20 questions with Roger Ver (Exclusive Interview)
You may know him as "Bitcoin Jesus," but he didn't give himself that nickname. And, to be honest, he doesn't really like it.
Roger Ver holds nothing back as he delivers gripping, unfiltered responses to the 20 questions thrown his way.
Does Roger think BTC will become the world's default currency? Does he still get harassed by hackers? And what does he say to critics who claim he's some fool who got lucky by buying Bitcoin early?
Steemit friends, allow me to introduce, 20 questions with Roger Ver.
20 questions with Roger Ver
1 - How would you describe yourself in one sentence?
Roger - I’m someone who believes that all human interactions should be on a consensual basis, or not at all.
2 - Other than digital currency, what blockchain technologies are you most excited about?
Roger - I’m also very excited about prediction markets like Bitcoinhivemind.com
3 - Do you expect Bitcoin to outperform gold, silver and the stock market in 2017?
Roger - The Bitcoin network is already at maximum capacity, so if the current team of developers don’t allow it to scale quickly enough to meet the demand, the future for Bitcoin is bleak.
I’m sure the current core developers are talented programmers, but most of them are clueless when it comes to basic economics, and providing an incentive for people to use Bitcoin.
Recently at a Silicon Valley Bitcoin meet-up I hosted, one of the current Bitcoin developers was literally telling people that they should use credit cards instead of Bitcoin.
I think that is a ridiculous thing to say, since I specifically got involved to build a currency that can rival the Dollar, the Euro, and the Yen. Telling people to use credit cards won’t accomplish that goal.
I’m currently exploring options including starting my own mining pool, hiring a competing full-time dev team, or even hard forking Bitcoin to stay in line with Satoshi’s original vision of P2P cash.
If my group of like-minded supporters do hard fork Bitcoin, we will also likely change the proof of work to something that is most suited to general purpose CPUs rather than GPUs or ASICs.
I suspect that will be a real wakeup call to the current Bitcoin miners and hardware manufacturers that the market clearly needs and wants Bitcoin to be allowed to scale.
4 - Which is your favorite Bitcoin wallet for daily transactions?
Roger - I have many different wallets. In fact, I have nearly all of the major ones installed on my systems, and keep my coins spread between many of them.
On mobile and desktop I use Blockchain.info the most.
Second place would be KryptoKit / JAXX.
5 - Do you still get harassed by hackers?
Roger - Unfortunately I’m a high profile target for hackers, so almost daily I have malicious files emailed to me, or see notifications about someone trying to reset one of my online passwords.
I think I have most everything locked down pretty tight at the moment.
A few years ago, a hacker was able to gain access to an old email address, and started gaining additional access from there.
It was a real wake-up call that I need to take security even more seriously.
I then launched a website called BitcoinBountyHunter.com to help deter would-be hackers and thieves.
6 - Do you own a major credit card?
Roger - Sure.
7 - What do you think about the 21 Inc Bitcoin computer and the 21 Inc vision of a “machine Internet” and economy?
Roger - It is only a matter of time until machine intelligence exceeds human intelligence, and around that same time machine commerce will exceed human commerce.
Bitcoin seems like the perfect basis for this coming economy.
8 - How long have you been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Roger - About eight-and-a-half years total now. I’ve been a purple belt for the last four-and-a-half years, but my training pace has slowed down as I became so busy with Bitcoin things.
I’ve been dealing with a lot of injuries over the last two years as well, but hope to stay healthy, win some big tournaments, and get my brown belt in 2017.
Most people don’t know it, but there are actually more Jiu Jitsu videos of me on Youtube than Bitcoin videos.
Aside from Bitcoin, BJJ is truly one of my passions in life.
9 - What is the biggest difference between living in Japan and America?
Roger - I think the quality of the food, the attention to detail, and the quality of customer service are all much higher in Japan than in the USA.
The weather was certainly much better in California where I grew up, though.
10 - What was the price of the first Bitcoin that you owned?
Roger - I received my first portion of a Bitcoin from Gavin Andresen’s faucet. At the time I’m sure it was well under a dollar per Bitcoin.
I would guess it was in the $0.25 to $0.50 range at that time. I bought my first Bitcoins when they were about $1 each.
Sadly, this is another example of just how little business sense the current development team have.
