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Decoding the ‘Bitcoin revolution’

The White Paper contributors crypto-economist Jaya Klara Brekke and Ben Vickers look back on the decade since the invention of blockchain technology with Paul Mason, author of Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future. Have lessons been learned? What now? 

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the mysterious figure Satoshi Nakamoto published a revolutionary white paper that described a simple peer-to-peer electronic cash system. This was the origin of Bitcoin. 

A decade later, Ignota Books publishes The White Paper as an invitation to return to the source. As editor Ben Vickers says, we’re entering a period akin to the collapse of the dot-com era. It’s a time of reflection, but also one where crucial questions about the future will be decided. 

The discussion took place at Foyles in London on Monday 4 February. It’s a call to engage and participate, going back to the original white paper as the compass for the rapidly shifting terrain of contemporary techno-politics.

As the discussion explores, whatever your take on the blockchain, it’s a technology that will continue transforming our global economy. There is an urgent need to look at the realities as they unfold in real time. As Brekke puts it:

“There keeps being this idea of a moment when we’ll arrive at utopia, or that island where we’ll go and build that utopia, or Mars where we’ll go and build that utopia, and it’s based on this idea that there’s nothing pre-existing already…” 

A decade after the birth of bitcoin, this discussion takes on the big questions around the implementation of the blockchain, digging into issues of trust and consensus, the emergence of different kinds of crypto-economics and models of governance, and possibilities for the future — both emancipatory and authoritarian. 

“If there’s one thing we should have learned by now,” Brekke says, it’s the importance of looking at “the relationships between pre-existing systems and what you’re introducing into the world.”

 

The White Paper by Satoshi Nakamoto with a Guide by Jaya Klara Brekke and Introduction by James Bridle and edited by Ben Vickers is available now.