To crypto anarchists, Bitcoin is seen as one of the most important tools to help promote self sovereignty and liberation. Yes, there's fantastic technology involved and "number go up" is fantastic, but the freedom that Bitcoin gives HODLers is the primary benefit.
This weekend, the seventh annual Hackers Congress Paralelní Polis will be convening in Prague, along with a massive, 58-hour long live stream. We sent over a few questions to the conference's team to help make the case for why this conference is important to Bitcoiners.
Responding to our questions was a team from the event including:
- Pavol Luptak, co-founder of Paralelní Polis, certified IT-professional and white-hat hacker
- Max Hillebrand, co-organizer of HCPP TV and the Sovereign Individual Workshops, contributor of many open-source projects, including Wasabi
- Alena Vranova, curator of Sovereign Individual Workshops, co-founder of Satoshi Labs (which runs Trezor) and co-author of "The Little Bitcoin Book"
Flip: What’s the mission of this conference and who should be attending?
Luptak: The annual Hackers Congress (HCPP) will take place on October 2 to 4 in the stunning venue of Paralelní Polis, Prague. Traditionally, it gathers freedom activists, technology geeks, artists and scientists. Every HCPP has a current topic — a provocative idea behind it. Continuing the trend of previous congresses in the series, which explored diverse topics such as the binding constraints of global political and economic systems, the manifesto of the 7th Hackers Congress (HCPP20) highlights “Digital Totality” as its main narrative and a current threat to humanity.
The event will focus on safeguarding privacy when drones, cameras, databases and hostile AI are more prevalent than ever before. This year’s event will focus on practical skills, with the overall goal of teaching participants to be more secure and private online. All ticket holders will benefit from rare networking opportunities with famous crypto anarchists, hackers, Austrian Economists, crypto evangelists and activists.
Flip: What makes HCPP20 special compared to prior years?
Luptak: The key difference is the format. This year’s Hackers Congress is a hybrid (virtual/in-person) event. Viewers around the globe will be able to tune in to HCPP.TV, a public, online, free streaming channel, which will include various interviews and fireside chats co-hosted by more than 30 of the leading Bitcoin podcasters and YouTubers. This streaming will not include the conference talks.
Ticket holders will have exclusive access to an online hosted version of the meatspace event and the workshops. Personal Sovereignty workshops will cover a range of topics, including the best apps to download to achieve personal sovereignty, how to ensure computer security and how to set up a censorship resistant chatroom. Workshops have been curated by Alena Vranova, co-founder of Satoshi Labs and author of "The Little Bitcoin Book," and will be led by hand-picked experts such as open-source advocate Travin Keith; hacker and entrepreneur Juraj Bednár; crypto anarchist Kerominer; and certified IT security professionals and co-founders of Paralelní Polis, Pavol Lupták and Mario Havel.
The virtual aspect of HCPP will be hosted an all-in-one online conference platform that prioritizes participant engagement and networking.
This year, Hackers Congress Paralelní Polis will continue its annual tradition and distribute exclusive Commemorative Coins depicting famous freedom fighters. One hundred silver commemorative coins celebrating freedom fighter and American whistleblower Edward Snowden will be up for sale while one gold commemorative coin celebrating Aaron Swartz will be available to bid on. Half of the proceeds from the Gold Coin auction will be contributed equally between a non-profit educational program and Aaron Swartz's mother.
Participants who attend the physical event in Prague will be among the first to view the hotly-anticipated documentary "LIBERTAS," which will premiere during HCPP. An entirely crowdfunded film, "LIBERTAS" explores the world of crypto technologies in Slovakia and the Czech Republic and examines the potential advantages that they offer as an alternative to current financial and technological infrastructures.
As with previous years, the lifetime ticket to the current and all future Hackers Congress Paralelní Polis events will be sold for 1 bitcoin.
Flip: What are the difficulties in scheduling 58 hours of live stream content, in addition to in-person events?
Hillebrand: First and foremost, 58 hours is a lot of time, and because it is non-stop, we will probably not get much sleep at all. This is why we got 30-plus experienced rockstar podcasters and journalists involved to help out with co-hosting the show. However, already to coordinate everyone to be part of a three-day and night event is tricky, especially considering different time zones.
Further, we have invited 100-plus guests to join the show, including speakers and contributors to Paralelní Polis, but also non-attending guests. Here again, scheduling all the time zones is a mess, especially considering that we want to find a good match of host and guest!
However, just before this amazing weekend starts, it seems that we have managed to curate a great selection of individuals to come on the show and talk about their view of the digital totality manifesting.
Flip: How prevalent of a role does Bitcoin fit in the agenda of the event?
Hillebrand: To be clear, HCPP is not a Bitcoin conference. HCPP is literally a Hackers Congress, where the core themes are crypto anarchy, self-liberation strategies and cutting-edge new technologies.
However, Bitcoin is such a natural fit for the congress! Bitcoin is pure crypto anarchy, individual full nodes are the kings of their own rules. Bitcoin obviously is an incredibly successful freedom strategy that countless individuals apply today. And finally, Bitcoin is for sure a cutting-edge technology, with such a vast amount of ongoing research and development. Thus you will find many speakers and attendees of HCPP who are deep down the Bitcoin rabbit hole!
Vranova: Typically, the focus of the Hackers Congress is broader — our aim is to provide a set of insights and skills to help individuals achieve more personal sovereignty, privacy and security. Bitcoin topics will occupy one entire stage day with practical Bitcoin and Lightning Network related workshops. Since its inception in 2014, Paralelní Polis has been onboarding hundreds of new Bitcoiners every month — which is probably more than any other physical venue in the world. The Congress — especially in its hybrid onsite/online version — will hopefully teach Bitcoin skills to many more.
Flip: How is bitcoin an important tool in the growing battle for sovereignty in the age of digital surveillance?
Luptak: We always consider bitcoin and all other cryptocurrencies (especially truly anonymous ones) to be our most crucial liberation tool. For us crypto anarchists responsible for HCPP20, the goal was still freedom. We love crypto technologies, but they are just tools for our (crypto) liberation. It is also a reason why we refuse and boycott any activities disarming Bitcoin its liberation properties (e.g. KYC/AML), and promote any projects helping people to make mutually voluntary trades (e.g., decentralized markets like OpenBazaar, decentralized crypto exchanges like Bisq, etc.).
Flip: Can people check out conversations from previous events to get a taste of what they can expect for this year?
Luptak: The HCPP.tv website is already filled with plenty of content from previous years.
Flip: Is this Paralelní Polis’s primary way to fund the non-profit? How are the proceeds from the conference used?
Luptak: We would like to have HCPP20 be a way to fund Paralelní Polis, but unfortunately in these difficult times, it is not possible. HCPP20 congress is a big professional event with a relatively big budget, so our goal now is to avoid a potential loss. Any extra proceeds from the conference will be used to help Paralelní Polis to survive in these difficult times. We are independent from government financing and your support strengthens this independence!
All the revenue from the Annual Hackers Congress Paralelní Polis, the biggest cypherpunk event in Europe, are invested into running a four-floor building with a bitcoin cafe, a co-working space, running crypto meetups and workshops to onboard newcomers, a fully equipped studio for streaming and a newly-opened hackerspace.