Julian Assange on Bitcoin: Glad Eric Schmidt Didn't Listen to Him, Or He'd Own the Planet By Now

Here’s a little subtle humor for your Friday morning/afternoon. Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange did a Reddit AMA (ask me anything – basically a Q&A of the internet) session on Thursday and cracked (why I interpret to be) a joke on bitcoin.

Asked by user ‘coindog08’: “What are your thoughts on cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin?”

The response:

Here is a conversation from 2011 where I tell Google’s chairman, Eric Schmidt about Bitcoin. Fortunately he didn’t listen, or else he’d own the planet by now.

Assange provides a [link] to a transcript of a so-called “secret meeting” with Schmidt, once CEO and present Executive Chairman of Google. Therein, Assange describes the concept behind bitcoin. Here’s an interesting excerpt:

JA:On the publishing end, the magnet links and so on are starting to come up. There’s also a very nice little paper that I’ve seen in relation to Bitcoin, that… you know about Bitcoin?


JA:Okay, Bitcoin is something that evolved out of the cypherpunks a couple of years ago, and it is an alternative… it is a stateless currency.

ES:Yeah, I was reading about this just yesterday.

JA:And very important, actually. It has a few problems. But its innovations exceed its problems. Now there has been innovations along these lines in many different paths of digital currencies, anonymous, untraceable etc. People have been experimenting with over the past 20 years. The Bitcoin actually has the balance and incentives right, and that is why it is starting to take off. The different combination of these things. No central nodes. It is all point to point. One does not need to trust any central mint. If we look at traditional currencies such as gold, we can see that they have sort of interesting properties that make them valuable as a medium of exchange. Gold is divisible, it is easy to chop up, actually out of all metals it is the easiest to chop up into fine segments. You can test relatively easily whether it is true or whether it is fake. You can take chopped up segments and you can put them back together by melting the gold. So that is what makes it a good medium of exchange and it is also a good medium of value store, because you can take it and put it in the ground and it is not going to decay like apples or steaks. The problems with traditional digital currencies on the internet is that you have to trust the mint not to print too much of it.


JA:And the incentives for the mint to keep printing are pretty high actually, because you can print free money. That means you need some kind of regulation. And if you’re gonna have regulation then who is going to enforce the regulation, now all of a sudden you have sucked in the whole problem of the state into this issue, and political pushes here and there, and who can get control of the mint, push it one way or another, for particular purposes. Bitcoin instead has an algorithm where the anyone can create, anyone can be their own mint. They’re basically just searching for collisions with hashes.. A simple way is… they are searching for a sequence of zero bits on the beginning of the thing. And you have to randomly search for, in order to do this. So there is a lot of computational work in order to do this. And each Bitcoin software that is distributed.. That work algorithmically increases as time goes by. So the difficulty in producing Bitcoins becomes harder and harder and harder as time goes by and it is built into the system.

Of course, we don’t quite think had Schmidt taken an interest in bitcoin he’d own the planet, but who knows, maybe he’s secretly holding a few!

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Eric SchmidtSpeaking at the Computer History Museum, Google Chairman (and former CEO) Eric Schmidt had some good things to say about bitcoin.

“[Bitcoin] is a remarkable cryptographic achievement,” he said on a panel. “The ability to create something which is not duplicable in the digital world has enormous value.”

And while Schmidt wasn’t exactly singing praises with regard to bitcoin’s implementation as a currency, he see this technology as important.

“The bitcoin architecture, literally the ability to have these ledgers which can’t be replicated, is an amazing advancement,” he continued. “Lot’s of people will build businesses on top of that.”

Schmidt isn’t the only person at Google who sees potential in bitcoin. Just recently, Google Director of Ideas Jared Cohen said that “[cryptocurrencies like bitcoin] are inevitable“.

Of course, still no sign that Google will implement bitcoin into any of their products, but one day at a time. [via BitcoinOwl]

The video is above. You can catch his comments in the first couple of minutes, followed by his views on other topics.

Here’s an interesting little anecdote that’s come from a USA Today report via Reddit. Reporter Michael Wolff says that he was recently told a story at a White House dinner that involves President Obama and Bitcoins.

In an apparent meeting with then Google CEO Eric Schmidt, the President asked if Bitcoin was something that ought to be on his radar:

“The president, whose most important job is surely to protect the integrity of the monetary system, smugly asked Schmidt if Bitcoin, one of many growing challenges to currency hegemony, was anything he had to worry about,” writes Wolff.

Continue reading Obama Once Asked Then Google CEO Eric Schmidt if Bitcoin Was Something to Worry About