Rise of the Bitcoin Politician: Austin Petersen’s Scrappy ...

[Table] IAmA: I'm Rick Falkvinge, founder of the first Pirate Party and subsequent author of "Swarmwise: the tactical manual to changing the world". AMA.

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Date: 2013-10-21
Link to submission (Has self-text)
Questions Answers
American here. A sizable group of us believe that copyright and patent law in America has grown completely out of control. However, most of us would also agree that it is still important for creators to have some window of protection over their creations. So my question is: What form of copyright and patent protection would you like to see established in the future? If you could single-handedly write the law, what would it look like? The more I look at patent monopolies and copyright monopolies and their respective effects, the more I dislike them. The effect always turns out to be the strong opposite to the one claimed (i.e., the framework does not protect the creatoinventor at all, but only the big incumbents who can afford a bigger lawsuit war chest). If I were to write the law entirely myself for a small nation, I'd scrap both of them completely and set up a research/creativity haven. In some 15-20 years, practically all patents monopolies filed in other countries would be a result of research in that country, as - this is important to get - research would not be illegal there. However, I'm not writing the law myself so it's important to be realistic. Shorter-term, I think copyright monopoly law can be scaled back to cover a commercial-only monopoly of 20 years from publication with DRM banned as fraud. When I say "commercial-only", I mean that noncommercial sharing of knowledge and culture should be not just legal, but encouraged. (Patents should still go, though, but it takes longer to explain why to the public at large: unlike with the copyright monopolies, they are not as directly affected - unless you count the millions in the third world who die due to lack of medicine, but they never counted in Western policymaking, sadly)
Could you elaborate more on the research/creativity safe haven? How would this be done? Today, patent and copyright monopolies have the effect that inventing and creating is illegal in most cases. If I could write the laws myself in a reasonably small, reasonably technically literate country, it would be great to create such a haven.
Do you have an essay or an article on this specific point? It's still a bit vague. Edit: grammar. I don't, but I'll make a note to write an article about it and ping you when I've done so.
Cheers, Rick.
Mind putting whatever you write somewhere visible? Many are interested. I'm publishing at falkvinge.net as public domain, meaning you could freely republish it anywhere you liked. Is that satisfactory?
Cheers, Rick
How have your political views changed over the last 20 years? 3 years? This year? In general, my views and values have stayed the same (defend freedoms of speech, expression, assembly, and the press; defend the right and duty to share culture and knowledge) but the urgency of defending them has increased with the backlash from the establishment against their loss of power.
I've also come to start favoring a Universal Basic Income as a replacement for all current social safety nets.
But most importantly, I've grown increasingly cynical about the way the world works, the deeper I have gone down the rabbit hole. In essence, the big incumbent economic interests are writing our laws, and I didn't think it was that bad.
We need to return power to the people. In order to be able to do that, we need to defend the freedoms of speech, opinion, and assembly provided by a free, untracked, and uncensored net.
Re: Universal Basic Income (UBI): there's an ongoing European citizens' initiative for basic income which needs a million signatures until 14.01.2013 - 28 countries, including Sweden, are collecting signatures right now and when we succeed, the European Commission has an obligation to organize a public discussion about it in the EU parliament. We have a chance to speed things up regarding the implementation of UBI in Europe. We could appreciate any help with promoting the initiative. An endorsement from a known person such as you would help us a great deal. Would you be willing to endorse us? I'll take a look at it. In the meantime, link to it in your post here?
Won't a universal basic income drive the cost of goods up over time such that the income will be too small to really be effective? Just like how printing more money lowers it's value, rather than giving you more spending power? Well, we effectively already have a minimum income with all our social safety nets (nobody needs to starve). This would be a simplification.
Link to rt.com. Thanks, I'll take a look at it (but having grown a bit cynical about how the world actually works, I doubt I'd be surprised).
If you really want to head down the rabbit hole, here's a great interview with a former World Bank lawyer, and corruption whistleblower. Cheers, Rick.
