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Epicenter – Podcast on Blockchain, Ethereum, Bitcoin and Distributed Technologies

A weekly podcast about the latest news in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies

Epicenter is a podcast about the technologies, projects & people driving decentralization and the global blockchain revolution. Every week, hosts Brian Fabian Crain, Sebastien Couture and Meher Roy find the most interesting people in the industry for in-depth discussions about their projects, ideas and stories. Epicenter is part of the Let's Talk Bitcoin Network.

Copyright: CC BY-NC-SA | Date: 2018-03-10 16:20:09

Episodes

#265 James Prestwich: Summa One – Cross-chain Financial Instruments and Contracts

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While trustless interactions on Ethereum are native to the protocol, trustless interactions between the Ethereum blockchain and other blockchains are difficult to implement. Interoperability protocols heavily rely on atomic swaps, which typically come with a free option problem.

For this episode we’re joined by James Prestwich, CEO at Summa. Summa designs and implements cross-chain financial contracts and instruments such as swaps, options, futures, and auctions. Summa recently conducted a dutch auction spanning the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains: Ethereum NFTs were auctioned off trustlessly to bidders on the Bitcoin network. We also discuss Riemann, a framework for deploying transaction scripts to UTXO-based chains, as well as the advantages of the predictability of transactions in UTXO-based chains and how to bring some of those advantages to Ethereum smart contracts.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • James background in Japanese and how he became interested in blockchain
  • James contributions to Bitcoin Script
  • Summa’s recent cross-chain auction in which Ethereum NFTs were auctioned off to participants on the bitcoin network
  • Riemann, a framework for deploying script based transactions to UTXO blockchains
  • Atomic swaps leading to free options
  • Advantages of transaction predictability in UTXO based chains

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Friederike Ernst & Sunny Aggarwal, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-12-12 17:17:13

#264 Nick Sullivan: Cloudflare – The Internet’s (De)centralized Security Blanket

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We enter dozens of trust relationships ever time we interact with the Web. Browsers, ISPs, DNS providers, cloud hosting companies, all the way down to the handful of people who control certificate root keys; we rely on the integrity of these intermediaries to serve reliable, and accurate information. The concentration of power by any one of these actors threatens to compromise the very foundational principles of the Web. Decentralized technologies, like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tor, and IPFS seek to reverse this trend.

We’re joined by Nick Sullivan, Chief Cryptographer at Cloudflare. Founded less than 10 years ago, the company offers content delivery services (CND), DNS, and DDoS protection to over 12 million websites. The company contributes to open source cryptography libraries, some of which are used by Etherum. They recently launched an IPFS gateway and features which allow users to have strong guarantees as to the integrity of the content.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Nick’s background as a cryptographer and previous position at Apple
  • The Internet’s infrastructure and trust model
  • How Cloudflare is experimenting with IPFS
  • The challenges to hosting static websites with IPFS
  • Cloudflare’s Onion routing service (Tor) and the benefits to users
  • The Roughtime protocol and encrypted SNI
  • Cloudflare’s contribution to open-source cryptography libraries
  • The vulnerabilities of DNS and Cloudflare’s free private DNS service (1.1.1.1)

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Sébastien Couture & Sunny Aggarwal, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-12-04 14:16:11

#263 Justin Drake: Ethereum’s Audacious Roadmap to Build a True World Computer

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The Ethereum vision has always been to create a world computer. But its scalability and performance limitations have meant that it has fallen far short of that vision. Yet, work on scaling Ethereum has exploded in breadth and complexity over the past years. From variants of PoS, to Plasma / Plasma Cash, sharding, EWASM, BLS signatures, everything has been on the table. While confusing on the surface, underneath a coherent vision for a new Ethereum that will scale near infinitely has emerged.

We were joined by Ethereum Researcher Justin Drake to discuss the Ethereum Serenity vision, its core components and the roadmap ahead. A particular focus was the beacon chain, the role of randomness and Verifiable Delay Functions.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Justin’s previous project building on top of Open Bazaar
  • Why he made the switch from application development to Ethereum consensus research
  • The high-level vision for Ethereum 2.0 / Serenity
  • The Ethereum Serenity roadmap to scaling the world computer by 1m times
  • The crucial role of the beacon chain
  • The difference between Ethereum Serenity and Polkadot
  • The role of randomness in making Ethereum Serenity work
  • The limitations of existing trustless sources of randomness
  • How Verifiable Delay Functions can be used to create better randomness
  • The Ethereum Foundation plans to develop an open-source VDF ASIC

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-11-27 14:00:41

#262 Brian Behlendorf: Hyperledger – From Blockchain Hype to Production Networks

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Most observers of the ecosystem will probably agree that 2015-2017 were the years of the enterprise blockchain. It was during that time that many startups catering to enterprise were founded and funded, including Monax and Stratumn (where Brian and Sebastien previously worked). For the permissioned blockchain camp, adoption would come in the form of enterprise use cases, arguing that public networks carried too much risk, and lacked needed features like privacy. While much of the hype has subsided, large companies in every sector are forming consortia and leveraging blockchain to provide better process traceability and transparency, and reduce their reliance on third parties.

