promised for a while now.

Why is this important to miners? The reason is the Bitcoin block reward will halve again in just over a year (from 12.5 to 6.25 coins for each block), and then halve again every several years after that. As this happens, if transaction fees do not replace the reduced block reward, Bitcoin mining will not remain profitable. We also want to ensure individual transaction fees remain low so the Bitcoin network can work for an electronic cash system and to support advanced technical features. The only way to increase overall revenue from transaction fees is for the blockchain to massively scale, and to enable huge volumes of low cost microtransactions. This is the only way to drive both Miner revenues and market demand for mining hardware. Therefore, if miners do not support Bitcoin SV and its scaling roadmap, they would be following a path that ends in their own destruction.

Bitcoin SV is the only cryptocurrency with a blockchain that massively scales, the only that has utility value, and the only one that can do it all. BSV will most likely take over and replace all other non-scaling platforms. This will then also grow real utility value in BSV.

But it is important to understand that value in a chain which has no utilitarian use is fake value, and the current dump we are seeing is the market coming to realize that the current alt-coins are all worthless.

I personally look forward to a future where there is only one chain, Bitcoin SV, and this one chain does it all. But it all starts and ends with scaling. Because of this, I believe Bitcoin SV is the only token you can retreat to and have any hope of retaining your value in the current market correction.

Everyone should come to CoinGeek Week this week in London, where thought leaders in this space will be discussing the power of original Bitcoin in Bitcoin SV.

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Bitcoin ‘really easy and cheap to deploy,’ says BrewDog UK’s Martin Dempster

At the recently held London BCH Speakers Series II event by Cryptartica, Martin Dempster, VP of innovation at BrewDog UK, shares his company’s experience in adopting cryptocurrency for payments.

Bored of the “stuffy ales” dominating the UK beer market in the 2000s, James Watt and Martin Dickie decided to brew their own beer. In April 2007, BrewDog was born.

A decade later, the “maverick craft brewery based in the northeast of Scotland,” is “now the biggest and most successful craft brewery in Europe,” said BrewDog UK VP of Innovation Martin Dempster. This year, the craft brewery and pub chain has taken on a new challenge—adopt cryptocurrency for payments.

Last October 19, BrewDog opened its Canary Wharf pub, where the first 100 customers were given Bitcoin Cash to spend at the bar. With the help of CoinGeek and wallet provider Centbee, BrewDog helped its first guests to download a wallet and gave them free crypto to put in it and spend at the bar. Initially, BrewDog saw a “cultural barrier” in terms of further adoption; however, Dempster said they “found it really easy and cheap to deploy” compared to traditional payment terminals.

“It was such a novel thing for us… to offer and there was such a real palpable sense of excitement before we launched,” Dempster said. “It’s not flash in the pan, people are actually using the tech, which is great to see.”

If you want to know what BrewDog did to accept cryptocurrency, join us at the CoinGeek Week Conference, happening at the Mermaid, Puddle Dock in London on November 28-30 (with a special, invitation-only Miners Day event on November 27). The four-day event is a celebration of the rebirth of the original Bitcoin as Bitcoin SV (Satoshi Vision), and it’s also the perfect opportunity to learn from experts the importance of scaling to enterprise levels on the original Bitcoin chain—now named Bitcoin SV (BSV)—the only platform that has proven its ability to achieve this.

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Crypto’s future appears to be headed east

I just do not believe there to be a more pro-Western thinker than myself. Granted, I am a creature of the West, a cultural chauvinist of the highest order. Western society, far from a plague to be overcome, is a gift to all humanity: literature, art, film, architecture, cuisine, philosophy, even religion. The Enlightenment and its resulting liberality I count as monumental achievements for the species.

That written, of all the places to flower a crypto revolution in an otherwise mostly closed society, China was for sure not high on my list. Asia is such a loose word, and doesn’t mean much but it will have to do for the purposes of this particular column. The stereotype here in the United States is of cultures and nations repressed, controlled, still fighting for basic freedoms at least politically.

And that appears to be true on some level, as any cursory look at a given Eastern or Asian country would reveal. They often lack the liberality of migration, of allowing others “in” to their societies. Speech is a careful freedom, and does not seem to be a Right in the way we imagine. All of that, and to say nothing of the political struggles for more democratic participation.

George Gilder

Crypto’s future appears to be headed east“Only in China! After 40 appearances in nine days in four cities,” famed futurist George Gilder explained in a social media chat, “I return exhausted and edified by this nation of engineers and entrepreneurs, all inspired by the U.S. Silicon Valley example, now wilting in green Marxism and demented diversity politics.” Gilder’s latest book, Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy (Gateway Editions, 2018), a follow up to his Scandal of Money, has since been released in China, and he gave a series of talks in support.

We were to do an on-camera interview in Las Vegas this Summer at the annual Freedom Fest (I ended up with a lovely and very impromptu discussion with Jeffrey Tucker), but instead spoke from an ironically weak internet connection hideaway in the Berkshire Mountains (I in Southern California). Days away, as of this writing, from his 79th birthday, he’d come back from a morning run, as I recall, and was eager to talk about his latest book. About to hit 80, and the dude runs marathons (plural) throughout the year. Jesus.

