The Crypto Anarchist View: Smuggler and Frank Braun on Privacy and Importance of Decentralization

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Smuggler: No, no, I don’t have any mission. I gave up on having missions long time ago because having a mission is actually a problem. What I’m doing is trying to understand what’s going on with myself, I’m trying to make decisions and turn those decisions into actions. That is my mission. To be and stay an individual is a huge thing in itself, and if you are doing this you might be an inspiration to other people. You might have a question they never ask, or you might have a challenge they never face. I personally don’t have answers, but I think I’m pretty good at creating questions. So yes, maybe that’s my mission: to ask myself questions and to do that loudly so that others might profit from those questions.

Frank Braun: I really like answers, but for me the big problem we have is that we also try to find a solution for everybody. As for the mission, I totally agree with what Smuggler says. For me it’s really important to find out what is the truth and then to act in accordance with that. It’s a very hard thing to do, and if I have friends, relationships, or family where I can act like a good person and the way I define myself I will see this as a big success. I don’t think it’s realistic to go on a mission and try to change the world.

Smuggler: It’s actually a dangerous thing, because if our problems come from monocultures, from too little questions and too little answers. It could be dangerous to say that I’m going to introduce the next concept that people will follow. It’s not really about creating a concept that people can follow, it’s about an individual becoming aware and courageous again to create their own mission. The diversity of solutions, the diversity of approaches, and diversity of questions and ideas is actually what creates things we didn’t have before. So, if speak about the mission again, the problem is that it introduces too much order while we have to introduce a little more creative chaos.

Frank Braun. Yeah, that’s like biodiversity where you have different opinions, different people next to each other without killing each other. It’s like your neighbor is having a different religion but you don’t kill him for that.

Smuggler: If you look at a bigger picture, the interesting thing is how do we actually create political systems, technical systems, economic systems that cater for those conflicting and diverse positions? How do we create social structures that value their core expression on one hand, and don’t raise violent conflicts with other groups on the other hand? How these groups can co-exist while fully expressing themselves? That is something that we really don’t know how to do, but it’s also something that is very important for the future.

ForkLog: Cryptocurrency exchanges are also getting too much attention from the authorities which often results in them forcing their users to reveal plenty of personal information. Their motivation is quite clear since it’s almost impossible today to carry out any activities without getting licenses and having to comply with the AML/KYC regulation. From this point of view, what role do you think decentralized exchanges and other decentralized platforms will play in the future?

Smuggler: It’s a huge problem if you mix systems or interface systems of different assets. For example, cryptocurrencies are more or less protocol regulated while banks and exchanges are law regulated. The one thing is not reputable, the other thing is reputable, and I always think that mixing those things is an issue. Besides that, I don’t think that you can preserve the freedom of transactions when you interact with the system that is built against you. It’s like you cannot be a little pregnant, it doesn’t work this way. And when it comes to cryptocurrencies, I never use exchanges to get some euros. I’ve never done this and will never do this. The only thing that matters are p2p exchanges between cryptocurrencies, and OTC exchanges if you want to get some cash.

Photo: Pavel Sinagl, Paralelni Polis

ForkLog: There are still risks that you can lose some of your privacy even at OTC exchanges.

Smuggler: You have to look at them a little like a drug dealer. Instead of asking whether you have some amount of hash you ask about Bitcoin. Of course, there are OTC exchanges that are targeting big markets and they might ask for your Facebook page, but that’s their problem. If you do an OTC exchange with me, you will meet me at a café and it will take a minute maximum. You give me cash, I give you something like an OpenDime wallet or whatever in return, and that is the most fitting thing for the concept of free transactions.

Frank Braun: It’s actually funny, when we started wearing masks and giving interviews, it was like five years ago, and I was giving a presentation on OTC trading, and basically we were predicting that when Bitcoin becomes more popular regulators will crack down on exchanges. So if you want to have an alternative it has to be a real alternative. You can’t just say ‘Let’s make Bitcoin’ but do all things on exchanges that are regulated and connected to the banks. What you have to do is to build something completely different.

ForkLog: Can one suggest that that centralized exchanges will eventually lose a good share of today’s market, or that their role will be significantly reduced?

Smuggler: I don’t see them going away especially because a huge portion of cryptocurrencies is stuffed there and is used for speculation. People are investing in Bitcoin not for making transactions but for skimming the price.

Frank Braun: Agreed, it’s mostly speculation. People don’t use Bitcoin for transactions that much, and even currencies like Monero are mostly used for laundering Bitcoin.

At the Hackers Congress in Prague Smuggler presented Fog of CryptoWar, a talk on variuos aspects of crypto-politics and activism related to the recent debate about banning encryption. Frank Braun’s speech was titled Dehumanizing Technology.

To learn more about Smuggler and Frank Braun you can also visit http://anarplex.net and http://frankbraun.org.

Smuggler and Frank Braun were interviewed by Andrew Asmakov

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