Twitter Spaces Transcript: Bitcoin, Climate Change, and Academia with Margot Paez
Researcher Margot Paez joins Will Szamosszegi and Kent Halliburton to discuss her experience with Occupy Wall Street, how academia perceives Bitcoin, and the role of Bitcoin in building local communities.
Link to Audio:
Logan Chipkin (00:00:11):
Hey, Kent. Oh, here we go. I was aboutto say, I'll just wait for your, uh, there we go.
Hope everyone's doing well. Goodevening, Andrew. And hello. M Doza. I say evening, but I don't know if you'rein California. I guess it's still late afternoon. <laugh>. Hey, actually,Andrew, I need to look into your research at some point. Uh, I'm, I'm kind of aphilosophy dork myself, so that'll be very fun. Um, yeah, I, uh, I was readingsomething today talking about how there's such a posity of, uh, and we're gonnatalk about this with Margo, how there's not a lot of kind of academic researchbeing done on Bitcoin and all the consequences Bitcoin will have. Um, so that'ssomething I think about a lot. So yeah, Andrew, maybe, maybe you and I willhave a, have a quick chat sometime, uh, when there's not so much chaos going on<laugh>. Yeah, actually you'd be a good guest for the spaces, but anyway,I digress. Good evening, uh, Kent and Will for you guys. I know it's theevening. I know for Kent, it's, uh, the wee hours.
Will Szamosszegi (00:01:38):
Oh yeah. Yeah. Kent, what time is itthere for you?
Kent Halliburton (00:01:43):
Ah, just turned midnight here. Yeah.But, uh, I've gotten used to being the night owl here, working East Coast timewhile being in Portugal.
Will Szamosszegi (00:01:53):
Yeah, you were explaining yourschedule to me the other day and, uh, it is very unique. I don't know any otherpeople right now that are on the same schedule as you <laugh>.
Kent Halliburton (00:02:04):
Yeah, well it's nice. I've got mymornings with the family, but, uh, yeah, it, uh, winds up the end late nights.
Logan Chipkin (00:02:14):
I see. Uh, we have Margot here. Margot,thanks for joining.
Margot Paez (00:02:20):
Hey, thank you. Thanks for the lastminute change and time. I appreciate
Logan Chipkin (00:02:24):
That. Oh yeah, you got it. Uh, ourvery much our pleasure. Um, yeah, it's kind of, uh, I don't know. I feel likeit's, it's a different vibe, you know, usually we're at, uh, 3, 3 30 right nowit's seven o'clock. It's nice and dark out. We'll, we'll have a nice, uh,uninhibited conversation, I think. But anyway, uh, at seven o'clock we can goseven o'clock eastern. Anyway, we can go ahead and get started. Uh, helloeveryone. Thanks for joining sa Mining's Twitter spaces. My name is LoganChikin. I'm the content manager at SA Mining. And before we introduce ourguests of the hour, will do you wanna introduce yourself?
Will Szamosszegi (00:03:00):
Yeah, thank you Logan. Um, soeveryone, this is, uh, I'm not sure what number Twitter space, this is Logan atthis point. Um, but uh, my name's William Sanei. I'm the CEO and founder atSaaS Mining. And actually I've been, uh, really looking forward to thisparticular conversation cuz it's like a reunion for us, marga, the last timethat we were on a stage together or on a panel was at Bitcoin 2022. So I knowthat we got a lot of interesting content planned here today and it'll be a funconversation.
Margot Paez (00:03:30):
Yeah, that was a lot of fun. That wasmy first, um, panel, Bitcoin panel.
Will Szamosszegi (00:03:35):
Oh yeah. I mean, you were anincredible moderator. So, um, oh, <laugh>. A lot of great content comingout on that, on that stage.
Margot Paez (00:03:44):
Yeah, I was, I was nervous.
Logan Chipkin (00:03:48):
Nah, you did great. I was in thefront row tweeting away about the event. Oh, that was fun. You did a good job.Um, so Mar, before we introduce you, Kent, would you like to introduceyourself?
Kent Halliburton (00:03:59):
Yeah, my name's Ken Halliburton, uh,operate as the president and COO here at SaaS Mining Run internal operationsfor the organization and had a career in solar before I shifted over to, tobitcoin mining. So yes, that panel in Miami was a lot of fun. It was good tomeet you afterwards, Margot, and been a big fan of your work. Um, good to seeother, other folks from the environmental sector making their way into Bitcoinmining.
Logan Chipkin (00:04:28):
And it looks like Margo dropped off.I don't see her. Margo, are you there? Presumably she'll be back in a moment.Um, but for those of you who, uh, don't know sa at s SA Mining, we make retail,we make renewable bitcoin mining available to retail customers everywhere. Sodefinitely check us out at uh, www.saasmining.com. Um, we also have a nice, uh,block of content full of blogs and Twitter spaces, transcripts, um, so definitelygo out, go and enjoy that content. And Margot you're back.
Margot Paez (00:05:10):
Yeah, I don't know what happened inmy connection, but it just died <laugh>, but it's,
Logan Chipkin (00:05:17):
That's okay. So, uh, but yeah, beforewe start talking about all things Bitcoin, do you wanna introduce yourself andkind of even how you got into Bitcoin? Cuz I know you're, what you do now is,uh, somewhat related to your Bitcoin story.
Margot Paez (00:05:30):
Yeah, well, uh, so what do I, I'm a,I'm a fellow at the Bitcoin Policy Institute and I do research and write policystuff around Bitcoin mining and it's energy use and environmental impact. And Ilike, I mean, I got into Bitcoin not really for environmental or climate changereasons. I was really more interested in, uh, the idea that you could have amonetary network and a payment rail that didn't have any intermediaries andwhere people couldn't complain to the CEO of a payment processor about you andget you de platformed from all payment processing online, which is really, uh,limited in terms of what you can do, especially if you are just trying toaccept small micro payments like content creators usually live off of. So Ithought that was really important. And then I got into more about the climatestuff because I, like a lot of people saw all the fud around the energy use andI started wondering if it was ethical for me to hold Bitcoin given that I hadcompletely changed my trajectory, uh, uh, my research at the university and tofocus on climate change.
