Jake Yocom-Piatt, Co-Founder of Decred, on Blockchain Fixing Political Voting, Campaign Spending and Privacy

In an exclusive interview with cryptonews.com, Jake Yocom-Piatt, Co-Founder of Decred, talks about blockchain fixing political voting, campaign spending, and privacy.

About Jake Yocom-Piatt

Jake Yocom-Piatt is the Co-Founder & Project Lead for Decred (www.decred.org). He is a cryptocurrency pioneer who has been using, funding, and directing the creation of open-source software for 10+ years and has been featured as an expert source for a variety of publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Coindesk, and many more. Prior to Decred, Jake funded and oversaw the creation of btcsuite, an alternative full-node Bitcoin implementation written in go, whose source code has been used in several other notable projects, e.g. Lightning Network (lnd), Ethereum, and Factom. He also is a co-creator of ZKC, a high-security asynchronous chat system.

Jake Yocom-Piatt gave a wide-ranging exclusive interview which you can see below, and we are happy for you to use it for publication provided there is a credit to www.cryptonews.com.

Highlights Of The Interview

  • Political donations – the Decred blockchain was used to track political donations in the 2020 municipal Brazil elections.
  • Voting – how can blockchain be used to improve the voting process?
  • Privacy – current system requires you to register with a party to vote in certain contests – could blockchain enable better privacy?
  • Campaign spending – can blockchain be used to track campaign spending?
  • The evolution of Bitcoin – not evolving because of core developers.

 

 

 

Full Transcript Of The Interview

Matt Zahab 
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. Welcome, welcome. We’re buzzing as always, it’s your host Matt Zahab and we have another episode of the Cryptonews Podcast today. Today’s guest is Jake Yocom-Piatt, the co-founder and project lead for Decred. He’s a cryptocurrency pioneer who has been using, funding and directing the creation of Open Source Software for 10+ years, and has been featured as an expert source for a variety of top notch publications like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes Coin Desk, and many more. Prior to Decred, Jake funded and oversaw the creation of BTC Suite, an alternative full node Bitcoin implementation written in Go, whose source code has been used in several other notable projects like the Lightning Network, Ethereum, and Factum. He’s also the co-creator of ZKC, a high security asynchronous chat system. Without further ado, I’m very pleased to welcome Jake Yocom-Piatt to the Cryptonews Podcast. Jake, welcome to the show, my friend. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Thanks for having me, Matt, 

Matt Zahab 
Pumped to have you on. What a bio as well, you’ve written some pretty important code. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Well, I’m not really a, you know, I’m not a developer so I don’t really write the code, but I’m really more of the project manager. So I’ve been the project manager for quite a while, you know, I mean, we were almost at the 10 year mark, for the time I’ve been participating in the Cryptocurrency Space. So I think we started in like, right towards the end of 2012 so we’re coming up on the end of 2022 so I’m almost at my 10 year mark. 

Matt Zahab 
What’s the diff between writing the code and being the project manager, because if you’re gonna be the project manager for something like that, see, like, you got to know the code as well? 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Well, I think that, you know, when it comes to code, and it comes to managing developers, the process is one that you know, it takes a bit of a soft touch in the sense that, right, you know, you can be a developer yourself and manage people, but you can also know what the, you know, what software is supposed to do, make sure that it does it, and then have people who can independently create the software that does what you know, what you request that it does. So, I’m really, you know, my background prior to this was really, as a system administrator, so I’d set up, you know, I’d be able to set up mail servers, web servers, you know, secure communications, VPNs, all that kind of stuff so I can set up all the machines and run all of it, I still do some of that myself. And then what I can do is then when people who are developers do work, they’ll do the work. And then at a certain point, they’ll be like, okay, I’ve got a branch, it’s got this feature ready, you know, you want to test it out, and then sometimes I’ll test the branches before they get merged. Other times, you know, I’ll wait until gets merged to master and then I’ll check it. And, you know, that’s sort of how I roll. So I roll more from a management perspective, and somebody who is a technical user and administrator more so than a, you know, having a background of writing code myself. 

Matt Zahab 
Interesting. So you’re like, the eyes in the sky for the project, just making sure everyone’s ducks are in a row and putting out that final polished product.

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Yeah, and I try to keep it creative in terms of like, you know, Project Vision, and so on. So instead of being like, oh, you know, hey, I noticed there were some bugs in your code, it was more like, hey, do we have this important feature ready? How much longer is it until this, you know, until this feature, or, for example, this new product or this new project is done. So that’s really the way I approach things is I don’t approach things from such a hands-on like, hey, you know, I noticed that your conditionals are a little messy, you know, you need to clean up your code, and you need to have more test coverage. The developers I work with are pretty independent. And so they do that most of that themselves, and then hey, sometimes, you know, they’ll get involved with each other and be like, hey, I noticed you didn’t have enough test coverage in your code and so there’ll be some back and forth you know, on that level, but I’m more sort of like a you know, if we were like into a pirate ship and so I’m the guy who you know, will climb up there and you know, put the put the sight glass on we’re like, oh, guys, we gotta go west, guys. There’s something bad up ahead. We gotta go west. You know, so I try to be more like the captain of the ship than you know the person who’s micromanaging people who are you know, pulling ropes and pulling sales.

Matt Zahab 
Now, well said and speaking of code, how crazy is this Elon Twitter fiasco been? Especially I don’t know if you saw last week when I think he gasped that one employee fired like right on the spot fired him on Twitter, when you know, he said something Elon was like all the code at Twitter shit. And this one employee was like, no, it’s not I’m writing x wires that my apologies I’m not to up to par with all the code speak and then Elon is livid, he just like asked him on the spot. Is that not? What when the hell have you ever seen something like that before? 

