This post is part of CoinDesk’s 2019 Year in Review, a collection of 100 op-eds, interviews and takes on the state of blockchain and the world. Amir Taaki created libbitcoin, the first alternative bitcoin implementation, and has worked on the wallets Electrum and Darkwallet as well as privacy markets and decentralized technologies. He founded the Autonomous Polytechnics.
Amir Taaki thinks crypto has lost its way. But this isn’t exactly new.
One of the first programmers to work on the bitcoin source code, Taaki split from the group of core developers to build the first independent implementation of bitcoin. Libbitcoin was intended as a springboard for a new community of cryptographers organized around a set of ideals.
He moved to Calafou, an autonomous post-capitalist colony in Catalonia, Spain, and started a hacklab. It’s here that Taaki incubated a number of projects, including Bitcoin Magazine, and upstart coders, like ethereum’s creator Vitalik Buterin.
Taaki has been saying for years that technology can only succeed if guided by ideology. This was the principle behind Darkwallet, an attempt to anonymize bitcoin. Likewise, political revolutions need a technical arm. In 2015, Taaki travelled to Syria as a freedom-fighter with the Rojavan militia, where he spent time on the battlefield and working on civilian projects.
The crypto scene Taaki returned to a year later was flooded with cash. Though the real affront was 2017’s bull-run, which saw billions of dollars come into the industry. Watching this misallocation of capital has informed Taaki’s thinking today.
“People say we’re going to change the world, get a million dollars, and have fun while we’re doing it,” Taaki said. “No. Making money, changing the world, and having fun are separate things. You must make a decision about your priorities.”
Alternatively defined as an anarchist or democratic confederalist, Taaki has put politics at the center of his life. In a sense, this word is…