And I was active in climate protestsand stuff and I was like, you know, maybe this isn't so good, this is not goodluck. But the more I I looked into it, the more I realized actually there's alot of really good stuff here. And yeah, there, there have been things thathave happened that, that aren't really great optics for the industry, but youknow, overall the, the way the protocol works, the having the difficultyadjustment, all of that I think really drives Bitcoin towards waste energy andultimately it's going to be either, you know, like, um, biofuels or renewableenergy curtailed energy because we're overbuilding. So we're going to have likeall of this extra renewable energy that that isn't going to be used at leastright away. So yeah, I think, I think the future looks ized overall for, forBitcoin. And yeah, then that's how I ended up being a fellow. I got asked to beone after people saw me or heard me talking about stuff like that online.
Logan Chipkin (00:08:14):
So I'm curious, Margot, um, cuz I, Iknow you do a lot of, as you said, uh, climate research, but in terms of like,let's say this given week, did you do any, um, work on Bitcoin itself or do youmostly do your scientific research in a given week? Like how much of your timeis kind of spent working on Bitcoin papers and that sort of thing?
Margot Paez (00:08:34):
Well, I spent, I, I'm spending lesstime now than I was before on Bitcoin related work. Um, mostly cuz I need to, Ido need to finish my PhD but I, I am working on a research with a couple ofpeople in the space. We're doing life cycle assessment of landfill mining withBitcoin and trying to figure out, you know, what, what are the emissions overthe entire lifetime from beginning to end and see really if what, what ishappening is actually going to benefit, uh, us in terms of our climate goalsand also whether it actually will reduce the emissions overall of the network.So that's what we're doing. I'm working with Harold Router and Mesa Kolo and,well, I'm not quite sure when will be done, but I think it's, it's reallytedious thing. It's, it's a lot of accounting of all of the materials andstuff, but it's really important and I think that the industry, especially inthis particular area of bio bio mining will be, will benefit from whatever wefind out.
Logan Chipkin (00:09:52):
Bio mining, meaning Bitcoin miningwith biofuels?
Margot Paez (00:09:56):
Uh, yeah, or yeah, I mean like, uh,stuff that isn't a fossil fuel derived methane, but like landfill. So that'sgenerally gonna come from stuff that, you know, like produce or, or likeleftover meat or whatever that's being broken down by, by, um, anaerobicbacteria or bacteria in general or whatever microorganisms that do that. Andtheir byproduct is methane, so that's Biogen in, in origin. And then of coursethere's also like agricultural like mining with, uh, pig waste for example, thatthis one company does. And, or like animal waste, I mean, human waste isanother one. Or, uh, well there's like vegetable oil too that people are doing.So there's lots of, lots of possibilities. There's like some Madeira inPortugal they wanna try like, uh, uh, what does it call the sugar cane? Yeah,sugar cane based mining. So yeah, so I just mean like by biofuels, it's justlike anything that is non impossible fuel sourced methane.
Kent Halliburton (00:11:16):
Yeah, Madera is known for their, uh,punch, uh, which they make with sugar cane. It's quite a popular thing. I'm,uh, excited to hear. That's the first time I've heard that they're looking todo some bio digester, uh, bitcoin mining off of the, the remnants of sugarcane. Um, you know, Margo, one of the things that I'm curious about is, youknow, over the course of the last year, it feels like yourself Troy Cross, likeNema, Nathaniel, there's been like this growing voice of environmentalists thatI feel like are trying to open up the, the bitcoin tent a bit further, uh, forprogressives, uh, coming into the space. And I'd be really curious your take onthat and how exactly we can best make Bitcoin, uh, and the values that I seealign for progressives, uh, more accessible. What's your take on that?
Margot Paez (00:12:18):
Well, yeah, I mean, I, I think therewas something in the collective mind. I, I don't know if it was, it may havejust been reactionary because prior to 2017 Bitcoin wasn't so politicallypolarized either. And I think that a lot of us, especially people who had beenin this space much longer than I, than I've been, I really didn't start gettingreally serious about it until 2018. But other people had been around since, youknow, several years before that. And, you know, it wasn't so polarized, itwasn't such a attribution of a particular political identity to Bitcoin untilafter that, that 2017 cycle. And I think going into 2020 really started pickingup more. So I think a lot of people just sort of reacted to that and came tokind of started reaching out to other people and say like, Hey, you know, Idon't really, you know, agree with this and we should find a way to connect andtry to reach other people who share similar perspectives or politicalperspectives or cultural perspectives and show them that Bitcoin isn't just fora particular group of people with a particular set of political views that is actuallyfor anyone who wants to use it.
And, and so that's what we've beentrying to do. And I think it's working, I mean, a lot of, we've picked up a lotof followers since then, which has been really, um, really surprising. And Ithink that says a lot about that. There's, there are a lot of people out therethat are interested in hearing a different narrative, but it is a challengebecause, because people, you know, progressives, they care about climate changeand they, they see it that the environmental fud and it really turns them off,or they're just turned off by this idea that Bitcoin is, is a right wing thingor conspiracy or something that Dave Troy likes to promote. So, you know,that's really challenging trying to get through all those layers of, but it'snot impossible. It just takes no figuring out how to tell a story that they canconnect with and getting and reaching them that way. So I'm hoping we'llcontinue to, to make headway in that regard and, and reach more people and getthem to see that there's plenty, plenty in Bitcoin that they can connect to.And it's not just, you know, it's not just for people who like Donald Trump orsomething <laugh>.
Will Szamosszegi (00:15:07):
Yeah, it's been fascinating seeinghow this entire industry has evolved, not just from the, from the climate andenergy side, but from the actual sophistication that you've seen with thedifferent Bitcoin miners. I remember back in 2018, a size mine was founded inJanuary of 2018, and at that time, one of the big things that stood out,particularly among the minors was it was an a less sophisticated in industrythan you see today. And so you saw a lot of miners who didn't necessarily havethat level of knowledge and sophistication around energy that you'll see a lotof the big miners have having today. I mean, I recently spoke with, uh, the CEOstronghold and it was fascinating hearing the level at which he approaches itand he really looks at stronghold mining a publicly traded mining company asmore of an energy play. Um, so with all that said, you've been on the forefrontwith a lot of research.
