Exclusive Article by J.Tate, Chief Intelligence Officer, bits&digits in BizBahrain, September – October 2018, pg. 28 – 29.
The Day Fiat Died
When certain slave traders found out that West Africans found more value in nzimbu than in the fiat that was presented, I’m quite sure there were plenty of brains churning to find a way to “procure” these shells in abundance (ship loads even). This form of currency was found all over the world up until the 19th century on just about every continent. But time showed this form of currency to be unfit, or not economically sound. This is where some of us has found the modern day fiat to be. Exploitation of a system is nothing new under the sun, there were hackers before there were computers, allow that to sink in.
Everything has a beginning, and the only thing constant in this world is change (pun intended). Whether this change is an evolutionary one, something modified to fit the exploitation of a current system, understanding or status quo, change takes place, this is what is happening before our very eyes in the world of CryptoCurrency.
A year on the lamb.
As a promise to my readers, I will never allow a word to be printed from my hand that does not maintain a level of truth and integrity. The lens of which I view this world and her systems is very unique. I find rules to be suggestions at times, challenging limits, boundaries and social constructs with just about every breath I take. Please take the previous sentence with you as you continue to read this and just about anything else I have written and will write.
It would be a complete and bold faced lie, if I started this memior stating that I have never used BITCOIN for illegal purposes, or as my lawyer would have me say, “purposes that do not align with the confines of law within the country I resided at the time”. When BITCOIN hit the scene I was knee deep in the belly of the US Department of Defense working at a 3 Letter Intelligence Agency doing “interesting things” in an “interesting country” doing what I loved Threat Intelligence. I had heard about BITCOIN unofficially in an IRC room amongst some of the most interesting people in the world, of which I monitored to keep my eyes sharp for the latest trends and tricks in the underground world. It was my thing, something like how NYC Fashionistas go to the “hood” to pickup on whats trendy, or the latest slang. Or if we are being honest, something like an undercover agent does when they know they need to keep up on the ebonics, slang or jargon of the day so they can blend in with the AOR they are playing. While I read about how revolutionary this BITCOIN thing would be, it never struck me that one day Id actually use it, to survive in a foriegn country where I was cut off from the traditional means of communication and utility, Not once, I thought it was a fad to be honest, something that would pass, and to be honest the thought “We (back then) would never allow something so anonymous, so unchecked to get legs..it wont last”. But then I noticed something over the next few years, people above and below line were talking about this stuff. In the hacker spaces it was the new adjective in any sentence that related to the procurement of something. Then while at a briefing in the Pentagon, I almost kicked my GS 15 when it was brought up in what I or anyone would have thought was an unrelated topic.
As months and years progressed, it seemed as if BITCOIN was the new Whats What to the few Who’s Who. What I mean by that is, while there was “Chatter on the Wire” about BITCOIN in the circles where I worked or played, the mainstream had no clue about it. When I would bring it up to my non IT, non Security related friends or family most would look at me like I was trying to sell them the 2nd Comming of the <Insert Religious Figure>. Cock eyed and neck tilts was all I got for about 4 years. During which time I was playing around with it. Testing the waters so to speak, learing the ropes of what a Hard and Soft Wallet was, getting hustled a few times in wallet washes and unsecured Dark Market transaction like any rookie should. What did I buy? Well thats for another story. However I can this with honesty the following list includes things I have seen with my own eyes be brokered, procured or negotiated with serious validity with BITCOIN (circa 2012- Present)
- Passabe Passports (US, Canada, Germany, Uganda, Australia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia)
- Kidnap for Hire Negotiations
- Kilos of Cocaine
- Quarter Kilos of Heroin
- Just about every Semi Automatic Weapon that I know of
- Just about every Automatic Weapon I’ve heard of and never heard of or seen
- Lets say ALL Opiates
- Pornography (dont ask, assume and say yes)
- Police and FBI Frequency Bands along with Crypto and Freq hopping Sequences
- Human Organs
- License Plates
- Drivers Licenses (Name the Country from Bahrain, to Equador)
For the sake of brevity, we will leave it at the 12 for the nefarious items. Not to mention books, and various other items that would once fall under the “why don’t they go to the store and get it category” until it became clear that globalization didn’t nessasarily mean access in certain countries.
Now that I have your attention with all the bad things, it would be remiss to say that the Silk Road bust shocked the underground so hard that it is my humble belief that, this is what sparked the BITCOIN frenzy of 2016. You see, I like to call the pre 2016 period of BITCOIN the Utility Era. When it was known by the few, for reasons of Utility. You bought things, you bartered, and you defied “systems”. Like during a coup de ta, in a Latin American country inadvertently shut down the capital from top to bottom. Nothing was getting in or out the country, to include its currency. It was BITCOIN that was leveraged to secure Airplanes and escorts to get a certain select people out of the country to saftey. Not gold, Not Silver, but we used BITCOIN.
But its those days that seem long gone. I look at the BITCOIN hype of today and see it going in a direction that is so diluted in its core of utility it shameful. Centralized Markets, Traders and the like. Everyone is talking about BITCOIN but very few know HOW to use it. To the point where the same people who once returned a solid state of confusion when I brought up BITCOIN years ago, now delight me with how much they have invested in XYZ CryptoCurrency but when challenged with the question “But where have you used it?” Only answers with a concert of crickets, an ansemble of silence if you will.
No System Will Teach You Whats Needed to OverThrow It – Intentionally
I will save my speculations on why the social norm today for BITCOIN is more geared to trigger the Commodity craze for a later day. Today, Im on the run.
Last year I embarked on a journey to live solely on BITCOIN. A No FIAT diet of sorts, while this journey would have been best planned and intentional the truth of the matter is, it was kind of pushed upon me. Having spent time traveling from the East to the West Coast of the US and back for one mission, business engagement or another, I lost my wallet. Instead of waiting the 5 days for a new ID to be sent in the mail I had other plans that just couldn’t wait. No Cash, No ID, No Credit Card I needed to survive. I needed to do more than that actually, I wanted to Thrive and show how this cryptocurrencies UTLITY was more revolutionary than meets the eye. From Gas for my car, new tires, new battery, clothes, airfare, stripclubs, meals (breakfast lunch and dinner), hotels, the whole gambit, I did it with BITCOIN. I even managed to donate to charity, empower some grass root movements who did not want to lend the guessing game of PayPal the power of managing donations. All with BITCOIN.