Ben Prentice - the producer for What Bitcoin Did and author of WTF Happened in 1971, has always been an enthusiast of technology. Growing up in the late 80s and early 90s, his father had an impressive setup of up to five or six computers in the house, a peculiar sight at the time. Ben was able to explore the possibilities of technology at a young age, using DOS and playing games with quarter inch floppies. His father even ran Ethernet cables through the house to connect to the Internet when it became available.
Ben's enthusiasm for technology, along with his background in the restaurant industry, 3D graphics, media production, video, and audio production led him to his current job working for Peter McCormick, host of the podcast What Bitcoin Did. Ben reached out to Peter and offered his media production background, and the rest is history.
Having read Slash Dot heavily between 2011 and 2012, Ben had a vague awareness of Bitcoin, but had no idea of its potential. His research into the currency and its implications eventually led him and his co-author to write WTF Happened in 1971 to explain why Bitcoin is important as a monetary technology.
At its core, Bitcoin is a monetary technology and the technology that makes it work surrounds that. By removing the central authority and introducing a new paradigm of money, it eliminates inflation and reorganizes society through the price system, making it very hard to kill and giving people hope for a better future.
However, Ben cautions people to be cautious when investing in NFTs, believing there is still a lot of hype and money chasing the craze and that NFTs are merely digital autographs. Digital signatures, however, are important and are used in many different ways, such as end-to-end encryption and Bitcoin.
The use of Bitcoin has been growing exponentially in developing countries due to the need for a store of value, and projects like Cardano and Bolt Twelve are pushing the agenda of cryptocurrency into Africa. Despite this, Ben believes the main obstacle preventing wider use of Bitcoin in the Western world is taxation. Bitcoin and Lightning are payment technologies, and every single time they are used, there is an onerous reporting tax burden. Such regulation could put a damper on their use, particularly for smaller transactions.
At the end of the day, Ben Prentice is an optimist when it comes to Bitcoin and he believes the technology is making the world a better place. He is thankful for the currency and its potential to make the world a better place and he is excited to see what the future holds.
Producer - What Bitcoin Did
Co-Author - WTF Happened in 1971?
Podcaster - Bitcoin Echo Chamber
This following post was generated using AI via dubb.media 🤖
[0:00:01] Rudy Dogum: Welcome. Ben Prentice, thank you for being on the wholesome Crypto podcast. It's a pleasure to have you on the show. For those who don't know Ben Prentice, he is a producer for what Bitcoin did and he also is the author of WTF Happened in 1971. Thank you for coming on.
[0:00:22] Ben Prentice: Thanks, man. It's good to see you, Rudy.
[0:00:23] Rudy Dogum: It's good to see you too. I know we've we've chatted up a little bit over dinner a few weekends ago and it's good to see you here in Boston. So it's been a pretty wild ride so far in the crypto industry, especially now. What's going on with the new amendment.
[0:00:40] Ben Prentice: Yeah, the infrastructure bill, which by the time this episode drops, will probably already have been decided. But yeah, it's crazy stuff.
[0:00:49] Rudy Dogum: It's going to be pretty wild how it's going to change how America works with cryptocurrency. And I'm pretty excited. What's going to happen? I honestly don't think much will change since the whole Bitcoin or cryptocurrency industry is supposed to be decentralized. And I feel like it might just be one of those foot flop threats where they're going to try to stop it but then change it around again. So we'll see what happens.
[0:01:21] Ben Prentice: Yeah. Well, even if it does pass in some onerous way, it seems to me that they have no idea what they're talking about and they're being so ambiguous in the language because they have no idea what they're talking about. And because some of the stuff that will be so unenforceable and detrimental to innovation in America, I think it will be fought very hard, even if it's just at the lawyer and the judge level or if they're appealing it or whatever. And none of this stuff goes into effect until like 2023 or 2024 or something like that. It's just a whole lot of just frustration right now. That's all.
[0:01:54] Rudy Dogum: That's the growing pains of crypto. We're going to figure it out eventually. But yeah. Before we get deep into the cryptocurrency topics, I want to get to know more about what you were doing before Bitcoin. What was life for Ben Pre? Bitcoin?
[0:02:13] Ben Prentice: Oh, man. I worked in restaurant industry for a very long time, but I've always been interested in lots of different things. I was into 3D graphics and media production, video, audio. I was in a rock band for 13 years, actually.
[0:02:35] Rudy Dogum: What did you play?
[0:02:36] Ben Prentice: I play the electric guitar. I mean, I know a few other instruments too, but I play a lot of lead, like classical rock, heavy metal, stuff like that. A lot of grunge alternative rock.
[0:02:48] Rudy Dogum: Did you sing at all?
[0:02:49] Ben Prentice: Yeah, mostly like kind of more backups. But I can carry a tune from point A to point B.
[0:02:58] Rudy Dogum: How many years did you do that?
[0:03:00] Ben Prentice: Yeah, I mean, I played music for over 20 years, but I was in an actual active, like, band playing shows and making albums for over 13 years.
[0:03:11] Rudy Dogum: Oh, wow.
[0:03:12] Ben Prentice: Yeah, and then I also eventually got into Bitcoin, but so I've always had a lot of different interests and stuff, and I learned a few languages along the way.
