In today’s episode, Mark talks to Alex Gladstein, the Chief Strategy Officer at the Human Rights Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization that is currently working on human rights as well as focusing on people who are under authoritarian regimes. Gladstein shares his opinions and experiences regarding his line of work. Also, he sheds light on different issues, such as the governments of some countries that keep using technology to isolate and manipulate the population.
Bitcoin is the combination of multiple technologies and mechanisms that have allowed users to differentiate money and state. According to Mark, there are two kinds of tech: “the one that can make us slaves or the one that can save us.” Alex answered that he wants to see a company that releases products and services that help consumers protect themselves in terms of privacy features. Gladstein reiterates the importance of allowing people to have access to privacy, especially regarding online transactions that involve monetary handling such as that in Bitcoin usage.
Since launching a decade ago, the decentralized, peer-to-peer cryptocurrency bitcoin has been lauded (and denounced) for its potential to route around traditional state-based monetary systems and allow individuals to trade directly with one another.
Much of the discussion has understandably focused on how it is transforming economic exchange. But Alex Gladstein, the chief strategy officer of the Human Rights Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes and protects civil liberties in closed societies, is interested in how it empowers people in autocratic countries to escape government control. Only about 8 percent of global transactions use cash and the switch to digital payments means that authorities can track what individuals are up to with greater ease than they used to.
Bitcoin, its underlying blockchain technology, and the emerging Lightning payment network are allowing people to escape surveillance, says Gladstein, who has co-authored a brand new book on the subject, The Little Bitcoin Book: Why Bitcoin Matters for Your Freedom, Finances, and Future.
In today's Reason Podcast, he tells Nick Gillespie how bitcoin is changing the way people live and transact in places such as China, India, Iran, and Venezuela. He also explains how in an increasingly cashless America, cryptocurrency is helping us to escape what's been called "surveillance capitalism," why Human Rights Foundation's annual Oslo Freedom Forum is more important than the World Economic Forum in Davos, and how bitcoin and associated technologies will "really bankrupt the ability of authoritarian regimes to do what they do and basically force their hand to reform."
Audio production by Ian Keyser.
Join Marty as he sits down with Alex Gladstein, Chief Strategy Officer of the Human Rights Foundation and the Oslo Freedom Forum, to discuss how Alex ended up at the HRF, how authoritarian regimes use digital panopticons to control their subjects, why Bitcoin is such an important project, and why we can't mess it up.
Checkout Alex's speech from MCC: https://youtu.be/CyieujRFk3g?t=13786
Follow Alex on Twitter: https://twitter.com/gladstein
Follow Marty on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MartyBent
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