You've been seeing how things haveevolved from the time that you started coming in and looking at it from aclimate perspective. And I'm curious, in, in general, how do you think that thetransition to renewable energy was going before Bitcoin entered the question?And how do you think Bitcoin has been helping in recent years? Uh, clearlywe've seen a lot of people rallying behind this conversation. I feel like yousaw it happen more around renewables and now this, uh, conversation aroundactually capturing methane, but very curious to hear what your overall take onall of this is.
Margot Paez (00:16:42):
Yeah, I think it's still a smallpiece of the big puzzle of this renewable energy transition or decarbonizationof the electrical grid, but there's a lot of potential and we're, we're seeingthat we're seeing a lot of experiments play out in real time <inaudible>,I would say like the demand response stuff, there is an, is a real timeexperiment that we're, we're seeing, we're really seeing what the miners canturn off and turn up as, you know, in response to prices or in response to, to,uh, signals from the grid operator. And it's really cool, I mean, you know, itwasn't until about 2020 that Ercot for the first time was able to report thatthey had a significant amount of controllable load on the grid. And they had,if you go through the documentation that they would publish annually, you'llsee that every year they were like, yeah, we have this program.
I'm trying to figure out how to rehow to reach out to these, these loads and see who, who can participate. Butthis is a new thing to be able to do this. And it's made, been made possiblebecause of the maturity of the mining industry. And like you said aboutstronghold thinking of themselves more as an energy company than a miningcompany. I think that is, is really the direction that Bitcoin mining is going,is this, this merger between the energy sector and the mining industry and, andthe mi and the energy industry is really starting to learn how Bitcoin worksand how they can use it within their own structure. And we'll see that, youknow, we're seeing experiments off the grid with these co-lo co-located bitcoinmining at renewable energy plants like a solar farm for example. And we're alsoseeing these, this happen around Ercot as well.
So I think we're just, we're stillreally in the early stages around this, and it's going to take some years, uh,before it really becomes more noticeable and it becomes the main narrative thatpeople hear. And that's great. I wish, you know, I wish we, we could sit, we,we'd have like this big story where we could be like, yeah, like most, youknow, look at all, all the stuff happening. Look, it's really benefiting the,the energy transition, but it's still, I still think it's really early in thatsense. And with the waste mining, you know, like with landfills or agriculturalwaste or whatever, you know, that's still really early too. And I think that'salso a sign of the trajectory of the mining industry as the haves happen and asthe difficulty adjustment increases and, and depending on the price, you know,it's going to push the industry more and more into these creative, uh,positions.
So either you're going to have to bewell integrated into the electrical grid in a beneficial way that supports thegrid, or you're going to have to move into this waste energy stuff and becauseit's just not going to be affordable, the electricity, I don't think it's gonnabe that easily to come by as those margins get tighter. So yeah, I think longstory short, I think, you know, well before there was no Bitcoin in theequation and now Bitcoin is in the equation, and now it's just a matter ofeducation and expanding and surviving those bear markets. <laugh>.
Logan Chipkin (00:20:31):
Yeah. Margot, I appreciate, um, thatyou're kind of, uh, being kind of more, uh, realistic with respect toexpectations in the short term about Bitcoin's impact on the energy sector. Um,one of our guests, uh, I don't quite remember which one, uh, because I think,think we've had eight Twitter spaces, by the way, will to answer your question,eight or nine. But there was, it might have been Daniel Baton, he was kind ofsaying, you know, let's be careful because if we over promise and underdeliver,you know, just from a marketing perspective, that's almost always worse than underpromising and overdelivering. So I very much appreciate that. Now, related to,um, the synergy between renewable energy and Bitcoin mining, uh, Margot, I knowyou're very much a fan of kind of localism and how Bitcoin might, um, drivelocalism, decentralization kind of communal type living. To go back to Kent'squestion about progressive values. Um, so I think to a lot of people though,uh, and maybe even people with particular political persuasions, they might notthink localism and energy independence unto itself is a net good. So what wouldyou say to those people, uh, why is localism good and why is Bitcoin a greattool to bolster communalism and localism across the globe?
Margot Paez (00:21:47):
Yeah, I think a lot of people don'tnecessarily, or maybe they're not necessarily that teamed into how how fragilea high, highly centralized system is. And there's been this, this move towardscentralization of power over the last 40 or so years since the seventies. Andin particular as a result of neoliberalism, there's been, you know, thesecentralized organizations that are not democratically elected, that arehandpicked by whatever definition of elite that you have, but, you know, tendto be very wealthy people that are making these choices and, and, andappointing people to these bodies. And I think that this is really unhealthyfor society to perceive that the world is governed by just a handful of very,very, very, very wealthy people. And so, uh, for me, uh, I see localism as asolution to this because I, you know, I always believe in the bottom upgrassroots approach to governance, mutual aid, things like that.
I'm definitely of the anarchistpersuasion in that regard. And I'm, I'm, I'm a fan of a guy who used to, hewas, he was a, he was an anarchist and then he kind of moved away because therewere certain things he didn't like and he kind of created his own space thatincluded, uh, majority rule democracy, but also, uh, this community orientedperspective that he called communitarianism. And this was a guy named Mary BookChin and a fascinating guy. And the thing about him that is very cool is, Imean, he was really ahead of the game in his understanding of the ecologicalcrisis, and he was writing about communitarianism and social ecology, like fromthe eighties on to, you know, his death in the early two thousands. And, andthis idea of having these neighborhood assemblies and, and making it so thatyou basically have this bottom up structure of governance where the people inthe community could come together, they could be the ones that create the, thelegislation or whatever it is that they think is needed from, from within theircommunity.
And then you build up the layers tothe top. And this is, you know, it's also similar to like a federation typeconcept, which we're familiar with because in networks online and, you know,through bitcoin, we've, we've been exposed to decentralization and federationis a common way of linking decentralized components, and Mastodon is a goodexample of that. And, uh, so, so it's just really applying that to the realworld. And I think that if you can return the power and to people at thegrassroots level and let them decide for themselves and then build up fromthere in terms of decisions, I think that we would have a much better, a muchcloser to the ideal of egalitarian society. I, I don't know that we could everhave a fully equal society, but we would definitely have something that wouldbe much closer. It would be messier probably.