Jake Yocom-Piatt
I think that you have to keep in context, how things operate in Silicon Valley is you know, I’m from Chicago, and then I’ve recently moved to Florida. And the whole team that I work with has been distributed all over the US. And in some cases, you know, what is it like Europe and Australia and so on. I’ve worked with people, you know, across the planet, and we’ve never really had an office so we’ve always been like remote only workers. Whereas when you talk about, say, Silicon Valley, and how Silicon Valley corporations, particularly the publicly traded ones are run is that they’re run very differently from, you know, from even most cryptocurrency outfits, in the sense that they have huge numbers of middle managers who go to meetings all day. And, you know, pat themselves on the back about the one developer that you know, implements their work. I mean, if I recall, correctly, Elon had commented, by headcount, there were 10 managers for every developer at Twitter. So it’s like, out of a staff of like, 8000 people, it’s like, what does that mean that there’s, like, you know, 7000 managers are, you know, like, 7000, in change managers and like, 800 developers, so when you’re in that scenario, when it comes to firing people, I mean, I would be lighting people up. So I think that what is it Musk’s approach is pretty interesting in that regard. And then the other thing is, I saw an interesting comment on Twitter about how it was a call and bale I think, was I forget the exact term that was used. But the idea was, there’s so much fat to trim there, that you may as well just try to find the 10% that do the 90% of the work, fire the other 90%. You’re gonna get it wrong sometimes. And then you’ll have to be forced to sort of you know, eat crow and rehire those, those handful of people. But by doing that, you can just iterate that process and go through and just trim all the fat out and then find the people who actually do all the work in the process. 

Matt Zahab 
It’s pretty crazy, too. I don’t know, if you saw a couple of those videos, there were a couple of TikToks in particular, of Twitter employees literally go into the office, getting a gourmet-catered brekkie you know, $8-barista coffee, going to their two meetings of the day, going to the mall, fucking around at, you know, at the lake or whatever going to see the Golden Gate Bridge. It was just it was absolute bonkers. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Yeah, it’s a bit of a clown show. Right? 

Matt Zahab 
How my question is, how does it like, I know these publicly traded companies, obviously, they have KPIs and whatnot. But how do you let it get that bad? That’s what I don’t understand. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt
I mean, my impression is that what we’ve seen, this is a weird sort of macroeconomic answer I’m going to give you is how does it get so bad with middle management at these, like, you know, Silicon Valley, or publicly traded corporations, is, it didn’t used to be like this, and it became like this over time, and I think it you know, my hypothesis here is that this is a function of easy credit, that as a function of basically, you know, Post.Com, the Federal Reserve dialed the interest rates down, and then basically, correspondingly, Central Banks all over the planet, you know, or at least in Five-Eye states, like Canada, dial down interest rates in step with the Federal Reserve, when that happened, that easy money created a mechanism for reinforcing really bad behavior. So historically, there’s always been middle managers, there’s always been a certain amount of middle management. But hey, maybe there were three or four layers between, say, developers and the executives or something, right. But that’s become like this just layer upon layer upon layer, as a function of the fact that the corporation, any corporation that’s, you know, makes decent money can get loans, and then they can get huge amounts of loans at an incredibly low interest rate. Because, you know, they’re so solvent, their business is good, then they can take those loans and buy back their own stock, and then the stock price goes up. And then when the stock price goes up, guess what the managers get, you know, they hit some sort of, you know, share price target or some deliverable target, and then oh, they get a payout, they get a bonus. And that process becomes like self-reinforcing to the point where it’s like, it used to be that there was about a, you know, there was a certain amount of bloat. And then as a function of this, you know, incentive system is just like the bloat just keeps increasing. And that’s where things have gotten. And now that the Federal Reserve is finally hiking, you know, its target rate. We’re seeing all of the fat getting trimmed all over the place, whether it’s Elon or people in other major tech corporations. 

Matt Zahab 
Yeah, the party’s over, it was bound to happen one way or another. Last sort of point on Twitter, and then we’ll get into Decred and some crypto fun stuff. I have a lot of I wouldn’t say a lot but I have some friends and people in my network who aren’t fans of Elon for reasons that a lot of people aren’t fans of him. I personally like him. I don’t see how you couldn’t like him. I think he’s net positive for society. That’s just my opinion. He’s, you know, flying people to space, perhaps you see differently. But I think he’s a good dude. I think he creates positive change and is a pretty good influence for most people. I don’t understand how people would bet against him, though. Like, this guy’s got an almost perfect track record. I know there’s been some bumps in the road. And I know there’s been a couple of shows here and there. But how would you bet against Elon? I don’t really get that. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
I think that, well, you know, oh, my view of Musk is that Musk is, you know, first and foremost a salesman. He’s incredibly talented at selling whatever it is he’s doing or whatever it is he’s making. 

Matt Zahab 
You can sell and build, which is one of the very rarest combos on the planet. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Well, exactly. Well, here’s the thing he doesn’t even need to build, he finds the people who build. And then he makes sure that the management structure isn’t complete garbage, which is effectively what he’s doing towards Twitter. And he’s going in, he’s like, this is a hot mess. We got to get rid of a whole bunch of people. And so he goes in, he trims the fat and then he’s, you know, salesman extraordinaire, so he sells, like, hey, I’m gonna change Twitter, all this stuff’s gonna change. I mean, I don’t know about you, I’ve been using Twitter, barely, anything seems to have changed. Actually, very little has changed. And I mean, that’s the irony, right? I mean, how many what percent of the employees have been fired and the thing is still ticking over just like it was. And I feel like, you know, when it comes to people betting against Elon is I feel like, Elon has been sort of toeing the line between the left and the right politically in the United States. And, you know, at least nominally go globally. And as a function of that, of course, he’s drawn some ire. But what you have to recognize about that as my perception of that is, it’s very intentional. He views this interface between left and right as like a you know, a hot button, you know, bound language, you can walk that line, people freak out, and then that magnifies his sales power. So that’s my read on what he’s doing that is that there’s going to be people especially on the left lately, who are like, you can’t do this, you should censor this, you should censor that and you should do what I say. And his goal is trolling them. So you know, him trolling them isn’t even so much about alienating them and making them enemies. It’s about creating controversy and magnifying his sales power. 

