Since then, you’ve made a name for yourself as one of the top cryptocurrency skeptics in space, how do you feel about it?
I mean, it was unexpected. I start a lot of weird little projects on my own that are more for my enjoyment than anything else, so when one of them actually got the attention and interest of this one, I was a little surprised.
I would much prefer that we move away from hyper-capitalization of everything, rather than get closer to it as quickly as possible.
But I’m happy to be able to provide a somewhat skeptical view of cryptocurrencies, especially when last year the bubble was about as big as it would become and people were starting to do really ridiculous things with their money.
I am happy to be able to voice my views and hope to make some people think a little more critically about some of the promises made by high-budget cryptocurrency companies.
Is there one main thing that worries you the most about Web3 space?
I care a lot about the web, I grew up on the web, I think it is an extremely powerful tool. And I think we need to manage it in better shape than it is today, and I think Web3 would present a sharp turn in the wrong direction. Introducing tokens into everything you are doing online is a nightmare for open web access and ideals.
The whole premise of Web3 is to build these enormously speculative economies in everything we do, which I don’t think is good for the future of the company. I would much prefer that we move away from hyper-capitalization of everything, rather than get closer to it as quickly as possible.
I think many people who are working on Web3 projects have very similar goals to mine regarding democratizing the web and reducing the power of big tech companies on the internet as a whole, which I think are very noble and important goals. I totally disagree that Web3 is the way to reach them.
This week you attended the Crypto Policy Symposium in the UK, what was the goal behind that conference and were there any results?
We were really focused on talking to regulators and lawmakers at that symposium. Many of these people are not technologists, they are politicians or lawyers, or whatever. So they’re really trying to figure it out before they can start adjusting it.
Many of them have heard a lot from the cryptocurrency industry because they are hiring lobbyists and trying to meet with regulators. So the symposium was a good way to give policy makers the full perspective and get a wide range of views from a more skeptical side of things that aren’t funded by crypto lobbying firms.
There is a lot of hype out there about cryptocurrencies – there are probably hundreds of crypto-positive conferences every year. This is the first to focus on cryptocurrencies with no intention of promoting them, or at least simply not assuming that it’s inherently a good thing.
Yes, I don’t think I can name any lobby group in Australia that would be anti-crypto.
The bigger problem is that there is a huge financial incentive for cryptocurrency companies to influence legislation, so they are putting money into it. But there’s no real other side to this, there isn’t any company out there that has a strong financial incentive for cryptocurrencies not to happen. People claim that big banks hate cryptocurrencies, but that’s not true, some of them are trying to embrace it on their own.
Members of Congress and various other lawmakers are receiving a flurry of “cool cryptocurrencies, it’s the future, you’ll destroy innovation if you do something to regulate it.” And it’s a bad situation.
But I’m cautiously optimistic that there are lawmakers who understand those imbalances exist and, at the end of the conference, there was the announcement of a new crypto-skeptical organization.
Do you think regulators are being misled by crypto lobbyists?
Absolutely. Some of the things they say are not just misleading, in some cases they are outright lies – there is a tremendous amount of spin on them. Despite all the promises made by cryptocurrencies, we have seen very little reality. People promised that cryptocurrencies would be transformative, but it has existed since 2008 or 2009 – where is the transformation? Aside from the people who play on bitcoin, but I don’t see that changing the future of the company.
So how do you think this is all going to turn out? Realistically, where do you think Web3 will go considering all the money and promotions that are poured into it?
I’m a little cynical about this. Without major changes in regulation, cryptocurrencies will likely continue to follow this boom and bust cycle we’ve seen over the past decade or two. It will get very hyped, people will start putting a lot of money into it, it will over-inflate and then crash spectacularly. Then someone will find a new way to market it and the whole thing repeats itself and people lose money all the time.
I doubt it can change without regulatory action, but I don’t think there is the political will for strong legislative changes on how cryptocurrencies are regulated. So we’ll continue to see this fairly patchy application and a hands-on approach that has already led to some pretty devastating failures.
But I hope, even if I don’t think it will happen, that lawmakers and regulators come together a little and realize that they are not crushing innovation by protecting consumers, but simply protecting them from catastrophe. And they’re going to actually start treating these things for what they are, which are largely unregistered titles.
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