Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who copied and leaked classified information from the US National Security Agency, and who has been granted political asylum in Russia after he made his getaway from the US, shares his views on Bitcoin and the underlying blockchain technology.
According to the Daily Hodl, Snowden shared his views with his lawyer Ben Wizner, through loose transcripts and text exchanges, which were published by the American publishing comapany, McSweeney’s.
Ever want to hear me explain blockchains and bitcoin? Of course you didn't. But now you can, in hardcover and freely online, thanks to @McSweeneys 54, "The End of Trust". Read some of society's finest minds on the future of technology. Available here: https://t.co/d0NJUepyIt pic.twitter.com/tdRwzK1CtE— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) November 20, 2018
Snowden, who currently remains in an undisclosed location in Moscow, said that well-designed blockchains are practically impossible to tamper with.
'In a world full of shifty bullshit, being able to prove something that is true is a radical development'
'Imagine an old database where any entry can be changed just by typing over it and clicking save. Now imagine that entry holds your bank balance. If somebody can just arbitrarily change your balance to zero, that kind of sucks, right? Unless you’ve got student loans.' Snowden added.
Snowden points out that whenever a system lets somebody change the history with a keystroke, you have no choice but to trust a huge number of people to be both perfectly good and competent.
'Humanity doesn’t have a great track record of that' Snowden says. 'Blockchains are an effort to create a history that can’t be manipulated'
Snowden agrees that in its oldest and best-known conception, Bitcoin, is a new form of money.
'But in the last few months', he says, 'We’ve seen efforts to put together all kind of records in these histories. Anything that needs to be memorialized and immutable. Health-care records, for example, but also deeds and contracts.'
Snowden believes blockchain can make the unauthorized surveillance of American civilians more difficult.
'Without a gatekeeper, individuals could permit or deny access to their own personal data. A robust network could end the need for trust in a centralized institution.'
While Snowden says that some people might see blockchain as a solution to today’s status quo of censorship and entrenched monopolies, when it comes to saving the internet or replacing huge companies like Google or Amazon, Snowden says he believes that is 'mostly wishful thinking'.