Nobody in the cryptocurrency space is thinking big enough.
“I hear people talking about decentralized derivatives and mortgages,” Taaki said to an enraptured audience of hundreds on Friday. “Why are we not thinking about how to create dark finance tools we can leverage against government bonds?”
“We can crash national economies,” he said, adding:
“[In Syria,] I was in charge of technology projects for a region of about 5 million people. This was a great opportunity to deploy crypto on a massive scale … but most people weren’t interested,” Taaki said.
Taaki recounted approaching both ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin and Parity Technologies founder Gavin Wood for financial support.
Buterin’s response to Taaki’s ask of a $25,000 donation for training new cryptocurrency developers was ambiguous, according to Taaki. Taaki said Wood suggested he apply for funding through an official grants program.
Viewing the grants process as cumbersome and “bureaucratic,” Taaki seemed to take personal offense at the responses and called out the two on the Devcon stage for having “low social intelligence.”
Both Buterin and Wood were contacted to confirm this story though neither has responded as of press time. We will update the piece if we hear back.
“It’s hard to get donations from people to support something that’s strategically important to cryptocurrencies as a whole,” Taaki said, adding:
Moving beyond the tech
Taaki’s words resonated with many at the conference.
“I think he tries to keep the dream real,” said Santiago Siri, founder of Democracy Earth, a Y Combinator-backed nonprofit building digital governance technology. “I’m legitimately inspired by the values he stands for in this industry.”
To Siri, the biggest takeaway from Taaki’s talk was the need to refocus on “how to become a superpower.” That is, how to advance cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology into becoming a force worth reckoning with.
“It can really be a rival to the internet in our civilization,” Siri told CoinDesk in an interview following Taaki’s talk. “It’s clearly not just a cultural change. It can also be a profound institutional change to our political order.”
But to do this, the industry needs to embrace its political side, according to Siri, and think more globally.
Announced at Devcon by ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin (who also heads ethereum venture studio ConsenSys), the 1 Million Devs project seeks to educate traditional web developers about the promise of blockchain technology.
Education, Taaki agrees, is key.
“It can’t just be education about the technology. It also has to also be a philosophical education,” Taaki said, adding:
Amir Taaki speaks at Devcon 5, image by Christine Kim for CoinDesk
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