Matt Zahab 
He’s a master of influence. There will be books written about Elon’s way of manipulating and influencing the gen-pop like he might be the best in the world at a present day there. I don’t think there’s anyone better. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
It’s something I’ve always wondered, is it him? Or is it staff of his who were like, who’s his manager? Who’s his like shadow manager, like, yo, Elon, say something stupid about the share price, they’ll get you in trouble with the SEC. And then it’ll like create all this buzz, and then it’s like, oh, SEC, slapped me on the wrist made me pay $20 million. It’s like, it doesn’t matter to him. But it’s like somebody knew that, like, that’s the line to walk and like, walk on that line. And then, but it’s almost like someone is telling him, here’s the line, but don’t cross it, right, you know, they tend to walk right up to it and sort of play games. And then he walks back.

Matt Zahab 
I wonder how many of the elites and 0.000001% have a right-hand man or woman by their side? Who’s doing this stuff behind the scenes that we’ll never know of. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Yeah, I’m wondering about that myself. You know, like, I have people I work with, but you know, my personal behavior, my personal choices are pretty like, they’re very much me, but it’s like, I almost feel I get the distinct sense. Like, I’m not as what is it, I’m not as public figure as Elon, like, you know, where it’s like, there’s these lines where it’s like, he comes right up to the line, it doesn’t cross it. That begs the question is, who was coaching him? That’s my question. 

Matt Zahab 
Yeah, I want this person to write a book or start a startup 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Surprise, this person isn’t a billionaire, but hey, maybe I’m wrong. And maybe, you know, he knows exactly where the line is. 

Matt Zahab
Treating them. Well, I love that. I think he’s an interesting dude. And enough about him. Let’s jump into Decred. Now, you guys have done some incredible stuff. And I will let you get into that. But one thing that is very vague, but gives just such a long avenue to sort of think about is sort of your tagline, which is “Decred: Money Evolved”. What exactly does that mean? 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Well, the big idea behind the tagline is that Decred was set up as a cryptocurrency that can evolve. Were early on, I started working on Bitcoin and what I saw after a few years of working on you know, basically an alternative to the Bitcoin D, you know, Bitcoin Core Software was Bitcoin didn’t want to evolve, the people who were, you know, the bitcoin core developers wanted Bitcoin to say very much the way it was, and they wanted very much to stay, you know, as the sort of the central planning committee for, you know, for the project, and effectively they have, you know, via Block Stream and these other sort of affiliated entities that do core development for Bitcoin. So Bitcoin really sort of it was this amazing piece of technology drew me in you know, I spent a few million dollars working with developers to you know, to write the BTC Suite Software and it wasn’t evolving so I feel like “Money Evolved” is really a you know, is to take this idea that started with Bitcoin and really make it step forward and keep it moving. Because we can keep looking backwards and keep trying to find ways to be like oh, you know, oh, should have been like this, the block size should be exactly this and not should ever change. But I feel like that sort of static reasoning, that’s exactly how we got the FIAT banking system that we have, which is people going, hey, I don’t want anything to change, and you know, we’re never gonna give people actual custody over their own assets. And then, you know, along come Satoshi and Satoshi goes, well know that we can make crypto assets, and you can always have custody of them yourself, and it’s like that process needs to continue. And I feel like Decred is the continuation of that process. So that we’re evolving, and we are “Money Evolved”, we’ve already evolved, and we will continue evolving. 

Matt Zahab 
It’s a great line. Something I’ve thought about many times, too, is what could Bitcoin have potentially been if sort of the core dev team and everyone involved was less reluctant for change, and sort of would have been more open minded? It could that obviously, in a different world that could have happened, but like, you think they ever look back on that and are like, damn, maybe we should have let it ride a little bit more. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt
I think people’s egos and things like NGU like, Number Go Up, right, those are very dominating forces. Many people care about Number Go Up to the point or you know, NGU, I’ll just use the acronym from here and out, care about NGU over everything else. And that isn’t really why I got involved in the space. I mean, hey, it’s great that the number goes up. I like that. I mean, I think everybody who holds some asset and the number of that asset goes up are like, yeah, this is doing it, I’m really, you know, I’m making money or, you know, this is a good investment. And, but for me, it was, you know, these broader ideas like sovereignty and, you know, self-custody, like, for example, you know, when you go to a bank, you might have a million dollars in the bank. But what’s a million dollars in a bank, is just a, it’s a database entry, somebody can add a button and delete it, somebody can a button and freeze it, somebody can send you a letter and be like, oh, no, you gotta go to another bank. And then you can go to another bank, and they can do the same thing. 

Matt Zahab 
It’s just a bunch of numbers and commas. That’s it. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Yeah. And I mean, that, to me is you know, there’s a lot more to Bitcoin, and just, you know, digital sovereignty than what the Bitcoin Core Group wanted. And it was interesting to see sort of like these interplays, you know, I’ve worked with a bunch of open-source software projects in the past. And, you know, hey, I’ve been, you know, I’ve been effectively I had my group kind of kicked it, you know, several of the devs I worked with kind of kicked out open BSD because several of them were open BSD developers, over some, you know, ego nonsense, I believe FIO suspected that we were going to fork the OS, we weren’t any preemptively like kick people out. And it’s like, what it comes down to is that a lot of open-source projects are about ego and not about, you know, progress, or changing things or anything, it’s just pure, like, ego. And the reason is right, you know, most open-source, there’s no money involved, there’s, you know, there’s basically the pride of doing it. And so the pride really kind of takes over everything else so I feel like that’s, you know, that’s a big driver would end up happening, which is that the people were in charge a Bitcoin didn’t want to be diluted by new people showing up and adding cool new stuff to Bitcoin and sort of changing things up. So like, we want to keep things the way it is, because we’re in charge, and we don’t want you to gain any kind of sovereignty. So that drove people like me and a whole bunch of other people out of, you know, the Bitcoin space, because it’s like, well, we can’t innovate here, when you know, when things are the way they are. 

Matt Zahab 
So classic. And again, unless you’re sort of in the trenches, that’s something I’ve rarely thought of the incentives. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
You don’t see it, like you gotta get close enough to the beehive to see the inside of the beehive. And then you’re like, Oh my God, this is, or maybe the better metaphor is, this is how the sausage is made out of like it. 