Have you read Heinlein's "For us, the living"? There's a focus on a similar economic framework if I remember correctly. I haven't. Heinlein used to be one of my favorite authors while I still allowed myself the time and enjoyment of reading fiction, so I thank you for the tip, and add it to my list of things to look at (and hopefully get around to)!
Cheers, Rick
In your opinion, what's the biggest threat to a free and open Internet (i.e. not controlled/blocked by a government), today and in the future? People and industries that, for some reason, don't like when everybody has the power to speak and express themselves freely without centralized control. (EDIT/ADD: Looking at history, this has always been the key to power - the ability to speak and reach a large audience; the ability to interpret reality. It's basically the #1 power from which all other powers stem.)
This particularly includes the copyright industry, the cable TV industry, the telco industry, and every politician that has ever wanted to control public opinion.
In general, the incumbent industries that claim to embrace the internet are not to be trusted on that matter.
Do you worry that calling your party "The Pirate Party" might be a marketing blunder? Did you use the word "Pirate" to attract a certain type of person or to project a certain image to the masses? Link to falkvinge.net (longer)
Link to i.imgur.com (shorter)
Cheers, Rick
Are you still invested in bitcoin? If yes, how many % of your original "all in" at $10 do you have left? I originally went all in at $7, went out at the same price on the way down, and went back all in at about $3. I've done extensive (bad) trading, and don't have my entire initial position, and far from enough to make me financially independent, but still a substantial amount (more than a year's average net pay, to give a ballpark number).
I'm currently all in.
How secure do you feel about your investment now with all the events regarding bitcoin this past year? Most recent of these being the recent closure of silkroad and the Chinese search giant Baidu accepting bitcoin for some services. Disclosure: I own some coins. I follow developments on an hour-by-hour basis, and one of my screens is constantly showing Link to bitcoinwisdom.com.
Wait a minute. Yes, that's me. I made a couple of bad assumptions in that piece, and learned a lot from the comments.
Weren't you the one who wrote that long idiotic piece about how way overvalued BTC was only about 2 mo ago? That's one of my primary modus operandi - put a stake in the ground and go from there.
and went back all in at about $3. On the way up, or down? Doesn't really matter now, but on the way up after the bottoming-out at $2ish.
Like Piper67, it was your 2011 article that got me to move all my savings (just savings, not retirement investments) into bitcoin. Thanks for that! I'm happy you read my thoughts in that article and are now quite rich as a result!
Cheers, Rick
Nobody makes the first jump. Very true. Trading is a brutal game.
Where do you see bitcoin/cryptocurrency in general going in the next 5-10-100 years? Bitcoin is going to do to banks, what email did to the postal system. (The first time I sent the value of a cup of coffee to a friend in India on a Sunday, and they had the money instantly, with nobody but me and them seeing the transaction went to them at all, was an absolute blowaway. It was a frogleap 40 years into the future from where the banks have been holding us. They don't stand a chance.)
When did you realize you prefered polyamorous relationships? What are your biggest reasons? When did you realize you were homo-, bi- or heterosexual? It's an orientation, not something you choose.
I have never been jealous, and I have never understood the sentiment. If I would go out with my gf some night, and she'd meet a man while we were at a party together and go home with him, and come back by lunchtime the next day - she'd be shining happy as the sun itself. Assuming I care about her and love her, I absolutely enjoy when she's happy. I don't see a problem. I see reasons to celebrate that somebody I care about is happy. (Note that this is not a theoretical scenario; this has happened.)
It was much later in life that I learned that most people react with resentment that their loved one is happy in this situation, and I have never been able to relate to this, only to learn it at a purely rational level.
EDIT: Actually, let me add a bit of gleeful anecdote here.
When I was living with one of my serious exes a while back, an ex who was equally polyamorous, we'd sometimes bring home one night stands and sleep in the guest room with them. When she did so, and I fixed breakfast the next morning for the three of us, the guy she'd brought home (being introduced to me as the bf she lived with) was almost always unable to deal with the situation as I happily made breakfast for all of us. They just didn't know how to act or react, they had never been in that situation, they were utterly confused. It was hilarious. :)
You mirror my sentiments. What a relief that there are several of us out there. It took me a long time to realize I wasn't alone in this. Check out polyamorous communities.