It, maybe it would, it might takelonger to make certain decisions, but I think overall people would make betterchoices for themselves within their community than they are able to do now. AndBitcoin is very much aligned with this idea of localism, I think because I, Ifind that a lot of people are thinking about this return to community and, youknow, and, and, and not having a centralized system. Bitcoin teaches you thatthere are benefits to decentralization. And I think people, when you're exposedto that in one area, like money, and you see that it can work and that it canbe honest and it doesn't have to be ugly, and it's really hard for somebody tocheat you, you know, I think that teaches you that maybe you can incorporatesome of these values into your life in other aspects of your life.
So I feel a little bit like Bitcoinis a, is a, a Trojan horse for a lot of things, and one of them is this returnto, to a more local society, but still globally connected. So I, this is my,you know, utopian perspective, but I, yeah, I, I hope that, that it's possible.And I actually, I think that there's a lot of things happening in society notrelated to Bitcoin, but where I hear a lot of people calling for a return tolocalism or decentralization. So I think that this is actually something sort ofin the, you know, the, the, the global mind, you know, the hive mind ofsociety. I think a lot of people are feeling a desire, even if they can'tnecessarily place it.
Kent Halliburton (00:27:34):
Yeah. Mar as you were talking, I wasactually thinking back to, um, the Occupy movement. You know, I was inCalifornia at that point selling, uh, solar systems, uh, for folks wanting totake control of their own power and destiny. And there is a lot of that vibewithin the solar community about localism in general. And I find it kind ofinteresting to see how a lot of the folks like yourself, Troy Cross, you know,I'm certain others that I haven't spoke to about it, had a real connection withthat Occupy movement. And I wonder if you could speak a little bit towards whatyou see as the through line between that, because I feel like that was adifferent moment in time for at least what I identified then as the progressivemovement versus where it is today.
Margot Paez (00:28:27):
Yeah, so I was at the site in LosAngeles at City Hall at Occupy Los Angeles. And I, I was there with a cameraand a microphone and just had this idea that I could be a reporter. So I showedup, I was like, I'm reporting now. And so I did that for like 50 plus daysuntil it was evicted. And I see that, you know, occupy was this first momentwhere people realized there's something seriously wrong with society. We are,we live under a Democratic president. And we thought, okay, you know, and Obamacame in writing on this wave of hope and stuff, and that was, you know, usedShepherd fairy's art and stuff. And he really, he really made a lot of peoplebelieve that there was hope and that, that his administration was going to fixthe problems of the financial crisis.
And what happened was the opposite.And we saw all these bank bailouts, and of course, you know, Bitcoin cameabout. And during that same period of time, and the Genesis block is we are allfamiliar with, you know, makes a direct reference to the bailout of the Bank ofEngland. And people saw this happen, they lost so many people, lost everything.And the, the, the banks, these big banks started illegally foreclosing onpeople taking their homes. I, I had met, I met a number of people, I reportedon what had happened to them. I worked with a guy who ran an organizationcalled Occupy Foreclosure. He himself had experienced, uh, an illegalforeclosure. And the banks, they, they go through all this legal paperwork andthey just, you know, use, they, they weaponize the legal system against you.They've got a lot of money, they can do it, they can waste your time, and theymake it very difficult for you to get your house back.
So, so many people realize for thefirst time that government is not helping me. I don't understand why I thoughtthat this gov the government was on the side of the people and instead theybailed out the banks and, but they didn't bail out Main Street, which was whatpeople would say in Occupy, like, you bailed out banks, but Wall Street, butnot Main Street. And, and that was the first time I think that people startedthinking about how could I create an alternative society? And big, and Occupyreally became not just a protest against the banks, cuz definitely was, but itwas also, I saw people trying to create a different society within these,within the occupy the occupied space, like at City Hall and in Los Angeles,the, the mayor and Antonio Virago. So teamed up with the police department to,to push the unhoused or the homeless into the encampments because there'sthese, uh, criminalization laws of homelessness in Los Angeles that makes ithard for them to have a place to rest during the day.
So they said, yeah, you go over thereand you know, you can rest, you can set up your tent and stay in your tent allday long. We're not gonna rest you. So they did that and the occupiers embracedthis community. They're like, yeah, okay, we'll help you with what can we do?We'll try to provide social services, healthcare. And they, they got nurses anddoctors to volunteer, you know, and, and try to help people who needed it. Butit was, this was, this was really hard for the, the protestors because theycouldn't just focus on, you know, protesting a bank. Suddenly they're like, oh,there's so many problems in society and people are so neglected and soisolated, how can we build this community? So they started setting up like agarden, and they had a free library of books. And it was, it was really cool tosee people really try to figure out how can we bring back the community in oursociety that is missing And, and that requires a return to this sort of thislocalism, this, this turning away from, you know, everything is an Applebee'sor a McDonald's, right?
Like all of that because of freetrade and, and, and the opening up of international markets, the labor markets,right? That completely crushed the competition of the mom and pop shop. And Ithink people really are missing this sense of community that they, that we usedto have. And that I think we also romanticize a little bit when we go back andwe look at old movies and stuff. But yeah, I, you know, and then of courseBitcoin is really the continuation of Occupy as far as I'm concerned, becauseit is still very much, you know, say you don't need the banking system, be yourown bank, create a, you can create a community bank, right? We have Fedi Minthat are fedi min that are being developed now, the software is beingdeveloped. You can, you can have this like community custodial type set up ifyou want it, and you can do so much.
You can, you can create, you cancreate your own local currency if you want. And that that could in maybeinvigorate the local economy by making it so that that money has to stay orthat value and wealth has to stay within a particular region. You could buildthese currency complimentary currencies on the network. You know, I, I think, Ithink Bitcoin is just a really powerful tool for people. Uh, and it's verydemocratic. Nobody can stop you from using it too, you know, if you use itcorrectly. And, and there's a lot you can contribute in any way possible as adeveloper or in a niche like myself, you know, when I, you know, looking at theclimate side of things and the energy environmental impacts, right? You can,you can do it. Nobody, you don't have to ask the CEO <laugh> of Bitcoin,you just do it.
