Interview - Cardano SPO #093: Army of Spies [AOS]

Written interviews with Stake Pool Operators (SPOs) on the Cardano blockchain.
Link to post on my Medium

This week’s Cardano SPO is a stake pool operated by 3 citizens of the world who value anonymity and create content on Youtube: Army of Spies [AOS].

The previous guest was a stake pool operated by Vic from Virginia US with a background in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, on a mission to spread the Stoic philosophy.

This initiative is a point of reference for everything Cardano and every week or two we will invite a Stake Pool Operator (SPO) to answer some questions and give us an update directly from within the Cardano community.

Hi, great to have you here. Tell us something about yourselves. Why the anonymity?

We like to think of ourselves as citizens of the world. I’m the only one involved in the videos and social media. But, there are three of us involved in the stake pool. None of us are involved in any other stake pools.

Among us there is a decent amount of migrating back and forth between continents at different times. The videos are anonymous because I wanted my ideas to stand on their own merits as opposed to some kind of appeal to authority based on my credentials or background.

What would the world be like if all ideas were judged that way?

What’s the path that led you to Cardano and to become a Stake Pool Operator (SPO)?

I was following Bitcoin closely going back to 2013ish. I bought my first Bitcoin right after the Mt. Gox crash in 2014. Then I bought ETH right after the ICO. Eventually, I became aware that there would be a third generation of crypto involving proof-of-stake and smart contracts.

That led me to the famous Cardano White Board video created by Charles. I started DCAing into Cardano in 2018 and also entered the idea for the Army of Spies dApp in Catalyst Fund 3. Luckily, we weren’t funded. We didn’t know it at the time. But, it would actually be years before such a dApp could have been built on Cardano.

The AOS videos eventually grew out of the dApp project. The stakepool grew out of the videos. I was already so deeply involved in Cardano, it didn’t make sense to not help validate the network.

There are critiques of Cardano not being focused on privacy. As someone who values it greatly, what are your thoughts about this? And what is Midnight?

It’s obviously true. I do value my anonymity. Blockchain ecosystems thinking about privacy have to walk a tightrope between regulatory concerns and achieving any meaningful level of privacy.

It’s interesting because the transparency of on-chain transactions is counterbalanced by the anonymity of the parties involved and the authorities are very interested in the identity of those parties…which is the one piece blockchains obscure.

I applaud Midnight as a sidechain attempt to hit a different point on the spectrum than the Cardano base layer. How far we in crypto can push the envelope on privacy will probably be tied up in the larger policy questions of how governments will treat blockchains generally. SBF and FTX have fucked that up for us in the short term. But, this is a battle we’ve been fighting for over a decade and another day will come.

I’m also looking forward very greatly to TypeScript on Midnight. If Midnight is successful, I think people are probably sleeping on how big the selection of TypeScript can be for adoption.

You’ve been consistently creating content for your Army of Spies channel, how was this journey? What advice do you have for people considering creating content on Youtube?

Youtube can be used in wildly different ways. I think some are more on the constructive side and some are more on the intellectually dishonest and manipulative side. It’s a great place to create something that you like and can be proud of.

I attempt to create content that I think is an honest and authentic reflection of my own deliberative meditations on Cardano. That is one way to approach Youtube. But, it is specifically not the most profitable.

The other way to approach Youtube is to focus on maximizing clicks and views at all costs. This means focusing on what the greatest possible pool of viewers want to see and doing everything possible to get those clicks. This produces all the crypto videos with shocked face thumbnails and highly misleading click bait titles that are intended to manipulate the audience.

The content of these videos is often also intended to manipulate the audience into believing the content creator can help them predict price. I don’t believe that anyone can actually predict the crypto markets with any kind of reliable and meaningful accuracy. If they could, they would be billionaires. They wouldn’t be on Youtube. They are on Youtube not because they can predict the market. But, because they know they can draw those “fibonachos” on the chart and push that dopamine trigger in the viewer’s brain as they imagine those sweet sweet profits. This keeps them coming back for more…even if it’s all just bullshit.

So, the problem with crypto Youtube is that the more manipulative content is rewarded to a greater degree. But, that’s also true of all social media to some extent. So, if you are getting into crypto youtube, you gotta be okay with being honest/authentic and getting fewer views or being manipulative/intellectually dishonest and getting more views/$. Again, this is probably true of social (and really all) media in general these days.

Thank you kindly for your time. Where can people follow you?

Thanks for taking the time, Patryk! Army of Spies Youtube channel.

Disclaimer: The opinions and views of the SPOs are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Cardano Foundation or IOG.