“Bitcoin is the most intellectually interesting development in the last two years,” said Julian Assange via a WeChat Livestream at Net Prophet — the annual technology and trends conference. According to the Wikileaks founder, the next great innovation that is headed our way will be in the finance sector.
He reckons that the technological innovation behind Bitcoin is establishing a new global consensus.
Usually, we need laws to establish and enforce the way financial transactions take place, but Bitcoin is changing that. Cryptographically enforced agreements, like the ones coming out of Bitcoin, are different from the norm in as much as the code behind them enforces how transactions are done.
Assange, who is still being granted asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, suspects that in the next few years we’ll see a level of innovation in financial services that far outstrips those of the past. The way he sees it, the current traditional model of the finance industry isn’t working and Bitcoin is disrupting it in a good way.
Responding to a question on the rise of one dominant player in some aspects of the internet (think Google with search), the weather-worn whistleblower reckons the age of single dominance is problematic.
“I think that is a serious question — whether most things that most people use most of the time will be eaten up by a few dominant players,” said Assange, who again turned to the example of Bitcoin to illustrate his point.
You can quickly form a full financial system with hedge funds and other such financial services where there is no regulation, where the regulation is a cryptographic agreement, he points out. The benefit of such a system is that people have to be part of this agreement in order to talk to each other.
Another benefit is that there is no regulation, because it is all done through computation. Financial services running over the top of cryptographic protocols such as Bitcoin therefore tend to evolve and innovate incredibly quickly.
Assange reckons that when it comes discussing innovation within the finance industry, we must understand that what we are talking about is the interaction of finance. He explains this concept as “the abstraction of relationships”.
“What we are talking about is the interaction of finance: the abstraction of relationships between organisations and individuals and the quantifications of those relationships.”
For the renowned hacker, cryptographic agreements involve the need to agree. In turn, he says, we are talking about a way of creating new orders and new societal agreements that include all of society, not just new orders that only apply to those who chose to come in and agree to a particular aspect or cryptographic.
Assange argues that current structures around finance from political and economic points of view mean that the people in control can often get pushed around by the state. This is why Bitcoin is important, he says, as it brings about diversity, which is needed in any organisation.
He believes that the diversity Bitcoin is creating is part of the reason why a number of banks around the world, and big US banks in particular, have been blocking their customers from transacting on Bitcoin and, in some cases, closing the accounts of businesses involved with the digital currency.
During his tech-troubled conversation, Assange also mentioned the need to decentralise centralised organisations, which supports his newly conceived financial model. He reckons our best hope for the internet in its current state is allowing small organisations to stitch up pieces of it in an effort to create a truly representative global mentality.