Matt Zahab 
Yeah. Wow, a lot of red tape, I guess. Yeah. I never really thought of that. The red tape and the gatekeeping on the coat. That’s crazy.

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
I mean, in our case, I can I mean, one story I can tell particularly because it’s several years after the fact is people were being told privately to not run BTC Suite miners who were interested in running it were being told not to run it. Other people who are interested in running it, you know, who were in larger organizations were told not to run it. So basically, you know, there was sort of a, what is it a whisper campaign run against BTC Suite to prevent its uptake by the Bitcoin Core Group and their sort of their affiliates. So just the fact that we, as soon as I heard about that, I’m like, this is ridiculous. I am so done with this, like, you know, the way I see it as Hey, having multiple implementations of, you know, of the Bitcoin consensus system, that’s a good thing, and they really didn’t see it like that. So I was like, I’ll just tell you, I’m gonna take my tools and go somewhere else

Matt Zahab 
Too crazy story. Yeah, I’m shocked. That’s I’ve honestly never thought about that before. This is a narrative that isn’t really discussed a whole lot about the sort of evolution and lack of just new features with Bitcoin. Why isn’t this mainstream?

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Well, I think that, what it is that you have to remember, that means maintaining control over, you know, a group typically involves controlling the narratives that group subscribes to. And, you know, who better to do that than the people who were the central planning committee for that, you know, for that software project in this case, so, the way I see it is that most people don’t put it, I mean, think about it. Okay, how many other, what is it full, you know, Full Node implementations of Bitcoin are there, I believe it might just be BTC Suite, even though there are these other ones. But what the other ones do, if I recall correctly, is they import the consensus rules from Bitcoin Core, and BTC Suite is the only one that doesn’t, I think, I can’t remember if that’s correct or not. But that’s really what it’s become. And then the only people who get to see what I’ve seen are the same people who maybe did their own Full Node implementation. And in any way, didn’t, you know, what is it like hook line and sinker go along with the Core Devs. So that was just you know, it was basically, I was like, hey, you know, this is cool, let’s do this. And then they’re like, oh, yeah, we don’t like you. Because I showed up with money and they didn’t have any at the time and then they showed up with a whole lot more money when with Block Stream and I was like, you guys have gone fully VC to like, you know, to go the path you’re going I’m not going there, girlfriend. 

Matt Zahab 
I’m out. What a story. Folks we’re gonna take a quick break. And when we get back, we’re going to talk about Decred and how they’re moving and grooving in the political scene with voting, privacy, campaign spending and a whole lot more. But before that, I’ve got to give a huge shout out to the sponsor of the show and that is PrimeXBT. You guys know I love PrimeXBT been using them for a hot minute now is they offer a robust trading system for both beginners and professional traders. Doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or a vet you can easily design and customize your layouts and widgets to best fit your trading style. PrimeXBT is also running an exclusive promo for listeners of the Cryptonews Podcast, you get 50% of your deposit credited to your trading account. Again, the promo code is CRYPTONEWS50, that’s CRYPTONEWS50, all one word, to receive 50% of your deposit credited to your trading account. And now back to the show with Jake. Let’s jump into the Decred show now. You guys did something insane in a country with a lot of turmoil at the moment and that is your influence on the political donations in the 2020 Municipal Brazil Elections. Usually there is just an absolutely absurd amount of corruption. And the Decred Blockchain was used to track this. Give me the whole down-low. I’m so curious about this, I want to know everything there is about this. How did you guys help in this case? 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
First off, what we’ve had since launch is we’ve had an unusually large amount of support and participation from our Brazilian community, we have several developers who are Brazilian citizens and residents. And we, you know, we have a community in Brazil, which is, in some ways more substantive than that in the US. And so in relative terms, we’ve had a whole bunch of interest in action from Brazil over the whole lifespan of the project. And that’s really great. I historically have gotten on well, with Brazilians. I used to play capoeira way back when I was a kid, and my wife is Brazilian. So what it comes down to is I was just like out of nowhere, we didn’t put in any real effort to be like we’re really courting the Brazilian community just showed up. And so we have a big, Brazilian following. And then what we noticed was, we had made a tool back in 2018, called DCR Timestamp. And what it does is that it allows you to upload hashes or documents, and then those hashes of those documents or the hashes themselves get anchored in the Decred Blockchain once an hour. So you might upload a hash, maybe take an hour or two for it to anchor. And then you have proof that for example, a particular document or statement or whatever, was made at a, you know, on or before a certain time, the in that anchor. And that’s a really useful sort of generic tool, like let’s say, you’re an inventor, you could instead of taking your inventions and getting them notarized by a notary public and being like, look at this signature, you can digitally sign your documents, upload the hash of those documents, and then use that as a way to prove when you, you know, came up with some invention or some innovation. So that generic process had attracted some attention in Brazil. And then there’s a company that does notary and document notarization in Brazil, using our system where they sign it. Then the signed document stamp is anchored in the Decred blockchain and then that is used in lieu of like someone signing a document and stamping it and doing the usual like physical notarization process, that has been going on since I think 2018 or maybe 2017. And then that sort of morphed into what we’ve seen in 2020 with the municipal, what is it, the Municipal Elections in Brazil, so that’s the mayoral races, and, you know, and associated races. So apparently there’s a lot of hot money in Brazil, particularly when it comes to elections. And so what people were doing is, is that candidates were openly publicly declaring donations as they received them, and anchoring that data in the Decred Blockchain, so that it would enhance the transparency of the political donation process for those elections. So that started in 2020. And it just kind of came out of nowhere. And, as best I can tell, it was an extension of this notarization process that, you know, that’s been going on. 