His entire life has him in close proximity, Gump-like, to the movers and shakers of American politics and business. He’s written speeches for Nelson Rockefeller, George Romney, Richard Nixon, along with dozens of well regarded books on a variety of subjects. He was one of the key figures who developed supply-siders’ ascension to the White House by way of the Wall Street Journal editorial pages. He was said to be President Reagan’s most quoted intellectual.

China? Really? Yes

Crypto’s future appears to be headed eastGilder received push-back on his assessment after he returned from China recently. The country, he responded, “thrived by reducing govt spending by 80 per cent (to a level lower than the U.S. as a share of GDP) and refusing to float their currency.”

When a few folks commented the Chinese might’ve picked up hints from his supply-side days, Gilder confirmed he believed progress began “after I visited in 1988 and urged them to ‘let a billion flowers bloom.’ I also told them to lower marginal tax rates. It was Bob Mundell, though, who told them not to float their currencies, and was rewarded by having the University of Finance in Beijing named after him. I was just made an ‘esteemed honorary professor’ at Shenzhen University of Technology. Voodoo marches on, in China, and underlies their economic miracle,” he wrote, using the famous George HW Bush’s characterization of Voodoo economics to describe supply-siders.

When another commenter listed grievances against the country, Gilder asserts, “China has increased its power and wealth by a factor of 10 or more since the Maoist days. Regardless of what we do, at a minimum they are going to be dominant in Asia. Objecting to

‘island building’ in the Spratlys or naval clout in the South China seas, or foreign aid (‘hegemony building in Africa’), or infrastructural prowess (no problem with finding ‘shovel ready projects’), their ‘art of the deal’ with Western tech companies for whom they do most manufacturing, [complaining] at all this shows an incomprehension of China’s earned position as a great power.”

Undignified, hypocritical, and quixotic

Crypto’s future appears to be headed east“We can change our own behavior but we probably cannot change China’s determination to be number one in Asia,” Gilder assured. “Attempts to stop them are undignified, hypocritical, and quixotic and a distraction from the war against industry being conducted in the U.S. on every campus and environmental cult and blue state office,” insisting the U.S. has far more of its own problems to tend than fretting over China.

Ultimately, in order to survive, he believes “the U.S. and China are destined to collaborate. Gratuitous trade conflicts based on ‘trade gaps’ are just self-defeating, particularly for us with most of our high tech manufacturing in China and Taiwan exporting to the U.S.”

Perhaps the biggest slur against the industrious nation is the charge it is merely faking, a Potemkin village at scale. And while some of that is no doubt true too, China is easily one of the most entrepreneurial economies going at the moment. It accounts for three times the initial public offerings (IPOs) than that of the U.S. When Taiwan is brought into the picture, whose business folk have pointed a majority of their investments at the mainland, greater China makes most of the world’s high tech goods.

Economically retarded, politically repressive, socially manipulative

“Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.,” Gilder notes, “is the only mass producer of 7 nanometer chip geometries for the new Apple cellphone. Yes, the new government is economically retarded in some ways, politically repressive and socially manipulative. But the magnificent previous leadership under Deng Xiaoping et al provided a real foundation for an utterly solid trajectory of growth with an ever diminishing government spending as share of GDP (now at around 19 percent well below [the U.S.]). The new generation, unlike [the U.S.], is anti-socialist and throngs to their ‘free zones,’ which as I discovered in Shenzhen, have to be seen to be believed.”

He ends with a plea of sorts, an appeal to sanity. “It is foolish to deny the feats of the Chinese economy and the proliferation of entrepreneurial businesses, particularly in my areas of current focus, electronics and cryptocurrencies. For better or for worse, China is on a path to be the world’s largest and most powerful country. Making them an enemy is a suicide trip,” he concluded the chat.

South China Morning Post recently announced, as if channeling Gilder, “Hong Kong’s new regulations for cryptocurrencies have security at their heart, specifically the safeguarding of digital assets from theft or loss.” It might appear heavy handed, but the subtext is one of tacit acknowledgement crypto is here to stay, and that its people are clamoring for digital assets.

InVault

Third party custodians are key to institutional adoption in the wake of exchange hacks and wallet insecurities. “InVault,” the SCMP write, “a Shanghai-based start-up, claims to be the first such digital custodian to take advantage of the new licensing requirements to launch its services in Hong Kong.” It already holds about a million ETH on the mainland, and this new license will allow it to begin automated services next month.

They’re looking internationally as well, becoming leaders in the protection of crypto assets. CEO Kenneth Xu told the news agency, “We believe that globally, custodians for cryptocurrency assets will be regulated and operated under a trust licence.” Using the models of Coinbase and BitGo, they’re to be a kind of trust agency, a form of insurance.

“Xu said InVault is in discussion with two ‘mid-sized’ insurers which potentially could provide coverage that could be included as part of its custody services,” SCMP reports. “He said the biggest challenge for insurers today is how to accurately measure the risk profile of a custodian, and its internal systems, to price the cryptocurrency insurance premium accordingly.” It’s yet another step, albeit a quiet and unsexy one, in the country’s business culture to get economic’s future right. China! I would’ve never guessed.

