Quoted: on Silk Road, Dread Pirate Roberts and buying drugs

“He had basically commoditized security. It was a system that allowed people to buy drugs without fear that they would be ripped off.”

Nicolas Christin, assistant research professor at Carnegie Mellon University, on “Dread Pirate Roberts,” who ran Silk Road. Authorities suspect Ross Ulbricht, who was arrested by the FBI in San Francisco in October, is Dread Pirate Roberts. Silk Road was an online marketplace (and of course there are others) that accepted bitcoin for the purchase of drugs, fake driver’s licenses and other illegal items. A New York Times profile over the weekend paints a nuanced portrait of Ulbricht: He is described as a sensitive and forgiving soul but is accused of hiring a hit man to kill someone who was threatening to expose the identities of Silk Road users; he was an Eagle Scout; earned a master’s degree; founded a bookstore that donated 10 percent of its profit to charity. Ulbricht eventually embraced libertarian values; Dread Pirate Roberts once wrote “I walk tall, proud and free, knowing that the actions I take eat away at the infrastructure that keeps oppression alive.”


Screenshot from Wikipedia


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  • Jeff

    It sounds like this kid led the ultimate double life and let the drug lord side go to his head. He ran an illegal billion dollar industry solo with the exception of a view lieutenants. No doubt he was much more focused on this part of his life (online, running the business) than his day job. The power and sense of invincibility may have been enough for him to want to have the people who threatened it murdered. We’ll probably never know how that affected him, because it takes a lot of brains and innovation to do what Mr. Ulbricht did, especially to be as successful as he was with it (until his inevitable arrest). Most people don’t have that kind of ambition.

    • David_Smith

      Most don’t no, you’re right, nevertheless many do but they apply it toward legitimate legal goals instead of applying it toward being a mastermind criminal knowing that even mastermind criminals usually don’t end well.

  • Up Yours

    FREE the DREAD PIRATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • M1k3G

    What I would find interesting to read Levi, is how the guy that blackmailed Ulbricht managed to get data on the Silk Road users. Now that would be an interesting story.

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