Matt Zahab 
So this new sort of product line, and mine is not really a product line. It’s just a use case, rather, but this new use case in the political realm wasn’t even it sounds like it wasn’t intentional on your guys’ end. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
It was entirely emergent. That is that someone created a product in Brazil, that product got some traction, it caught. My understanding is that it caused enough trouble in Brazil, that there’s a like an association of notaries, they got upset about this, because basically, it’s a huge disruption to people were physical notaries. And as a result of that, you know, that got traction, there was some drama about you know, are you allowed? Is it a valid way to notarize online like this in Brazil? And then that turned into sort of additional transparency for, you know, for political donations in 2020. And then there’s been further developments since and more recently in the presidential election. 

Matt Zahab 
Jake come on, you can’t just you can’t just dangle the carrot in front of me like that and not keep? 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Well, I mean, so the way it’s gone, you know, from there, as it went from, say, publicly proclaiming donations in 2020 to in the 2022 race. What was it the Lula Haddad ticket, you know, for the presidency there, they had, apparently, they had had enough issues, with people claiming that their policies were going to be X when they were really Y, there was enough sort of drama around that they also decided to anchor these documents, you know, their policy documents for, you know, for the platform they were running on in the Decred Blockchain as well. And they did this so that people can’t simply claim, hey, here’s your policies, and then mail out, you know, documents that are, you know, that are bogus. So basically, it’s enhanced transparency for the policies, you know, the I guess it would be the Lula Haddad administration, I guess. And so that was part of the, you know their presidential campaign. And I guess, you know, and I mean, I saw how the results turned out, it was pretty contentious in the, what was it a Bolsonaro, won in every, you know, by like a percent or two in every province, except, Oh, um, I can’t remember off the top of my head, the one province, it’s in the northeast, was it, North Este I think so. Literally, the Northeast province, and it was like a blowout for Lula. And that was enough for them to, you know, take the election. So, you know, hey, we, contributed a tiny bit to, you know, to that campaign, via this technology. 

Matt Zahab 
Did Decred get any publicity news on the ground in Brazil, while this was going on, like many news outlets being like, hey, there’s, you know, there’s Blockchain Tech and Cryptocurrency that is actually being used for the greater good, or was it just sort of under the radar? 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
I think there was some, but to be honest, we’re, you know, we in the Brazilian community, sometimes we’re super in-sync, sometimes it’s just we’re completely independent. I mean, I think there were several members of our community who got some traction with this, because it was enough for there to be like a Coin Telegraph article written in, you know, in Brazil, and then that sort of traveled around and then, you know, from there, it got back to the States. And then, of course, Coin Telegraph in the US won’t run that article. But that’s a whole another story. 

Matt Zahab 
Well you just gave me the perfect segue. Well, how can Blockchain be used to improve the process of we’ll stick with the great US of A but just really American politics is there’s so many things going on that are very sketchy and the American political system and the American political realm and it seems like Blockchain can definitely provide a multitude of use cases to help fix a lot of these problems. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
For sure. I mean, if you look at what Decred really is, you know, we were talking about how Decred: Money Evolved. And the way we evolve is through voting. So basically, the beating heart of Decred is our proof of stake system, which involves voting so they’re basically it’s like, you buy tickets, the tickets lock some coins for a while, and then the tickets go into a lottery. It’s a sortation really, and then you could you pull out five tickets, every block and those tickets, but both, they can vote for a number of different things right, you can vote on the validity of the previous block, you can vote on, you know, any consensus changes that we have active at the time. And so the way we make our whole system work is through this, you know, secure Blockchain Voting System that involves locking coins, voting, getting a reward for voting, and then you can the coins a lock, and you can do it all over again. And so what seems to me to be a major problem with the United States, I mean, it’s like a clown show level problem is this process of voting. I mean, you know, I voted in the in the midterm elections, and then the process is, right, you’re given a you go somewhere, you show them like, you know that you’re a registered voter, you get a piece of paper, that’s like a paper ballot you write, you fill in some circles, and you slide it into a machine, it’s a total joke. I mean, like, and to be honest, it’s really not so different from everywhere else, I mean, the part that’s really different than US is like, how clownishly long it takes to count all the votes, it’s like, everywhere else, they’re able to count the votes in like a day or two. And in the US, they’re like, Oh, this is gonna take a week, or who’s gonna take three weeks, or who knows how long Oh, it’s, we got to recount them all. And it’s like, the whole process is a joke from start to finish. I mean, right? What’s to stop somebody who was, you know, a corrupt person inside of one of these, you know, like voting organizations, from going, I’m just gonna photocopy 10 million copies of, you know, of these ballots, spread them out to my friends, and then we’ll feed them through the machines when nobody’s looking. I mean, that’s really what you know what the whole thing comes down to. And cryptography, just like we see with Decred can basically solve this whole problem, further time stamping can make it I mean, prohibitively difficult to cheat in a way, you know that, even if you could get a hold of ballots, which if you issued them and use cryptography, you could do it in a way that would be very difficult to make fake ballots is even if you did get fake ballots, then you try to dump them all in at the end. And it’s like, well, these timestamps look all screwed up what you know, you can’t fake you can’t go backwards in time with the Blockchain and be like, Oh, these tickets are actually from a day ago or something. Right. So when it comes to voting, I think that voting more generally, is something that is a huge problem in the United States, and not I mean, everywhere on the planet. So when it comes to voting, I think that the technology that we’ve developed inside Decred, both in terms of the voting system, and in terms of the privacy system we use, which is actually already integrated with voting, you know, the voting and staking process for Decred could be basically transposed onto a nation state system with not a huge amount of work to the point where you can do things like you have an app. And the app basically confirms that, you know, your face matches your ID, you get a ballot, the ballot becomes private, you can vote the ballot, the ballot goes on to what’s effectively sort of like a it’s not quite a

Blockchain, but it’ll basically be like a record that runs parallel to the Blockchain. And then everyone can see all those votes, every single person can see that their vote was tallied towards the candidate that they support that they voted for. And, you know, this isn’t rocket surgery that these systems could have been put in place 30 years ago, but on the fact that they haven’t been is a bit of a joke. 