So yeah, Bitcoin is, is the, is likethe solution to occupy. It's like, so what do you do? Occupy identified theproblems. Well now what is the solution? One of the solutions that was, uh,suggested then was like, okay, let's move all of our money into the creditunions. But that was still problematic. I think, you know, credit unions are notvery well spread out. They have, they're, they can be a little bit stuck in the20th century, and sometimes you have to be part of an organization or like aunion or something to, to use a particular one. So with Bitcoin, anybody canjust run a note, note and set it up for themselves and other people and createa circular economy. So yeah, I think it's just the obvious continuation of whatOccupy represented and, and it, and it, and it continues in that spirit. Theproblem is, is that a lot of occupiers don't realize that. So trying to getthem to realize that, you know, David Graber didn't understand Bitcoin he mighthave if he sat down, if he didn't pass away in 2020. He, he, I think he mighthave come around, but yeah.
Will Szamosszegi (00:36:13):
Yeah. Margot, as I was hearing you gothrough that, it really reminded me how Bitcoin through so many differentchannels, you'll see a bring in people and, uh, affect their lives in differentways and, and be a great force for good out there in the world. Um, but one,one thing that I think that I, myself, and I think everyone in the audiencewould really like to hear your take on, uh, is from an academic perspective,you are a climate change physicist, and you have a very unique backgroundcoming into Bitcoin. And so my cur my curiosity, I think stems from just tryingto understand the general attitude of academia towards Bitcoin and reallytaking that one step deeper, not just the general attitude today, but also whatthose biggest hangups from academia today are on Bitcoin. Because I feel like alot of times when you enter a community and you start diving down the rabbithole, you can almost get into your own types of echo chambers. And withoutbringing in those outside fresh ideas, it's very difficult to really get downto the hard truth of reality. And so to reiterate the question one more time,what's, what do you believe, uh, academia's general attitude towards Bitcoinis, and what are their biggest hangups?
Margot Paez (00:37:35):
Well, I think it's mostly negative<laugh>. There have been a, uh, but you know, it's, I don't know. I mean,there have been, there have been a lot of publications about Bitcoin. Now allof them have been negative about it, but when it comes to the environmentalimpact, they tend to be pretty negative. So if, uh, an academic is readingthose papers, they, they're not, they're not gonna be really interested inBitcoin. A lot of the reasons why, uh, these papers tend to show problems withBitcoin's energy footprint, quote unquote, is because they don't fullyunderstand the difficulty adjustment or the happening that happens every fouryears. And sometimes they'll, they'll try to make up a metric, and that metricjust doesn't make sense in the context. If you understood the protocol. Andbecause many of them have never used Bitcoin, they, they're not that curious toreally figure that out.
And I think, you know, Troy Cross, helikes to say you have to have skin in the game. And I think that's really true.I think you really need to use the network and experience it for yourself toreally be motivated to fully understand and spend all of those hundreds ofhours really trying to understand how the protocol works, how mining works. Andit's not to say that some of the criticisms are are wrong, you know, but it'sjust a lot of times they don't understand how to correctly measure the energyuse or the electricity mix. And now that we're seeing, especially now that we'reseeing a lot more mining moving into moving off grid, and I think that we'regonna continue to see that trend, it's going to be really hard for them to dotheir estimates the way that they have been doing, which is based off of IPaddresses.
And then, you know, taking an averageenergy mix of the electrical grid, right? That doesn't, that isn't going togive you a full picture of Bitcoin coin. And so, yeah, I think academics reallyare not turned on to Bitcoin. I think they're probably the, the last ones, someof them are gonna be the last ones to get Bitcoin. But also I think part of theproblem is that Bitcoin did not come out of academia. So it, you know, it camefrom, from the, from, you know, crypto, uh, a cryptography mailing list fromsome cyber cipher punks, right? Anonymous Cipher punks started building this.It was not something that was being researched in a, in a technology lab at MITor at the University of Virginia or, or Berkeley or whatever, you know, or OhioState. You know, it came, it came up, it's a, it's a product of the internet,and I think that also makes it hard for them to take seriously because it's notsomething that is academic in origin. It wasn't an academic discovery. So Ithink that's, that's also part of the problem that I see. But there's, yeah,it's just, I think they'll come around, but it, it'll probably be a while. It'sgonna be young people, basically, I think like the younger generation ofresearchers who will, who've probably played with cryptocurrency at some pointthat will get it.
Logan Chipkin (00:41:26):
So Margo, speaking of thesehypothetical young academic researchers who are into Bitcoin, or maybe nothypothetical in a few years, uh, we'll see what kind of open problems do youthink they could really solve that would, um, kind of either benefit the laymanBitcoin community or benefit the technology by actually spurring innovation onsecond layer technologies and so on and so forth. So, you know, you have peoplelike Jason Lowry and Andrew Bailey who was here a little bit earlier. You know,they're working on stuff, uh, you're working on, I understand climate change,but still it's very related, but as you are kind of implying the three of youare a diamond, a dozen. So, um, just to reiterate the question, um, what kindof, uh, problems do you think academics could solve if they were interested inBitcoin?
Margot Paez (00:42:13):
Well, there's a lot of stuff in termsof the, you know, the privacy side of things on the protocol, really trying toget that right. And there's a lot of research that could be done on, on that arin that area, and I think that would benefit the average Bitcoin user privacyshould, should never be forgotten in Bitcoin. It's really important, especiallyfor people who are living under authoritarian regimes or whatever, whereverthey're, they feel threatened by a power privacy is, is the, the best weaponthey have. So having, um, computer scientists and mathematicians be youintellectually curious and open about Bitcoin and willing to, to study thisparticular area, how, how to improve the piracy privacy, or even just pointingout where, where the protocol the layers are, are weakest in that area is reallybeneficial. Obviously the philosophers are doing a great job trying tounderstand how Bitcoin fits in society, you know, the big picture questionsthat they're trying to answer.
I think it was really important. Andof course, the energy stuff is really important to you, the modeling on that,like how can bitcoin, you know, what are the best ways for Bitcoin to enter,integrate into the electrical grid or, or off-grid or in co-locating or usingwaste energy, right? I think all of that is really important and we couldreally use a lot more academics being open-minded and, and, and doing honestresearch on that. So I'm, I'm hopeful that maybe we'll see something, somethinglike that in the future. I know that there, there are, I mean, it's not justAndrew and I that are in the academic side or Troy, but there, there, I'm in atelegram group and there are academic bitcoiners who are talking amongstthemselves about research questions on, in like in economics or computerscience, et cetera. So hopefully, I think as people get more interested, Ithink that those, those numbers will grow, will grow. Actually, I know there'ssomebody at the Cambridge Alternative Center for Finance that is aer, sothey're out there.
