Naomi Brockwell is an award-winning producer who hosts some of the largest blockchain and economics conferences around the world. She interviews the biggest names in Tech, Business, and Politics and is a regular on US national television discussing blockchain technology and current events.
Interview Date : 20th May 2020
- Naomi Brockwell (All Interviews)
- The Bitcoin Girl
- Idea of Decentralized Currency
- Dry subjects have to become more Fun
- Influential People in Crypto
- Bailouts to Giant Corporations Angers People
- I have Hope
- If it's not Decentralized, It'll not work
- How Vulnerable We Are
- Freedom and Individual Sovereignty
- Without The Internet Functioning There Would Be No Bitcoin?
- Best Man Most Unpopular in Congress
- Snowden My Hero
- Patriot Act Revised for Worse?
- We are under Surveillance 24/7
- Most Popular Youtube Video
- WiGLe.net Search Yourself
- Wi-Fi Reveals Your Location
- Encourage People to be Autodidacts
- What is Money?
- Duty to Share Information
Naomi Brockwell (All Interviews)
The Bitcoin Girl
My name is Naomi Brockwell. I am a TV producer, producer for the Stossel Show, and I have my own show NBTV that is focused on privacy, tech, and blockchain. Having secure digital money is such an integral part of our digital lives.
I love Japan! I have been twice. I wrote a J-pop song a few years ago about Bitcoin called ビットコイン月に行く(Bitcoin’s going to the moon). My name turning out to be Naomi is just a coincidence. I just happen to get a Japanese and Jewish name but I am neither of those.
I have been teaching myself Japanese. I have learned hiragana and katakana so far, I am not even gonna attempt trying kanji, but I have been working hard to improve. Despite that, it seems like the entirety of what I know in Japanese consists of basic phrases like how to say your name or “Itadakimasu”, then the opposite extreme of being able to say “Bitcoin is money of the future” from my J-pop song.
Idea of Decentralized Currency
I first started hearing about crypto in about 2012. Many of my friends were into it. I was living in New York at the time, and my friends were computer programmers, mathematicians, and really into cryptocurrency. I was very much interested in economics and the Hayekian idea of competing currencies, and so when I heard about Bitcoin it really piqued my interest. I liked the idea that there might be alternative money that wasn’t created by the government. I liked that Bitcoin was created anonymously, and no one is in control.
Around 2013, I started making videos about Bitcoin on multiple platforms including my own. I started experimenting with everything in the space: the websites back then were pretty janky and not very user friendly. But I wanted to explore all the areas of cryptocurrency that I could. I started to meet people in the space who were building the tech. I just threw myself into it because right away I recognized that this could be such a powerful tool for freedom for so many people around the world.
Whoever controls the money supply controls most things. If someone else has control over your finances, can seize your assets, freeze your funds, then they can coerce your behavior also. Controlling your money becomes a tool for controlling you. I became interested in cryptocurrency from a freedom perspective. Also, I just really love technology, nerdy stuff, and innovation. I am obsessed with keeping up to date with all the latest tech out there. We have not had much innovation in the money supply, because there has been a monopoly on the money supply for so long and no incentive for innovation. Now with Bitcoin, we have some incredibly smart people developing new technologies all the time, and trying to make money better and better, and that excited me.
Dry subjects have to become more Fun
The subject of math, technology, cryptocurrency, and Bitcoin can be quite dry subjects. Music videos were a way for me to make them more fun. I am interested in economics, math, and game theory, but most people don’t care about these things. So I was trying to find a way to explain to people why these things interested me, and I thought it would be easier to reach out to people if I made something exciting and easy to understand. Creating music videos was a fun way to talk about these subjects and get people’s attention. I find that sometimes the engineers aren’t the best people to explain complex concepts to mainstream audiences. Engineers are often great at explaining concepts to other engineers who understand the technical jargon, but we are trying to create a worldwide movement that reaches beyond these people. It’s important to make things very simple and to connect with people using concepts they already understand. Engineers value certain things like decentralization and the underlying technology. Your everyday person doesn’t. They look at this and say “why should I care about this?”. You need to understand their value system in order to connect with them about this topic.