We’re joined by Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director of Hyperledger. When Brian was last on the show, he had recently started his role at the Linux Foundation. Now, two years later, Hyperledger has gone from a nascent project to a mature ecosystem of technologies with hundreds of members. With dozens of networks in production, and backed by companies like IBM, Hyperleger is the most widely used blockchain technology for permissioned networks.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The most important developments in Hyperledger in the last two years
  • Hyperledger’s family of technologies
  • Production networks on Hyperledger
  • How Hyperledger Fabric differs from Tendermint and Ethereum
  • The evolution of the enterprise blockchain ecosystem
  • The separation between the permissioned and public blockchain ecosystems
  • Industry use cases for Hyperledger Fabric
  • Brian’s skepticism about ICOs and tokens
  • The growing Hyperledger community and upcoming Global Forum in Basel this December

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-11-20 22:09:44

#261 Ben Sharafian & Stefan Thomas: Coil – A New Business Model for the Web

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The difficulties of compensating content creators for their work has been a driving force of the web for decades. It gave rise to advertising-driven tech giants like Google and Facebook and contributed to the decline of industries like music and publishing. Coil aims to change this and leverage blockchain and the Interledger Protocol to build a new business model for the web.

We were joined by Coil Founder and former Ripple CTO Stefan Thomas and Coil Co-Founder Ben Sharifian to discuss their ambitions to change how content is consumed and paid for.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • What web monetization is
  • The difference between web monetization and web payments
  • The negative effects of advertising-driven business models
  • What the Interledger Protocol (ILP) is
  • The current state of ILP
  • Why Stefan and Ben decided to leave Ripple and start Coil
  • The case for web monetization as an initial use case for Coil
  • The idea of users paying a fixed bandwidth per second to content creators
  • Possible user experiences that could be built on top of Coil
  • How to bootstrap Coil and get adoption

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sunny Aggarwal, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-11-13 20:20:53

#260 Devcon4 Recap – From HODL to BUIDL

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It’s that time of year again, Devcon time! Just as the conference was wrapping up, we sat down at the Prague Congress Center for a Devcon4 recap. Join Brian, Friederike, Sebastien, and a surprise guest host as we share our thoughts on the event, and how the Ethereum ecosystem has evolved since we last met in Cancun.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Devcon4 compared to Devcon3
  • Changes to the Ethereum Foundation management
  • Serenity (Ethereum 2.0) roadmap
  • The shift from HODL to BUIDL
  • The apparent departure of ICOs from the landscape
  • The growth of grant programs
  • Brian’s talk at the Generalized Mining panel
  • This year’s emphasis on security
  • Web3 Summit in Berlin the previous week

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain, Friederike Ernst & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-11-06 18:44:12

#259 Gavin Wood: Substrate, Polkadot and the Case for On-Chain Governance

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From one of the main Ethereum clients, to Polkadot to Substrate; Parity has become exceptional at developing successful open-source blockchain projects. Their latest effort Substrate provides a framework to easily create custom blockchains. Building on cutting-edge technologies like Web Assembly, Substrate also offers automated on-chain upgrades.

We were joined by Gavin Wood, who was previously co-founder and CTO of Ethereum and founded Parity. We talked about the early Ethereum days, how Parity got started, Substrate, Polkadot and his views on on-chain governance.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The genesis story of Ethereum
  • Why Gavin prefers reasoning from first principles to reading
  • How Parity shunned Silicon Valley principles to build an developer-driven company
  • Why they decided to work on a scalable blockchain from scratch instead of improving Ethereum
  • An overview of Substrate
  • The relationship between Substrate and Polkadot
  • How Substrate allows switching consensus in a live blockchain
  • Why Ethereum’s governance process is centralized
  • Polkadot and the case for on-chain governance