Logan Chipkin (00:44:50):
Yeah. You know, and by the way,before I ask my follow up question, if anyone in the audience, uh, has aquestion or a comment for either Margot or Kent or Will or myself, uh, you'remore than welcome to raise your hand, uh, and we'll bring you up here. Um, butif not, so Margot, you bring up an interesting point that, you know, it'salmost a mistake to homogenize academia and say, why aren't all academicsinterested in Bitcoin? Um, because as you said, you know, mathematicians mighthave a lot more to contribute than people in the, I don't know, English studiesor something like that. Um, now all this to say, um, my guess would be you willhave mathematicians be interested in it and computer scientists purely becausethey're fascinated by the technicalities of Bitcoin, maybe even without thephilosophical or political, um, underlying tones. And that would itself beinteresting. On the other hand, I think it would be kind of cool to havesociologists get interested in Bitcoin kind of from the Alex Gladstein humanrights angle. So do you know people who are getting involved in that at all, orif, do you think if there's any hope of academia getting interested, it'll bethe mathematicians, the computer scientists?
Margot Paez (00:45:59):
I don't personally know of people inhumanities outside of philosophy that are working on Bitcoin in that sense. AndI, I think you're absolutely right. I think that's, that we should haveanthropologists working on Bitcoin because there are circular communities thatare happening. And it would be really great to have these ethnographies writtenabout these communities and how they're using Bitcoin in their everyday life. Ithink those ethnographies are, are, are lacking, but really vital for telling astory about the people. And we should, I would love to see more of that, butit, I don't, I'm not really seeing it yet. And it's probably because they thinkBitcoin is going to melt the planet. So <laugh>.
Logan Chipkin (00:46:50):
Well, that's good. Um, yeah, sospeaking of melting the planet, um, we haven't talked so much about kind ofthe, the rapidly changing, um, culture and bitcoin around environmentalism. Sofrom your perspective, oh man, I had a actually one moment before I asked myquestion. I see Jason wants to come on the stage. Jason, how are you? Uh,you're muted. I don't know if you're going to talk. Are you here now? Yes, buthe's muted. Jason, did you wanna talk? You raise your hand.
Speaker 5 (00:47:23):
Yes, I did. And it cut out so Ididn't hear you. Uh, <laugh> welcoming. Hi. Um, I do have a question,question for Margot, actually. Is that okay for me to ask it?
Logan Chipkin (00:47:32):
Speaker 5 (00:47:32):
Percent. Awesome. So, um, I thinkearlier, hi Margo, um, earlier in your talk, you were talking a little bitabout sort of the potential for, um, bitcoin mining to help with all of theseenvironmental things. And you listed things like demand response and, um, sortof stranded energy and, and methane mitigation. All of these things are sort oflike, not really, um, they're not happening yet. Um, but there's this greatpotential. So, uh, and you know, sort of the idea of under promising andoverdelivering came up. So my question is, uh, like do you have a timeline forlike, when do you expect to see these things if they, if they actually work?And we can actually get some sort of like, measurable results, uh, and sort ofmaybe use that to turn public opinion a little bit. Um, and maybe just ageneral timeline or for any of these specific pieces of, of what's being kindof promised out there within the community at this time.
Margot Paez (00:48:32):
Yeah, thanks for the question. Hi,<laugh>. Uh, so these things, so there are experiments happening. They'renot getting a lot of publicity yet, I think because there, there's a lot oftrials and an error going on in the background, but, so I think it's gonna takea few years. I, I couldn't give you like an exact timeline. I don't really knowthe future, but maybe within the next five years, I think these things willbecome better understood or more well known, because right now the stuff isbeing built out, the investments happening now, the experiments are happening,like with co-located Bitcoin mining and Solar Farms, for example, you know,demand response, like Lansing, for example, is just, has just built a fewcampuses and they, they have, these things have just come on in the last year.So, so this is all just really new. So I think we just get, we're gonna have towait a few years and, and that's probably going to be painful, but<laugh>, because the fun doesn't go away, right?
But yeah, I think it's, it's justthis is a shift that's happening and it's very, very recent. You know, themining industry just like didn't really become this big until like, you know,2019 and 2018. So this is all, this is a really young industry that's trying tofigure out how to fit into society and it's pissed off some people here andthere. So there's lessons that are being learned and, and I think all of that'sgood. It's growing pains and I think there'll be more there, there will be datain the coming years that we'll be able to use.
Logan Chipkin (00:50:20):
Thanks, Jason. Um, yeah, somethingelse that's, uh, related is, you know, there are literally energy sources thatare renewable and completely unviable right now that bitcoin mining could, uh,render viable in the near future that we're not even taking into account. Sothe Bitcoin mining, I mean, the methanes capture stuff is wonderful, of course,but who knows? There could be, look at the work that, um, uh, Nathaniel Harmonis doing, for example. Um, so, you know, our expectations, let's say, might notbe met, uh, on the one hand, but on the other hand, they're also positiveunknowns that are on the horizon. So that's something else to keep in mind. Um,so Margo, going back to the climate change question, and also just to remindthe audience, if you have a question, feel free to raise your hand, happy tobring you up. Um, how do you kind of think about the various factions in theBitcoin community from a climate change perspective?
Cause you really do have the fullspectrum. You have, let's say, people who deny that climate change is a problemat all. You have people who say climate change is a problem and we need toreplace fossil fuels immediately. You have the, um, kind of pro-energyabundance and also climate change is a problem, and Bitcoin mining can fix it.And you even have, um, people who think Bitcoin mining, uh, is irrelevant tosolving climate change. Let's just ignore that altogether and proceedaccordingly, even though climate change may or may not be a problem. So how doyou see all these factions playing out? Do you think it's a waste of time toengage in these debates and just kind of proceed as we want? What do you thinkabout all this?
