Gavin Wood & Edward Snowden
December 3rd | DeData Conference
Part 1 ↑↑
Part 2 ↓↓
Below is a transcription of the December 3rd DeData Conference discussion moderated by Dylan Dewdney. Speakers include Dr. Gavin Wood and Edward Snowden.
Dylan Dewdney | Moderator: Okay. And we are back, um, welcome to Gav and, uh, I hope you're well, uh, I see, uh, and, um, I just want to say first, uh, how did my, the thing I really, really want to know is how did Snowden inspire your own work? And, um, I know you've spoke, you you've written about this, and I think that. Really, really, uh, extremely I I'm just so compelled and curious to know that if there was some cross-pollination in terms of.
You know, inspiring your work, Gav. And here we sit on the prep precipice of web three and a more optimistic avenue toward, you know, frameworks for governance. And I just, I just, I really want to know, like, how did that, how did, how were you inspired and then, um, and if you can speak to, you know, some of your thoughts about, you know, is this an optimistic, um, avenue and what is, what are you optimistic about?
Uh, if we can go on that, please.
Gavin Wood: Uh, yeah. Uh, well first thanks for inviting me on, um, it's literally to be here and have the chance to actually, uh, interact, um, uh, directly for a little while. Um, yeah, the first, uh, I mean, you know, I, I did, I did write this article and what three, like, um, you know, back in 2014.
And actually, if you go back to the article, I have it up here now it's. I think that's like the third paragraph of the article, uh, actually calls it the post-Snowden library. Um, this was, this was very, um, um, it was, it was a bit of a, uh, kinda like a revelation at the time. I remember it was like April, March, April time.
Um, and somehow the, the two had been separate the whole Bitcoin and Ethereum, uh, you know, the whole sort of blockchain. Movement had been, um, that would be interesting, but it was one, um, different, uh, sort of a box in my mind and life. Um, rather separate to this, you know, there's sort of the revelations that, um, that were very helpfully, uh, um, uh, published, um, you know, back in, uh, back in 2013, I think, um, I know there was this revelation moment where I realized that this wasn't Bitcoin and Ethereum is consensus technology.
Wasn't just, uh, a kind of a reaction to the, uh, to the incompetence of the regulators and bankers, uh, in 2008. Um, but it was really a wholly different, um, approach to, into human interaction on the global. Um, the addressed or that could address many of the, um, of the issues that would come to light, uh, in a very, uh, uh, dramatic way with, uh, with, with, with, uh, you know, these revelations.
And I saw it as being, um, very clearly a piece of technology that could really, um, Really helps society move away from these, uh, these really sort of fundamental issues of, uh, of trust. And so this sort of concept of this platform that could move society in this direction, um, uh, addressed some of these issues, um, at least was, uh, I felt deserved a different name.
Crypto into blockchain because it's sort of brought in a few other things as well. He brought in elements of like BitTorrent and Freenet and tall, right there was it. Wasn't simply about, um, the ability to have free, uh, free currency of the internet. This was about creating a whole new platform to, um, eclipse, the sort of traditional technologies that we'd used that were very, um, authoritarians.
And, uh, and so it sort of deserves to be called something quite different. And then it was like, what does it equal? You know, what's the next, it's the next iteration of, um, of this like massively multi-user application framework that we kind of call web two. Um, so it kind of went three. Um, and then it was also like, well, maybe it should be sort of named after the guy that sort of really shine a light on this and demonstrated that society really, really needs this technology.
So, you know, I was kind of into minds, um, post-Snowden web three and web three caught on.
Edward Snowden: Oh, wow. Okay. Fair enough. But yeah. It's it's funny that you mentioned that, uh, particularly that you mentioned the influences from, um, sort of the prior works of the internet, the BitTorrent type, uh, distribution. Um, because I, I think back to, uh, the classical tradition, uh, that the idea of the great conversation, uh, unites us over generations, um, with the thinkers of the past and each time as we think, uh, what is it the way forward to the better world. Uh, we take what we have. We take what it's been gifted to us by in posterity and prior work of our fellows. And then we try to challenge it or we try to extend it and we try to go beyond it. And when you asked me if I'm optimistic, uh, this is why I'm optimistic. Um, we had this beautiful thing, um, in the internet that was given to us and not given to all of us.