Influential People in Crypto
There are far too many influential people to name in the crypto space today. I love keeping up with developers who are building the new tech. I also like keeping up with those working on the legislative side, like Caitlin Long, who did a tremendous job establishing legislation in Wyoming that protected cryptocurrency users. There are also great communicators out there being spokespeople for the industry. When Bitcoin was created, first the media ignored it, and then all of the major media outlets referred to it as drug money, and for criminals. The fact that we are now at a point of time where some of the most prominent venture capitalists, investors, and business people are talking about it in a positive light is a huge shift. All of this is the combined effort of countless people. At the end of the day, we all get to benefit from it by having an alternative and a choice in money which is very exciting.
Bailouts to Giant Corporations Angers People
A lot of people, especially the people who came into cryptocurrency late in recent years, don’t understand really why Bitcoin created so impassioned uses. That is because Bitcoin came at a time when we were in the middle of a financial crisis. People were angry at what was happening to the money supply, and angry at all these bailouts to giant corporations. They saw corruption in this industry, so when this alternative money system came around, many rallied around it because of the potential it represented. It excited so many people.
I have Hope
Since then, new people have entered the crypto space for financial gain, who don’t understand the ethos of the early adopters: instead many are just here to make a quick buck. But now we are going through a financial crisis again. There have been trillions of dollars in corporate bailouts. The FED is printing all this money. Again, we are just seeing the corruption that comes about when only a few people have control of money supply. I think we could see a renaissance in the fervor that originally popularized Bitcoin. People will start to understand the message of the early users once money, and realize why this is important.
If it’s not Decentralized, It’ll not work
There are all kinds of digital currencies. Not all of them are useful or good. A digital currency created and controlled by the government, for example, would be no different to the system we already have. Most of our money already exists as 1’s and 0’s and can be manipulated at the click of a button. Any system capable of being controlled by a selected few people is not what we should strive towards.
But decentralized, open systems like Bitcoin, which no one can control, give me hope. We have democratized money and given the power back to the people, because we have money that no one can arbitrarily choose to inflate.
I don’t like it that a group of unelected bureaucrats get to decide to print huge amounts of money whenever they wish, which devalues my savings in the process. That makes me angry and it makes me feel helpless. For a long time, people have tried to create alternative currencies. Monies backed by gold for example. But governments have shut them down, because they’ve been centralized. But with Bitcoin, there is no CEO you can throw in jail, or central server you can unplug, or vaults you could seize. Bitcoin can’t be shut down. It could be slowed significantly if the government wanted to do that, but it can’t be stopped completely, and that’s why it’s exciting.
How Vulnerable We Are
In 2013, many bank accounts of people in Cyprus had been raided. The government decided to seize them. That should be a wake-up call to anyone who believes in financial sovereignty, and anyone who believes in it is the individual’s right to control their wealth. Similar incidents have happened in Poland as well. In Argentina and Venezuela people’s money has inflated away. We don’t realize how vulnerable we are to those who are controlling the money supply. As long as our money is in bank accounts that can be manipulated, we don’t have control of our lives.
But with Bitcoin, we are our own Bank. It is very empowering that we have the means to transport value around the world when we wish, and no one can dictate terms, or seize our assets without our permission. This is a new era.
Freedom and Individual Sovereignty
I believe in Voluntaryism. I believe that you should not hurt people and don’t take their stuff, and leave choices up to the individual as much as possible. Many early cryptocurrency enthusiasts feel the same way. Bitcoin was first released on the cryptography mailing list, a spin-off of the Cypherpunk mailing list. Both of these lists focused on privacy, were very interested in creating a digital money alternative, and believed in making the world a better place using code. Bitcoin is exciting for people who believe in freedom and individual sovereignty.
