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Jack Robison Escaped 60 Years in Prison; Now He's Revolutionizing the Internet

Samuel Bryan • Dec 31 2015

Today, we officially announce the addition of Jack Robison to the LBRY team as Core Developer. Jack has been working on the project for some time, and we thought it was about time to recognize his growing role.

Jack Robison, LBRY Core Developer

We value Jack for his bursts of creative energy. In fact, Jack has quite a history with explosions. In high school, some of his homemade chemistry experiments caught the attention of law enforcement. The incident quickly became national news and went to show that Jack doesn't do anything halfway, which makes him a perfect fit for the LBRY team.

"When I was in high school my interest was chemistry, starting with energetics. Rockets and cannons fascinated me, and I wanted to know how they really worked," Jack explained. "I pursued the answer to that question, and after a couple of years I'd synthesized many of the common explosives used in the military, and I was experimenting with some compositions of my own design. That interest got cut short by the law; fortunately, the outcome didn't involve any orange jumpsuits."

The case involved big booms, YouTube videos, and overzealous prosecutors. He faced up to 60 years in prison. You can read more about it here.

That experience pretty much nixed Jack's passion for explosives. As he put it, "I pretty thoroughly lost interest after they indicted me." So he redirected his focus to other areas of chemistry, specifically designing compounds for medical use.

This might sound like a wild story, but it's actually more common than you'd think. Peter Thiel revealed in his book that several of the co-founders of PayPal built explosives in high school. It's not that tech companies look to hire firecrackers. It's just that people who disrupt industries have to be willing to take risks in the name of creating something cool. Jack has just that mentality.

We've seen him hone various aspects of our nascent protocol with a laser-like focus. This is common for people on the autism spectrum, which Jack discovered of himself after his indictment. In fact, his atypical mind may have blinded him to the possibility that his explosions were anything more than the ambitious chemistry experiments he saw.

Jack's acquittal made him something of a celebrity in the "Aspie" community, and he continues to advocate for autism rights. He has spoken on the subject around the country, even appearing on National Public Radio. The New York Times published a feature-length story about his activism and life, which is well worth a read.

Jack later developed interests in economics and Bitcoin. That led him to us. As he puts it:

"LBRY quickly caught my interest; I don't know how a distributed content marketplace and delivery platform couldn't. It has the right incentives to get people to act as they should, and by doing so, makes content available at the most efficient price. The market for information is muddled with friction throughout; LBRY gets rid of that. It's a good time to be a nerd for markets! The blockchain has the potential to enable direct person-to-person transactions on an unprecedented scale."

Having successfully pushed the boundaries in the autism community, he's now ready to focus his talents on pushing the boundaries of technology and the Internet.

LBRY co-founder Jeremy Kauffman is thrilled to be working with Robison:

"Jack is one of the sharpest and most creative minds I've ever met. It's surreal to think that mind could have gone to waste if things had gone a little differently. We're all very glad we're in the universe where Jack did not go jail, and I'm personally excited to have such an innovative mind working on LBRY."

Jack jumped into LBRY with both feet, and we quickly discovered he is an amazingly fast learner. His sharp mind and astute problem-solving skills are quickly turning Jack into a leader on the LBRY team.

Photo of Samuel Bryan
Samuel Bryan · · ·

Much of our writing is a collaboration between LBRY team members, so we use SamueL BRYan to share credit. Sam has become a friend... an imaginary friend... even though we're adults...