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CryptoBeast #4 – Coinbase Insider Trading, or Something More Nefarious?

A video discussion of my recent Steemit post about Coinbase and Bitcoin Cash.

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Lift The Veil Interview Nov 22 2017

After positive feedback from my interview in August Lifting the Veil on Radical Ritual, Nathan invited me back to talk about Q Clearance Patriot, President Trump, and cryptocurrency.

Burning Man’s First Technology Guru Fighting #fakenews

The blockchain offers a new world of possibility, not just for crypto-currency or providing disaster relief, but also for truth – something I am extremely interested in.

It seems I’m not the only one. Burning Man’s first Chief Technology Guru, Brian Behlendorf, is one of the whales of the tech industry.

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Image: LinkedIn

BB went on from Burning Man to Davos and the World Economic Forum, and is on the board of the EFF and popular “secure” communications app Wickr. He also used to run the SFRaves mailing list. Oh, and half of the entire World Wide Web runs on his Apache web server – which is open source.

old skool raver

Old skool raver

His plan to fight fake news? Put Snopes on the blockchain. Get the list of “what’s fake news” and record that on the blockchain so everyone can rely on it as absolute fact.

The title of the video is “what if the Internet could not tell a lie”, but in fact what he is describing is a single source on the Internet telling us what is a lie and what isn’t – driven by Snopes.

There has been a massive purge of “alternative news” channels and videos on YouTube since the Progressives were defeated in the election by a huge margin. Facebook, GoogleYouTube, Twitter, Snopes and Reddit were all caught trying to silence conservative voices and stories, while promoting all sorts of things from cultural marxism to communism to child abuse to cannibalism.

Meanwhile, the Snopes founder spent all the company’s money on hookers and blow – and then hired the hookers to be fact-checkers and married one of them. You couldn’t make this shit up. Not only that but he just easily crowdsourced nearly a million bucks more, despite this abysmal track record of fraud allegations over the use of company funds for personal pleasures.

This is who Brian Behlendorf thinks we should use on the blockchain to determine “truth” once and for all? Yes, seriously, it is. Watch the video.

In other bizarro alt-media news, Alex Jones of InfoWars also married an escort…allegedly.

Who says any of these organizations should just be assigned the role of determining complex arguments, such as the JFK Assassination – where the CIA just “lost” an entire volume of their files on Lee Harvey Oswald, after years of stonewalling their release. Are we to believe the official conspiracy theory of 9/11, 19 hijackers with box cutter knives? The University of Alaska just completely debunked the official story about the collapse of Building 7, which was not hit by any plane – so what is true? The official government story, or the scientific conclusions? Why not record the case for and against any topic under debate, present the evidence for both sides, and let the people decide what they find most compelling.

Snopes, Google and Facebook do not deserve to become the arbiters of truth. What ever happened to Objective Truth, “truth is truth”?

There is only one truth, everything else is just opinion. Let the truth speak for itself, and if there are questions over truth or arguments of “alternative facts”, let’s get them ON THE RECORD too. Get all the evidence out, record the Grammar and the Rhetoric, let the people use Logic and decide for themselves. We need the pertinent facts and documents out there in the public domain. And then debate their existence, authenticity, or relevance.

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What we actually need is to use the blockchain to record truth and facts. Record all the stories around a topic – even the rumors – and let people expand on them or deny them with opinions and evidence. Like WikiPedia, but one that can’t be censored for political or other, more shadowy reasons. Bitcoin is not really suitable for something like this, Ethereum is better with its smart contracts capability, but both these blockchains are busy doing financial transactions. What is needed is links to an immutable data store like the Internet Archive. In some cases the amount of data around a topic (such as JFK, or Burning Man) will be very large. Other topics, such as disaster relief using the blockchain, are newer and easier to get one’s head around with less controversial content.

The point I agree with BB on is that decentralized, distributed ledger technology is the best hope we have to fight against censorship. Will the solution come from those deep within the Deep State? Or from We The People?

 

Decommodification, Decentralization and Direct Democracy

EndAllDisease has a lot of very interesting content, including this article about how Bitcoin is going to revolutionize all forms of electronic interaction. It is a societal change potentially as big as the Internet itself, one that contains the hope for a new type of transparent dialog between the rulers of our civilization and We the Burners. Whoever those rulers may be…

If all the mechanisms of a transaction are gone, so that it appears invisible, is it Decommodified? Did it happen on-Playa, or in cyberspace – a different place entirely?