Bitcoin first became popularized by tech geeks. They were people who understood mathematics and code, and who looked at the workings of Bitcoin as said “This is cool!” Bitcoin was thrown around online like thumb-ups. For example, if you liked someone’s blog posts, you’d throw them some Bitcoin. It didn’t have any monetary value but was something that people covered because it was cool.
Then the Bitcoin community grew as more people learned about it, the first exchange of Bitcoin for real-world goods occurred when someone spent 10000 Bitcoins on a couple of pizzas in 2010. That was a turning point for Bitcoin, and in a way was its coming of age. From there it went on to make a huge impact in many areas: It facilitated donations to Wikileaks when the government tried to shut them down. It allowed people to purchase things in black and grey markets: keep in mind that black markets in places like China consist of things like clothing, medicine, and food. It facilitates donations to content creators who have been de-platformed by juggernauts like YouTube or Patreon and allows them to continue to make a living from the support of an international community.
Some people don’t understand the way Bitcoin has empowered many people all over the world. I still get comments like “ What is this magical internet money” or “I don’t understand it” or “Why does it have value?”. We have a long way to go teaching people about cryptocurrency. But furthermore, I think most people don’t understand what money is in general, or what subjective value is, and these are crucial concepts to understand if you want to understand why Bitcoin is important.
Without The Internet Functioning There Would Be No Bitcoin?
If the internet goes down, there would no longer be a lot of things, and we’d have bigger problems than to worry about Bitcoin running or not. Most of our lives are completely dependent on the internet. This becomes increasingly true right now as quarantine has necessitated remote work, online social engagement, and e-commerce. Also, when we are paying with our credit cards we are using the internet.
Right now, some people are working on building redundancy into Bitcoin. This will allow Bitcoin to function with not too much dependency on any given thing. The point of Bitcoin is to be as robust and secure as possible and create redundancy at every level. Blockstream added another layer of redundancy to that by creating a satellite, which means that you don’t need to rely on the internet to download blocks and keep up with the network. Also, to send transactions, you could use SMS. So, Bitcoin wouldn’t necessarily end if the internet collapsed, but many other things would. We still can go much further in terms of redundancy in many areas of our lives though, and nevertheless, I hope that the internet doesn’t go out.
Best Man Most Unpopular in Congress
I’ve had the great privilege of interviewing Congressman Dr. Ron Paul a few times, and I have tremendous respect for him. He’s anti-war, and he wants to end the FED. He demands transparency in monetary policy decisions. For example, we still have no idea where all the TARP bailouts went in 2008, and there are all kinds of corruption going still on there. Dr. Paul isn’t afraid to speak out against this, and I love that. He speaks the truth from a place of incredible principle. Also, in person, he is just the loveliest guy and seems to have the outermost integrity. He is practicing what he is preaching and is not out there for popularity votes. He was very unpopular amongst other politicians because he’d always vote against all the porc-barrel handouts they wanted. He spoke his truth, and he stood firmly by what he believed. He saw all the corruption around and said that he was not going to be part of that. I have so much respect for him and wish more people would be like that.
Transhumanism is all about the idea of human potential, exceeding our limits, and pushing ourselves further than we are biologically capable of. I love the optimism and hope in that idea, that we can shift our boundaries and achieve more than we thought possible. I love the thought of innovation in all areas of life, not just biology. My biggest fear is that innovation slows down, and we start to decline rather than being pushed towards our limits. Many fear technology, but that is due to them only seeing the bad that can potentially come from new tech. There is also tremendous good, and opportunity cost if we stop expanding our horizons.
We can deal with each new bad implementation of technology as it comes, but we should keep pushing forward and learning and growing as a society. Technology is neutral, and so it can be utilized for bad and good. Often the direction it takes depends on the culture in which the technology is created.
We could have an Orwellian nightmarish surveillance state or a utopian paradise where disease no longer exists and everyone lives life with all of their basic needs taken care of. Or we can see a combination of these different scenarios: we do have to be careful about which path we choose. I hope to see a society where we embrace technology for all the good it brings, and remain wearing the technology that controls us rather than makes our lives better.