[0:03:29] Rudy Dogum: What language do you know or did you try to learn?
[0:03:31] Ben Prentice: Well, I speak Spanish and Portuguese, like, pretty fluently.
[0:03:35] Rudy Dogum: Yeah, especially in Boston. You have a huge community of Portuguese people, so that's awesome. And that's probably a good language to know around here, too. Spanish is always a clutch language to have. For sure. Sweet. And then I guess we're always an innovative person. We're always trying to find the latest tech and jump on the bandwagon and really learn about it. Or was Bitcoin the one that just hit you really hard and you went rolling with it?
[0:04:04] Ben Prentice: Yeah, it's a good question. I have always been into technology for as long as I can remember. My dad, when growing up, had like, five or six computers in the house, which is unheard of. I mean, we're talking about the late 80s, early ninety s and stuff, and there was, like, one room in my house where there was, like, at least three computers in that one room. And these are old CRT monitors, right? So, like, the monitor monitors themselves took up, like, a fair amount of space in the room. So you walk in this one room and I used to joke to my friends when they come over, I was like, yeah, then this is mission Control over here, because you had all these computers everywhere. But I remember even, like, we were 1011 years old, my dad had computers in each one of our rooms, so we had, like it was Dos at that point. It was dos right. And we were, like, playing, like, tech space games, like Ukral and quarter inch floppies. Yeah, 100%. And and at some point, I remember, too, like, when the Internet was starting to come out, he eventually, like, ran Ethernet cable, like, through our house. So we'd even have, like, Internet in our room.
[0:05:11] Rudy Dogum: You had Ethernet back then?
[0:05:13] Ben Prentice: Oh, yeah, he's running cat five thick cable. Like, he even, like, drilled some holes through the ceiling and ran some up and down the stairs and stuff.
[0:05:22] Rudy Dogum: But would I do computers on all the time?
[0:05:26] Ben Prentice: No, you would turn on the computer just to do something, then you turn it off. Right?
[0:05:31] Rudy Dogum: Things were running 24/7 back then.
[0:05:33] Ben Prentice: No, definitely not. And you have to wait for the computer. So you turn the computer on, go make a cup of coffee and come back, that kind of thing. But we know what I remember really well is being like, 1011 years old, and there's that have you seen that clip of, like, I think it's Good Morning America when they're like, what is the internet, anyway? In the app sign or whatever. It's like I remember being yeah, I remember being ten and eleven years old and being like, I would have had such a better answer than those people who are like literally like on TV adults, and I could have given them a much better answer. They called internet, like a computer billboard or something. And it was obviously this network that at the time you could not move a lot of data around. It was very limited by bandwidth. And I could see even from like ten to eleven to twelve years old, I could see the band. You know, I went from like a 14 four modem to like a 56K modem or something. And I saw that progression. I was like, well, extrapolating out here, you're going to be able to send like HD video all around the globe at near zero cost in the near future. And I was trying to figure out what types of things that would enable.
[0:06:46] Rudy Dogum: And that's what always amazed me the most now, is that now we have so much data available in data speed storage space, it feels like it's almost infinite. But that also worries me is are people and developers taking into consideration creating the most efficient application? Just because we have all this capability, are we still trying to create our apps more efficiently? I download the Facebook Messenger app on my phone. It's like a couple of hundred megabytes. And there's other gaming apps or over gigabyte file sizes. I'm like, do we even need this stuff? Is it even taken into consideration of downsizing as much as we can, we.
[0:07:32] Ben Prentice: Are in the too much information Age. And I grew up in the information age, so after I kind of started going to college and stuff like that, I remember I had a PDA. There was an original, like the Palm Pilots were like a monochrome screen, like those old Casio watches, right? There wasn't even a backlit. Yeah, it wasn't even backlit. And then eventually I saw the evolution of those devices and I had something that was like a precursor to what an iPhone was. It was like a Sony CLI PDA. So it was like really one of.
[0:08:07] Rudy Dogum: The I remember those.
[0:08:08] Ben Prentice: Yeah, it was like one of the last evolutions of PDAs before like smartphones came along and just wiped them out. But I remember carrying this thing around with me all the time, always looking for WiFi because I didn't have a cell chip in it and walking around school. And I was a weird person for having a computer in my pocket. I remember being at work, whatever, and maybe reading something at work. People were like, why do you have a computer? Put your little computer away, right? And it's really funny that you saw now that we're all in the smartphone generation and as you said, that the too much information age. We're all trying to come to grips with that, but I think it's a good thing for society. Rudy. I think, you know, we, we see this like this fake news era, right? I think that's really just a realization where we already were and we're starting to see the narrative come apart that these centralized news organizations or whatever had any kind of authority in the first place. But we are like children in this Internet age and this too much information age and we're trying to sort through it now. Maybe I push back on your kind of like, are we creating too much data? Because I think in the long run that's deflationary. I think we're not really going to have a storage problem, but the sorting problem is a real problem.
[0:09:27] Ben Prentice: And connecting people and figuring out what's good versus bad information, that's still something that we're still figuring out and hopefully.