Burning Man now accepts donations in Bitcoins and in 2014 sold its first ticket with Bitcoin.

CEO Marian Goodell said:

“Accepting Bitcoin for donations is an experimental first step. We plan to explore other possibilities in the future, including expanding Bitcoin to the ticket-buying process.”

There is a Camp Bitcoin, which was profiled as part of Re/Code’s excellent on-Playa coverage by Nellie Bowles. Peter Hirshberg, who was part of The Founders Speak event in New York, recently wrote a chapter on Burning Man in the book From Bitcoin to Burning Man and Beyond: The Quest for Autonomy and Identity in a Digital Society.

https://twitter.com/danger_ranger/status/331594787264290816/photo/1

 

 


 

re-blogged from: Endalldisease.com (emphasis ours):

Blockchain Technology’s Annihilation of Social Networks, Banks, Governments and The Coming Digital Anarchy

Bitcoin is giving banks a run for their money. Now the same technology threatens to eradicate social networks, stock markets, even national governments. Are we heading towards an anarchic future where centralized power of any kind will dissolve?

The rise and rise of Bitcoin has grabbed the world’s attention, yet its devastating potential still isn’t widely understood. Yes, we all know it’s a digital currency. But the developers who worked on Bitcoin believe that it represents a technological breakthrough that could sweep into obsolescence everything from social networks to stock markets… and even governments.

blockchain technology - endalldisease

In short, Bitcoin could be the gateway to a coming digital anarchy – “a catalyst for change that creates a new and different world,” to quote Jeff Garzik, one of Bitcoin’s most prolific developers.

It’s already beginning. We used to need banks to keep track of who owned what. Not any more. Bitcoin and its rivals have proved that banks can be replaced with software and clever mathematics.

And now programmers of a libertarian bent are starting to ask what else we don’t need.

Imagine driverless taxis roaming from city to city in search of the most lucrative fares; a sky dark with hovering drones delivering your shopping or illicit drugs. Digital anarchy could fill your lives and your nightmares with machines that answer to you, your employers, crime syndicates… or no one at all. Nearly every aspect of our lives will be uprooted.

To understand how, we need to grasp the power of the “blockchain” – a peer-to-peer ledger which creates and records agreement on contentious issues with the aid of cryptography.

A blockchain forms the beating heart of Bitcoin. In time, blockchains will power many radical, disruptive technologies that smart people are working on right now.

Until recently, we’ve needed central bodies – banks, stock markets, governments, police forces – to settle vital questions. Who owns this money? Who controls this company? Who has the right to vote in this election?

Now we have a small piece of pure, incorruptible mathematics enshrined in computer code that will allow people to solve the thorniest problems without reference to “the authorities”.

The benefits of decentralised systems will be huge: slashed overheads, improved security and (in many circumstances) the removal of the weakest link of all – greedy, corruptible, fallible humans.

But how far will disruptive effects reach? Are we rapidly approaching a singularity where, thanks to Bitcoin-like tools, centralised power of any kind will seem as archaic as the feudal system?

If the internet revolution has taught us anything, it’s that when change comes, it comes fast.

…Here’s an illustration. The University of Abertay in Dundee now offers a four-year BSc in “Ethical Hacking”. Abertay is a minor university and some of its other courses – eg, a BSc in “Performance Golf” – invite ridicule. So, on the face of it, does “Ethical Hacking”, which could mean anything.

Click through to details of the course, however, and you realise that it’s cleverly designed to address the growing anxieties of large organisations that live in fear of digital sabotage.

According to the prospectus, “the business world is seeing a rapid increase in the demand for ethical or white hat, hackers, employed by companies to find security holes before criminal, black hat, hackers do … Hackers are innately curious and want to pull things apart. They experiment and research. A hacker wants to learn and investigate. The aim is for you to arrive on this programme as a student and leave as an ethical hacker.”

Whether these ethical hackers will stay ethical is another question, however.

Social networks, search engines and online retailers have grown rich by soaking up our personal data and distilling it into valuable databases used to surgically target advertising.