Margot Paez (00:51:54):
Sometimes it's a waste of time.<laugh> depends on who you're talking with. You know, they, well, I mean,the opinions within the climate movement itself are pretty diverse as well. Or,you know, among climate scientists it's pretty diverse as, as well. It's just,I think there's so much uncertainty that some people can, they, they, that, Imean, it just forces you to kind of make conclusions within your, your best understandingof how society works and what you think the future might be like. So, I don'tknow. This is a hard question. I some, I, you know, I found that I have, I amnot as patient as I thought I was <laugh> in talking with certain groupsof people. I think Troy is a little bit better, especially with the, theacademics. I, I think I, I really, I'm like at the point where I really amtired of being at being an academic.
So I think maybe I'm just not aspatient with them anymore. But, but it does, I I think that havingconversations though is important. And if the other person is, is at leastwilling to engage in a cordial way, they're worth having. They're hard to haveon Twitter, though, so it's nice to be able to have those conversations like ona Twitter space or on YouTube, you know, I think that, that, that's really,really helpful. And I, and I think it's way more productive than on Twitter. Alot of the times. Like, I've talked with people, you know, I get a lot ofpeople on Twitter who are, who think climate change is, was, was invented bythe World Economic Forum <laugh>. And they, they share these plots thatare, you know, really, really cherry picked and don't, you know, don't reflectwhat they think, think it does.
And on Twitter, it's just, it'simpossible to, to convince them. But if I had a conversation with them inperson or, you know, in a space or video chat, I think that we, we'd make muchmore progress in, in those conversations and being able to, you know, point outwhy some of their, I their beliefs are wrong, but you know, some of them are,are, are right. The fear of control by these, these particular organizations isa reasonable fear. So yeah, it, it depends, it depends on the time to place andhow open the other person is <laugh> in these conversations.
Logan Chipkin (00:54:30):
Yeah, fair enough. Um, it's funnythinking of conspiracy theories with respect to World Economic Forum as if there'snot enough to be concerned about just from what they'd say out loud. Butanyway, I digress. So, uh, we only have eight minutes left, so I'd love to turnit to the audience if anyone has any questions for Margot related to Bitcoin,bitcoin mining, energy, climate change, academia, uh, feel free to raise yourhand and we'll bring you up.
Kent Halliburton (00:55:04):
Well, Margot, if, uh, if folks areshy and don't have a specific question for you, uh, we had a bit of a theme thelast, uh, few Twitter spaces talking about orange peeling with Dennis, uh,Porter and, um, and Daniel bat. And, and I'd be really curious, your take onit, what, what lines or strategies have you used, uh, within the circles you'rein to, uh, to help people come around to the idea of Bitcoin in general?
Margot Paez (00:55:35):
I feel like I'm the worst person atOrange, peeling other people. But I do talk to them about the energy stuff andI do try to show them that there's social value and how people in the globalself especially, are adopting Bitcoin and using it on a regular basis. So I, Itry to explain that and it, it helps to a certain degree. I, I at least getpeople to maybe not just think that Bitcoin is all bad, but I don't think thatI've, I've gotten too many people to the point where they're like, yeah, I loveBitcoin in my own circle, but I do have like extremist friends, <laugh>.So there are few, like, you know, hardcore activist friends, you know, who, whoare not that willing to accept that Bitcoin can help them. So, and they're, youknow, they like modern monetary. The, so I'm not, this is a challenge, very bigchallenge with, with those people.
But also I don't really talk about Bitcoinbecause, uh, it's, you know, I'm, I'm a PhD candidate at the university atGeorgia Tech, and I don't really like to talk about it a lot cuz I, I don'tknow what other people's opinions are and how that would affect me in myacademic trajectory. And my advisor, I've, I've chatted with him a few timesabout it. He really doesn't see the point of Bitcoin. And I think that kind ofset is, is enough for me to say like, mm, I won't really, I don't think issafe. This is a safe place to, to say, uh, what I do on this, you know, outsideof school. So yeah, I don't, I don't really talk to a lot of people about it,let's just say.
Logan Chipkin (00:57:35):
Yeah. It's interesting your, uh,advisor says he doesn't see the point. I wonder if, and this is something we'reworking on at SA Mining from a content perspective, uh, the extent to which,uh, subsidies from the government will fade away as Bitcoin becomes the nextreserve asset. I'm actually of the opinion, uh, I I disagree with safe that heseems to think, if I recall correctly from his work, that subsidies will almostcompletely die off from the government. I don't think that's true. I think theycould still subsidize different things, but however, um, I do think it, thegovernment will be drastically restrained in the subsidies that it can dole outto, let's say academia, um, and such. And so I think academics, uh, eventuallythey'll learn about bitcoin perhaps the hard way, which would be unfortunate.Uh, we'll see how that plays out. Also, uh, I wanted to make a quick note. Youmentioned, uh, your extremist friends. I have to say, I do not think extremismunto itself is ever a bad thing. I think that's kind of a rhetorical play. I, Iknow that's a little off topic, um, but it depends what you're extrem about,right? Like everyone here is an extremist extremist with respect to slavery inthe sense that we want exactly zero slaves on earth. That's an extremistposition, but it's the correct one.
Margot Paez (00:58:50):
Oh yeah, we're definitely extremistsin Bitcoin. I was just, I was talking with a friend about that Aer actually, wewere like, we are the extremist
Logan Chipkin (00:59:00):
<laugh>. Yes. And that's a goodthing.
Margot Paez (00:59:02):
I mean, yeah, no, it is good. I mean,we have very extreme values and it's okay. It's good to have strong opinionsand, and strong ethical stances on things and, and money is a really importantone, I think, to be, to take an strong ethical stance on. So yeah. So it'sokay. It's okay. It's just sometimes you, you have to, sometimes it's a littlehard to reach people if they're really, really like, no, this is it,<laugh>, this is the way the world works. <laugh>. Yeah.
Logan Chipkin (00:59:35):
You also mentioned, um, mmt. Do you,because you swim in certainly more progressive circles than let's say I dopersonally. Um, do you know people who simultaneously accept mmt and also areeither Bitcoin, maximalist or just fans of Bitcoin?
Margot Paez (00:59:54):
Yeah, yeah. I do actually. I do knowpeople like that in Bitcoin.
Logan Chipkin (00:59:59):
Fascinating. So we should definitelyget one of those people on, on, uh, the Twitter spaces at some point. Um,
Margot Paez (01:00:04):
Oh, you should, you should talk toBen Arc.