Matt Zahab 
On the tech side of things, not like let’s not get into the nitty gritty Blockchain stuff just on the sort of consumer facing front end tech side. You need obviously, 2FA are for voting, probably even 3 or 4 FA, I don’t even know what that would look like. But your username, your password, the 100% you need face ID, you need pictures of your, I don’t know, passport, driver’s license, upload all that it gets you on to the next thing, it’s really just a classic KYC like anytime you know, sign up for a new bank account or do anything in regards to find a driver’s license. It’s like, all the tech we have is there. Yes, people like my grandma would not use this. But there’s no way you could not tell people like my grandma to do this, that she would have to go in person and you would leave those open. But you could I would assume 80% of the population would prefer this new age tech, that would probably take 1/10 of the time to vote I and if it’s on the Blockchain, in theory, hopefully couldn’t be manipulated. Right. And that’s why I feel like Blockchain is the only way that this could work. Because if it was some centralized entity, they could do whatever the hell they wanted to, and they could rig it in whichever way possible. It’s crazy, but hopefully, I don’t know. 2028. Maybe you think it’ll happen? 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
We’ll see. I mean, that’s the part that really makes me disappointed about nation state voting systems is that when it comes to voting, you know, there’s a lot of incentive that is, let’s say I’m the party that currently is cheating the most. I have a huge incentive to prevent any kind of changes to the system, right? Well, I want everything to stay exactly how it is so I can keep cheating and keep winning. And you know, that changes over time. You know, like there has been historically in some cases, there’s a history of Democrats cheating. And there’s a history of Republicans cheating, too. So there’s this, it’s a back and forth here in the US. And the incentives are super weird. So that I wouldn’t be surprised. Let’s say I could make this perfect system, snap my fingers, boom, my habit, I think I would really struggle to get it deployed in a lot of places because of these weird incentives like, let me give an example. Let’s say you make an app where you can do all this do all this shit from home, you don’t have to go anywhere, you can basically go, okay, I have I have a driver’s license in the state, oh, I use the phone to do a liveness check, it makes sure my face or my facial recognition is close enough to the driver’s license, he gives me a ballot, I wait a little bit, I cast my ballot, it broadcasts publicly, it all ends up tallied, I can confirm that my ballot was counted, there are still going to be people who don’t want this because, you know, it’ll do things like oh, the voting might start to skew younger than older. And you can’t trick a 25 year old the same way you can trick a 75 year old and then like, you know, the political parties and like everything starts to shift so there’s really weird incentives about this. 

Matt Zahab 
And then there’s, I feel like the whole jobs play would come into like, Oh, you’re taking you know, 10s of 1000s of jobs, everyone who is at these voting stations. And, you know, just the craziness. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
I mean, the fact that voting systems are custodial, like in the sense that it’s just like a bank account, right? You put a million dollars in your bank account, somebody hits a button, it can all disappear. It’s like you’re giving these assets to this third party. Like it’s mind blowing that people trust this stuff, you know, and even years ago, there was some Australian guy engaged with on Twitter, where they were like, Oh, our secret ballot system is the best. And I’m like, Well, why don’t you just add cryptography to it? Because, you know, hey, a secret ballot. It’s just a piece of paper and an envelope. I mean, maybe that was great technology for 1800 or whatever. But it’s like, it’s no longer 200 years ago or something, we need to you know, kind of upgrade this and get the ball rolling. And the guy just, like, unloaded on me and was like, you know, fuck you, you’re a scare a scammer, Blockchains are garbage. And it’s like, are you not listening to anything I’m saying? We’re talking about voting. And like, you know, there’s a lot of people really just don’t want to hear it. 

Matt Zahab 
Have you heard of ArriveCan? The Canadian app that our government made use? 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
No, I’m not aware of that.

Matt Zahab 
So it was an app that you know, was budgeted for, I think like two or three mil ended up costing 40 mil absolute piece of shit. Anyone who was traveling, like I had you know American friends who would come to see me, they just got rid of it. But if I had American friends who were coming to see me, they would have to use this app, right? Where you like you upload all your details, it’s a big checklist, have you been exposed to anyone was COVID, blah, blah, blah. It’s just a COVID travel app. And seeing the rollout of that sort of just gives me so little faith in government’s being able to roll out a nationwide scale, you know, political voting app, like the one that you and I are talking about, even if we had people like you and people smarter than you and more perhaps, ready to take this on, I still couldn’t see this being rolled out. Because of the fact that it would have to be done with the gov. It couldn’t just be like, oh, let’s let you know Peter Thiel and Moscow or some of the PayPal Mafia build out this app, that would probably be pretty seamless. I just can’t see them getting it right. And that’s sort of a shitty to have such a nice solution in hand, but no light at the end of the tunnel. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Well, I feel like that’s sort of inevitably the case when it comes to technology, right? Look at Bitcoin. People thought Bitcoin was a tinker toy, and useless for several years before people were like, holy shit, this is such a huge innovation, I want a whole bunch of these Bitcoins and then started, you know, accumulating them. So that process, you know, it takes a while for things to catch on. And the way it always has to work is that it’s going to start somewhere, and then the incentive start to align for everybody else to be like, Oh, we gotta jump on this bandwagon. And the bandwagon effect can be powerful. I mean, and just like you’ve said, when it comes to software, though, I mean, software development from the government, it’s like, there’s, yeah, I will say this, there are some very talented people who work for the government, but they are, they are a tiny minority. So that, you know, you’re either part of the 10% that does 9% of the work or vice versa. So, you know, it’s just like Twitter in that regard. 

