President John F. Kennedy Speaking At Rice University, September 12, 1962

A Call For U.S. Leadership in Crypto

I work in New York, a city known for finance, in a country known for innovation, We Americans now find ourselves at a moment of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.

Despite the striking fact that most of the programmers the U.S. has ever known are alive and working today, despite the fact that the U.S.’s technical capabilities are growing exponentially, despite that, the vast stretches of the unknown and the unanswered and the unfinished still far outstrip our collective comprehension.

No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of man’s recorded history in a time span of but a half-century. Stated in these terms, we know little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them. Then 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Five years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels. The printing press came this year, and two months ago, the steam engine provided a new source of power. Last month electric lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes became available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television. Two days ago the internet browser was introduced. And earlier today, Satoshi wrote his white paper.

This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but create new ills as it dispels old, new ignorance, new problems. Now, when refer to “Crypto”, I mean the four technologies (blockchain, cryptocurrency, smart contracts, and zero knowledge proof), which collectively enable decentralization, all fueled by community. Surely these technologies promise disruption and high reward.

So it is not surprising that when it comes to Crypto our government would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of New York, and this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. Technological breakthroughs are driven by those who move forward — and we will continue to do so.

If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The development of Crypto will go ahead, whether the U.S. regulators joins in or not. And I believe Crypto is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to lead the world in technology can expect to lead while staying behind in the development of Crypto.

Our forefathers made certain that the U.S. rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of the internet. This generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of Crypto. We mean to be a part of it — we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world will increasingly look at Bitcoin and blockchain and beyond. And those of us in Crypto are working to see it governed by a banner of freedom. We have vowed that we shall not see Crypto filled with scammers, but with scalable protocols that make the world a better place.

Yet the promise of Crypto can best be fulfilled if we in this Nation are there, and leading the way. In short, our leadership in technology, our hopes for a better future, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world’s leading Crypto nation.

We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For Crypto, like all of technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide how this new technology evolves. I do not say that we should or will go unregulated against the misuse of Crypto any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of cyber warfare. But I do say that Crypto can be developed and mastered without repeating the mistakes of past regulatory overreach.

Crypto’s development deserves the best of all mankind and its opportunity for community. But why, some say, Crypto? Why choose this as our next computing platform? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 75 years ago, fly the Atlantic?

We choose to to develop Crypto, and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because the goal of decentralization will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.

It is for these reasons that I’m concerned by the inaction of our government to provide greater regulatory clarity. In the last months, we’ve seen progress in scaling like the Lightning Network. We’ve seen securities infrastructure like Templum and OpenFinance and Polymath being built.

To be sure, from a regulatory standpoint, we are behind. But we should not stay behind. This year, we should make up and move ahead. The growth of our science and education will be enriched by new knowledge of Crypto, by new decentralized governance mechanisms, by new token economics.

The Crypto community itself, while still in its infancy, has already created a great number of new companies, and tens of thousands of new jobs. Crypto is generating new demands in investment and skilled personnel, and New York and the U.S. can share greatly in this growth.

To be sure, all this comes with uncertainty of the role of government and fiat in the future. I recognize that the belief in Crypto’s potential is in some measure an act of faith , for we do not now know what benefits await us.

But I believe that we can develop a decentralized currency that can be used as a means of exchange. I believe we can leverage blockchain technology to provide identity for the 23 million children on this planet without identity papers. I believe we can use these technologies for voting purposes, and ensuring our elected officials follow through on their promises.

However, if we’re going to do all those things, and countless other positive things for mankind, then we must pass accommodating regulations. I‘m encouraged that New York and the United States are playing a big part in the development of Crypto,. With more regulatory clarity, we can solidify our leading position in Crypto, the greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

The text above was largely lifted from a speech given by President Kennedy that came to be know by the tagline “We Choose To Go To The Moon”:

If you liked what you read, please “Clap” below so others will see it too (up to 50 claps allowed!).