Some of you are old enough that you, you helped build it. Right. Uh, but there are, uh, there is a counter. As a gift to themselves, to the exclusion of everyone else. And I'm thinking of powerful central forces here, whether they are governmental or whether they are corporate. And we actually see this, I think, beginning to distort, uh, the blockchain space, uh, quite clearly, I think all of you are, are much more familiar with them than I am.
Uh, where we see a lot of projects, uh, that are being, um, sort of manipulated or contorted or shaped, uh, reshaped to be, uh, as politely as possible, much more fair to the investors of the project than they are to the public in general. Um, and I, I think that's a corruption of, to the ideals of the space, the framework of what it should be, what it could be and what, in my opinion, and ultimately actually my belief it will be.
And, and that's because you've got all of these projects, some of which are very, uh, cleverly self-serving, some of them are very transparently self-serving and on the other side, you have a more publicly serving alternatives. I think over time, over iterations, um, the common interest will win over, uh, the selfish interest.
Uh, there is some benefit to selfish interest, right? We need to, uh, basically allow people, uh, the space to try and be self-serving to try and get ahead because that incentive drives a lot of creative urges on a lot of people to do work that they would not otherwise perform, uh, unless they had this big carrot dangling ahead of them.
Um, but in the internet space, in the blockchain space, what we have seen, I think, uh, is people not trying to, uh, Chase the carrot or a carrot, but all carrots, uh, and in, so doing they're, they're claiming them for themselves to the exclusion of everyone else. Uh, this is the same when we look at the internet.
Uh, what Facebook is doing is trying to basically take every carrot in the world and lock it in a Facebook box and Instagram box of WhatsApp box. Um, that then no one else can inter-operate with, uh, no one can access. Uh, and if you want to so much as smell their carrot, right, you have to pay Facebook money.
Um, and the funny thing is when you're using Instagram, when you're using Facebook, you're not even in the same room is the carrot. The carrot is exclusively for the advertisers, because back to that earlier idea that we were talking about violence and influence, um, what Facebook sells is influence, right?
It's on that same spectrum, it's the softer side, but what they are trying to do is they're trying to manipulate and shape behavior, uh, for them.
Dylan Dewdney | Moderator: Gavin. I think that this is a kind of like a very interesting thing for you to chime in on, because there's been, uh, for some, perhaps it's arguable that there spend for sudden new L one entrance. Um, and this is for more of our blockchain oriented audience. Um, new L one enter instead of sacrificed, uh, a level of decentralization for some sort of performance.
And this is sitting outside of, of, of your discussion perhaps at that of that speculative impulse, which is absolutely. Yeah. Oh, sorry. I didn't, I wasn't. I just, for our audience, not the audience. That was,
Edward Snowden: yeah.
Dylan Dewdney | Moderator: Okay. Sorry. Um, yeah. So, uh, yeah, Gavin, if you could chime in on your thoughts about this. Um, I w I think that would be lovely.
Gavin Wood: Yeah, sure. Um, well I think the, the bottom line here is. You know, Bitcoin would not exist if all of the Bitcoin nodes had to sit in the same data center had to be bought from the same company.
Uh, and it had to be sinked from one of the very few privileged individuals that had access to the historical transaction set. Um, the reason that Bitcoin exists today is because of. You didn't require any fundamental privilege in order to join in and run the network. And indeed verify that everybody who was running the network was doing it correctly.
Um, and the reason that this, this, this like this non privileged or non permissioned, um, trustless open, transparent, whatever you want to call it, decentralized, um, Uh, this, this attribute of the Bitcoin network allowed it to exist. Um, In this kind of, uh, you know, Edward call it, um, you know, an ungovernable.
Um, I kind of, uh, I like this word, "A-legal" right. It's, it's kind of like outside of the scope of human law, this is a natural law, and this is, this is kind of like the laws of the physical laws, the laws of the universe. You can't take the wind caught for blowing your house down, even though it is damaged.
And it's like, Bitcoin, Bitcoin was this, um, this, this "A-legal" force. Right? And we, we, we created us, uh, we as humans through, uh, you know, mathematics, basically mathematics, economics game theory, we, we, we mix these together in this crazy recipe. Bitcoin came about. It was, it was a force that could not be, could not be stopped.
Well, as soon as these forces become stoppable, because they are overly centralized, then they will cease to get this kind of carte blanche, ungovernable, "A-legal" attribute. And they will become inherently very governable, which basically means in, in Edward's earlier terms that, um, people with sticks may well turn up at doors and demand that these nodes, uh, stop processing transactions from these, uh, individuals, um, or, uh, or, or whatever else that they want to do.