Because that says you have no desire for power over another person. Wow, I just love you man! Edit: You don't want to rule them, you want to help them. Wow. I don't know what to say to that. Thanks, you almost make me blush! (Edit:) Thinking about it, Swarmwise is full of that very philosophy - that you hold no real power to command any other human being, and can only lead by inspiring them, now that you mention it.
Well I definitely appreciate it! I have followed your work and was really excited when I saw you were doing an AMA, but did not expect random, off-topic questions to be answered. So thanks again! Thanks for the kind words, I appreciate them!
EDIT - also, congratulations on your cake day!
Your reaction when the Icelandic Pirate Party managed to get 4 people into the Icelandic parliament? Three, but still a major achievement.
I was in Reykjavik for the election party - I always try to be present when the movement expects a major victory, just to re-live that amazing election victory night of 2009 when we were elected to the European Parliament. (Seriously, it was the memory of a lifetime. That's a cliché, but that night lives up to it.)
I had a couple of beers with the Icelandic crew, did a writeup on the victory in the night, and went back to my hotel extremely happy.
The election night was a serious cliffhanger - the party failed a technical threshold right after I had fallen asleep that night, going from three to zero seats, and came back on the right side of that technicality just before I woke back up. So I had been happily asleep while all the nail biting had taken place, and my victory article turned out to be far premature, but correct in the end anyway. :)
Iceland was a great case of getting elected on the national level. Meeting the future MPs before their election was equally great.
Cheers, Rick.
Thanks for the respond and thank you for correcting me, thought they had four. It's possible and probable that her being previously known contributed to the election success of PPIS [Pirate Party Iceland].
But on another note, how much of an impact do you think Birgitta Jónsdóttir has on the Pirate party? Shes is heavily criticized in Iceland for being a nut-job, rude and to much "everything is evil except me"-kind of attitude which I find absurd. And having that attitude - being prepared to piss off your colleagues in parliament to do the right thing with the people - can easily get the prerequisite 5% if you do it visibly enough and reasonably often. It's a stand most representatives would never take.
What are your thoughts on the war on drugs? One of the worst humanitarian disasters in policymaking of the 20th century. You'd think people learned something from the U.S. Prohibition of alcohol.
A history professor somewhere in my information flow said that it's easy to predict the future - it's only a matter of looking at what mistakes people have always made and predict they'll keep being repeated over and over.
To wit, look at when coffee was banned in Sweden and was claimed to be a gateway drug to heavier drug use [in this case alcohol].
Link to falkvinge.net
Cheers, Rick
What do you think is the biggest challenge to those in the U.S. trying to establish and brand a pirate party? Any tips/tricks for organizing? The first-past-the-post system, in my mind, is the biggest challenge. The Swedish Pirate Party was founded, as I describe in Swarmwise, with the estimate that you could get 225,000 votes, and Sweden has a proportional system. (The math would turn out to be remarkably spot on - we got 225,915 votes in the European elections of 2009.)
A proportional election system means that if you get 5% of the votes at the national level, you get 5% of the seats at the national level. In turn, this means that 19 out of 20 people can hate you, and you still win.
In other words, you can and should take big risks to gain visibility in such a system.
In a first-past-the-post system, you need the most votes in a particular geographic area to become that area's representative. Assuming you enter as a third party and the other two parties are of approximately equal strength, that means you must get 34% of the votes somewhere to get a single seat, compared to 5% nationwide for 5% of the seats.
It's a different ballgame completely.
That said, it can still be done, primarily by recruiting previous non-voters, but it needs to be done with a tenacious eye for the goal and a seriously long-term planning - having run the numbers for the US, I estimate that you'd need about 20% of the votes of the eligible electorate. Looking at the PP numbers from elsewhere, that's doable, but in a 10- or 15-year perspective.
People living inside the system may find ways that I haven't, of course.
Cheers, Rick.
The tips and tricks would be in Swarmwise.
The biggest challenge would be the first-past-the-post election system. It's easier in a proportional system.