As the adage goes: “If you’re not paying, then you’re the product”. You don’t pay a penny for Google’s search engine, email or calendar products. What you do provide, though, is data on every aspect of your life: who you know; where you go; what you enjoy eating, wearing, watching…

Behind the laid-back, let’s-play-table-football facade of Silicon Valley firms lies a sneakiness and paranoia that, critics say, verges on the sociopathic. This is hardly surprising. The giant dotcoms stand to lose billions of dollars and even kick-start a US recession if the internet becomes too unstable for them to manage. But, in addition, they need to take advantage of digital instability in order to shaft their rivals.

“These guys are control freaks who see themselves as ‘disruptive’, to quote one of their favourite words,” says a California-based analyst. “It’s a very combustible mixture particularly when you consider the endless, endless uncertainty they face every day.”…

Now we need to put our finger on a really important paradox that lies at the heart of the coming digital anarchy.

The hidden power of the Facebooks, Twitters and Googles of this world is inspiring digital anarchists to destroy the smug, jargon-infested giants of Silicon Valley. But who are these hackers? They’re unlikely to be career criminals who identify themselves by their black hats. On the contrary, they may well have picked up their techniques while working in Palo Alto.

In some cases, the very same people who helped create these mega-corporations are now working on “disruptive technologies” to replace them.

We think of Silicon Valley as peopled by “liberals”. But that’s misleading. They may be socially liberal, but their “libertarianism” is often predicated on very low taxes funding a very small government. They have a soft spot for the anti-tax Republican Rand Paul and the kill-or-be-killed ethos of the paranoid libertarian capitalist Ayn Rand (whom Mr Paul was not named after, though he’s had to spend his whole life denying it).

The digital utopias at the back of these people’s minds are often startlingly weird.

Consider, for example, Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal – ironically, one of the companies Bitcoin aims to blow out of the water. He has donated $1.25m to the SeaSteading Institute, a group which aims to create an autonomous nation in the ocean, away from existing sovereign laws and free of regulation.

At a conference in 2009 he said: “There are quite a lot of people who think it’s not possible. That’s a good thing. We don’t need to really worry about those people very much, because since they don’t think it’s possible they won’t take us very seriously. And they will not actually try to stop us until it’s too late.”

It’s difficult to generalise about motives when the membranes separating control and anarchy, creativity and disruption, greed and philanthropy have become so alarmingly thin. Remember that the entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley and its many global franchises are usually young enough to be impressionable and excitable. Yes, some of them they may qualify as utopians – but, like utopians throughout history, they are ready to use destructive tactics to reach their goal…

The new digital anarchists – who are as likely to wear Gant chinos as hoodies, and wouldn’t be seen dead in an Anonymous mask – are in the mood to punish Facebook, Google, Twitter, PayPal, eBay, you name it, for their arrogance. Indeed, they may have encountered this arrogance close up by working for them. That’s enough of a motive for the great digital unravelling.

As for means and opportunity – well, they now have their weapon of choice: the blockchain.

…Bitcoin is a decentralised network designed to replace the financial system. Ethereum is a decentralised network designed to replace absolutely anything that can be described in code: business contracts, the legal system or, as some of Ethereum’s more evangelical backers believe, entire states.

Primavera De Filippi, a postdoctoral resreacher at CERSA/CNRS/Université Paris II, is one of Europe’s most intellectually dazzling experts on digital and civil rights in cyberspace. She’s currently at Harvard, exploring the legal challenges of decentralised digital architectures.

Ethereum, she says, is “really sophisticated, and if any of these platforms are going to take off, I believe it’s the one.

“It becomes a completely self-sufficient system, impossible to corrupt. It’s a disruptive technology, and society will adapt to it, but it will be a slow process.”

Liquid democracy

If you are looking to undermine centralised power, the biggest, most tempting target is government itself…

Denmark has decided to take a very liberal policy with crypto-currencies, declaring that all trades will be tax-free; profits will be untouched, but losses will be non-deductible. It’s no surprise, then, that this is one of the places it is being experimented with as an election tool.

The Liberal Alliance party, just seven years old, was founded on an ethos of economic liberalism – it supports a flat rate income tax of 40 per cent, for example – and has begun to use technology built on Ethereum for internal votes.

Party spokesman Mikkel Freltoft Krogsholm argued that it was an obvious choice for e-elections because it allows transparency and security and gives people the chance to “look under the hood” of the voting process. “From a liberal ideological point of view, it was an opportunity we just had to take,” he said.

