HOPE X (2014): "Hacking Money, from Alexander the Great to Zerocoin" (Download)
Saturday, July 19, 2014: 6:00 pm (Serpico): Cryptocurrencies are here. Bitcoin is in the news and in the courts, and many other currencies are following, offering everything from anonymous transactions to redistributive economies to monetary sovereignty to, of course, doges. Related platforms promise to reinvent DNS, cloud storage, voting, contracts, even the corporation itself. To really understand what's happening, and how we can steer cryptocurrencies towards accomplishing social and political goals, we need to connect the breaking news with the deeper history of the technology of money. This will be a look back - before Hashcash and DigiCash, before Chaum, May, Diffie, Hellman and Merkle - and forward, into the future to plausible scenarios and speculations for launching projects now. What connects Belfast pubs in 1970 with the vault of the New York Federal Reserve, trading networks of the Islamic golden age, an Austrian ski village during a global depression, willows by the Thames, and an extraterritorial fortress on the outskirts of Singapore Changi Airport? Why are survivalists filling ammo boxes with rolls of U.S. nickels? Why do the differences in hash algorithms matter, and what covert software agreements underwrite the verification of physical bank notes? Money is one of the most significant social technologies that humans have invented, and cryptocurrencies are an opportunity to hack on the architecture of trust, verification, value, and credit that shapes how we can live. This talk, and conversation during and after, will explore what we can do with this opportunity.