Um, and if that's, if that's the case, then it is effectively it's working against. Um, the, I don't know, whatever you want to call them. The token holders, the participants, the stakeholders in these networks, because it's, these networks will cease to be what they are meant to be. Right. They will cease to have this value proposition that Bitcoin had, and they will become just like, um, another form of, uh, of centralized service, not entirely different to, you know, Amazon, Google, Facebook.
Dylan Dewdney | Moderator: Yes. Uh, fair enough and agreed. Edward, do you want to chime in further on?
Edward Snowden: No, no. I think I largely agree with the, uh, the, the proposition there. Um, this is something that I would actually extend to, uh, uh, one of the dates that I've been writing about recently online sub stack, um, central bank, digital currencies, and their entrance into the space, uh, where they're trying, they are particularly threatened.
Um, by the presence or existence of stable coins, such as they are, right. Particularly when people start talking about like tether and one that they're like this, somebody is creating a dollar equivalent or soaking a dollar out of our ecosystem. And then they're replacing with what we don't know, you know, whatever.
Um, what if we just, uh, flood the zone with, uh, her own, um, competitor and we see... I think, uh, when we talk about stable coins, there are these centrally issued, stable coins coming from, you know, Coinbase or wherever, uh, that have built into their smart contracts. Things like, uh, you know, black lists and, uh, or freezing capabilities for contracts.
Um, And they have the ability to like burn other people's addresses. Um, and, and to me, this defeats the idea of what a Dao or stable coin is a stable coin that has blacklisting, in my opinion, is not a stable. And this is why I would prefer something like a Dai or I don't know how to pronounce it. I've only seen it written, but Maker DAO things (DAI).
Um, because that doesn't have that. It is a collateralized and openly sort of visible to the network. There is no question about what's backing it because you already see what's there. And you know, these things can be voted on and they can be adjusted. And this is kind of a model to me where we see things, something, you know, the government offers.
For example, it's CDCs or Coinbase offers it's next thing we're Facebook finally comes forward with whatever its thing is. Um, and they're all trying to, uh, basically wash tokens out of one economy, whether that's the dollar economy, whether that's out of the, you know, crypto economy or whatever into their space.
And this is a lot of the competition that I think we see in the blockchain space today. It's very, zero-sum. And the question that I have asked is when we start to look at these older models, actually that are more tested that are more proven, um, like the, the Bitcoin model or a, you know, like a, um, sort of over collateralized model that's on network and open, um, and more free than it is centrally regulated.
Um, and then you have a CBDC out there. Central bank issued digital currency where they just say, Hey, we just created $10 trillion. And we sent them to everybody's, uh, you know, bank account, but if you don't use them in a week, they disappear, right. And this is what China is test driving today. Uh, they can give sort of rebates to juice the economy wherever, but your money has an expiration date.
Uh, and this gets to the inflation, um, controversies that are happening all over the public domain today. People are beginning to ask a question that has been largely forgotten. Um, one of the privileges of government classically has been to spend other people's money. If we stopped talking about other people's money and we start talking about your money and we start not talking about strictly legally authorized taxes that have gone through long debates and, you know, uh, are, are just continuously relentlessly covered by media.
And we start talking about more secretive forms of taxation, whether it's being performed by a company, whether it's being performed by a government who should be able to spend your money other than you. We can create networks that, answer that question. Um, and I think they will be more competitive than, than ones that are, uh, shall we say less transparent.
Dylan Dewdney | Moderator: Thank you. Um, I think it's worthy then at this point to talk about. You know what web 3.0 are, excuse me. I've been told that that's web three. I should not say what 3.0. That that was changed at some point in the past, what three will look like in 10 or 20 years? I understand that's an extremely long scope of time, um, in our, in our world today.
Um, but, uh, what, what do you both think it will look like and Gav, Gavin, excuse me. Um, I'll uh, shoot this to you, please.
Gavin Wood: Um, Well, yeah, it is a pretty long, pretty long time stale. Um, I generally deal in like maybe at most, um, six months, three years, uh, 10 or 20. I mean, we're going to see, it's going to be a very interesting social experiment because we're going to see just how much, um, the world cares about, um, privacy, self sovereignty, uh, transparency, knowing that the rules, their assumptions about how a system or a service works, um, are true.