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-10-31 09:49:53

#258 Monica Quaintance: Kadena – Public and Permissioned Blockchains that Scale

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We’re joined by Monica Quaintance, Head of Engineering and Adoption at Kadena. While most companies providing enterprise solutions focus primarily on permissioned systems, Kadena is building both a public network protocol and private blockchain infrastructure. Their Chainweb protocol will soon launch as a public network and smart contract platform. The company claims their novel approach to proof of work offers enormous gains on transaction throughput, even at scale, while benefiting from the same security as Bitcoin. Alongside Chainwebs, Kadena is building a permissioned protocol more suited for enterprise applications in insurance and finance.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Monica’s background at the SEC
  • The genesis of Kadena and why the founders left JP Morgan
  • Kadena’s unique approach to building both public and permissioned protocols
  • The Chainweb protocol and it’s approach to proof of work
  • The incentive mechanisms in Chainweb
  • How Chainweb protects itself against common attack vectors
  • The PACT smart contract language
  • Kadena’s enterprise blockchain offering
  • The company’s go-to-market strategy and business model

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-10-23 22:21:13

#257 Kevin Owocki: Gitcoin – Aligning Incentives in Open-Source Development

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Building open source software is a collaborative process which relies on good faith and willingness of volunteers. While most of the software we use daily relies heavily on open-source libraries, incentive models are broken. Repo maintainers are eager to see their projects evolve, but have little leverage to encourage developers to contribue. And projects contributors create enormous value by dedicating their time and expertise while getting little in return. Both open and closed-source projects utilize bountied to source engineering talent. Combined with blockchain technologies, there is a potential to create efficient, two-sided markets which align incentives for all participants.

We’re joined by Kevin Owocki, who is the Founder of Gitcoin. The Ethereum-based platform leverages the open source community to incentivize and monetize work, remunerating developers for pull requests made to projects. Gitcoin was itself built using Gitcoin and is today facilitating bug bounty payments for dozens of blockchain projects. At the time of writing, over 200 projects have used the platform to distribute over $340,000 in bounties to developers. As Gitcoin continues to grow, the goal is to expand its reach to the broader open-source ecosystem.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Kevin’s background as a software engineer
  • The fundamental challenges in open-source development and funding
  • What is Gitcoin and how it addresses incentive alignment
  • How Gitcoin works from the perspective of both project funders and contributors
  • The platforms usage statistics (projects funded, contributors, bounties paid, etc.)
  • How Gitcoin may be used to fund closed-source bountied and public goods
  • Kevin’s proposal for recurring payments in Ethereum (EIP1337/ERC948)
  • How Gitcoin is funded and the project’s business model
  • Gitcoin’s roadmap moving forward

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Friederike Ernst & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-10-17 19:19:51

#256 Aleksandr Bulkin & Jake Brukhman: CoinFund – Crypto-Investing by Community Building

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CoinFund is one of the earliest crypto-funds to have taken shape, forming in early 2016. The fund is well known for running an active Community Slack, conducting great podcast interviews with cryptocurrency projects and an emphasis on building network nodes / services.

We are joined by Jake Brukhman, CEO, and Alexander Bulkin, Chief Alchemist, to discuss their latest thoughts on investing in the cryptocurrency space. We cover a wide variety of themes such as their opinions on the “fat protocol hypothesis,” thesis on value capture in the cryptocurrency space, their efforts to build network nodes; and their effort to build an open source token-less technology that allows entrepreneurs to launch their blockchains.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Coinfund’s history
  • What is a cryptofund?
  • Coinfund approach to investing in the cryptocurrency space
  • Generalised mining – what it is, and how it offers cryptofunds a competitive advantage
  • The ADAPT toolkit – a tokenless toolkit for rapid blockchain innovation

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Friederike Ernst & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-10-11 13:00:20

#256 Aleksandr Bulkin & Jake Brukhmann: CoinFund – Crypto-Investing by Community Building

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CoinFund is one of the earliest crypto-funds to have taken shape, forming in early 2016. The fund is well known for running an active Community Slack, conducting great podcast interviews with cryptocurrency projects and an emphasis on building network nodes / services.

We are joined by Jake Brukhman, CEO, and Alexander Bulkin, Chief Alchemist, to discuss their latest thoughts on investing in the cryptocurrency space. We cover a wide variety of themes such as their opinions on the “fat protocol hypothesis,” thesis on value capture in the cryptocurrency space, their efforts to build network nodes; and their effort to build an open source token-less technology that allows entrepreneurs to launch their blockchains.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Coinfund’s history
  • What is a cryptofund?
  • Coinfund approach to investing in the cryptocurrency space
  • Generalised mining – what it is, and how it offers cryptofunds a competitive advantage
  • The ADAPT toolkit – a tokenless toolkit for rapid blockchain innovation

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Friederike Ernst & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-10-11 13:00:20

#255 Arthur Breitman & Kathleen Breitman: Tezos – The Long Road Towards A Digital Commonwealth

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The Tezos whitepaper, published in 2014, anticipated several areas that would become major issues for blockchain networks. Especially around governance and smart contract security, Tezos proposed original solutions. The project later went on to raise $232m in the biggest token sale at the time. Recently, the Tezos network launched as the first of a wave of innovative next-generation blockchain networks.