[0:09:35] Rudy Dogum: We will figure it out. But yeah, we will test something in the near future. I don't think it's a large enough problem yet for us, especially with all the cloud computing. Just no one even realizes that the giant mega data centers that Google, Amazon, and Microsoft all have and how much information they're hosting for most of the globe.
[0:10:01] Ben Prentice: Yeah, that's fair. But I think hard drive space is cheap. I think maybe we're doing too much replication. I think cloud computing is going to kind of go away in the future. I think because technology is getting cheaper all the time and because we're losing our privacy to these services and being able to replicate the same functionality at home is going to be just as cheap. I think we'll stop giving it away to all these organizations that want all our data and are trying to encourage all that.
[0:10:37] Rudy Dogum: As these industries keep changing and you're starting to see a different trend and pattern growing than you first hear about bitcoin, what was your first reaction? Like, is this the endall be all? Is this going just some weird cipher punk news that you're listening to and just kind of brushed it off? How was it for you?
[0:11:01] Ben Prentice: Yeah, more the latter. I was reading at the time, probably in between these two periods I was talking about, I was reading Slash Dot very heavily. So Slash dot news for nerds. It was like the hub of like, you know, computer developers and stuff in the, in the, you know, the article I think the first article on Slashdot came around 2011 or 2012, I don't remember, but I definitely remember it coming around. I remember reading vaguely reading discussions of like, people that are much smarter than I am trying to understand why this thing is important. And you have to understand that even the Internet's understanding and even the geeks understanding of what Bitcoin was then, it was absolutely nowhere near what our understanding of it is today. And I think our understanding of it today is still somewhat flawed and still somewhat like, naive. But obviously we've made a lot of progress. But I got to give you guys credit. They understood there was something really important there. I think I'd also say that I couldn't grock the technicals of what a, the problem itself was, and b, how elegantly it solved that problem. So I think my overall take on bitcoin was like, that looks interesting. It's some kind of internet money thing, but it will probably never work. I mean, you got to understand, reading slash, it was like, every day you're inundated with like, oh, this is a brand new battery. Technology is going to solve all of our battery storage every single day with something like that.
[0:12:31] Ben Prentice: So I was like, yeah, it's a really cool idea, but it'll probably never work. But I think a lot of people take multiple touches to bitcoin and to really come to it. So again, in 2013 or 2014, it's like, oh, people are actually using this thing to buy drugs, the internet. And I almost went and bought some drugs on the Internet with it, but I thought it was anonymous. I thought bitcoin, the whole purpose of it was like, it's specifically an anonymous, kind of like what monaro claims itself to be today. So when I went to mount cox to buy bitcoin, it was like, okay, so give us your license, your bank account, basically, KYC, this is an anonymous. So I basically forgot about it again until, you know, 2017 and number grow up brought me back.
[0:13:15] Rudy Dogum: It reminds me how you're saying how, you know, people were just kind of talking about whatever and might be putting their own comments and opinions on bitcoin if it's going to work or not. That reminds me of today of hacker news, how a lot of crypto posts are usually talked down on by very educated people who are really good in their industry, really understand how technology works. And I always see their comments of going back and forth that just won't work. People don't understand how much data it's using up or how much energy it's consuming, or if just straight out politically and human beings might not be able to work together to make it work. So it's really interesting seeing different types of opinions on that and watching it grow and develop.
[0:14:04] Ben Prentice: I think it's fascinating that you point that out because I would 100% agree. I think there are very smart people that reject bitcoin today. And I joke that number go up brought me back to bitcoin, but number go up brought me back to bitcoin, because I saw that the price of this thing kept going up. And I said to myself, why is the price of what's supposed to be a money changing at all? Aren't money is like a stable thing against which we measure other things, right, that sometimes change in price, right? And that didn't make any sense to me, so I had to go down a rabbit, a personal rabbit hole of my own just to say, what the heck is bitcoin and why is it here? And for the same reason, I think those people that reject bitcoin today, even I had to figure out was that Bitcoin is a monetary technology. And it's something that I've kind of talked to you and side channels about, but it's a monetary technology first and foremost, and that the technology that makes it work surrounds that. And some people that come to Bitcoin come to it just for the technology that surrounds it. Like, oh, they solved the almost just said the surgeon, the Byzantine general's problem. They solved that. That's so cool. Or like, oh, they're working on bulletproofs and cryptography. Some people come to it just for that. But I came to it to understand as a monetary technology, and I've spent most of my time doing research on why it's important as a monetary technology, and that requires real investment of time.
[0:15:35] Rudy Dogum: Is that what led you to write about WTF happened in 1971 100% it.
[0:15:44] Ben Prentice: Was doing research on? Because when you try to understand what money is, you have to at some point take a look at what the system of money we have today is. My background here is all these fiat currencies. You have to look, what is the history of how did they come to be and how do they function? One of the things you must eventually come to in research of the fiat monetary system is 1971, when Richard, obviously Richard Nixon took us off the gold standard. And I thought to myself that if Bitcoin is a better money because it has a hard caps 21 million supply, that when we took ourselves off the gold standard, then things probably would have gone worse because that was the last kind of reins on the system. And if you go to like the Bretton Woods page or the Nixon Shock page, you'll see some of the first few charts that we put up on the website. And that didn't start the genesis of the website, but we started kind of collecting things like that and said, look, here's why Bitcoin is important. Here's some of the data. And we would be like, arguing with people on the Internet and stuff. And we eventually collected enough of these things that were like, man, it's annoying to constantly go through our phones and we just like, my buddy. So you mentioned that I was the author of it, but I made it with my buddy. Heavily armed clown. We have our own podcast. The Bitcoin Echo Chamber.