And I think this is this actually, um, it's an interesting, uh, it's a slight difference with, uh, with, I think, what, what, what Edward was saying earlier with the, you know, the stable coins that like USBC or whatever, versus like DAI. Um, I, I'm not against like stable coins that are centrally issued. I think that there is, you know, they, they are logic, right.
And at the end of the day, my, I consider my job as like a trustless trust, free consensus software guy, is to develop systems where the stated rules are enforced. Now, if the stated rules allow a central issuer to freeze an account, well, let you know, if you don't want to be a part of the system, you go use some other system that doesn't allow a central authority to freeze an account.
I don't think it's necessarily. I don't think it's feasible. Um, if nothing else. To build a world where, um, where only one kind of paradigm can exist. I think, um, I think there have to be choices here. And I see this as just like another choice. And although I may not particularly want to use a central issue currency myself, um, as long as there are like options and choices, and as long as the rules so much as they are, they can be written in logic, uh, can be, uh, like guaranteed to be enforced.
Then I think, I consider that to be like the key contribution of, um, of the consensus element, at least of web three. So like in 10 or 20 years time, my hope of, for the world would really be that we, that we have these, you know, global services that we massively multi-user, we broadly refer to it as the web now.
Um, we have these services that provide us with, um, defacto guarantees, like, hard guarantees on the, on the rules that are, you know, open and transparent that we can read, whether it's in code, whether it's in English that we can read and get a credible, um, belief that they will be for, uh, they will be followed.
And that's something that I see is really, really missing from the world that this kind of.Pre-Bitcoin, Pre-Blockchain. Um, uh, I suppose if we're doing it properly, like pre-BItTorrent, um, peer2peer. Right. The world was very much based around, um, a trusted authority providing a service. Um, it had to be from society to develop, to get to the point that it is.
Um, but, uh, in 10 or 20 years, it would be my hope that we've moved away from this paradigm and the paradigm where, uh, services do not need or service providers do not need to be trusted. Um, we can verify
Dylan Dewdney | Moderator: thank you, Gavin. And, uh, as a rejoinder that, is your proposal then that we would have, some people might choose on the shelf of DAO is the benevolent dictatorship.
Um, and, and, and, uh, and, and I, I, I th I think that that's possible. I mean, some people, I, I think that the basic concept that you should be able to choose is sound and should be fundamental, um, and
Gavin Wood: wonder what you think of experimentation. It's like it's the basis of evolution is to have many different paths and the path that, you know, that delivers the best that is fits it best fitted for the environment delivers the best.
I don't know, opportunity, service, whatever, advantageous to the, uh, Uh, to humanity, to society as a whole should be the one ultimately that wins out.
Edward Snowden: We've come into a really interesting debate here. So let me Wade back in, um, because I, I think Gavin, you know, makes a important point, but I have to be sort of the dark side here, uh, counter argue, uh, for the, the, the sunshine and roses take because no one comes to us for sunshine and roses, um, which is, uh, that's true.
And it sounds persuasive. But, uh, you know, antifreeze leaks from a car and animals drink it. Uh, it's an attractive nuisance, right? There's something that seems better. It is sweeter. So their brain is tricked into believing. This is more beneficial. It's easier. It's there. I didn't have to work for it. Let's get that.
And they die as a result. Right? It's the same with swimming pools. I don't have fences around them, little kids go to them and you know, it's, uh, these same things happen all over the place, economically. This is really what web two is. Um, we lost the distributed state of the original web, where we were all sort of homesteaders and proprietors.
Uh, we had terrible cloogy little websites, uh, that we tapped out in text editors. Uh, they were not beautiful, but they were ours. The servers were, you know, under our desk or, you know, whether it's at a university or at your home. Um, and bit by bit, we made the barriers to entry. Uh, lower. We created a greater, uh, opportunities for inclusion, for people who lacked access to the resources or the computation or the technical know-how, um, to do this.
But people exploited that imbalance of power. Right. Uh, and they constructed what they believed in their heart truly believed. Uh, it was a force for good in the world. See, for example, Google's original do no evil. Um, but over time as it corporatizes, as it iterates within itself, it begins to decay because this is the same with our governments.