The blockchain makes perfect sense for this application because all transactions (they can be thought of as votes in this scenario) are recorded in perpetuity for reference. It also provides transparency so that a person can check that his or her vote was actually counted. Otherwise, how can you ever really be sure that your paper ballot made it to the final count?

Eduardo Robles Elvira is working on a similar but larger-scale system which he calls Agora Voting. It was developed as a tool for the Internet Party in Spain, which has a policy that all citizens should be able to vote on all matters in constant referenda. Rather than keep the code private he works with any party that wants to apply it to e-elections.

It has already been successfully used in election primaries, with over 33,000 votes being cast.

The ultimate aim is “liquid democracy”: not to just elect representatives and let them get on with it, and not necessarily to have direct referenda on each tiny issue, but to offer a system so flexible that a happy medium can be struck for every citizen.

It can be best thought of as a social network designed not to help you share photographs, play games or communicate with your friends, but to run and manage your country.

If you want to cast your vote on every issue, fine, that’s possible. Or you can place your voting power in the hands of a career politician, as in the current system, or a knowledgeable friend or colleague.

And control could be infinitely fine: say you’re a cyclist, you could hand over voting power on all road safety matters to a cycling charity that pushes for better infrastructure, but retain votes on economic matters and leave everything else in the hands of your local Liberal Democrat office.

“The idea behind liquid democracy is not to remove representative democracy with direct democracy, but to let you choose your means of democracy. You don’t use an airplane to get to the street corner, and you don’t walk from London to Tokyo: depending on what you want to do, you choose the means of transport,” Robles told me.

“We might see in the future a shift from trusting a single entity to trusting a computerised democratic and verifiable system, the same way that we saw a shift from trusting our healers and priests in the Middle Ages to trusting the scientific method.

“It’s just a glimpse into the future. It’s like the first website: it doesn’t have animations, it’s not responsive, it may look now really basic, but still, it’s the base of what we use now everyday, twenty years later. Maybe we will have a system more similar to ancient Athens, but scalable, where elected leaders are not so important.”…

Andreas Antonopoulos is chief security officer at UK-based Blockchain.info, the world’s largest Bitcoin wallet provider with over 1.1m registered users…People think Bitcoin is just a better way to do PayPal, and it’s not. Just like the internet, it’s a platform, and on that platform you can now build an incredible variety of things.

“We can’t even imagine what things people are going to build. But just in the last year, from watching the startups in the space, I’ve been amazed at the range of innovation that occurs when you combine internet, the sharing economy and crypto-currencies.

“This allows forms of self-organisation that don’t depend on parties or representative government at all. Representative democracy was a solution to a scaling problem. The fact that you couldn’t get a message across Europe in anything less than a couple of weeks.

“Well, that issue of scale has now been solved. So the question is, why do you need representatives? If you ask people who were born with the internet they can’t understand why we need them. To a whole generation of people [the phasing out of represnetative democracy] this is already a normal and natural progression. And now we have the tools to do that.

“In my view, and this is probably why I call myself a ‘disruptarian’, centralised systems have one inevitable trajectory that has been validated throughout history, which is that as the people in the centre accumulate power and control they eventually corrupt the system entirely to serve their own needs, whether that’s a currency, a corporation, a nation.

“Decentralised institutions are far more resilient to that: there is no centre, they do not afford opportunities for corruption. I think that’s a natural progression of humanity.

“It’s an idea that has existed for centuries and has progressively become more and more prevalent. The essential basics of going from monarchies to democracies, from distributing information, knowledge, education and wealth to the middle class, and power to simple people, has been a trend that has lasted now for millennia.

“This is not some kind of libertarian manifesto, or anarchist manifesto, saying that we don’t need mechanisms for achieving social cohesion. It’s simply recognising that we can create better mechanisms as we solve problems of scale. That’s all. It’s not some kind of crazy ‘we don’t need governments’ manifesto. It’s simply that we can make better governments when we don’t concentrate power as much in the hands of a few people.

“As my ancestors in Greece figured out more than three thousand years ago, power corrupts. You can read about that in the writings of the ancient greek philosophers, and nothing really has changed – only that scale of power, and the scale of misery that can be created when that power is wielded to do bad things.”

Daniel Larimer, who is working on a tool called Bitshares to apply blockchain technology to banking, insurance and company shareholding, believes that this new breed of technologies will ultimately render government entirely obsolete.