[0:17:04] Ben Prentice: So we co founded websites, and it was his idea to kind of stick it up there and put the question at the top and not explain any of it if your viewers aren't familiar. It's just a bunch of data that shows how objectively some things have declined. And there's an inflection point in the data in 1971 where things are like, society is getting worse, at least in these particular areas. And our thesis, obviously, is that because inflation and other things too, I think there's a lot of second order effects that kind of trickle down from that, things that you wouldn't even consider.
[0:17:38] Rudy Dogum: Yeah, and I definitely visited your site and it's a ton of good infographics of all correlating to a single time in history. What's going on with our money? Why is it changing the value so dramatically? And it's something I wasn't fully aware of until I saw your website and kind of shows you that money is changing quickly, especially in 1971 and then 2008 in the mortgage crisis when bitcoin was released. And even now, it's still changing. With your background, you can see the Venezuelan currency is just no longer valuable. And it's something that bitcoin is definitely proving to show that currency is going to change in a way where it's a globally accessible option. And for me, it's kind of what really struck to me is like, wow, the entire world can share one currency. The entire world can control it together, but we're still facing the struggle of power. Who wants to be able to control it? Who wants to be able to handle it? And I think the biggest struggle right now with humanity is understanding that people can have power, the power of the people. We don't need some specific entity telling us what the value is anymore.
[0:19:12] Ben Prentice: Yeah, well, I think if you look back at the history of money, it's a really interesting story, because obviously we tried a bunch of different monetary technologies, a bunch of them not, and it didn't end up working out so well for a lot of civilizations and saw the downfall of those civilizations, and we converged as a globe on gold. And even gold had a lot of shortcomings. And that's a lot of the thesis of 1971 is some of the prehistory before 1971. You know, 1971 is just a precipitous event. And what I'm getting at here is that gold has a number of drawbacks, especially when you compare it versus something like bitcoin, one of them being verifiability. So if you go back, we've been using coinage for quite some time, and it was a way of unifying codifying money. So they had like equal units, like, you know, this is a piece of a or this is Danarius or all these different things where the society can now had better economic calculation. But it introduced, as you were kind of pointing out, that there was somebody who had to organize that in the first place. And that, as Satoshi says in the white paper, history is full of breaches of trust of the central authority. So by removing the central authority, we're in a new paradigm of money. And the implications of that are far reaching and probably beyond the scope of this podcast.
[0:20:40] Rudy Dogum: Sure. And there's a lot of good information out there on that. And again, much to discuss on that topic, but we can continue to you and your co author wrote WTF happened in 1971. When did you first, you know, start working on what bitcoin did. It's one of the top ten podcasts about cryptocurrencies in the world. So it's a you definitely had some transition period and some history period going into that. So if you want to explain a little bit more about your road into there.
[0:21:16] Ben Prentice: Yeah, well, I'd like to joke that I was working in the restaurant industry, and I wanted to get out of that. I'd like to joke that I mean my way into this job because we kind of created WTF happened in 1971 by accident, and it's a pretty prevalent meme in the bitcoin world now. And it ended up getting big enough that eventually Peter found out about it and invited us on the podcast, peter McCormick, what bitcoin did. And he ended up getting us on even twice. So I had a relationship with him, and eventually I reached out to him and I said, hey, I got a bunch of background in media production. Do you need any work done for me? And he eventually offered me a job working for him and producing for him. So that was in the beginning of this year, and I started actually working for him full time in March. And I love it. I think Peter's hilarious. He's a good guy. He's trying to help educate people. He stands for really important topics. He's a bit of a nut sometimes. He gets a lot of hard time, but I really enjoy it.
[0:22:25] Ben Prentice: I get to research and talk about bitcoin and work on bitcoin.
[0:22:28] Rudy Dogum: Did you always expect to become some type of influencer or someone who really isn't motivated?
[0:22:39] Ben Prentice: Oh, my God. No. I hate that word. I never wanted to be one. I've never tried to be one. No, I had to stop there, because, listen, I remember very specifically when I started getting I started on Reddit and realized, like, reddit is not as great as Twitter for really understanding bitcoin and getting into the conversation. But that was my goal. My goal was to be part of the conversation, at least, even if it was just as a student, to be at least close enough to the people that were smart enough that I could learn about bitcoin. And then that progressed into now I want to be able to be able to bounce ideas off other people. That progressed into now. I want to be part of this conversation of what bitcoin is, where it's going and why it's important. And I've never, like, wanted any kind of fame. In fact, like, I think my follower number is getting kind of high now. I've thought about already, like, putting, like, you know, some people, like turd dermis or put it protected. I don't want hundreds of thousands.
[0:23:42] Rudy Dogum: It's not a choice.
[0:23:43] Ben Prentice: Sometimes that's not good. No.
