Date: October 5th, 2013
Location: Twelve Station Hotel, Atlanta, Georgia
Speakers: Jeffrey Tucker, Doug French, Cathy Reisenwitz, Tuur Demeester, Daniel Krawisz, Michael Goldstean, Stephan Kinsella, Peter Surda, Tony Gallippi, Stephen Pair, Charlie Shrem, Charles Hoskinson, Daniel Larimer, Adam B. Levine
Online Event: Get your video passes at LetsTalkBitcoin. They will also release free Youtube videos of the event later on.
What an event it has been! A day full of great speakers and great ideas. Some were the usual suspects – libertarian philosophies, anarchy believers and people who want you to really think about money. There were some new revelations – Invictus Innovations is working on amazing things that again has the potential to do a lot of good things and promises to be a one-stop-shop for decentralizing the heck out of everything. For the first time, we got to saw the Lamassu Bitcoin ATM in action.
This conference was different from other Bitcoin conferences like the San Jose 2013 Bitcoin conference in that this was much more focused towards the libertarian philosophies that attracted some early adopters rather than the technical aspects of Bitcoin. This was more of a ‘high-level’ overview of Bitcoin and its philosophies and had a heavy dose of libertarian-anarchist speakers and crowd. However, there was ample time for the Bitcoin entrepreneurs to talk to the audience and it did attract a lot of important people in the Bitcoin community. Sometime it is good to keep the bigger picture in mind that most likely Satoshi Nakamoto had in mind when he designed the currency in the first place.
It was still a great meeting place to meet other Bitcoin enthusiasts and entrepreneurs. Jeffrey Tucker was the main event moderator. I’ll cover the individual talks in more detail in later follow up posts. Here are the event highlights.
Also, another note – none of the panel discussions were really panel discussions. Instead, they were short speeches from the speakers.
The event started off with Jeffrey Tucker introducing the conference and Bitcoin to the audience with a welcome address about Bitcoin, titled “A New Currency for the Digital Age”.
Then the first panel that consisted of three speakers, each of them giving a short speech about their topic. The panel was titled “Money and Freedom” and moderated by Jeffrey Tucker.
Doug French is a libertarian economist and former president of the Mises Institute, so no surprise there when he gave a speech titled “The Decline and Fall of Conventional Banking and the Rise of the New”. It was a riveting talk and he covered a lot of good points. He talked about the fiat system and banking and how when you deposit money in the bank, you’re not really “depositing” but rather “lending” that money to the bank. There were good moments and Doug French could make the audience and panelists laugh.
This was followed by Cathy Reisenwitz’s talk titled “Why a Free Society Needs a Free Money”
Tuur Demeester gave a very good an interesting talk titled “Bitcoin and the End of Collectivism”. I would recommend watching his talk when it comes out.
Lots of interesting ideas and I’ll be writing more about those on my blog later.
That was it from the first panel, followed by Q&A. There were intelligent points raised. For instance, in response to one of the comments of Doug French, when he mentioned that Bitcoin cannot be duplicated, a random intelligent guy in the crowd corrected, “Bitcoin can be owned by multiple people but can be spent only by one” which is an important distinction because it allows you to create multiple copies of your Bitcoin for safekeeping, which means seizing Bitcoins is very different from seizing fiat – if someone manages to steal your private key, they will need to transfer that money out of your wallet, because otherwise someone else can spend it. This can also work as an insurance system where the events leading up to a seizure might mean the transfer of Bitcoin from that wallet (either through an Oracle or through an agent).
The second panel, again moderated by Jeffrey Tucker, had a couple of people, again from the libertarian breed rather than the technical people or entrepreneurs who actually “get” Bitcoin. These were again interesting nonetheless.
Daniel Krawisz spoke about “Why Libertarians Should Understand Cryptography” and Michael Goldstein talked about “Bitcoin Beyond Money”.
Just before lunch, Stephen Kinsella spoke about “The History, Meaning and Future of Legal Tender” and covered, from a legal perspective, all about legal tender laws and how it’s applicable to the Bitcoin community. He has interesting insights into what the governments could do to try to devalue Bitcoin, e.g. using the Greesham’s Law to create ‘bad money’ that then drives out ‘good money’ aka Bitcoin out of circulation. He had a good understanding of the past and what the future might hold for something as new as Bitcoin.
After lunch, Peter Surda talked about “Bitcoin is Sound Money”. This was followed by the ‘Merchantcraft’ panel that consisted of Tony Gallippi, Stephen Pair and Charlie Shrem and moderated by Adam B. Levine of Lets Talk Bitcoin. Tony Gallippi, the CEO of BitPay talked about “Bitcoin Entrepreneurship”. Stephen Pair talked about “The Technological Evolution of Money”.
Charlie Shrem started off with giving an update of his now vanished service BitInstant by letting the audience know that they are coming back, after being hit by a class action lawsuit and handling the whole thing pretty badly. Aptly, his talk was “Growing Pains: Taking a Bitcoin Startup to the Next Level”. Charlie Shrem is planning on reviving the BitInstant. It would be interesting to see how many people come back and trust the site again, now that there are several alternatives that are very good and have proven to be more reliable.
The next panel was Future Development, dominated by Charles Hoskinson and Daniel Larimer of Invictus Innovations who unveiled their BitShares project along with the Keyhotee project for identities. The BitShares project, as promising as it seems by tracking prices based on a prediction system, needs to prove its worth in the real world. The beta is slated for December 2013 and it would be interesting to watch it grow and progress. Charles ended with a mention of a mysterious hardware device that will be coming soon but didn’t provide any more details.
Charles Hoskinson talked about “A New Approach to BTC Exchanges” and introduced the BitShares ideas and Daniel Larimer talked about “Decentralized Solutions to Centralized Problems” introducing the Keyhotee identity system and a plan for decentralized, secure communication including text and voice.
Adam B. Levine of Lets Talk Bitcoin gave a speech “Doing Business with a Rising-Value Currency” where he mentioned that he does and expects at least a 25-30% discount when the asking is done in Bitcoin rather than fiat. This is to compensate for the fact that the currency value will probably rise for Bitcoin and fall for fiat, and Bitcoin transactions also have other advantages like no charge-backs and little to no fees.
The event was wrapped up with Austin and Becky Craig, the so called ‘Bitcoin couple’ who are trying to live only on Bitcoin for 90 days after getting married and making a documentary at the same time.
This was wrapped up with cocktails and networking among the crowd. It was an interesting mix of people overall, from libertarians to entrepreneurs. I’ll write more about the individual talks in later detailed posts.