“I envisage a situation where governments aren’t necessary. That the free market will be able to provide all the goods and services to secure your life, liberty and property without having to rely on coercion. That’s where this all ultimately leads,” he told me.

“The end result is that governments will have less power than free markets. Essentially, the free market will be able to provide justice more effectively and more efficiently than the government can. So, I see governments shrinking.

“If you think about it, what is the reason for government? It’s a way of reaching global consensus over the theory of right and wrong, global consensus over who’s guilty and who’s innocent, over who owns what.

“They’re going to be losing legitimacy as more open, transparent systems are able to provide that function without having to rely on force. That’s my mission in life.”

In his version of the future, identity and reputation will be the new currency. Laws and contracts will be laid down in code and, if broken, reparations will be sought mathematically rather than through law enforcement agencies, courts and prisons.

Those who cannot make good will be victim to “coordinated shunning” by the rest of the network – the whole of society. They will not be able to interact financially or in any other system running on the blockchain. They will be in an “economic prison”. This will extend beyond being unable to make money transfers, because the blockchain will be in control of voting, commerce and communications. Being banished from this system would make life all but impossible.

“There are ways that you can structure society to achieve justice and encourage people to settle their debts,” says Larimer. “There’s a way to give small-town reputation on a global scale. It is ultimate libertarianism.

Or anarchy, depending on your point of view.


Burnersxxx:

The whole article is very thought-provoking and worth reading in its entirety.

You can find out more about Ethereum at their web site and in this White Paper.

Silk Road Move Over, a New Bazaar Is In Town

WIRED magazine has a report on Agora, the new online drug bazaar “marketplace of anything”. It is based on Agorism, a philosophy that a free, stateless society can be achieved via disruptive market means. Forget counter-culture, that meme jumped the shark. It’s time to move on to counter-economics.

From Wikipedia:

Agorism is a libertarian social philosophy that advocates creating a society in which all relations between people are voluntary exchanges by means of counter-economics, thus engaging in a manner with aspects of peaceful revolution. It was first proposed by libertarian philosopher Samuel Edward Konkin III in 1975, with contributions partly by J. Neil Schulman.[1]

Agorists consider themselves market anarchists. While many characterize it as a form of left-libertarianism,[2] others consider it a branch of, or a transition strategy for achieving, anarcho-capitalism. Agorists generally oppose voting for political candidates and political reform. Instead, agorists stress the importance of alternative strategies rather than politics to achieve a free society. Agorists claim that we can achieve a free society more easily and sooner by employing such alternative methods as education, direct action, alternative currencies, entrepreneurship, self sufficiency, and most importantly “counter-economics“.[1] Agorists consider their message to be scientific because science is an appeal to reason, which they believe is only possible in the Agora or free market; they also argue that State backed, regulated and funded science is illegitimate.[3]

From WIRED.com:

For two and a half years, the Dread Pirate Roberts and his Silk Road black market ruled the Dark Web. But last year’s FBI’s takedown of that narcotics smorgasbord opened the underground trade to competitors. Now those sites have a new leader, one that’s bigger than the Silk Road ever was and continues to grow explosively.

camel moneyThe online bazaar for contraband known as “Agora” now has more product listings than any other online black market, according to a report released last week by the Digital Citizens Alliance, a nonprofit focused on internet safety. The analysis counts 16,137 products for sale on the site, which is protected by the anonymity software Tor and accepts only bitcoin. That’s about 200 more listings than Silk Road 2.0, a reincarnation of the original Silk Road launched earlier this year by several of the same administrators. It’s also several thousand more than were offered on the first Silk Road before its seizure in October of last year.

“Just as on the rest of the internet, users on the dark net are very quick to move on to new things and move away from those products and websites that seem stale and old,” says Adam Benson, communications director at Digital Citizens Alliance. “Maybe that time has come for Silk Road.”

…unlike Silk Road, it allows users to sell several categories of weapons, including powerful semi-automatic firearms. The site is still less permissive, however, than markets such as Evolution, which also allows the sale of hacked credit card information and other stolen goods. Agora’s “market rules” ban not only stolen property but also “assassinations or any other services which constitute doing harm to another,” “weapons of mass destruction,” “poisons,” “child pornography” and “live action snuff/hurt/murder audio/video/images.”