This is the same that we're seeing today. Uh, the stewardship of a society is a, um, constantly. On, uh, uh, hours on, uh, sort of psychic energy. Uh, you have to constantly be working, getting out of your bed, trying to make things better in a small way, just to keep things the same, uh, because the force has ...... tilting us toward decay and the nature of human nature and corruption, uh, tilt us toward that decline.
Um, I do think. Uh, that this distribution and this explosion of choices is likely, uh, what I am concerned about and will remain concerned about is the first mover advantage, the network effect and particularly anti competitive behavior, uh, by market leaders and by those who have a lot of resources. Um, and this is, this is just a sort of the concern, uh, what we see, I think.
In a lot of these spaces is where regulation or the regulatory authority or a, um, advantage of any kind like that. A, an unshared advantage is used to advantage a certain class. To the detriment of their competitors, whether we're talking about states versus non states, uh, whether we're talking about market incumbents versus market entrants, uh, whether we're talking about startups versus whatever.
Um, and we all recognize this, we all see this, and there's just the question that I would have for, for Gavin with this to, you know, um, bring it all back is I, I'm going to presume that you grant that because I, I think it's reasonable. The question is recognizing that particularly in technology, there is this tendency toward winner takes all.
And if we presume those who have, uh, unfair or unreasonable advantages, whether we're talking to legal or as you say "A-legal", uh, because it cuts both ways, some ways interesting forms, um, how do you guard against the natural tendency towards centralization of reward? Um, when we have, for the first time, sort of just a hand on the string that we hope can help us climb out of the well of this toward a more decentralized or a more, uh, distributed, um, a portion of power.
Gavin Wood: Well,
I'm not sure if this is something that can be this may well be above my pay grade. Um, so power, like I can't solve what is inherently, um, an issue with humanity.,
Edward Snowden: true. And none of us can just to be clear, I'm not trying to put you on the spot here. This is just thinking out loud.
Gavin Wood: But like, I think, um, so I would say that there were two things that broadly speaking, um, can reduce the, um, can reduce the issues that come with, um, individuals having, um, having outsized power.
One of them is transparency. So I just put it that, I don't think that a world where everybody has literally the same amount of power is necessarily a world that we would want to live in the we in the same way that like, um, you know, uh, we don't necessarily want to, um, I exist in a world where everybody has a vote over what the world should be like, like governance is a fundamentally unsolved problem.
Right. But I think transparency and I think incorruptibility of rules. So if we have, uh, if the rules are transparent and if we know that they are blanket enforced, then this at least keeps, um, those that have more power than others, in check. So in my mind, this is really this technology can help in some much as it, um, avoids egregious, um, corruption of the rules that is only really possible in these very opaque power structures.
Um, you know, some of which you were mentioning earlier in the U S government. Okay.
Edward Snowden: Fair enough.
Dylan Dewdney | Moderator: Edward, Edward, I think you were trying to make a couple points in there and I wasn't quite sure if you were able to get them through, uh, would you mind restating them? Cause I, I wasn't sure I heard anything out of your mic.
Edward Snowden: and know, I, I was just saying, um, with, uh, Gavin's point, actually I think, um, he is, uh, correct in a certain way. We don't necessarily want everyone to have exactly the same power or if we do. Uh, we want to encourage coordination and cooperation, joint construction over a, you know, uh, sort of a, um, anti collaborationist model for the whole world.
Uh, it's just a question of when we've recognized that there are these centralizing forces right there. There's these centers of gravity that will naturally come to exist in any competitive system. Um, how do we, uh, sort of ensure fairness in a world where people are taking very anti-regulatory positions, because classically, right, when we're talking about the central laboratories, you've got regulators about what happens when the regulators don't act or act corruptly, right.
Or we move to a space where we don't have the benefit of them. That was the question widely, but I think Gavin made his point
Dylan Dewdney | Moderator: Great. Um, you know, we, we may not have a sensibility of what it looks like in 10 or 20 years. Um, exactly. But is it fair to say, is it fair to say that it looks potentially better?
Is that fair to say? Is there a consensus on that? If. No, the world is truly adopting web three under, um, under sort of our collective imagination of, of what a web three adopted world looks like. Is it, is it, are we agreed on.
Gavin Wood: So for me, for my part, I certainly wouldn't be spending my life 14 hours a day.
If I didn't think it was gonna overrule, uh, positive thinking for the world.
Edward Snowden: Yeah. I mean, I think it's going to be a good thing for the world. If we make it. And that's really my point for, for everybody out there who uses these networks, or who's interested in this, or who thinks there's going to be an impact or is threatened by it.