I feel like I’m already a cyborg because my phone is almost like an extension of my right arm. I use it to augment my knowledge of everything I search for information. I use it as a receiver to connect instantaneously with people around the world. Sci-fi novels often anthropomorphize robots and give them human qualities, but there are so many robots already in our lives that we don’t consider robots in this archaic sense. It’s really exciting to live in this day and age filled with so much innovation going on around us.
Snowden My Hero
I am such a fan of Edward Snowden that I have his book and posters in my room. He did a tremendous service to society by revealing illegal activity carried out by the government. Since the 2013 revelations, several court cases has since found organizations like the NSA to be guilty of illegal surveillance. We can’t hold these organizations accountable if we don’t know what’s going on.
I think that Edward Snowden is a hero. I think that he made a really difficult decision and sacrificed a huge amount to give information to the world, but many people are still so complacent about surveillance, and it’s heading us as a society down a dark path. Luckily many tech companies are picking up the slack. Even companies that are considered the opposite of privacy-friendly. Before the Snowden revelations, a very small fraction of internet traffic was encrypted, but afterwards companies like Google and Apple took the lead to make encryption a standard. Snowden’s revelations increased the security of society as a whole even if not everyone took action, because the services that many people use took action on their behalf. Many tech companies responded saying “let’s start to build technology that will give people back their privacy”, but to be honest we have a very long way to go, and things like the EARN IT bill that threatens encryption make it harder and harder for companies to protect their users’ privacy.
Patriot Act Revised for Worse?
In America, the fourth amendment was created to protect innocent people from unreasonable searches. Law enforcement had to have a warrant to specify what you were suspected of, and what they hoped to find.
However, for some reason the 4th amendment hasn’t transferred over into our digital lives. Devices are seized all the time, all internet traffic is monitored. The surveillance ability of the US Government was greatly enhanced with The Patriot Act, that initially was an emergency measure against terrorism. But that emergency seemed to never end, and now surveillance has become normalized. Furthermore the powers of The Patriot Act were even increased recently, and the FBI given the ability to seize everyone’s search engine results without a warrant. They can do a drag-net result as long as they can say that “it helps us with the investigation”. There is no judge involved, so who is to say whether it helped with an investigation or not? This power gives the AG a blank check to search through people’s data. It is unprecedented spying capability and I think that is terrifying.
We are under Surveillance 24/7
Snowden gave up his life for us. He had a really nice life in Hawaii with his girlfriend, earning a lot of money, and he had the world’s information at his fingertips. However, he gave it all up because he thought that letting the world know about what was going on was more important than his own personal comfort. Unfortunately, I feel like people still haven’t grasped exactly what’s going on at the moment. Everything we do online is stored forever in a database, that is searchable by governments and anyone else who can access this information. The NSA’s prime goal is permanent data collection, and total surveillance. I’m not sure whether we have the ability to change the mind of politically powerful power that they shouldn’t be collecting this data. So instead, I hope that technology continues to improve our privacy, to give us back sovereignty as individuals.
Most Popular Youtube Video
My biggest video is one discussing the privacy of our digital devices. It was inspired by a Snowden tweet:
“I wouldn’t use Wi-Fi at home, because global maps of every wireless access point’s unique ID—including yours—are free and constantly updated. I would use ethernet; yes, ethernet on a phone.”
It’s amazing how little people know about the devices they use, how much information they’re giving away when they use them, and how vulnerable this makes us.
I didn’t know much about how Wi-Fi worked before I made this video, but it’s certainly taught me to be a lot more careful with what data I’m publicly transmitting. And many people seem to have found it useful.
WiGLe.net Search Yourself
There are websites like WiGLE.net whose primary purpose is to aggregate data that is already publicly available so that people realize how much data is leaked from their phones every time you connect to Wi-Fi, for example. And WiGLE.net is just the tip of the iceberg: companies like google and Facebook are collecting much more data. But it’s data that allows you to track people, find out where people live, what conferences they attend, what their schedule is. We are literally carrying a tracking device everywhere we go, and people should be mindful of that.