Despite those restrictions, Agora’s administrators haven’t displayed any of the political bravado of Dread Pirate Roberts, who frequently posted libertarian manifestos in Silk Road’s user forums and even hosted an online book club around topics in free market economic theory. Silk Road 2.0 similarly proclaims those radical principles; “You are writing history with every item purchased here,” reads a message on the site’s homepage. “Silk Road is not a marketplace. Silk Road is a global revolt. The idea of freedom is immortal.” 

…Instead of political rhetoric, the tactic that set Agora above the rest of the dark web when it launched earlier this year may have been its sense of exclusivity: Users can sign up only with invite codes, although those codes are freely distributed on other market forums and Reddit and can be reused. “It might build some allegiance,” says Digital Citizen’s Alliance’s Benson, “It gives users a sense that they’ve been vetted and that some people have been weeded out” such as law enforcement, fraudsters or less in-the-know users.

Read the full article here.

It’s an interesting counter-balance to Re-code’s report from Burning Man, about finding Camp Bitcoin next to the Orgy Dome [update – it wasn’t anywhere near orgy dome, according to Burner Debra]:

Flipping through my 160-page official Burning Man book of events, I noticed something strange: Camp Bitcoin was hosting a “worthless currency exchange.”

Bitcoin Camp?! Worthless currency exchange? I had some candies in my backpack that could certainly count as currency here.

It was about 4 pm when I left the Burning Man Reddit meetup, where I had been listening to two dozen guys talk “Star Wars” trivia, and had been misted by someone with a pesticide sprayer full of water. The Redditers told me that the bitcoin guys were just a few streets away, in the Anahasana Village, and that they were a bunch of nerds, real geeks.

The Anahasana Village (Burning Man villages are collections of smaller camps that share resources, like a kitchen) is famous for its contact-improv sessions (standing cuddle puddles) and its Orgy Dome (what it sounds like).

It’s not where one might expect to find Camp Bitcoin.

Looking for Camp Bitcoin at the Anahasana Village gate

Cryptocurrency campers lounging around in Camp Bitcoin, which is really Camp Dogecoin

There, about a dozen bitcoin dudes were sitting cross-legged in a circle under some scaffolding, an old orange parachute draped over it for shade. They were talking about all the money they could have made if they had bought various cryptocurrencies at various points..

One bitcoin camper, lean and shirtless Josh Katen, explained to me that this isn’t really the bitcoin camp anymore.

“The Bitcoin leader was arrested right before Burning Man ’cause he was maybe helping the FBI, and … Anyway, we’re the Dogecoin Camp now,” he said.

Another shirtless fellow…said he had a vision, based on Burning Man’s gifting economy. In his vision, cryptocurrency is just the first step toward making a large-scale gift economy.

“Once we learn to monetize everything, we take this gifting economy out to the world,” Keim said. “We can take the Illuminati’s cyber gold and silver, and distribute it evenly. Once we have this, we can live in abundance, rather than scarcity.”

… came to Burning Man to see what a gifting- and abundance-based economy could look like. Money and branding aren’t allowed at Burning Man. Everyone brings or prepares gifts (alcohol, snacks such as pancakes, or little necklaces that say “Burning Man 2014”) that they exchange.

“One of the biggest barriers to the gift economy is debt, the usury. With cryptocurrency we can reengineer abundance rather than scarcity,”

…someone riding past their camp earlier that day had yelled at them — “F—ing bitcoin’s not allowed on the playa,” or something to that effect. The campers had been surprised but not terribly offended…

“I’m the messiah, and money grows on trees,” Keim said.

No, but seriously, what’s the gist?

“I am the messiah,” he repeated, getting on his dust-and-EL-wire-covered bicycle.

Before I could reenter the tent, an extremely attractive couple stopped me and eyed me up and down.

“This is it, right?” asked the man, who was wearing a top hat and genie pants, which for some reason wasn’t even a turn-off anymore. (I’ve been here too long.)

It?

“Tantra tent?” he asked, cocking his head.

No. Not tantra. Bitcoin.

Sounds like Mr Bitcoin messiah might have been tooting his own horn, if you know what I mean. Scarface, if you don’t.

Full story here.

Kudos to Nellie Bowles and Re/Code, your Burning Man coverage this year has been superb.

