About The Artist
Jamie King is an award-winning British film maker and podcaster. His STEAL THIS FILM series 2010 was one of the most downloaded documentaries of all time and screened at film festivals worldwide. From 2009-2014 he created and ran VODO, a peer-to-peer film distribution platform which pioneered crowdfunding. He went on to work for BitTorrent Inc. He holds a PhD in the History of the Internet.
THIS MACHINE GREENS (TMG)
Jamie’s latest film ‘TMG’, produced with Brad Mills & Enrique Posner, explores the Bitcoin’s positive role in the future of clean energy production. It explores Bitcoin’s relationship with energy and shows the distorted image presented in mainstream media. It features interviews with Lyn Alden, Nic Carter, Caitlin Long, Alex Gladstein, Samson Mow, Greg Foss and Hass McCook. They not only dispel key misconceptions about Bitcoin and it’s mining, but create a compelling case for it as a ‘greening machine’ with a positive environmental role.
Starting from the premise that energy use goes hand in hand with progress, TMG sees a way forward in the production of more clean energy and sees Bitcoin helping facilitate this transition.
"Bitcoin is the apex of a continuum of currencies that have used energy to store and codify value. "
The expenditure of energy into a monetary good is a time honoured technique through human history. Wampum shell money, the Rai stones of Yap and Gold maintained their value for hundreds if not thousands of years before newer technologies superseded them. Bitcoin’s Proof of Work is simply the most technologically advanced iteration of Szabo’s ‘Unforgeable Costliness’.
Bitcoin miners are uniquely incentivised to ruthlessly seek out the most efficient cleaner sources of energy. It’s a mechanism for innovation in green energy production. If we foster market mechanisms that encourage greedy individuals to go out, engineer, build and harness new energy sources and make it available locally to people – that’s a massive win.
"It’s fascinating to consider money as an information protocol, as a protocol for human organisation."
He hopes the film takes things beyond just saying Bitcoin isn’t boiling the oceans but that it’s incentivising the innovation in energy production that we need to take us to the next Kardashev level. Bitcoin actually pushes humanity forwards.
RABBIT HOLE STORY
Jamie grew up on the left but feels far more aligned to anarchism and libertarianism than Marxism. He encountered Bitcoin for the first time through seeking out Dark Markets, much like Peter McCormack – perhaps it’s a British thing. He started off with a very concrete use case – to buy things on Silk Road through Bitcoin.
"The USD equivalent of what I spent is quite upsetting. I spent >$25million on the Silk Road. "
When he first started thinking about Bitcoin mining, he was squatting with a group in an empty London property with free electricity. The landlord would never have realised, but sadly he never pulled the trigger. He’d be billionaire if he had.
It’s so much easier to be a believer now with super intelligent people documenting & articulating Bitcoin but in those early days, that simply didn’t exist. It’s fascinating how many of those early people who cared enough about acquiring mind altering substances, were also prepared to jump into this new technology. The ones that stuck around and held, those who are now billionaires or deep millionaires – what characterises them? Jamie’s sadly not one of these but his conviction on Bitcoin has only grown.
Gradually Bitcoin’s become something a lot of people discuss and the conversation continues to grow. It’s had breakthrough moments like Wikileaks being censored by banks and switching to Bitcoin for donations. For most people fiat has worked as money up to this point, but cometh the hour, cometh the man . . .
"Holy shit, if you ever wondered why you need Bitcoin, you don’t need to look far now. "
The new top-down vision of money is a surveillance and control platform. CBDCs aren’t money as we know it. They’re a voucher system that’ll have restrictions on what and how you’re allowed to spend it. In that world, it’s absolutely clear why people need Bitcoin. Money is a system of control.
China’s getting close to running a command & control economy. Jamie thinks the EU is looking at this and likes what it sees. They seem to be mimicking the CBDC model, ignoring ideological conflicts and looking to launch a similar model, unified most likely through DIDs and a Social Credit System.
"I totally understand Maximalist tendencies to protect an extremely important protocol. They’ve fought wars over this & are right to defend it."
He thinks there’s a lot of value in Jordan Peterson’s involvement, with clear concordance between his ‘tidy your room’ ideas and the personal responsibility that’s emerging around Bitcoin. Bitcoin culture is emerging as series of lifestyle choices and behaviours, similar to the things Peterson preaches. “Jordan Peterson has a natural fit and receptivity to Bitcoin.”
"Bitcoin passes people like a boat, but there’ll come a time when it’s a life-raft. They’ll no longer care they missed the boat because they need a system to cling onto."
BITCOIN IN A DISTRESSED WORLD
Despite living pretty remotely himself right now, Jamie thinks there’s considerable naivety in the Citadel bunker model. Anyone who’s experienced van life, or camping for an extended period can appreciate how effective modern houses are at enabling you to get things done in your life. Specialisation is a nicety afforded to us by the modern networked urban environment.
"With each cycle the goals get bigger. Last cycle it was ‘when Lambo?’. Now it’s ‘when Citadel?’. Citadel seems so much more noble."
In the reality of a post-disaster situation, heavily armed people are not necessarily going to respect legal property rights however. It’s hard to be self sufficient, you need eight acres to feed a person. It’s hard to manage people, interact and trade with other communities. We can probably get much closer through decent hydroponic systems and stackable, vertical farming etc but it’s still a hugely ambitious project.
If the systems around us starts to fall apart however, you can just about imagine Bitcoin working in this distressed environment, through blockstream satellites, mesh WiFi and the Lightning Network for local transactions.
Bitcoin amounts to an incredibly robust network that could provide a backbone for us to independently get our shit together when the systems around us fail. It’s system was designed to be trustless – relying only math and energy.
Jamie film making process normally begins with him writing an essay to explain things like he’s five. Then he starts bolting it together, finding clips that support the tenets of the story. What invariably happens is that the clips don’t directly support what he’s written and so it starts to mutate. He continues to mutate it, changing chunks of the text and responding to any additions. The film grows in an untidy way, like a sculpture. He has no idea if anybody else works like this but he feels it’s an honest method, because you learn and respond as it assembles, almost organically.
He initially imagined TMG as a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy style refutation of all Bitcoin FUD, but realised that was never going to work. Instead it begins at a zoomed out metaphysical level about civilization’s increasing energy usage described in the Kardashev Scale. It sets an emotional tone for the film, about Bitcoiners striving for that bright and utopian future, which he believes rings very true.
Jamie, Brad & Posner’s next documentary project, TRUST, looks at the role of Bitcoin in a world where authority, institutions and traditional centres of power are in crisis. The great social and economic changes happening today make Bitcoin more important than ever. The film will focus on the decline of top-down power, and how Bitcoin can decentralise organisation in a world after authority. It’ll look back at another recent period of great distrust – the Cold War. At the time information scientists working in a ‘trust no one’ world came together to create modern cryptography – the same cryptography which today underpins the Bitcoin network.
"Can Bitcoin now protect us in a world going through another crisis of trust?"
Why have we stopped trusting governments, science and the media? And what does society look like after our trust in these institutions fails? We’re moving into a new phase of trusting no-one, not your Government, the banks and especially not the FED. By drawing this historical arc, the intention is to put Bitcoin on the map culturally and historically, for normies in the present day. It feels intensely relevant.
This Machine Greens had some big whale investors and of course some smaller ones. Every cent of that money ended up on the screen. It cost around $20K and took three and a half months work. The plan with TRUST is to start shooting spring 2022 and launch later that year. Their goal for is for a Netflix or Amazon Prime release this time, to access a far bigger audience. It’s gonna be epic. I can feel it in my plums.
Please consider crowdfunding the project at trust.film