116. Bitcoin from First Principles, Saifedean interviewed by Lex Fridman

116. Bitcoin from First Principles, Saifedean interviewed by Lex Fridman

The Bitcoin Standard Podcast

In perhaps his most comprehensive interview to date, Saifedean talks to Lex Fridman about the history of money, the foundations of economics, and why bitcoin represents a pathway to a more peaceful and prosperous world. Starting from Lex’s question “What is money?”, Saifedean draws on insights from his most recent book, The Fiat Standard, to take the listener on a four-hour historical journey. He explains how money emerged as a market good; why the gold standard developed in Britain and spread across the world; and the intriguing historical circumstances that led to government-controlled fiat money becoming the global medium of exchange. By asking fundamental questions about money, the purpose of economics, and the technical foundations of bitcoin, Lex prompts Saifedean to present a first-principles case for free exchange, non-aggression and bitcoin. Their conversation also includes Saifedean’s reflections on his upbringing in Palestine, how to make the most of our short time on earth, and advice to younger generations.


  • Lex Fridman on Twitter.
  • Lex Fridman’s podcast website.
  • Carl Menger’s Principles of Economics: the founding text of the Austrian School, published in 1871.
  • Human Action by Ludwig von Mises, published in English in 1949.
  • Critical overview of John Maynard Keynes’ The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money in the Journal of Libertarian Studies.
  • Saifedean Twitter thread on scientists who dismissed flight as impossible at the time the Wright brothers were inventing the airplane. Includes comments by Lord Kelvin and the New York Times.
  • Graphic showing technological progress in Britain during the gold standard. For further discussion, see The Bitcoin Standard section: Innovations: “Zero to One” versus “One to Many”, and episode 74 of The Bitcoin Standard Podcast: The Real Drivers of Technological Progress.
  • Saifedean paper on the decline of the aviation industry since the 1970s. For further discussion see chapter 10 of The Fiat Standard on Fiat Fuels.
  • The Bitcoin Standard Podcast episode 108: A New World Monetary Order The ramifications of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  • Bitcoin Net Zero paper by Nic Carter and Ross Stevens. See page 38 for comparison of bitcoin network energy consumption compared with tumble driers and other common household appliances.
  • Saifedean’s first book, The Bitcoin Standard.
  • Saifedean’s second book, The Fiat Standard.


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