Control-of-Bitcoin

Money is technically not banned at Burning Man, and Bitcoins certainly aren’t…yet. The principle of “DeCommodification” conveniently stretches to include a lot of things. If you read the fine print of the Principles, they never actually use the word money. They do, however, place a ban on “consumption” – if you want to partake, you must participate.

Everything’s free but nothing’s for sale. Gifting is encouraged, but barter is verboten.  Volunteering (ie free labor) is encouraged, as long as it is on projects that are for the benefit of BMOrg. The systems they’ve built to facilitate all of this are rudimentary, and don’t seem to be much of an Organizational priority. The priorities are more like new ticketing schemes and revenue streams, corporate tax structure, self-promotion, and Big Data: “Burner Profiles” and Census results. The information collected about us continues to become more detailed, as the ticket prices head skywards.

BMOrg claim to be pioneers in the “sharing economy”, yet it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly they do that relates to it. “We don’t sell drinks” is not quite the same as “we’ve figured out new economic models for people to peacefully co-exist”. Rather than being counter-economics, the economics of Burning Man are not dissimilar to those of the Pharaohs. Pharaoh gets the gold while the sherpas do the labor.

Is this all that could ever be? Do we create a radical experiment, year after year, by doing the same old shit in the same old way – just add Virgins?

This is what cellphones looked like in 1986

This is what cellphones looked like in 1986

Burning Man started in the mid-80’s, when Madonna’s new album was “Like a Virgin” and the first gangsta rap song had just been released. Now we are well into the 21st century. In the 90’s we got the Web, in the Naughties we got smart phones and social media, in the Teenies we got Twitter and Uber and NSA spying and Google buying military robot companies.

Larry Harvey was asked about Bitcoin in New York in 2013.

I’m in Dr Kittay’s class at Columbia University called Technology, Religion, and Future. Today, we had an event on Burning Man, where the Burning Man committee including Larry Harvey (Founder of Burning Man) came in to talk about the event with our class. The link is below

http://blog.burningman.com/2013/10/eventshappenings/event-the-founders-speak-burning-man-technology-religion-the-future/

I asked if they would consider accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment. They unanimously said yes! At first Larry was like, hmm never thought about that. Then one guy said, well its not really that stable yet but hell, if it makes people happy lets do it! They all nodded in agreement. Woot! Now they just have to follow up on it by adding the ‘Pay in BTC’ button to the ticket purchase section of their site.

Of course, fast forward a year later and there is not so much as a hint of Bitcoin entering the Burning Man universe, yet alone experimenting with new ideas of liberty like Agorism. Quite what is the vision for this social engineering petri dish over the next century remains to be seen: it’s “coming soon”, like the video of the Founders talk at Columbia. BMOrg are still struggling to mail tickets to people in San Francisco, and are completely unable to mail them to other countries. Meanwhile we have Burnier-Than-Thous bemoaning smart phones, drones, sherpas, dubstep DJs, even the postal service. Will technology innovation in the Default world have to stay there, while Burning Man stagnates, just so that Burnier-Than-Thous can feel they’re doing it better?

Burning-Man-2009-Sphinx-Statue-Pink-girls-woman-women-Desert-Art-Festival-Dust-To-Ashes-photos-pictures-pics-Gerlach-Nevada-NVIs this the future we choose for the experiment of Black Rock City: no more innovation, just more complaining and more douchebags? Rude Man, as I saw it called on Facebook today.

Their Plan for the Playa, it seems, is to force us to accept an ever-increasing range of Default world transactions (all done solely via BMOrg, with the Feds getting a cut too), and an ever-decreasing amount of Gifting. Commerce is banned, so’s barter. Citizens don’t get a say in the city, so there is no political discourse in this civilization – except for the guest speakers the Founders invite in. Burning Man doesn’t care what you believe, as long as it’s the Ten Principles.

Perhaps it is significant that BMOrg are strengthening their ties to the two major political parties, while at the same time trying to dismiss the streak of libertarianism and anarchy that Burning Man originally sprung forth from.

When innovation and creativity are regulated out of existence by bureaucracy, the subversive dissenters, the anarcho-crypto-punks, start looking for remote wildernesses where they can go and create the New New Thing.

“Good riddance!”, cry the Townspeople, when the Sheriffs chase the Cowboys out of town. It matters not to them that the Cowboys started the town, hired the Sheriffs, and invited all the Townspeople in. “Cowboys are bad”, say the Townspeople. “Everyone knows that”.