Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder recently spoke at the Net Prophet annual technology and trends conference and said that “Bitcoin is the most intellectually interesting development in the last two years”.
Assange, still in asylum at London’s Ecuadorian embassy, has reason to be dissatisfied with the current financial systems. As Wikileaks became more notorious for publishing leaks, it became increasingly difficult for the website to receive donations as credit card processors and PayPal refused to do business, likely under pressure from the US government.
With that in mind, the decentralised and uncorruptable nature of cryptocurrencies provide a compelling alternative to any organisation likely to raise the ire of nation states. Bitcoin provides a consensus based way of reducing a banker’s job down to an algorithm, and does not change according to politics. Bitcoin has the attention of many parties in the way that it is able to disrupt the established financial models and practices.
At the conference Assange, who attended via video link, was asked what he thought to the rise of dominant corporate powers across the internet (such as Facebook or Google), to which he answered (source):
“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,”
Assange said that the lack of regulation of cryptocurrency would drive innovation in startups, and that the most influential technology developments in the near future, would be in the financial sector.
He emphasised that in innovating the financial industry, it’s essential to view things as us all interacting through finance, and he described this concept as “the abstraction of relationships”. Clearly, for organisations like WikiLeaks to have freedom of speech, they need the funds to keep going, and one can see how the movement of funds enables freedom of speech.
“What we are talking about is the interaction of finance: the abstraction of relationships between organisations and individuals and the quantification of those relationships.”
Assange described how established financial and political systems mean that people and organisations can be pushed around by the state when goals do not coincide. Again WikiLeaks is an example of this. In turn, this is why the decentralised nature of Bitcoin is so useful, and can encourage diversity in business and technological models.
Assange, is still living in the Ecuadorian embassy (London), where he was granted refuge after being charged with sexual assault in Sweden and put under criminal investigation under the United States. He is subject to arrest in the United Kingdom, and hence the reason he has not left the Ecuadorian embassy.
You can listen to the 39 minute talk on Soundcloud.