What are the best arguments to use when people claim that copying is theft? Link to falkvinge.net
You may want to avoid the argument about what the lawbooks look like, though. It can be debated, and you don't want to go down that marsh as the point is to change the lawbooks.
In short - it's exercising control over your property when you manufacture copies that can be regarded as theft; manufacturing something using your own property (network equipment, computer, storage) was never theft.
Link to falkvinge.net
Cheers, Rick.
This example would be more like if a person made a documentary costing a million dollars and another person also made a documentary about the same subject, I don't think that is really what Tornada was suggesting. Link to falkvinge.net
I am interested in the pirate party and I think that a free internet is vital but I am still not sold on this argument. Would you help me out by explaining the party's logic again? Cheers, Rick
Imagine you spent time and energy starting the Pirate Party. And then, I come along and also also start a Pirate Party, stealing votes therefore ruining your entire investment! Well, a lot of people have done exactly this, so it doesn't really work well as an argument to demonstrate some kind of immorality...
Cheers, Rick.
American here. I contend, like Al Franken and others, that money in our politics is a basic flaw that should be fixed. You only spent $50,000 to get your people elected. I would call that proof positive that publicly funded elections can get people who deserve to be in office in to office. How do we go about getting money out of our politics? Or, in your opinion, should we get money out of politics as a first step towards balancing our government? Finally, are you concerned the tactics in Swarmwise could be used nefariously(or used to get terrible people like the Tea Party elected)? Yes, from what I've understood of the U.S. system, it's very biased toward people with money. However - and this is equally important - this is due to how campaigns have always been run, and the until-now criticalness of TV ads, which are horribly expensive. As for the €50,000 - it's important to realize that those were not public funds. They were small donations from what students had left over at the end of the month. Once you're in office or have a near-office election result, you get public funding for the next election, but for your first, you get nothing. So we had €50k against the incumbents' €6M, which were a lot from public funding (and donations). If you want money out of politics, you need to put politicians' jobs on the line over the issue. They're not going to make that happen voluntarily. However, I feel I have demonstrated that results can be achieved without having access to war chests. I speculated a bit about the possibility of using swarm tactics to spread a hate message, but I sincerely doubt it would work - the swarm organization is optimized for speed, trust, and scalability. You can't have a message of distrust and simultaneously build the org on trust; it would most likely take on its own external values and fall apart in internal turf piss fights.
Thank you for coming here and doing this. As for electing terrible people, I don't think the Tea Party see themselves as terrible. Initially, at least as I understand it, they were U.S. Constitutionalists, diehard about freedom of speech and so on, but naïve enough to let themselves be hijacked by corporate interests. This may be wrong in full or in part, but it's my understanding.
Hi the Freshmaker, thanks for the kind words!
Does it help the artists as much as it claims? Further, it doesn't help artists one bit. Remember that the record labels have never been on the artists' side.
Do you feel it legitimize piracy in Sweden? The blank media levy doesn't really legitimize piracy, though. Sharing knowledge and culture never needed legitimization or justification. Preventing somebody from accessing knowledge does.
What do you think about voluntaryism? I don't think it's feasible to argue for a dismantling of governments at this stage. It's much too far out on the Overton window, even if I did like it.
I'm more of a tactician - I choose short-term goals that cause progress toward my long-term goals. Obviously, getting elected to office assumes the existence of a parliamentary democracy.
Cheers, Rick.
What should be the first step (apart from buying your book of course :P) I should take in order to make change in my world? You don't need to buy the book, you can download Swarmwise for free at Link to falkvinge.net - go there first :)
The first thing you should decide on is exactly what you want to change or accomplish. Be laser focused. The second thing you should do is figure out how many people you'd need to be a part of your goal to make it happen.
Then, do it. :)
Cheers, Rick
Hi Rick, I see you're a redditor for a while now, whats your favorite subreddit(s)? technology, /science, /funny, and /bitcoinmarkets, I think.
EDIT: removed /gonewild from the original list as some seem to have not taken the response seriously (the comment is hidden by default) - but this is an AMA, after all; I place value in responding candidly to the questions.
