About The Artist
Ben Kaufman is a 20 year old software and Bitcoin developer based in Isreal. In many ways he represents the future of Bitcoin, his insight, passion and prodigious open source contributions certainly fill us with optimism. He’s best known for his contributions to Specter, HWI and Bisq but increasingly for his kickass shitposting on Twitter and longer form writing too. These focus on Austrian Economics and can be found on Medium and his blog benkaufman.info
"I think for young people, Bitcoin will feel much more native & easier to use than the banking system now. With all the bullshit that’s going on, it’ll feel much safer for them too."
In 8th Grade, Ben did a Coding Bootcamp for a few months and literally fell in love with it. He decided he’d rather pursue Coding full-time, than complete school, so a year or so later he left 9th Grade (aged 15) to work as a Freelance Developer, initially with small jobs that have continued to snowball since then. Until now, Ben’s been working on this in his spare time but in the next couple of months he’ll be going full time due to sponsorship opportunities.
He feels lucky to have had the support of his family in this unorthodox decision. Like many of us, he’s struggled to explain Bitcoin to family. They haven’t really grasped or understood his increasing involvement but have learned to implicitly trust his decisions. It’s certainly not been easy but he’s very much forged his own path. He realised early on that he enjoyed coding and working so much more than studying. The fact that he’s had the courage to pull the trigger on this so early in life is truly astonishing. Outside of his development work, he’s practiced Judo for the last 15 years and prelockdown he’s also loved to travel.
Ben discovered Bitcoin through a Developer friend in early 2017 and started reading and trying to understand it initially from a technical side. He dabbled in shitcoins a little too, “for way too long perhaps”.
"For a developer, shitcoins can be very shiny, lots of noise and buzz. "
He read more Austrian Economics, particularly Saifedean’s Bitcoin Standard and gradually made the decision to go Bitcoin only. Like many, it took him sometime to realise the totality of Bitcoin. The Bitcoin Embassy in Tel Aviv has been very supportive. It’s a strong community with plenty of great projects coming out of there and an active Meetup scene.
When he started working on Bitcoin specific projects he began by contributing to Bisq using Java. Then he stumbled onto Specter, downloaded the software, loved it and started contributing based on the things he wanted to incorporate and improve.
SHITPOSTING & LONG FORM IDEAS
On Bitcoin Twitter, Ben’s bio reads ‘self confessed tulip gardener and unlicensed software engineer’. He started lurking there around 2017, initially not being very active and just soaking it up. In 2019 he started getting more active but since last summer he’s really cracked the algos and started a breakout with bold, succint takes. You gotta follow this guy!
Despite his background being more in Development, he’s felt a compulsion to get his thinking on Austrian Economics on paper, mostly to crystalise his own understanding about it. Over the last couple of years he’s written some phenomenal articles on Bitcoin from a Hard Money and Austrian Economics perspective. These are available on his blog and Medium page. Titles include : The Monetary Case for Bitcoin, Bitcoin and the Business Cycle, Bending Bitcoin, The Substance of Money & The Nature of Money.
Specter was started by Stepan Snigirev and Moritz Wietersheim from CryptoAdvance in Munich around 2018/19 as a DIY hardware wallet project. Specter Desktop provides an alternative GUI for Bitcoin Core optimized to work with hardware wallets, multisigs and airgapped devices. It was built initially to interact with the Specter DIY wallet but it’s grown and developed considerably from there. Its goal is to help Bitcoiners hold their own keys, use their own node and practice self sovereignty and multisig with the best and easiest tools available.
Specter Desktop is ‘Multisig Made Easy’ and connects to a full node on your computer or dedicated devices like Umbrel, RaspiBlitz or MyNode. It improves your privacy and allows you to verify UTXOs via your own node. Its a big step towards Self-Sovereignty and comes wrapped with a massively improved UX.
Bitcoin Core has a very powerful command line interface that can use PSBT and HWI to work with hardware wallets, but up till now its been very Linuxy and not so accessible for non-technical types. Specter Desktop’s given it a much more convenient and user-friendly GUI.
At the moment Specter Desktop works with all major hardware wallets including : Trezor, Ledger, KeepKey, BitBox02, ColdCard, Specter DIY & Cobo.
In terms of the future Ben’s excited to continue developing Specter. He also feels Taproot will be fascinating and should provide significant privacy improvements for Bitcoiners. Bitcoin’s caused him to start separating his life more and more from the State. He sees the short sightedness of the Fed’s approach to moneyprinting and the potential for Bitcoin to capitalise hugely from fiat’s inevitably inflationary future.
Unfortunately, Isreal’s recently brought in vaccination passports which have significantly curtailed freedom of movement there. It’s a direction he’s very much opposed to and sees himself potentially leaving Isreal as a result of these changes.
"Lets see where this bull market takes us. 50K used to feel like such a crazy idea but who knows where this will go next.