Bitcoin Can Be “a Means of Resistance,” Longtime BTC Pillar Jameson Lopp

Colin Muller

Jameson Lopp, long time cypherpunk, Bitcoiner, and currently infrastructure manager at Casa, sat down with Vlad Costea of Crypto Insider for an extensive chat.

Lopp is an old hand with Bitcoin, having gotten involved in 2012, for both ideological and geeky reasons, and there was plenty of experience to draw on for the interview. Lopp had plenty to say, yet tempered and moderate.

On Bitcoin Cash

Lopp explained that Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash occupy opposite sides in a crypto-philosophical debate; namely, is cost of transaction more important than the cost of validating the entire blockchain, or vice versa?

Bitcoin, with its much different approach to scaling (he refers here to the Lightning network), prioritizes low validation cost, whereas Bitcoin Cash prefers a low transaction/high validation cost on a much larger blockchain.

Lopp’s allegiance is to Bitcoin’s approach, but he does not begrudge the other side. He also considers Litecoin to be in Bitcoin’s camp, in that the Litecoin community is “willing to adopt these cutting-edge layer two technologies" like the Lightning network.

On Proof of Stake and Ethereum

Although a diehard Bitcoiner, Lopp is not inimical to Proof-of-Stake (PoS) methods of consensus per se. He just thinks it’s a hard road, commenting that “right now there aren’t any really great PoS systems that have been deployed” into the wild.

One thinks of Ethereum, and Lopp recognizes that “they’re on the bleeding edge [...] constantly rethinking what they’ve done”. He is most interested to see how sharding implementation will play out. Notwithstanding such concerns, he says “I personally would adopt [a good enough PoS platform]”.

Interestingly, Lopp’s ultimate prediction on Ethereum is that the protocol - the Ethereum Virtual Machine - will enjoy more adoption than an Ethereum world-computer.

On the end of Bitcoin Mining

Although the creation of new Bitcoin will not expire for “like 100 years”, mining/supply reduction will become an issue much sooner, within 10 to 20 years, Lopp says. For this reason, it is crucial that the Bitcoin community develop “a fee market and continue to offset the subsidies”, to make up for the inevitable shortfall in mining returns - otherwise, hashing power will diminish to an unsecure level.

He mused that, eventually, if the network became important enough, “we need to be paying basically millions of dollars a day” for the desired security.

On the B Foundation

Regarding his role in the new non-profit devoted to furthering Bitcoin adoption, Lopp eschewed any role dealing with “with government propaganda or perspectives of people thinking what Bitcoin should be”, continuing “I am interested in funding different projects that are trying to build on top of Bitcoin and lightning, really any other technology to build on Bitcoin...."

On Actually Using Bitcoin

For all his Bitcoin bona fides, Lopp expressed a preference - for now, presumably - for just using fiat, citing that using Bitcoin is not actually very private, that the market is at the bottom of a bear cycle - it would be selling low - and that the state of tax regulation in the U.S. remains a “huge nightmare”.

On Liquidity, Centralization

Perhaps surprisingly, Lopp does not have any specific moral qualm to centralized liquidity pools linking exchanges, pointing to the wastefulness that “a significant fraction of blockspace that is being used up doing nothing more than sending money from one exchange to another”. He does add, however, that he hopes future liquidity pools will utilize the Lightning Network.

Musing on the subject of EOS' potentially dubious governance structure, Lopp lamented that "I think a lot of the regular users don’t really worry about edge-case scenarios, and as long as the system seems to work, then they’re not really concerned with what might cause it to fail. Unless it actually fails, then they generally don’t care”.

On Individual Sovereignty

The conversation eventually veered into a very serious direction, on the subject of “Bitcoin as a means of resistance” to the power of governments.

Lopp identified an over-legalized world, in which “if you are remotely suspected of some sort of crime, law enforcement will just start digging through your entire past. And if they can find anything that is suspicious or gives them some sort of probable cause to dig into and try to start creating problems for you, then it’s pretty easy to do so."

Lopp is hopeful that privatizing money and other previously government-run necessities, will "put nation states back on their heels", forcing them to compete with private institutions in a “free market”. He sees money as a "concept that belongs to humanity in general. It is a shared agreement, it is not something that is supposed to be dictated as to how it operates”.

“But it’s not gonna be easy, either”, he concluded.