[0:23:45] Rudy Dogum: If you want to be active, it happens.
[0:23:49] Ben Prentice: Yeah, but does that make sense? I hate that, the idea.
[0:23:53] Rudy Dogum: You just want to express your ideas and opinions, but you don't want people necessarily taking you so literally, maybe on every word or I just want to have a conversation. I just wanted to get the most followers through the conversations. I mean, it's so hard for somebody to have a conversation maybe online on Twitter with Elon Musk, but maybe Jack Dorsey Elon Musk made reply to each other on Twitter. So sometimes it is the number of followers gives you the right or the pathway to speaking with other individuals. But it's very true.
[0:24:27] Ben Prentice: But in order to play that game, you really do have to play that game. Because I spent probably a year researching all this stuff and I made this really long inflation thread after a lot of work, a lot of conversations I had, and it gained a lot of attention. I think it got up to 1.7K likes and 300,000 impressions or something like that. It's pretty good, whatever. I had like 4000 followers at the time, so it's not bad. And then the other day I put a meme up and the meme was the two guys are at the booth and one booth has a bunch of guys at it and the other one doesn't. And the one where the doesn't is like 30K bitcoin and then the one with the booth with all the people at it is the 60K bitcoin. And that post got as many likes as my super long intellectual threat. So it's like if I wanted to get the number higher, I could probably just keep doing memes and stuff like that.
[0:25:23] Rudy Dogum: Meme is a job on its own. I've seen tons of crypto projects put job postings for meme. Maker, meme Generator or meme Lord. That's how we get people's attention nowadays, is just by meming. And I fall for it too. Sometimes I get sucked into the memes and start laughing at them and try to create my own. But people are kind of losing out on the intellectual part of the conversation where it's beyond just trading prices and more about what cryptocurrency and bitcoin is doing for the population in general.
[0:25:59] Ben Prentice: Well, I think memes are very important because it kind of goes back to the conversation we're having earlier about Too Much Information, right? The reason a meme is so powerful is because it's concise. It can get a very complex idea, sometimes across to a very large audience very quickly and sometimes even has a hint of entertainment at the same time. A meme can just be a sentence, right? We think of a meme as like oh, it has to be like this graphic with like a caption and it's like, that's not a meme is something that's memetic that kind of programs your mind and is viral. And I think that's useful in the too much information age that we can get an idea across in that way. I think part of it also is that our culture is so high time preference, which is that Austrian economics term that means that you favor the short term versus thinking long term. That we are like an instant gratification generation and we're not willing to read a 30 page paper. But if you have a funny graphic with a guy on it, stick figure, then I'm all ears for that. Right. So I think there's a lot of kind of things that are competing there.
[0:27:10] Rudy Dogum: Yeah, that's true. But it's definitely, I think overall better if it's used wisely. But yeah, it's something that the internet is always crazy about, so hopefully people try to use it more efficiently than just for the likes. But yeah, I want to also know more about since you were a musician, you still play some music. Was there any part of you or any type of time where you wanted to correlate your cryptocurrency knowledge with your music? Would you ever consider somehow putting NFTs on the Bitcoin network or Ethereum network or have you had any ideas of bringing music onto the chain?
[0:28:04] Ben Prentice: I don't think so. I might at some point for the meme of it, like make a Bitcoin kind of song or something like that. But NFTs for me, I don't see a lot of use for them. I think of NFTs like a digital autograph, and I don't see it as anything more than that. And for what it's worth, autographs and collectibles, it's millions of dollars, a billion dollars, I don't know what the number is. It's a huge industry and a lot of people are into that. I've never been into it myself. I don't really see the value myself except for a way to sell something to people, and I've never really enjoyed selling my art. And if you want to take donations, bitcoin already makes that very easy to me. I don't see the appeal of NFTs because I think they're just a digital autograph and I think there's a lot of hype around this concept of people saying, oh, it's going to do like royalties and DRM, and I haven't seen that yet.
[0:29:08] Rudy Dogum: Yeah, I think I'm very excited for the part where it's beyond just the price for a painting or a picture or some type of artwork, not to devalue art. I think we obviously have art that's in history, it's pretty much priceless like the Mona Lisa. It's just something we all appreciate and have and treasure. And I think that aspect is a whole different aspect than what NFPs can bring to us, where, as you were saying, it might just be a digital signature, but a signature is everything, especially now with any legal requirements, legal documents, if I sign any paperwork, it's all about a signature. So being able to bring the physical world into the digital world and have some type of signature I think is still crucial for our development. And I think it doesn't have to be about the price or what type of monetary value it brings. It's more that proof of signage.
[0:30:11] Ben Prentice: Well, I mean, digital signatures are very important. I'm not trying to belittle digital signatures at all. I think there's so much hype and money chasing this NFT craze right now that if somebody is thinking about it from any kind of economic sense, I would caution them to kind of take a step back and let some of this foam and fervor die down and really look at what's actually happening. Because digital signatures, we use them all the time. We use them on our cell phones, all end to end encryption. Everything uses digital signatures. Bitcoin uses digital signatures. Everything uses digital signatures. That's important. I think the NFT scene, people think that it's way more than it really is. And for me, that's an echo of the ICO boom. It's like, oh, well, now we can you know, I just made a bitcoin, but it's like, faster or whatever. It has more TPS and more transactions, and we saw that whole hype die down, and I'm seeing a lot of echoes of that and a lot of mal investment, which is another Australian economics term where people are like, people are putting their money in anything because they can't put it in dollars, right? And that kind of spills over into these things. So I'm not saying that they're completely useless to everybody.
