Rob Joyce, the former head of the National Security Agency’s elite hacking division, now a special assistant to Trump and White House cybersecurity coordinator, betrayed a slight friendliness to this space in a brief interview at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.
“I think we’re still absolutely studying and understanding what the good ideas and bad ideas in that space are,” Joyce said before adding any regulations at the White House level is no where close.
That might be in contrast to Steven Mnuchin, US Treasury Secretary, who Vanity Fair has hinted might not be very welcomed at the White House.
Backing the bitcoin hating French Finance Minister, and out of touch Germany, Mnuchin recently said during the World Economic Forum:
“We will be working very closely with the G-20 is making sure that this doesn’t become the Swiss bank account.”
Joyce however seems to take a very different approach, stating “There are benefits to the bitcoin concept — digital cash, digital currencies.”
That might not say much on the surface, but he is probably the first US government official to call it digital currencies, rather than virtual currencies. A slight difference in language that signals plenty.
Not that we are much surprised. Trump found backing in the blockchain constituency because of his deregulations agenda, and Joyce is a coder, rather than a Keynesian economist.
As is becoming clear now, coders tend to like this blockchain stuff, while Keynesian economists tend to very much dislike Hayek who formed the intellectual foundations of free market money.
But Joyce doesn’t seem to be very keen on irreversibility. “If you look at the way bitcoin works after there is a criminal act that takes place, you can’t rewind the clock and take back that currency,” he says.
Well, you can’t automatically do so, and in bitcoin you probably can’t even proactively because it might require reversing many unrelated transactions.
In smart contract based blockchains, however, you can reverse just that specific criminal or accidental transaction without affecting any other if you manage to persuade everyone else or if the free market gives that forked chain more value.
And in the future such reversals might perhaps even be automated in the code itself without any human intervention if it can be done. Just as the first versions of word-processors had no auto-saving or auto-recovery features initially, but later had them implemented.
Joyce, therefore, might be right that it is probably far too early to bring regulations at this point since this space is moving way too fast, but Congress could perhaps overrule some laws, such as IRS’s double taxation by stating gold like money is actually a commodity, or the discriminatory Securities Act which keeps everyone, but the rich, out of the value creation process.