The vast majority of Bitcoin users previously received their first Bitcoin from a faucet. I remember receiving mine that way and feeling the excitement of the technological magic that had just happened before my eyes. Imagine how many other people could experience that joy of using Bitcoin for the first time if Bitcoin had been allowed to scale.
Today, with transaction fees consistently about $0.10 and often much more, Bitcoin faucets are no longer feasible, and the Bitcoin community is missing out on this amazing tool to recruit new Bitcoin users.
11 - Do you think censorship of minority opinions will affect Steemit.com the same way it is affecting Reddit?
Roger - I haven’t used Steemit myself yet, so I don’t know enough about how it works to have an opinion.
I do know that the disallowing of any dissenting opinions by Theymos on /r/Bitcoin has turned what was previously a heated discussion online, into an entire Bitcoin ecosystem that is now filled with anger, vitriol, and personal attacks. This is a direct result of Theymos’ actions, and he should be ashamed.
All of us should be speaking out against his policy, and apply social pressure to the owners of Reddit to appoint a moderator who actually allows people to discuss Bitcoin.
Theymos can then go find a new job with the propaganda ministry of some government. He would fit right in.
12 - What do you think about Steemit’s concept?
Roger - I’ll need to read more about it since I know almost nothing.
13 - Do you believe we will solve the block size issue in 2016? What will happen if we don’t?
Roger - I’m less and less confident of this. In my entire involvement with Bitcoin, I’ve never sold a single one due to not being optimistic about the future.
After talking with many of the Bitcoin miners from China over the last few days, and hearing that they currently are not willing to do the smart thing and allow Bitcoin to scale in a timely manner, I’m on the very verge of selling some of my Bitcoins. Perhaps one day very soon I will be devoting all of my attention to a hard fork of Bitcoin that actually allows scaling in a timely manner.
The underlying economic code of Bitcoin is just as important to its success as the software code. You need both to be correct, or the whole thing is broken.
The current path that the small blockers are taking has the wrong economic code and will likely end in failure if Bitcoin isn’t allowed to scale soon.
14 - What’s your biggest Pet Peeve?
Roger - No shoes allowed inside the house!
15 - Who is your favorite author?
Roger - Without a doubt, Murray Rothbard. I remember reading his books in my youth and feeling afraid to continue because of the irrefutable logic being laid out that would forever change the way I viewed the individual’s relationship to governments.
War is mass murder.
The draft is the moral equivalent of kidnapping and slavery.
Taxation is theft on a grand scale.
I implore anyone who wants to understand the world more clearly to read his books.
16 - Do you get hassled when travelling through U.S. airports?
Roger - Everyone gets hassled in the USA, on the way in, and way out.
As I type this, I’m on a flight from NYC to HK.
On the way into the USA, the first person I met was a stranger with a gun on their hip, threatening myself and everyone else to show them ID. If you aren’t convinced that they are threatening you, the next time you see them, try ignoring them and walking through to your destination and the threat will become very clear.
To depart the USA this morning, I had to deal with numerous security checks. I had to strip off a substantial portion of my clothing, and most invasively of all, there were strangers with guns waiting on the boarding ramp to the airplane threatening everyone to show them their ID, and tell them how much money they had with them.
Most people don’t travel internationally so they don’t know, but the USA is one of the very few countries where the customs agents are so militarized that they actually carry guns with them.
In Japan for example, the customs agents wear little white gloves, and use the most polite Japanese they know when dealing with the people traversing the border.
It’s extremely rare that any of my belongings are searched when entering the country, but on one occasion the customs agent girl asked if she could search my bag.
In response, I asked her if I could search her first. With genuine sincerity in her voice, she explained to me that she didn’t have a bag with her that I could search, and I felt like a bit of a jerk for asking.
I can only imagine how rude a customs agent in the USA would be if I asked them the same question.
Another example is Hong Kong. If you enter more than three times in a single year, you can apply for a frequent visitor sticker in your passport. Once you have that, you can go in and out of the country via a fully automated system without ever having to deal with another human. America may claim to be the land of the free, but in practice, that is no longer the case.
17 - Did you ever hear back from the Bernie Sanders team regarding your patriotism debate challenge?
Roger - Nope. I’m still waiting. If he was sincere about all the things he said, you would think $250,000 USD to help the charity of his choice for two hours of his time would be something he would scramble to do right away.
Perhaps he hasn’t accepted because he knows that Adam Kokesh would easily point out that government programs aren’t compassion, they are death threats. Everything governments do is ultimately backed up at the point of a gun, and they will gladly kill you for disobeying. Anything that you personally wouldn’t be willing to kill another human being over shouldn’t be a law.