[0:31:25] Ben Prentice: I just personally have no use for them currently, and I think there's way more hype than they deserve at this point.
[0:31:33] Rudy Dogum: That makes sense. And, yeah, it's totally right on. That where people are definitely finding places or any place to try to put their money in just to make some type of profit. And usually that doesn't work out too well. I know I've fell into some poor ICO projects back in 2017 that I truly regret and probably could have just kept it into bitcoin and would have been much guilty. And then anyone that says they're not guilty, I feel like, yeah, you got to have something because it's just too hard not to try. But it's all about good marketing nowadays. So, again, going back on to what bitcoin did, who was the most wholesome guest you've had on the show? Some guests. You're just like, wow, this guy is some societal good.
[0:32:24] Ben Prentice: Well, I would like to say Nick Carter, but I don't know if you followed Nick Carter escapades apparently he's destroying the planet. So it couldn't be Nick Carter. So it has to be Alex gladstein. He's probably the golden boy of bitcoin right now. If you're not familiar with Alex Gladstein, he works for the human rights HRF human rights foundation. He's the chief. Oh, my God. I'm just blanking on him right today. But he's amazing. He is an advocate for human rights around the world. He talks about how bitcoin helps people escape from authoritarian governments. He's written some amazing articles. He wrote a great article on the petrodollar system. He just came out with another one recently, palestine. And I think that the wholesome mission of this guy to help people around the world, the people that need this technology the most.
[0:33:25] Ben Prentice: One of my favorite things that he'll do is he'll find somebody that's like how we were talking about people that kind of crap on Bitcoin or whatever without understanding why this technology is important. There they live in a place of privilege. So he wrote an article called Check your financial Privilege. So if one of these guys comes out like, I can't believe all these crypto bros are into this thing that's like just destroying the planet or whatever, he goes like, you need to check your financial privilege. People in Nigeria are using this like people in Venezuela are using this to survive dissidents in other countries are using this to escape authoritarian regimes. People are using in Hong Kong to help protest against the government. So I think that is one of the most compelling stories in all of.
[0:34:08] Rudy Dogum: That'S a beautiful thing because I feel like as an American, it's pretty hard for me to make sense to use Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency on a day to day basis. It's just transactions still cost money even no matter how little or how much it is. I still have PayPal, I still have Venmo, I still have cash, app, Zelle. I have all these different ways of doing financial transactions within America and within Americans that are free, no fees, no wait time. It's pretty instant and it's hard to convince myself and convince the American population that crypto is important. And when you look at the biggest selling point for me is I look at other countries that need this to escape their authoritarian government or need this to store their own value for their hard earned work.
[0:35:05] Ben Prentice: Listen, I agree with you, but that's my point is that Bitcoin is not a payments technology, it's a monetary technology. And that just like you say in the western world, we live in a state where we have plenty of payments technologies, right? And they work really well in the Western world for privileged people like you and me, what we do not need is payments technology. But I think what's actually preventing Bitcoin from being used more widely in places in the Western world is tax regulation. There's onerous reporting tax burden. It's not so much paying the tax. It's like every single time you spend with Lightning, for example, you can play a lightning video game and earn one sat at a time and you might do that 100 times a minute. And technically you have to report and collect all the information of every single time. When you would collect each one of these things, the cost basis of it, and when you sold one of them by paying some kind of video game or any kind of thing, that's really what's preventing it, I think, in my opinion. Because yes, while you're saying that PayPal and Venmo are zero fees, right, lightning is getting very close to being like a very almost negligible fees. One satoshi is like zero point, something like that, right? So the cost is not the problem. But Lightning as a technology, as being an open technology, is going to make. Like, for example, I don't know if you've seen the stuff with lightning authorization where they're using like, ln URL to do authorization so that I can now sign into a web page by opening a lightning wallet. And the web page that I'm trying to sign into will send a challenge to my note or my wallet and my wallet to give a cryptographic response so that I can now log in without a username, without a password.
[0:37:06] Ben Prentice: And I could do this now to a bunch of different websites, and each one can get a completely different username and password, so to speak, a public and private response from me. It's a much better system. You don't have to worry about passwords at all. These things can't track you across multiple things. I mean, think about Google auth and all these things. So I think the technology is already going to be exponentially better than what we use for quote unquote payments technology today. But it's really the regulation that's getting in the way of it going back to even the infrastructure bill and all.
[0:37:40] Rudy Dogum: The crap is happening right now. It's tough to manage all the microtransactions that are happening within cryptocurrency and bitcoin. There's too many going on too fast where it's hard to keep track. But that's where the other side of it comes in, when we start developing better machine learning technologies that can read all those transactions and calculate the taxes for us without having to do it ourselves or even double check it.
