An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

A friend with a great deal of business experience once told me “Don’t be a designer and a programmer”. Those are completely different mindsets and trying to be in both of them is extremely difficult and unproductive.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Blake Hutchison, CEO of Flippa.

Daniel is an inventor of Bastyon, a decentralized social network modeled after the concept of Bitcoin. He worked and published in the fields of quantitative finance and machine learning. In 2015 he was a winner of the prestigious Peter L. Bernstein award for the best article in the Institutional Investor Journals. He is a winner of the Outstanding Author Award for his work The New Paradigm of Risk Management. Daniel also worked extensively in the area of machine learning, co-authoring important papers. Daniel’s mission in inventing the Bastyon was to ensure that people can govern their own communication without arbitrary censorship from large corporations. Daniel is fascinated by the potential of Bitcoin to help secure human freedom of choice and to disrupt not just finance, but many other quasi-monopolistic industries.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Most of my career I worked in financial mathematics, building risk management models for large institutions. I was both a practitioner and a researcher, publishing some scientific studies as well. However, around 2016 I became really concerned about arbitrary corporate censorship in social media. It was obvious to me that this censorship will grow and become a real impediment to society. That is when I wrote the original paper about the idea of Bastyon, at the time it was called Pocketnet.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

I tried to focus on systemic flaws in traditional social media. Most people pin the blame on this or that personality, but my goal was to analyze the principles behind banning bloggers and constantly changing the rules arbitrarily. I came to the conclusion that the three core problems with Big Tech social media are: 1. The way they are financed, which makes it necessary to recoup huge investments using any means possible, including acquiring any competition 2. The fact that the code is not open sourced, thus nobody could easily create a competitor 3. The fact that computing power is centralized making it easy target for hackers or shutdowns.

Bastyon is built to overcome all these issues. It is built exactly like Bitcoin, a non-corporate, open sourced code with a fully distributed computing architecture. Sometimes in the internet lingo that is called Web 3.0, except to date there are no example of real large Web 3.0 applications. Bastyon is one.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

There was a series of Murphy’s Law episodes that happened in the first year of devepment of Bastyon, it was initially called Pocketnet. There was only 4 devs and the whole project was in deep beta. But for some reason everything worked smoothly when at least one of the devs was around, however if the off days coincided, there was trouble. One time the devs all went out on different camping trips and there was a major issue with the network. Two of them ended up fixing it by finding some internet on remote kayaking trips in the middle of nowhere. Of course, that was 4 years ago and now the platform is on a completely different levels, every release goes through extensive testing and there are close to 30 devs working on the project. But coding in the midst of wilderness on a kayaking trip must be an unforgettable experience.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

The biggest inspiration was the paper by Satoshi Nakamoto describing Bitcoin. For the longest time I avoided crypto, because I am averse to speculation and I could not see through the speculation to the core technology. But once I read the paper, everything changed. The hallmark of a genius is when a solution solves not one, but a whole host of major problems, which were not resolved before. Satoshi’s paper did that. Since I was a kid I was inspired by mathematicians, though my formal training is not in math, but in finance. I am also inspired by the programmers who built the dream Bastyon and are still building it with no salary or benefits. In particular, I will mention couple without revealing who they are, they can decide if they want to be public. One is a genius, who combines an amazing analytic mind with appreciation for beauty and arts, his name is Max. You will rarely see a programmer who can both do complex cryptography and create beautiful designs, all in an afternoon of work. The second programmer, Andy, works on the Bastyon node software in C++ and he has amazed me with his growth from the state of a young distracted genius to a wise architect and a leader. Going from having a narrow skill, which is typical in corporate environments, to being able to help design the architecture of something as complex as Bastyon in two or three years is miraculous. Of course, there are many other great developers, but I wanted to mention those two, they inspire me to continue to innovate in Web 3.0 with Bastyon.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

That is a great question. I believe that the guideline for positive disruption should be that whatever you are building should empower people and make them more self-sufficient. Most innovations in technology nowadays and especially social media, are opposite of that. That is why I call traditional Web 2.0 social media platforms — asocial. They are interested in creating echo chambers, making people think less for themselves, but rather be governed by trends. One scientist recently said that humans are ‘hackable animals’ who have no free will. That is a lie, but to perpetuate this lie, the ‘disruptive’ algorithms try to hack people’s biology through algorithms to make them more dependent. In Bastyon, for example, there are no closed groups. At some point everyone has to come in contact with opposing view points. If you don’t see different view points, you develop mind atrophy and then you are dependent and you can indeed become a ‘hackable animal’.

Can you share five of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

A friend with a great deal of business experience once told me “Don’t be a designer and a programmer”. Those are completely different mindsets and trying to be in both of them is extremely difficult and unproductive.

I have a tendency to want to understand and study anything that I work with. It is not enough for me to use formulas and algorithms, I need to understand and be able to apply them. With an incredibly complex project like Bastyon, I had to unlearn that some degree. I am not a programmer, rather I program only for research and testing purposes when I design architectures. But with Bastyon I wanted to get into programming more heavily, which took a tool on me. Serious programming is a a very intense endeavor and trying to be a programmer, while being a designer of the system is health threatening. So I learned to step back and trust developers and more importantly to help them grow.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Almost 30 developers are working on Bastyon. My role is to research the new functions and verify them from a statistical point of view, that they can work. There are lots of new features, but the crowning jewel will be the completed jury moderation system on Bastyon. There can be no decent social network without some censorship. Things like pornography, child exploitation, threats and illegal narcotics are not allowed on Bastyon, but there is no central authority to moderate. Content is moderated by users who have gained reputation in the system. The jury system will ensure that such users can never band together to banish a certain viewpoint or a personality. When each block in the blockchain is created, a jury of peers is called if there are any complaints about content. This jury has to vote unanimously, but even more importantly, its members are chosen randomly. So you cannot choose to moderate someone, you will be chosen. For Bastyon I designed a jury system that overcomes a very important flaw of any blockchain jury systems. In a typical blockchain jury system, the jurors are chosen for each case, but their identities on the blockchain (pseudonyms, if you will) are know before they cast their vote. This creates possibilities for pressure. In the Bastyon jury of peers the jurors can determine whether they can be a part of a certain jury. But nobody besides jurors themselves can know that before they cast their vote. Once they cast the vote on the blockchain, then they also produce a number that proves their right to vote on this particular jury. This protection is quite important and overall Bastyon’s jury of peers will solve the remaining problems in running a decentralized social network.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

The book called Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy―and How to Make Them Work for You was important in my thinking and in understanding the problems of current platforms. An article by Chris Dixon called Why Decentralization Matters ( helped me crystalize thinking on the subject.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite quote is from St. Paul: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain”.

To me that symbolizes it means that whatever you do in life must have a higher goal and so there is no room for half measures, one must go all out!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Very simple. If you have a talent, do not waste it trying to get ahead in the corporate world. It is mostly a soul-sucking pursuit that gives no happiness or meaning. Instead look to work on projects that empower people, make them more responsible and less reliant on the Big Brother. If you are a developer, join the core group of Bastyon developers. There are 28 people now from many different countries. You cannot change the world for the better, if you don’t follow your dream.

How can our readers follow you online?

I only have an account on Bastyon, you can join and follow me here:

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Meet The Disruptors: Daniel Satchkov On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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