Logan Chipkin (01:00:07):
Okay. Okay. Oh, he's been on, okay.Yeah, he's been on, uh, what Bitcoin did, if I recall correctly mm-hmm.<affirmative> mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So is the idea, and I know we,we only have a couple minutes left actually, so I, I should, uh, stop youyapping. Um, does anyone have any, uh, questions before we close it out fromthe audience?
Will Szamosszegi (01:00:25):
I've actually got a quick question.Logan
Logan Chipkin (01:00:28):
<laugh>. All right. Go for it.
Will Szamosszegi (01:00:29):
Yeah. And while, while you're runningthrough that, Margot, it reminded me of the conversation we had last week withDaniel Baton, and it was actually on the topic of what he's seen as being verysuccessful in educating people about the benefits of Bitcoin mining for theenvironment and what it, what he saw, and he believes has been a huge levertowards getting people to understand what's actually happening with Bitcoinmining and its effect on the environment is having a platform where you canhave both sides in a debate. So I forget who was on the side of, uh, antiBitcoin mining, but I believe Lynn Alden was the person who was representing thepositives of Bitcoin mining for the environment. And it completely changed thesentiment that you saw amongst the people who watched it. Many people who wereundecided all of a sudden, uh, were pro Bitcoin mining after that conversation.And so my question for you would be, uh, who would be the, if you were tochoose the best people to represent the anti Bitcoin mining side, uh, in adebate, who would those people be?
Margot Paez (01:01:47):
<laugh>. Oh, I would love tohave Peter
Will Szamosszegi (01:01:52):
Kalmus. And could you reach out tothem to potentially set something up <laugh>?
Margot Paez (01:01:56):
Oh gosh. Uh, I could try. I, I don'tknow. I would love to see Peter Kalmus be one of those people. He's a climatescientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and, uh, I've tried to talk withhim about Bitcoin. He hates Bitcoin. He thinks Bitcoin is really bad for theplanet and it, and he's got a big platform. So it would be really cool to havehim engage in debate like that. I, I just don't know that he would want it do.And it seems like he probably would see as a waste of time.
Will Szamosszegi (01:02:26):
Yeah. And I think that it would haveto be positioned in the right way, not as a platform where we're trying to havepeople slam dunk on one another with, with, uh, sound bites or anything likethat, but really trying to understand and have it come from a collaborativepoint of view to get to what is the raw truth here and what, what is the otherside not seeing in reality? And I think that that could be really interesting.And that's one idea I've been chewing on, and I thought you would, out of allpeople, it seems like you got a great answer right there. Um, but would knowthe right people to bring in for that side of the anti-mining, uh, side of theconversation.
Margot Paez (01:03:08):
Yeah, probably. Well, I, I, I thinkit'd be really interesting if Lynn Olden had a chat with Michael Hudson, but Ithink Michael Hudson, you know, Michael Hudson is an economist and he's aproponent of MMT and, and in a bit of a, uh, China, uh, sympathizer because ofthe economic system. But he would be really interesting because he, on the onehand, he clearly identifies the main problems in the economic system. And infact, max Kaiser used to have him on his show, the Kaiser report fairlyregularly over the years because of these really good insights about Dollar, hejimmo Dollarization and stuff. Um, super Imperialism, which is a book that hewrote about how treasury bonds were, you know, after Nixon went off the dollar,I mean, after the Gold Reserve, you know, pegging the dollars to gold and howtreasuries were then used to basically fund the domestic and, and war, uh,deficits in the United States and, and allow this, like, incredible USimperialism to expand. He would be really interesting. But I, he's, I'm prettysure he's just like way too close minded. He'll never be over. He would neveruh, come around, but his ego is big enough that he would probably, he's a goodchance he would say yes, <laugh> to it. So that would be some, somebodywho that would, that would be interesting. Um, uh, yeah, I, um, I'm not, youknow, is there <laugh>? I can, I lost, I forgot what you were asking. DidI answer the question or did
Will Szamosszegi (01:04:45):
I Yeah, you answered it. Uh, reallywell, actually, you threw out a couple of names that I think that we're gonnahave to coordinate afterwards and see what we can make happen. <laugh>.
Margot Paez (01:04:55):
Yeah, there's a lot of people outthere, you know, uh, who could potentially be good choices. Um, not just likein, not just like climate scientists or anything, but like economists, like mttype economists. It would be really interesting to see a, a debate like that.You'd have to get someone like Lynn Alden or somebody who, who's like, thething about Lynn is that she is very strong on the financial side, really understands,uh, sovereign debt stuff. But she's not abrasive and she's not like, she's nota crazy rightwinger either, who's like, oh, you know, you know, so she'sappealing. She's sort of in the, in the center. So you can, you are not, itdoesn't feel like you're having two like really polar, polarized people comingtogether to have this discussion. Yeah. <affirmative>.
Will Szamosszegi (01:05:56):
Awesome. Well, Logan, thank you forletting me pop in that last question,
Logan Chipkin (01:06:01):
<laugh>. Oh yeah. I think it'sa great idea. And, uh, yeah, more to come on that front. So I know we're acouple minutes over, Margot. We really appreciate your time. Uh, we appreciatethe flexibility in your schedule. Um, it's been very informative, so thank youvery much. And, um, just before closing out, uh, reminder that you can followus on our respective Twitter accounts. Uh, follow Margo, of course, Kent will,and the SA mining account. Uh, we host these Twitter spaces every week, usuallyat 3:30 PM Eastern. Next week we'll be speaking with, uh, Brett Garman ofguardrail mining, kind of about the opposite of what we spoke about today.We're gonna talk about scaling up and down bitcoin mining operations and howthat's been going. Totally. Uh, so be, so be on the lookout for that. And, uh,I know it's kind of a crazy time out there in Bitcoin world, so please keepyour keys, uh, not your keys, not your coins, self custody or Bitcoin coldstorage, the whole nine yards. And with that, we'll talk to you later. Thankseveryone.
Margot Paez (01:06:56):
Thank you. Thanks. Have a good night.
Logan Chipkin (01:06:59):
Will Szamosszegi (01:06:59):
Thanks so much, Mar. Thank
Margot Paez (01:07:01):
You. Thank you, Kent. Thank you.
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