What about /Sweden and /svenskpolitik? Do you spend any time there? Not really - the Swedish political scene is for my successor(s) to deal with; as a former party leader, I should not intervene in how they're doing their job.
Cheers, Rick
Are you of the opinion that global change is possible or even desired? And on what scale? Global change is absolutely both possible and desired. I describe in Swarmwise how to accomplish it. One obstacle is that a swarm of people who set out to change the world must have a razor-sharp focus in order to succeed.
Nobody can change everything, but everybody can change something.
Also, there is a saying: "Politics is the art of making people agree to change something all for their own reasons." That last part is very important to make things happen.
Cheers, Rick
If hypothetically you could only make one change to Swedish legislature what would it be? Kill the FRA law [the Swedish equivalent of the U.S. Patriot act, enabling warrantless bulk wiretapping], probably.
On a close second, insert the single line "this law only applies to commercial, for-profit activity" in the copyright monopoly legislation.
What is your opinion on why the Swedish Pirate Party succeeded, while the German Pirate Party imploded? What led to your initial success? The histories are actually very similar. The Swedish and German parties both had initial huge successes, but then failed to remain at the attained altitude, due to people assuming success would be inevitable.
Getting visibility is hard; keeping it is even harder. Once you start infighting for the inevitable resources that will follow the equally inevitable victory in the future, you've already lost and you're in for a very tough bottoming out before starting to climb back.
I describe this more in chapter 10 in Swarmwise, "Beyond Success".
The German PP is not doing bad by any means, by the way. Getting 2.2% in the federal elections, while not carrying for the Bundestag (German parliament), is still a climb from the last election and too big to ignore.
Cheers, Rick
American here, the eu is mandated to respond to petitions ? The same way the White House has their We The People. "Responding" doesn't even mean "Taking Seriously" - don't read too much into it.
A common argument for internet surveillance and control is the fight against child abuse imagery (and pedophile activity). You argue on the other hand, as seen here and here that surveillance and laws against child abuse imagery is counterproductive. My question is about the argument that surveillance only will make it easier for "internet criminals". Is that your opinion as well? And how is that? There is the saying that "when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns".
I argue that any ban on possessing evidence of a crime will be of great help to the perpetrators of that crime, just as you argue.
Also, surveillance is not really a problem for geek-intelligence (meaning technically savvy) criminals; it's the average Joe that gets hit by it. But as the police say, most criminals are stupid, unbelievably stupid.
That saying from the police is not entirely true, of course. The police have a biased selection toward the stupid criminals. The smart ones are never seen, so we can't tell how many there are of them.
Cheers, Rick
Would you rather have a fully transparent society or one with perfect privacy? It's not an either-or; you need privacy for the citizen and transparency in the government.
Essentially, it's a sliding scale - as a purely individual citizen, you should have perfect privacy up until the point where you're formally and individually suspected of an already-committed and serious crime. As you take public office, your right to privacy is gradually replaced with a requirement for transparency of your work depending on the weight of the office, to hold the elected leaders accountable in the next election.
Cheers, Rick
Thank you for the excellent answer! Would not the opening up of government records reveal a lot about citizens however? For example, should you know if someone near you has killed someone (after they have been to prison)? Or is this up to the person to decide how much to reveal. If we employed a public servant, we would be their boss, and they would not be allowed to keep secrets from us, just like you're fired on your own job if you're keeping secrets from your boss that concerns your job performance. Such a transition has implications on what records the government may keep on the citizens, as you correctly point out.
What can I do to help? Help the Pirate Party? Contact your local Pirate Party. You can find it easily by searching for the word(s) "Pirate Party" in your own language and adding your country name.
Examples: Piratenpartei Deutschland, Piratpartiet Norge, Κόμμα Πειρατών Ελλάδας, מפלגת הפיראטים, Пиратская партия Росcии, حزب القراصنة المغربي, etc.
Help the world in general by making it a better place to be in? Read Swarmwise and put a stake in the ground, and form a swarm of volunteers around it to make the cause happen.