[0:38:08] Ben Prentice: Yeah, but across a bunch of different wallets on a bunch of different devices, and then you have this machine learning algorithm that's collecting all your data, and that becomes another honey pot that's worse. What we need is a de minimis exemption from the regulations, right? Like, at the very least, exempt transactions under $1,000 per day, right. So that like or maybe even $500 per day, so, like, you know, I can pay for a cup of coffee on Lightning and not have to, like, you know, worry about trying to, you know, using a machine learning algorithm to to collect my tax information.
[0:38:39] Rudy Dogum: But the thing is exactly that, like you're saying using Lightning or using some type of payment processor, that is the future eventually, one day, once bitcoin grows to a point where it's a common household money that everyone has or has some part of where people are getting paid in bitcoin. I think that's the real goal in life is once we start getting paid in bitcoin, that's when things start turning around and people would look at it more of a payment platform, payment use, rather than just an investment or a monetary hold.
[0:39:17] Ben Prentice: Yeah, the volatility makes that a little bit hard for people. But it's one of these things that I think it's putting the cart before the horse to worry about payments. Now, again, bitcoin has to become a money before you can worry about that stuff. And that process of monetization is a process that requires volatility because it has to get bigger and it getting bigger is part of that volatility. So it's just a process that we've never seen happen in real time before. So we don't know what it looks like because we don't have any precedent.
[0:39:48] Rudy Dogum: For, yeah, that makes sense. Hopefully one day we'll see it sooner than later, but that's what we're all working for.
[0:39:56] Ben Prentice: Well, you mentioned the amount of people that use bitcoin in the United States, for example, that number has been basically doubling for every year or two. So in two to three years, half of the US population will at least have bitcoin. Right? And then a few more years after that, it gets really hard to be a politician that has anti bitcoin standard.
[0:40:22] Rudy Dogum: Especially when our generation starts going into more political positions. Hopefully anyone listening, hopefully you can ask your boss or your employer that you can get paid in bitcoin that will get their gears going, hopefully adopt it.
[0:40:40] Ben Prentice: You can use bit wage or whatever, so you can send your direct deposit to bitwage and they'll even send you some of it in Fiat and some of it in bitcoin too, or Stack, TCA, whatever. There's options for everybody. You don't have to pressure employer again. It's like the kind of the merchant adoption thing we were doing in 2017. We're like, oh, look like Microsoft's accepting bitcoin now. Like bitcoin is going to the moon. It's like, no, that's not how it goes. It has to become money first. Use it yourself for the way that works for you, which is going to be different for somebody who uses it in Nigeria or El Salvador or whatever. Right.
[0:41:18] Rudy Dogum: How would you say cryptocurrency changed your life then? Is it a total shift? What would you be doing now if it wasn't for learning about bitcoin?
[0:41:30] Ben Prentice: Well, I think the biggest thing that it did was give me hope because I always kind of looked at the world and tried to ask myself, like, why, despite all of this technology, because, like I said, I've always been a technology. I think technology is amazing. Why, despite all this technological progress, and even what seemed like social progress, if you just look in this really narrow view of like, oh, we used to have slaves not that long ago and now we don't, so that's also better. Right, so even these two kind of narrow prongs of society are marching forward in some way. Why does it seem like things are getting worse for average Americans? Why does it seem like even in the span of my lifetime, I feel like I've worked hard, I've had decent kind of jobs and it's hard to even save money at all, right? It's hard to buy a house now. It's like, why are these things happening? And obviously, I think bitcoin is a sound money. I think it eliminates inflation. I think it reorganizes society because money is a coordinating function of society through the price system. And I think that that's ultimately given me hope that a lot of this stagnation and kind of downtrend has been a problem of the money itself. And bitcoin fixes this and bitcoin is very hard to kill. So I am very hopeful.
[0:42:43] Rudy Dogum: It definitely goes back to what you were saying before about too much data and people are being fed a lot of information very quickly, and most of the time it's negative information, sometimes it's positive, but no matter what it is, it's just we're being fed a lot and it's a lot to learn faster and faster. It's kind of like we might be in a great society where we kind of have all of our needs met, but what we're learning about is so much more that we're missing. And that kind of brings you find a way to bring us back to reality, back to being grounded and saying we have it pretty good and we need to share that and bring it to different parts of the world and create it a more accessible way to attain this type of life.
[0:43:33] Ben Prentice: Yeah, absolutely. I think realigning human cooperation globally is definitely the number one goal. And I think you're already seeing that we are talking about we're being privileged, being in the western developed kind of places in developing countries. Look at bitcoin volumes, peer to peer trading volumes. Argentina, Nigeria, Turkey, Iran, Venezuela, all these places. It's just skyrocketing, right? These people are desperate for a store of value. And like I said later, it has to filter into actually becoming a money there and becoming a unit of account and a medium exchange. But it's just a process, and I have a lot of hope for those places because I think inflation has ravaged specifically Africa. Africa has been one of the and I think that's like a really long history of money kind of story. But I do think Cardano is really.
[0:44:25] Rudy Dogum: Pushing their agenda into Africa. So I'm curious to see how that goes.
[0:44:32] Ben Prentice: What's the cardano agenda?