Um, the only way things change is if you make them change, like Gavin says his 14 hours a day, you know, that that counts for something that is a measure of influence. Uh, we all have influence whether we apply it, uh, whether it is applied correctly through our efforts or whether it's sort of stolen from us and manipulated and shaped through these outside parties, they're influencing us or thinking or whatever.
Um, that's a battle that we fight every day and we continuously will. Um, when we talk about web three, um, my, one of my primary concerns just beyond the, uh, sort of inevitability, the space. Um, and I, I think we will see a growing importance here. And I think that can be tremendously positive force. I am afraid of as always, uh, the corruption of privilege that exists within these spaces.
And one of the things that concerns me or that we haven't really talked about is like the, the NFT issue. Uh, that's around the space. I'm not against NFTs. I think they can be great. I've seen them used successfully for fundraising. I've used them for fundraising for the freedom of the press foundation and the generosity of the community is, you know, astounding.
Um, at the same time, I see them creeping into gaming in a way that a lot of people are excited about. Uh, but as somebody who's been playing games for a very long time and I'm like, hang on, hang on, hang on, hold up a second. We used to go to the store. We used to buy a game. You own the game, you play the game, that's it.
Right. Uh, then you've got the subscription model of games where you've got a massively multiplayer game or something like that. And, uh, you buy the game and then you pay a monthly fee or something like that. Now we have people that are trying to, uh, sort of, maybe they're not even trying to, but the ultimate result of what they're doing is they are injecting an artificial sense of scarcity, into a post scarcity domain. And I think that is actually an inherently antisocial urge here. Um, if you think about the world that people are retreating from, from their games, right. Uh, where they live in a cold bear box, if they're lucky enough to even have a home. And some overly expensive city. Uh, they spend all their time working.
They get home exhausted, you know, they make their a cheap meal and then they turn on their device, uh, to escape from all that. And then in their digital world where they're on a beautiful island, they built a beautiful home. And they want to change the color of the wall and you got to pay 1999 for the wall or for a token.
They'll let you roll for the potential to maybe recolor your wall there. Something horrible and heinous and tragic in that. Uh, to me, not everyone does that. And I'm not saying it has to do that, but I think the community should very much. Uh, B be trying to bend the arc of development away from injecting, artificial, unnecessary scarcity, uh, entirely for the benefit of some investor class, uh, into these, these post scarcity domains.
Because one of the promises, one of the privileges of technology is that it frees us from material limits that only exist in a material space to try to reimpose material limit in an immaterial space, I think is a little bit on ethical, but that's me personally.
Gavin Wood: Um, I, I would actually ask her quick question if suppose it were not for the benefit of the, you know, initial investors or whatever the stakeholders, but suppose that we've just done in some fashion, um, that's, uh, uh, that didn't actually inherently benefit any individual, just that scarcity was, was just part of the technology.
Do you think that alters the equation a bit?
Edward Snowden: Uh, I, I think of course it does, but it's still on the same spectrum. Right? Uh, so there is a question here of what is it that's being scarce, right. What are we gaining? Is it someone's effort? Right. Did someone create an artwork? Did someone write a poem? Did someone craft something in a game that, you know, took them 30 hours?
Uh, and that's there, it represents their 30 hours. That is a very different thing. That's tokenizing. Effort, it's tokenizing a human life, really human expression, uh, in a certain way in guarding and protecting that and allowing them to trade that what they've done there is they've crystallized property, right.
Of an act of creation. And then, uh, permitted a kind of transferability on the other. Is it a random number generator? Uh, that's just spitting out seed values or it's a casino lever arm, right. Where you're putting in tokens and you're hoping to get an rare and ultra-rare, or super rare, whatever they call it, you know?
Um, these are very different things. Uh, and that's what I'm recognizing.
Gavin Wood: It's interesting, right? Because like the game is a, is a product. Um, so it's a product is a digital product. It's not entirely dissimilar to another digital product, which for example, could be music. So suppose you had a, an NFT and, uh, and so, and you with your NFT, uh, you have to hold the NFT to be able to play this piece of music.
Now, the, the, the artists that created that piece of music, Um, I mean, I, I presume that since you've already sort of, you know, that your toes in the NFT thing, selling NFTs, but raising, raising funds, you would be okay with the artist who created a piece of music, um, to sell NFTs of their music, um, attached to the right to actually listen to this music.