Cheers, Rick
Any indication of one in Brazil. We any not very strict in our copyright laws but i can definitely seeing it getting worse in the future. Yes, there is a PP in Brazil trying to get going! I was there at its foundation last summer.
Cheers, Rick.
Rick, do you smoke weed? Thoughts on marijuana in general? I don't, but I think those who do should be free to do so as long as they don't subject others to second-hand smoke.
Mr. Falkvinge, thanks for doing this AMA. This question has already been asked but - what are your thoughts on the NSA spying issue? Do you think the US will become more like China and Russia and begin restricting, or even censoring, opposing popular political opinions? Suppose there were a Pirate Party in the USA. What would that be like? Hi Grimspur, thanks for participating!
NSA spying: I'm happy that it came to light, but shocked at the scale of it. I mean, when us net liberty activists have been shouting, warning, and flailing our arms about the surveillance possible, we have been discarded as unrealistic tinfoil hats.
Now with the facts on the table, it turns out that we have been severely underestimating what has been going on. I'm still not sure how to relate to that.
The US has pretended to be a white knight in shining armor with regards to respect for human rights, and all of a sudden it turns out it's one of the worst crooks out there. This will legitimize a lot of [other] rogue states as they introduce similar wiretapping and mass surveillance: "even the United States and Europe are doing it".
When the Swedish equivalent of the NSA was debated daily in Sweden, we knew that they started each day by visiting the blogs of its critics by using a visitor-IP matcher to their public IP range. Feels safe, sound and cozy, doesn't it?
There are nascent Pirate Parties in some states of the US, but they have a different election system to grapple with (first-past-the-post rather than proportional representation).
Cheers, Rick
Hello Rick! Big fan, long time fan! First off I wanted to let the world know that you have personally helped me in my growth as a citizen of the internet. After reading about how encrypt my personal emails, you gave me some tips and helped me through that process. Thanks! First, thank you for the kind words!
My question is: What do you think of the modern nation-state? What do you think of national sovereignty and borders? Are you a firm proponent of the social contract theory of human relations? What I think the modern nation-state is a rather large question. We can observe that borders are becoming less important within some cultural spheres (say, the US-Canada-Europe-Australia), but increasingly guarded along others (say, US-Mexico). There are many different social contract theories AFAIK, so I can't subscribe to any one of them. But if you want a more politics-based response to the same general idea, I think it's crucial to have the consent of the governed if you are to run a nation-state.
What do you like to do in your spare time? I was about to respond "what spare time?", but I guess I'm rather privileged to have worked myself into a position where I do what I really enjoy doing.
Seeing how I'm currently employed to travel and speak about the pirate political perspectives, I guess spare time is when I do other things.
So, I write code. At the moment, I'm working on generalizing the rather advanced swarm management software the Swedish Pirate Party was using, in order to adapt it for general use. Going to take a while still, but I enjoy coding.
Also, I enjoy cooking for my friends a lot, especially steak dinners, and I love riding really fast motorcycles (I sometimes describe myself as a "low-altitude motorcycle pilot"). Sadly, I haven't had a bike now for a couple of years.
Link to www.facebook.com
Cheers, Rick.
EDIT: forgot endquote.
Absolutely gorgeous bike!!! Thanks! It's a Suzuki Hayabusa 1999. The fastest production bike ever built; the year after (or the year after that) the Jap manufacturers entered into an agreement to electronically cap the max speed at 300 km/h.
Thanks for the response. Hope you get a bike soon! This is one of the best things somebody has told me all year!
One more if you get to it: Do you have hope for a utopian post-scarcity world like /futurology tends to point to? As for whenwhere those conversions will happen, that's a different story. For example, the United States is completely bankrupt and overdue for a structural collapse - the only thing pegging it up is the reserve-currency status of the USD, which is crumbling. Collapses tend to be localized, even if they have global knock-on effects. Compare the collapse of the Soviet Union.
What, from your perpective, is the most pressing challenge for the Pirate Party at this moment in time? Learning how to get re-elected, I'd say.
Last updated: 2013-10-25 12:25 UTC
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