[0:44:34] Rudy Dogum: They're bringing themselves the Cardano coin. They're trying to bring that into Africa and try to have that as the coin to use in that country.
[0:44:46] Ben Prentice: Why do you think that would be better?
[0:44:47] Rudy Dogum: I don't know if it would be better or worse. I'm just curious to see how it's going to go. I'm always curious on every project. I wait to see who proves themselves to be better. I think Carl's a scammer.
[0:45:00] Ben Prentice: Did you see him on Lex Friedman?
[0:45:02] Rudy Dogum: I did not.
[0:45:04] Ben Prentice: Go watch that. I think he's a scammer. I think Charles I don't trust him at all. And I don't I don't think he makes a good argument.
[0:45:13] Rudy Dogum: Maybe we'll have him on the show one day. But yeah, from there, are there any new exciting projects that you're looking on, excited about, reading about.
[0:45:26] Ben Prentice: Right now? Bolt. Twelve on lightning is amazing. It basically the idea that in 2017, oh, here's a donation bitcoin address. So you can just like generate a single address, but it's like, it ends up being really bad for privacy. But it's really useful. You don't need like a whole BTC pay server just to use the thing. I think Bolt twelve does that not only for Lightning, but also in a private way. So you basically have a QR code. It's static. You don't need a web server at all. And when your wallet sees the QR code, your wallet looks up the node using the Lightning network messaging system. So the web page at all has nothing to do with this. It goes and talks to the node using the onion routed network, finds out that you can get an invoice from the node or you can get this thing to pay. This could be used in the ATM where you withdraw stats from the ATM by scanning the QR code.
[0:46:22] Ben Prentice: And all of this hides the node IDs from each other. So it's private and it's just amazing for being able to being donated very small amounts, which bitcoin is not good for today on chain. So I actually think that's really fascinating. So it's called bolt twelve. You can go to Bolt twelve. Bolt twelve, you can go to Bolt twelve. It's specifically the offers part of it, but Bolt twelve has a whole bunch of other stuff in there too, like merkelized trees, so you can prove something about a payment without revealing other details about yourself.
[0:46:58] Rudy Dogum: That's a new thing. I've been seeing a lot in the crypto industry is the privacy aspect that people are realizing, like you said in the beginning, that bitcoin is not necessarily anonymous coin, neither is Aetherium or any public chain. But it's always great to see that there's different layers being added on or different protocols that have been worked on to try to make it into a more anonymous coin, but still keeping the flavor of crypto that you love so much.
[0:47:29] Ben Prentice: The privacy battle is going to be large, and I mean that in two ways. I think there's going to be a big battle to get privacy on the base layer in bitcoin. I personally tend to think that privacy is coming on the second layers and it isn't something we need on the base layer. But I also mean that the privacy battle in the regulatory regime, I think they don't like this privacy technology. I'm telling you about this Bolt Twelve thing. You've been into bitcoin and crypto for how long? You've never heard of it? Like, these people have no idea what we're talking about. They don't even know what a second layer is. Let alone privacy technology. So once they start to figure that stuff out, they're going to be like, wait a second, you're saying they have anonymous transactions?
[0:48:14] Rudy Dogum: It's going to sound worse.
[0:48:15] Ben Prentice: That's going to be a whole other battle as well. But it's really hard. At the bottom of WTF happened in 1971, we have a quote from Hayek that says, I don't think we'll ever have a good money again. That is, until we take the thing out of the hands of governments and we can't take it out violently. We have to instead introduce some sly roundabout in some sly roundabout way, something that they can't stop. And I think having anonymous payments is good. I think, yes, criminals can use it, but criminals can use clothes and cars and guns, and we don't ban those things either, because these tools are really important for society, and ultimately most people are driven to crime because their situations are bad anyway. But this privacy fight is going to be huge, and I hope the technology is good enough. I don't like fighting, but at the same time, if things are completely unenforceable, they're really hard to regulate anyway. And sometimes it's like BitTorrent, right? BitTorrent was like, you know, the whole BitTorrent story where it was like napster and then LimeWire and all these things, and BitTorrent came along and they were kind of like, I guess there's nothing we can do. So I kind of like, hope for.
[0:49:30] Rudy Dogum: That type of sad thing. They always try to make an example of some person that uploaded some movie or like Ross where he was jailed for creating the Silk Road. It's just trying to make examples out of people that doesn't necessarily help and just brings more attention to try to give people more intention to work with that software, work with that type of technology.
[0:49:57] Ben Prentice: 100% sweet.
[0:49:59] Rudy Dogum: Last thing I wanted to ask you to end it in a wholesome way. What made you smile the most recently?
[0:50:06] Ben Prentice: What made me smile the most?
[0:50:08] Rudy Dogum: What gave you a grin to grin ear to ear?
[0:50:13] Ben Prentice: Bitcoin. Something today that's made me smile. Man, I don't know if that's very wholesome or not, but I think bitcoin getting bigger is great for the world. So in a sense, that's what makes me happy. But I'm also a good person, I guess.
[0:50:29] Rudy Dogum: We all seem to increase in value, so it's always fun. Thank you for being on the show then. I appreciate your time. And then for everyone else, please visit his WTF happened in 1971 and what bitcoin did. Thank you for listening. See ya.