Um, but isn't that the same thing as selling, um, an artifact within a game, if you are the game developer.
Edward Snowden: I think it's a very different thing. In fact, and we see this in traditional mobile games and like you, there's a Japanese "Gotcha" model is what it's called, um, where all of these loot box things, I think there are known of, uh, more, more generally where you're not paying for a guaranteed product.
You're not paying for a concert ticket. You're not paying for an album you're paying for the chance. The potential, what they're trying to do is they're trying to sell, um, a chance at something without the promise of something. And I think that distance is where a lot of exploitation and all of these spaces happen because humans are inherently bad at internalizing statistical chance.
Um, and I think the people who develop these systems are quite good at understanding, uh, these statistical models. Um, I think if you want to sell a concert ticket and that's, uh, again, represent. As a token, uh, whether that is a ticket, whether that is an NFT, uh, that's a different thing than the casino.
Gavin Wood: Okay. So, um, just to clear things up then, um, let's, let's disregard the concept like this. And what I'm talking about is effectively like a CD NFT. So like basically a piece like the music cannot be played outside of owning this NFT. So you want to, the artist is just linked to the NFT to the, to the music, right?
So there isn't any physical, um, elements of this, like a concert performance. This is really just the ability to listen to the music. So I suppose the technology existed to allow the artist to restrict those who listened to their music. So the owners at the NFT, which the artists themselves, in order to fund maybe themselves further, further development and for more music, is that okay?
Edward Snowden: Uh, again, all of these things, I think you're trying to create like a binary. Uh, well, what I'm saying is all of these things exist on a spectrum of goodness badness, right? Um, and there's, there's a sort of self-interest and there's altruism, um, in a world of, uh, entire self-interest. Right. Uh, everything is cutthroat and, uh, you know, a winner takes all, but you rule over a world of bones and ashes, um, on the other side, uh, absolute altruism, uh, your children, uh, starved because you starved because you gave all your food to them and then you died because you start to death and then they could not produce, you know, food for themselves.
And they died. Uh, there has to be reasonableness, uh, somewhere in this spectrum. You have to be careful not to fall too. On either side, uh, in the sort of example, as what you're describing, this is just a re um, uh, another re implementation of digital rights management, uh, which generally does not get me excited.
I'm not in love with it, but I can't understand how these things could be applied. Um, usefully or pro socially. In certain instances, there are other people who would very strongly disagree with me. Um, But, uh, all you're effectively talking about there. Um, the token is a password, right? We're using the cryptographic properties of cryptocurrencies, um, to basically provide, uh, an access, right.
Whether that's a playing right. Whether that's a streaming right. Whether, whatever, um, it's simply a technical measure. Uh, the implementation of it lies somewhere on that, uh, spectrum, as I said, but as you said before, maybe, uh, that's above my pay grade.
Gavin Wood: Yeah. I mean, just to go back to the game, I would therefore say, you know, I don't have any issue with games, developers restricting access to their product, um, in the same way that, you know, they already have done for decades before.
And I see NFTs is just like, uh, you know, more agile and more agile way of restricting access to their product. And, uh, I don't know. I, you know, I'm not a big, I don't think I've gambled more than like twice in my life, but, uh, I, so I, I don't know, like, I don't really have much of an opinion on, on, on what the gambling should be a probabilistic, you know, services should be a, um, uh, is a good thing or about things, but like, I would separate that from the broader concepts of like NFTs provided this agile restriction
Sure to be fair to reiterate on that. I'm not saying, uh, all gambling is bad or should be forbidden or whatever people have the right to make their own decisions. But at the same time, what I want people to focus on, what I want the community to focus on are predatory practices are extractive.
Practices are exploitative practices, fundamentally a violation of the spirit of fairness. That's all.
Dylan Dewdney | Moderator: I think that that point is well taken. Um, in the spirit of, uh, gambling, I was, I was trying to, I was gambling on interrupting you to, uh, legends speaking. So I apologized and, uh, and I hope you take that kindly.
Um, we are, we are in fact over time. Uh, we've let this run a bit over time because, uh, I think everyone in the group here, certainly you two are Mavericks, so it is on brand that we've run over time. Um, and we certainly all wanted to, to hear more of you speak. I would just say, I hope that. I hope that moving forward, this idea about NFTs.
