Lairs Johnstone

About me

I like efficiency.

When things are broken, that wastes time, so I try to push such systems towards simplicity any way I can. Overly clever solutions often are hard to understand and maintain. The simplest system that works often is best.

I like computers to tell me what I need to know, like that I just broke something, rather than needing to search for answers.

I realize working in technology still is all about solving problems for people, using systems and processes made by people.

I believe in optimizing processes and solid engineering as a good way to spend our time, over pushing for getting things done the “quick and dirty way”.

I'm all about the idea of building large complex systems that are still reliable and fast by composing together small simple pieces, that make sense individually.

The possibility of building decentralized, permissionless systems to do things where we earlier needed large organizations intrigues me, and I want to see where that will lead. This is the reason why I have spent a lot of my time since 2014 learning about and building on Bitcoin, an open protocol that anyone can participate in by running open-source code, much like TCP/IP, but for money.

It doesn't take longer to send an email to someone in Australia, and we use digital information to keep track of money and payments, so why does it feel like we're stuck in the past whenever we interact with money? And why does fiat money keep losing its value through inflation?

With Bitcoin, a SMS-sized amount of data can transfer billions of dollars of value, not by authorizing the payment in some other system, but by providing cryptographic signatures proving mathematically that your coin was spent. You can generate a dozen random English words, which encode private keys that can hold any amount of funds. You could hold this information in your head, or as a piece of poetry written down, or on a small USB drive-like device like a hardware wallet. The Lightning Network provides higher scalability, and whatever trust- or identity-based systems we're used to in society seems like they could transition to being based on Bitcoin. You could have banks where you as a customer can verify that they actually have your funds, or where there are multiple keys and timelocks for the funds, so the decisions about who to trust with your money are explicit.

Basically, I like using technology to help people get more freedom. We should be able to conjure up tools that do our bidding as easily as we can describe what our intent is. Thinking and communicating clearly is the first step of this. A clear computer program ideally would be something anyone who knows the domain can understand, whether they are a developer or not.

Doing the same things over and over again is not inspiring, so once we know what we want, it should be automated. If we solve a problem once and implement it as code, that code can be used by a billion people for basically no extra marginal cost.

Working on technology is a tremendous privilege and has vast leverage.