18 - What led you to the discovery of voluntaryism?
Roger - I started out believing in the religion of statism just like everyone else around me. I said the pledge of allegiance every single day in school for somewhere around a decade.
I thought Americans should only drive American cars, should only buy American made products, that the minimum wage actually helped poor people, and that government was actually a great thing for society.
Then I started to study economics. I began reading Adam Smith, Ludwig Von Mises, Milton Friedman, Henry Hazlitt, Leonard Reed, Murray Rothbard, and more. I learned how free trade, combined with comparative advantage, and the division of labor, indisputably make the world a better place. I learned that the minimum wage doesn’t guarantee that low-skilled workers will have a job, it simply guarantees that anyone with skills worth less than the minimum wage won’t have any job at all. I began to feel embarrassed for the economically ignorant policies I had been in favor of previously. The more economics I studied, the more I realized that peaceful human interaction, free of the coercion of the state, is the best way to achieve the desired economic prosperity. These utilitarian arguments are what brought me most of the way to being a voluntaryist. Around this same time I also started studying some of the philosophical ideas related to individual rights.
I was persuaded by many of the arguments put forth by John Locke explaining that each man owns his own labor, and when he mixes his labor with something in nature that was previously unowned, that product becomes his own property.
Chattel slavery is wrong because you are stealing another man’s labor. Theft of physical property is wrong because you are stealing another man’s labor. They are actually two sides of the same coin.
Much much later in my life, I came across the ideas of Michael Huemer and Larken Rose. They pointed out ever so clearly that “authority” of the political kind, does not, and can not exist. It is just imagined by the majority of society. The guns, police, buildings, and violence are all real, but the authority itself is just imagined. For example, none of us individually have the right to lock our neighbor in a cage for smoking a plant, or tell someone else who he can or can’t do business with, so how can we as individuals delegate rights that none of us have to our “representatives” in government? How could a “representative” possibly have more authority than those he “represents”? The whole thing is madness if one takes the time to think about it.
19 - Do you believe BTC will become the world’s default currency?
Roger - My thoughts went something like this:
2011: I thought there was a small chance of this, but had to try.
2012: I thought there was a better chance of this, so I had to try even harder.
2013: It’s happening! It’s time to really pick up the pace!
2014: This is amazing! The whole world is starting to notice Bitcoin!
2015: Wow! So many people are using Bitcoin that the blocks are starting to get very full! We better do what any sensible businessman would do, and what Satoshi recommended. Expand Bitcoin to continue to provide a good level of service to people who want to use it.
2016: Oh no! A bunch of people with no business sense have taken control of the current Bitcoin software implementation and are forcing every major business who would have been interested in Bitcoin to look for other solutions. Oh no! All the people who are mining Bitcoin don’t have any long-term vision for the goal of Bitcoin and aren’t doing the sensible thing at the moment. I suppose I should:
Do something to allow Bitcoin to scale to allow new users.
Mining pool to influence the debate.
Set up a competing development team and make sure they have people who understand economics and business to help guide them.
Fork Bitcoin to allow it to accept new users.
Look for a competing cryptocurrency that actually has better properties than Bitcoin to be used as money. Z.cash is one that is very high on my list of things to keep an eye on.
20 - What’s one thing very few people know about you?
Roger - I'm not sure how many people know it or not, but I have a few:
I didn’t choose the name Bitcoin Jesus for myself, other people started calling me that because of my efforts to spread the good word of Bitcoin. I’m not a fan of the name myself.
Some people on the Internet try to dismiss me as some fool who got lucky by buying bitcoin early. In reality, I was a semi-retired self-made millionaire, who had built a substantial business long before Bitcoin had ever been invented. When I became the first person in the world to start funding Bitcoin startups, almost all of that money was earned by my previous tech business, not from the price of Bitcoin increasing.
I actually don’t enjoy traveling, dealing with crowds, or public speaking. I would much rather spend time home alone with my computer or a book. Bitcoin is exciting and important enough that it motivates me to do the former.
A sincere thank-you to Roger Ver for taking the time to be part of my "20 questions" interview series.
Also, a huge thank-you to all of you for taking the time to read.
Who would you like to see me throw 20 questions at? Drop me a comment below and I'll work on setting up the interview.
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