Wi-Fi Reveals Your Location
Take Wi-Fi probe requests, for example. If your Wi-Fi is turned on, your phone is basically shouting out every few seconds “are any networks I’ve previously connected to in range?” First of all, this is a fingerprinting tool. The list of Wi-Fi networks you’ve connected to in the past (“Bill’s office”, “work001”, “Jenny’s iphone”, “Blockchain2020Conf”…) is likely so unique that no other person in the world has that exact same list. It’s surprisingly easy to use a receiver to scan for these Wi-Fi probe requests, and if you find someone’s unique combination, you can tell whether they’re at home, inside certain buildings, and use it to track activity. But as well as shouting out all the previously connected networks, your phone is also noting which other Wi-Fi networks are in range. If you are in range of a specific set of networks, it’s very easy to pinpoint your exact location. This is why location services on your phone request that you enable Wi-Fi for better accuracy.
As I learn more about how devices weaken our privacy, I try to share this information with others so that we can all make more educated choices in our lives.
Encourage People to be Autodidacts
I don’t like a world where a select few get to decide what everyone gets taught. In a centralized system like that it’s very easy to brainwash an entire population, and we’ve seen over and over again throughout history how propaganda in many totalitarian societies has completely warped its citizens’ view of the world. When I studied economics at college I never even heard of the Chicago school of thought, or the Austrian school of thought. Economics was presented to me as a single entity that everyone agreed upon, but it was only years later that I discovered that the school of thought I was being taught was Keynesian, and what I’ve now come to believe are an incredibly destructive set of ideas.
It wasn’t until I moved to America that I started reading a lot of Austrian economics books, attend economics conferences, seek out the tutelage of respected people thought I’d learnt about through my reading, and now the study of economics is a very important part of my life. I encourage everyone not to rely on what they learn in school, but to seek further and do their own research. Find subjects that excite them, and really delve into understanding them from as many points of view as possible. Be autodidacts and teach yourself these topics.
What is Money?
I first became interested in monetary policy after reading Murray N. Rothbard’s What Has Government Done to Our Money. Until that point, I didn’t know what the federal reserve was, how money worked, or what “value” even meant. I dove right into the subject, read many other books on the subject like George Selgin’s Good Money. I learnt about the history of money in society, early forms of money, the shift away from the gold standard which allows governments to inflate their money supply, the role of the FED. We have this incredibly powerful institution at the center of our lives, and most people don’t know anything out it. That should be a red flag. Having a grasp of what value and money are is tremendously important to our day to day lives, and understanding that value is subjective is crucial.
Duty to Share Information
If we want Bitcoin to be popularized, we have to learn to connect with people, and understand what’s important to them. It’s no good trying to force your own value system on someone, so that they might then realize why something like cryptocurrency is important. Instead recognize that people have their own value systems: understand how crypto might benefit something that they already find important. You’re going to have a much easier time connecting with people this way, and you bypass the tension that comes from clashing value systems. Find out where you already agree with others, and focus on that. Many people gravitate towards the blockchain industry because they are interested in math, cryptography, or technology, but there are many people who don’t naturally gravitate to those topics that we can still reach out to. Someone is interested in humanitarian work and helpful the unbanked people of the world? Cryptocurrency might interest them on those terms. Someone is an artist who wants to learn how to earn money sharing their creations? There are many platforms that allow people to earn money in cryptocurrency that they might find interesting. Want to save money on credit card fees for your business? Accepting cryptocurrency might be able to help.
Every individual brings their own perspective to this industry, and I think the more perspectives the better. The more we can learn about what others value and what might help them, the more chance we have at finding ways for this technology to benefit everyone. It’s our duty to put this powerful technology in the hands of as many people as possible.
Interviewer , Editor : Lina Kamada
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