Matt Zahab 
It’s bananas. How about the last couple of weeks in crypto, what a shitshow. It’s been tough on all of us. In I even I think of myself to the sentiment, like having friends and family text me and call me and be like, hey, dude, hope everything’s all right. Hope you didn’t have any money on FTX. And then I didn’t. But again, it’s just like, it’s tough. And not even that honestly, that was heartwarming. That was it was nice, that it’s a good reminder that you know, people care about you and it’s just, I like to think I would have done the same thing. But again, just having people reach out knowing that something bad could have happened always feels good. But on the flip side, just the FUD and the nonsense and the general sort of sentiment in the space. Do you not think it’s been a tough couple of weeks just to like continue building and continue grinding? Like, it’s been like, again, you’ve been in the space longer than I have. I’m still not a rookie, but you know, definitely haven’t got my reps and like you, but I just feel like it was such a shitty light shined on us. It’s tough sometimes. Well, 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Well, to me, this is just another day, to be honest. I mean, for years, I mean, basically ever since FTX, showed up and gained any level of prominence basically, my perception of it has been it was a turn shop, it was basically a volume turn shop scam. And whether it was Alameda running the you know, the turn shop, or, you know, someone else they farmed it out to, that’s how, you know, a lot of exchanges work. So there’s basically their, you know, you look at these volume stats that are attached to most exchanges. And I would estimate, maybe 10%, more like 1% of the volumes that you see across everything are actual real volumes. And the rest of it is basically people with bots, and hell bots, probably filling against their own order book, I mean, where they’ll allow it. And then you know, in cases where they won’t they have two entities, one where it fills against the other and they’re like, Oh, hey, John, Hey, Jake, you know, hey, like, oh, let’s go back and forth and make up a whole bunch of fake volume. So this volume, churn shit is just totally run of the mill, totally standard operating procedure. And, frankly, I always thought FTX was a scam. I think a lot of things in the crypto space are a scam. And that doesn’t necessarily endear me to a lot of people, because there’s a lot of wealthy people who may not be the smartest money in the room who have put a lot of money behind these ideas, or these people who are, you know, basically turning the crank and churning and doing all these usual sort of like crypto scams. To me, it’s just another day, my only hope is that we don’t end up with totally bananas crypto regulation over this because when you shake all this out, this is just a run of the mill corporate scam. That is some guys set up companies in Hong Kong and Bahamas, like a bazillion shell corporations. 

Matt Zahab 
Happens in every industry happens all the time. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
And normally, it just doesn’t get as big. That’s the only difference is that it got really big because huge amount of hot money in crypto. And then not to mention, there’s also you know, there’s dark elements of crypto, who are trying to launder money. And so people shuffling and churning huge amounts of money in offshore, you know, corporations, you know, and doing that already. That’s a magnet for that kind of, you know, dark money. So, it doesn’t surprise me that this has happened. And it’s just you know, it’s bound to happen. But the idea that we’re going to regulate crypto and it’s going to change anything. This is 100% nation space meet space company nonsense, this guy ran a fraud he defrauded a bunch of dumb people. He re hypothecated his collateral over and over again, and overvalued it mark to fantasy and it’s like it shit blew up in his face. And it’s like about time, I had been waiting for a while and I’m like this FTX stuff seems like a scam. You got like major celebrities endorsing it? I mean, what a joke. I mean, you can’t even compare it to the rest of the space. 

Matt Zahab 
But again, think about if you were a 2021, crypto rookie, and you see Tom Brady, and you see, you know, Steph Curry and ever all these other, you know, multinational famous people promoting something like I feel like that would at least give you a vote of confidence. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Now that’s the unfortunate nature of you know, confidence games, which is that you know, there’s always gonna be the con man and in some cases the con man isn’t even waiting. I mean those guys none of the people who you’ve named and none of these celebrities who you know we’re you know, associated with SBF or you know, FTX or Alameda or whatever, none of these people have the have the depth of you know, depth of business skills required to spot a scam like this they’re there because they’re being paid they’re not there to you know, to scam you but you know, you better believe SBF knew that you know when you stand up somebody like that that’s a really powerful sock puppet to a lot of people be like our support this company and it’s like that to me is like a double sign of a scam. Also, like I don’t know, like paying huge amounts of money for pointless converting like a Superbowl commercial. Listen, if you’re advertising people for Superbowl commercials with cryptocurrency at this point, oops, like it’s a scam. I mean, that’s just that’s where I’m at. 

Matt Zahab
Now, there’s some sketchy shit going on. What do you think the market and the overall sentiment? What do you think’s gonna happen over the next couple of months and mind you will timestamp this we’re recording mid to late November and this episode will air and late November. So with that in mind, what do you think’s going to happen sort of end of the year in the next six weeks kind of call it and an early Q1 Q2 of 2023. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
I think that the silence out of Barry Silbert, you know from DCG is deafening, he has gone silent since, like, what is it November 7, that strikes me as something a lawyer u told him to do that is, don’t talk publicly. Because you’re gonna put your foot in your mouth, like a certain person, SPF. And you’re going to dig yourself a big hole, so my read is that DCG and Genesis and that hole, you know, Tower of Babel may be shaking, I’m gonna, it’s gonna be very interesting to see what happens. I mean, consider how large a position the DCG and Genesis have in a hole, you know, several major cryptocurrencies, this could really shake things up. That is, if they got blown out, which I suspect they have based on sort of the silence from Barry, they’ve gotten blown out, they’re going to have to liquidate positions, Genesis is a major market maker. So Genesis isn’t making markets, and then they actually have to liquidate a position that say, I don’t know, you know, one of the largest positions in many in several different chains, it’s going to be a real, you know, I’m expecting fireworks, frankly, I’m surprised that I haven’t seen you know, that we haven’t seen it yet, maybe there’s some sort of effort to avoid the fire sale, that likely is needed to you know, sort of like, you know, to backfill losses from FTX related investments that have exploded in people’s face. So that’s my read on where things are going. And, you know, hey, maybe I’m wrong, and DCG is going to be able to pull it out. But my read is that they’re in very serious trouble. And that could read that could turn into big problems for the space just because there’s such an outsized influence over the space, like you know, quite that, you know, they own Coin Desk, they, you know, they do consensus, like, there’s all this infrastructure depends on. 

Matt Zahab 
You’re scaring me man. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
I’m not saying that to scare people away. I’m being real. 

Matt Zahab 
No, I know. I know. But your realism is scaring me normally, it’s refreshing this time, it’s, well, you know, scaring the shit of me.