I, um, if I can chime in on that, I think that identity will play a central role in, in all of this. And if you guys have any final words on how identity plays into this, uh, we'll give you three minutes each, uh, because we are over time and I feel like this isn't presidential debate or something. Um, but.
But please, since you, since you spoke last, uh, or I think you spoke last, so Gavin, uh, if you want to take this please.
Gavin Wood: Um, okay. So very quickly, uh, identity actually came up at one of, uh, when, when Edward spoke to the web three, um, summit a few years back. Um, and I think, uh, I don't really want to parrot it, um, why you set them, but it, it, it, it did strike a chord with me.
I think, um, identity is something that we do need to be very careful about. Uh, Uh, it's very much. We want to see services in society where there are objective non privileged ways, uh, of determining who should get, because most services kind of be provided to everyone all the time. So we need an objective, non privileged ways of deciding who should be able to use these services, um, uh, and who, who is not allowed to use the services simply through, you know, because of, because of the service cannot be provided to everybody.
And identity is a very, a very powerful instrument and used incorrectly, it would restrict, and it would create privileged, um, sets of people that can use services, um, that may ultimately be very important services to use, um, uh, uh, uh, against the overall, um, Uh, benefit for society. So I think, uh, we, there needs to be a, uh, very broad awareness amongst teams, amongst developers and within the community about, uh, how identity should be used in these products that we're building.
Dylan Dewdney | Moderator: Thank you, Gavin.
Edward Snowden: Uh, yeah, I, I think largely, uh, largely we're, um, in concert there, the one thing that I will, uh, sort of extend, um, I, again, because I think we don't have a lot of people in the blockchain space were sort of saying, Hey, slow down. Be careful on this. Um, Gavin admirably actually, uh, is, uh, let's be cautious here.
It gets back to that material limit. Right? Um, identity is a discriminator. That is the purpose of it to distinguish one from the other, uh, discrimination generally, uh, in the global space, uh, has negative consequences. As we see it being applied at scale, as Gavin said, there are really important places where we need to be able to discriminate, you know, uh, one per customer.
Um, we don't have enough to go around for this, whether it's a product, whether it's food, whether it's housing, whether it's whatever. Uh it's again, We need to, uh, see where's the connection to fairness now, uh, what we don't need is human identity, uh, necessarily in this, what we need is that, that sense of, of fairness, uh, in individual identity versus, uh, Uh, I can't think of the word for it.
Uh, but validity of access, right? You have yet to be served, you need to be served. There's a limited amount of whatever. There's a material. Uh, to the amount of service that can be provided. And so we want to provide it as fairly as possible if we can't get to everyone. Right? So basically you get your ticket through the turnstile, good for one transit.
Um, but what I mean by that doesn't need to necessarily be individual or what we need to be careful with is when we start saying, it's this person, it's this biometrics, it's this whatever. Um, and that identity, uh, begins to become discriminated against. Uh, but it is actually valid. They should still have a right to service for this, that or the other, uh, people need to be able to change identities.
People need to have, uh, basically, uh, you know, all of their access cards that are divorced from their physical human discriminate againstin many other domains identity from there, I need to get water or I will die identity. Right. Um, and I think how we tokenize this and crystallize this as is, is very difficult and it makes me nervous in general.
Uh, Um, we've seen a lot of clever solutions to a lot of, uh, uh, difficult problems in the past. And I am very encouraged by the kind of thinking that I see and the inventiveness in this space that I see, uh, what I want to caution against. Uh, this simply is overconfidence. Oh, we figured this out. And then you get something horrible, like world coin, uh, where they build an eyeball catalogue.
Um, and they don't even realize it. They don't think it's for that. They go, we don't know how we would use it. We don't know how it would be abused. Um, but like they saved a giant database of, uh, everybody's eyeball hashes then who knows what future use it will be put to because they were simply trying to verify and tokenize human individual humanness as a clever solution to a difficult problem.
Uh, but it can create greater risks down the road.
Dylan Dewdney | Moderator: Thank you so much. Um, and thank you both, uh, Edward and Gavin, um, legends in your own right. Uh, thank you very much for being part of this inaugural D data conference. I hope to, uh, rope you guys into a future one. Um, because, uh, I think that it would be extremely worthy in a year from now two years from now to revisit some of these topics to see how far we have come or.
Um, in web three and in our, you know, in society and for the world. So thank you gentlemen.