Today marks the last day of the Concerned Technologists letter campaign. A project which has occupied a great deal of my time for the previous few weeks and for which I’m profoundly happy about the success. The project’s goal was straightforward, to lift up and amplify the voices of technologists and to ensure that their perspectives get heard at this crucial time in our legislative process.
It’s always been an open secret in the software industry that most technologists are deeply skeptical of blockchain technology, and this letter simply reaffirmed that truth. With a signature list the length of a phone book, it’s no longer a secret. When we first started this project, we expected only to get a few hundred signatures, and as of Thursday morning, I’m happy to report that we have 1700 scientists and technologists signed on. I am immensely thankful to everyone involved and how many people have given their time and support to this project. It has been my pleasure to do my small part in facilitating this.
As of tomorrow, we close the letter and deliver. And then the real work begins. This letter has no specific policy prescriptions because, as software engineers, we aren’t necessarily deeply versed in the technicalities of banking regulation and tax law, and so we felt it wasn’t necessarily appropriate to opine on the details of such things in this letter. The goal of this first letter is simply to tell Congress that many engineers have deep reservations about blockchain technology and that they should take what lobbyists are saying with a grain of salt about “stifling innovation.”
This all comes at the same time that Senator Lummis has dropped a proposal for a bill that, in my personal opinion, would create a massive carve out in the American regulatory space, written explicitly by industry insiders to minimize any regulatory oversight of crypto assets. I strongly encourage others to look into the bill and read what other scholars have written on this subject. Personally, I believe this bill would be a disaster for the American public and that the extremely poor status quo would still be far preferable to this bill. The saving grace is that this particular bill will almost certainly die in committee and probably will never even be debated on the floor.
On the international front, there has been a tremendous amount of interest in doing the same project elsewhere in the world. This project is aimed at the US lawmakers for the sole reason that most often, the United States leads on financial regulation, and getting this right there would inform other countries. However, there is no reason that the European Union or other countries could not also lead on this issue. I strongly encourage others to consider organizing their own grassroots campaigns, and I am more than happy to help offer my guidance and technical assistance on the approaches we used. It is far better if these projects are run by local people in the countries in question so that they can address the specific cultural and legal differences in their letters.
We have set up landing pages on the infrastructure for anyone who wants to use the same structure or our site. Simply reach out to me or any of the lead signatories if interested.
I can’t say enough how happy I am about the success of this whole project. It feels like a significant moment in crypto skepticism when we moved beyond podcasts and social media and started to work together on something far bigger. And now it’s on you to do the next big project to help break the cycle of regulatory inaction.