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Something to think about is I was here when Bitcoin went from, like, 1200 in like, you know, January 2014, to 200 like a few months later, so yeah, you know, believe me, if you have any bitcoin, where you’re like, Oh, I got a few of these. And they’re worth like, $1,000. And then it’s like, Oh, my God, they’re all worth 20% off. And it stayed that way for years. Oh, this is in the grand scheme of things. This is nothing, but I can understand how this would be, you know, disconcerting to people who haven’t been in the industry as long.

Matt Zahab 
The one thing that scares me the most is Tether. And I’ve had Paulo on the podcast twice. I love Paulo. I think he’s a great guy. I trust them. I hope this is all good. Again, this is not a financial advice podcast. Neither was our financial advisors well perhaps you are but I’m definitely not. And Tether’s the thing that is Tether depegs. I yeah, I don’t want to talk about it. But I think DCG goes down, we’ll be fine. Tethered depegs I think that will be the most catastrophic blow to the community, I don’t think anything worse can happen. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Well, one thing that I think is good about the Tether situation is this. I hate Tether. I hate these Stable Coins. Because Stable Coins is basically like this idea that we want to make something that can’t fucking possibly be stable in a normal world and stabilize it. The only reason that you have like a stable value for FIAT currency is because there’s there is a lender of last resort, like the Federal Reserve who can manipulate markets at scale, and thereby stabilizing them. So basically, the only reason FIAT currency is stable in value is because there’s a massive scam that like, you know, envelops and runs the whole planet, such that you can use that scam to stabilize the value. There isn’t a corresponding backing scam with crypto. And so you have to concoct a scam to create that stability. And I mean, I think Tether is shaky, but here’s the good part. The good part is tether, if Binance said, I don’t want to use Tether, I want to use BUSD. Today Tether would implode. Now the reason I say that’s a good thing is because I don’t think CZ will do that. I think CZ will not do that because that would negatively affect all of these other things that he holds. So we’re currently there’s a you know, a quasi stable equilibrium and aligned incentives to at least hopefully prevent that from happening. 

Matt Zahab 
If you were me and had some Tether on the sidelines, what would you do with it? And I don’t want to cash out to CAD because then yeah, just you know, half of its gone. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt
I would say this and the same thing goes for Tether or for anybody who has FIAT, the thing that I’ve always advocated for is if you believe in cryptocurrency and you think it’s the way forward technologically, take whatever assets you have, and slowly and steadily buy small amounts of the cryptocurrency you like and withdraw it from an exchange and store it yourself on a hardware wallet. And, you know, that’s a time-tested way to approach this because you don’t want to dump all of your assets into cryptocurrency at once it’s psychologically crushing, right? Like let me give an example, let’s say you bought all of your Bitcoin when it was $1,000 and then it went to $200 that is you are going to be losing sleep, you’re going to your family you know your significant others like you’re crazy, I’m getting a divorce and you know, all that kind of stuff. You don’t want to be there but take your FIAT assets, whether it’s Tether or actual FIAT, and slowly buy the cryptocurrencies that you think are good bets. I mean, I think you know, Bitcoin is an easy one, Hey, I like Decred. But I understand that’s not everybody’s bag, Ethereum is not bad, you know, go in and buy small amounts of stuff that you think are good buys. And then what will happen is, is that as the market comes down, you dollar cost average into it. Now, maybe that doesn’t happen if Tether explodes in your face, but I think you got some time with tether. 

Matt Zahab 
So you wouldn’t be worried if you had, you know, not a decent bag, but let’s just say a small bag of Tether. You wouldn’t be worried? 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
I wouldn’t be particularly worried but I would start you know, basically fading out of that position. And just in case.

Matt Zahab 
Where do you go though, because again, if Tether implodes Bitcoin and ETH are also imploding. Like what’s the scapegoat? 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Well, yeah,but I mean, what you’re gonna escape to FIAT? I mean, that’s no escape. I mean, look at what’s going on with the inflation. I don’t know how exactly; it’s running can but we’re running probably 15 20% here in the US and then they lie about it and cut it in half for CPI. 

Matt Zahab 
Same with us, its that’s just as bad if not worse, but I mean, maybe not worse, but very similar. But I mean, if I don’t want to cash out and grab some Canadian shit coins, known as CAD what would you play be? Thrown into Bitcoin, thrown into ETH, bit of both? 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Go get some bits of Bitcoin, get some ETH, get some Decred if you can, and then you know just spread it out and what I would recommend again for psychological reasons because not a lot of people have the you know, the psychological you know, still to not panic if a price drops slowly and steadily fade into a, you know, positions in coins that you think are going to, you know, stand the test of time. I mean, one thing that I can’t help but point out about Ethereum is like, you think it’s just a coincidence that people can unstake. I mean, technologically, I know that un-staking is probably the easiest part of a staking system to add code wise, why aren’t they letting people unstake? Because it would negatively affect the price, and there’s a worldwide liquidity crunch? It’s almost like somebody saw that coming. 

Matt Zahab 
Yeah. Photonics are bunch of these too. 

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
It could make Ethereum a better bet than usual.

Matt Zahab 
Jake, what a treat man, this has been a lot of fun. Can’t wait to have you on for round two. Until next time, wishing you the team all the best and before you go can you please let our listeners know where they can find you and Decred online and on socials.

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Of course. I can be found that I’m behind text on Twitter the project is @decredproject no spaces, you can find us on chat at chat.decred.org, and never forget the revolution is will not be centralized. And I mean that no corporation failing is going to end this and you know so even if it blows you know something major blows up tomorrow it’s not the end it’s just another step. 

Matt Zahab 
Jake, appreciate you bringing the noise man had a lot of fun this episode and can’t wait a round two.   

Jake Yocom-Piatt 
Thanks for having me, Matt. 

Matt Zahab 
Folks, what a great episode with Jake from Decred, brought the noise, tons of knowledge bombs, and a really unique insight into how Blockchain and crypto can help with our political systems. If you enjoyed this one and I really hope you did, please do subscribe, it would mean the world to my team and I, speaking on the team, love you guys, Justas, you are the GOAT of all sound editors. You’re the man appreciate, and to the listeners love you guys. Keep on grilling those bags and keep on staying healthy, wealthy and happy bye for now and we’ll talk soon.

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