C. Edward Kelso is a financial technology journalist. Follow him on Twitter.

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Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, half a decade and 100,000 signatures later

The crypto community is libertine, candid, permissive. Wish to imbibe your way through life, slamming heroin while snorting cocaine, be our guest. Want to sell your ass to the highest bidder, go for it, Jack.

Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, half a decade and 100,000 signatures later

There’s something about acts of privacy, the secrecy baked-in to cryptography, that leaves the ecosystem comfortable with others doing things we’re not exactly thrilled about endorsing in the personal sense. At the root of crypto as currency is the ability to make cash an instrument of caprice, whim, desire, subjectivity.

Humility seems to be in the cryptocurrency ethical melange as well. The ecosystem has plenty of opinions, and on about every topic imaginable. All the good and shittyness of any given society finds its way into crypto, for sure. The difference between it and other forms of money issued by bodies with legal monopolies on violence is we cannot force folks to use our version. This can lead to an orientation of leaving people alone because we must, but it also encourages doing so because we simply do not know what is best for them. They’re left to make their own decisions, for better or worse.

Nascent

And so it was with all this in mind, a young Ross Ulbricht helped create the notorious underground marketplace Silk Road. It was an ideological move. Forget the goings-on within the site for now, and understand Ulbricht did this on purpose. Dark or deep web sites were nothing new. Lots already existed.

Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, half a decade and 100,000 signatures later

Instead, it was a chance to merge at least two technologies within a firm philosophical grounding. Bitcoin, then the plaything of cypherpunks, themselves very ideological, was still finding a use case, something to prove its viability as a peer-to-peer electronic cash. And since legacy payment systems, credit cards and their less friction involved sister platforms such as PayPal, involve lacks of privacy, bitcoin might be an attractive alternative for an online bazaar.

Bitcoin was enticing tech because it allowed a digital form of pseudo anonymity in the paper money sense. Silk Road, the eBay of products and services run afoul of government prohibitions, married the nascent tech with a Tor-laden, privacy zealous community in dire need.

Silk Road

Ulbricht’s insight was merging crypto with overt, radical free marketism. Silk Road brought buyers and sellers together, each allowed to be as open and transparent as they’d like. There’s plenty of anecdotal study to suggest Bitcoin thrived under such an arrangement, signaling to early adopters cryptocurrency was for real. Everyone was watching.

And, sure enough, Ross Ulbricht’s arrest sent the price into free fall, confirming as much. The evidence, however, was impossible to deny: it was too late for those who might’ve hoped the crypto experiment would die by sending Ulbrichts of the world a nasty message.

The community divided over what it all meant, and still does although less so now. Some blanched at the idea Silk Road could be credited with jump-starting crypto. Great, they outwardly lamented, now we’re forever tied to drugs and scofflaws—no one will ever take us seriously.

Ross Ulbricht

Maybe they were right. Certainly mainstream press outlets ran with the narrative, and it has been hard to shake this reputation. I’ll concede that right away. But crypto enthusiasts have to know better ultimately.

Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, half a decade and 100,000 signatures later

Again, we’re agnostic on prohibition and petty legalisms. Bitcoin and the broader world Satoshi Nakamoto gave intellectual birth to is and was an illegal endeavour on its face. If crypto zealots are going to use government laws of their barometer for what is right and wrong, stop using crypto right now and return to fiat.

There’s plenty to speculate about Ross Ulbricht. The murder for hire trope is tossed around loosely and rarely followed up upon (charges were dropped). That he was something of a monster fits well with the overall storyline, but it is not true. Click over to FreeRoss.org, and have a look around. Obviously, it’s a site keen on defending him, but at least readers know that going-in and can account for bias. Agents involved in his arrest and conviction were themselves sent to prison for direct wrongdoing in his case—and that’s just one twist rarely given attention.

Clemency petition

He’s a compelling fellow, and at worst he provided an online market where people were able to meet in relatively safety. He’s now serving a double-life sentence without the possibility of parole. From my understanding, his appeals and legal challenges have exhausted all the way through a U.S. Supreme Court remand. That part of the case appears to be over.

Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, half a decade and 100,000 signatures later

As a last ditch effort his mother and supporters launched at Change.org petition, asking President Trump to grant Ross Ulbricht clemency. Online signatures recently passed 100,000 thousand, and more can only mean better. For all his perceived ills, Trump has shown a remarkable sensitivity to a few incarcerated cases and a willingness to act. Crazier things have happened.

On January 13, 2015 in New York City.

He’s crypto’s first real martyr. Lay the facts out for yourself. Chew them over. The realization of what he’s suffering versus the crimes committed do not mesh. I believe our world would be a much better place if Ross Ulbricht was out of prison and allowed to create and build with us. It’s only a digital signature, and won’t take long. It’s a small gesture that could lead to a man’s life being spared. Thanks for even considering.

Edward Kelso is a financial technology journalist based in Southern California. Follow him on Twitter.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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