We were joined by Tezos co-founders Arthur and Kathleen Breitman to discuss the history of the project, how the network functions today and how it could develop going forward.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • What inspired the original Tezos vision from 2014
  • The critical importance of formal verification and governance
  • Why Arthur thinks the blockchain scalability problem is overrated
  • The case against decentralized applications
  • Why the ability to evolve and adopt new features is critical for Tezos success
  • Tezos’ Proof-of-Stake and emerging baking ecosystem
  • The Tezos Foundation drama and Johann Gevers
  • The relationship between their company DLS and the Tezos Foundation

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-10-05 08:47:01

#254 Allen Day: Google’s Mission to Provide Open Datasets for Public Blockchains

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Public blockchains produce enormous amounts of data. In theory, anyone can access the raw contents of transaction and blocks. In practice, however, querying blockchains can prove to be a daunting task.

The difficulty lies in the fact that blockchains are particular types of distributed databases and thus carry several limitations. Most, if not all, blockchains lack the most basic SQL querying capabilities supported by nearly every off-the-shelf database system.

Take Bitcoin as an example. Its API lacks even the most basic calls which would allow a user to query any address and receive the balance. In order to achieve this, block explorers and alike have developed sophisticated middleware infrastructure that parses the blockchain, normalizes the data, and stores it in a database, where it can be queried. In the best of cases, companies offer API calls for only a limited set of operations. Google hopes to change this by freeing blockchain datasets.

We’re joined by Allen Day, Science Advocate at Google’s Singapore office. Earlier this year, he and his team released the Bitcoin blockchain as a public dataset in Big Query, Google big data IaaS offering. In August, they added Ethereum to their list of freely available public datasets, which includes US census data, cannabis genomes, and the entirety of Reddit and Github. Anyone wishing to query the data can do so in SQL on the Big Query website or via an API. For instance, a relatively simple query would return the daily mean transaction fees since the Genesis Block in just a few seconds.

Coupled with Google’s AI and Machine Learning infrastructure and other open data sets, one can only imagine the potentially groundbreaking insights we could gain from this data.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Allen’s background as a geneticist
  • The similarities between blockchains and evolution process in lifeforms
  • Google’s cloud platform and its various components
  • Big Query and its publicly available datasets
  • The Bitcoin and Ethereum datasets in Big Query
  • Why this data is useful to the public and for what it may be used
  • The particular challenges in implementing Ethereum as opposed to Bitcoin
  • Insights we may gain by crossing blockchain dataset with other data
  • How machine learning and AI could help us better understand specific transaction patterns

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-09-26 13:11:29

#253 Angela C. Walch: The Case for Treating Developers as Fiduciaries in Public Blockchains

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The expectation has become widespread that blockchains will end up underpinning major societal infrastructures. The narrative in the blockchain space is that networks are decentralized and trustless and thus regulation should not apply to networks directly. Legal scholar Angela C. Walch has been questioning terms like decentralization and trustlessness and argues that blockchains shift the need for trust rather than remove it. Her controversial ideas include that key developers of open-source project should be treated as fiduciaries and held accountable for the consequences of their work.

Angela Walch is a professor of law at St Mary University School of Law and a Research Fellow at the Center for Blockchain at UCL. She is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School and has been doing academic work on legal issues surrounding public blockchains since 2013.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How she became interested in Bitcoin and issues around the narratives of decentralization and trustlessness
  • How her work has been received in the blockchain space
  • The problematic lack of a clear definition of terms like trustless, immutable and decentralized
  • Why blockchains should be looked at as trust-shifting, not trustless
  • The definition and role of fiduciaries in society
  • Why blockchain developers could be considered fiduciaries
  • The practical implications and difficulties of regulating blockchain developers as fiduciaries
  • How the SEC’s stance on blockchains connects with the question of developers being fiduciaries
  • Her personal views on the value and promise of blockchain tech

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-09-19 11:37:18

#252 Ralph Merkle: Revolutionizing Democracy Using DAOs (rebroadcast)

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Legendary scientist and cryptography pioneer Ralph Merkle joined us to discuss his recent paper on DAOs. Merkle examined how the voting mechanisms in today’s democracies are flawed and how a decentralized, transparent DAO making decisions using prediction markets could create more efficient democratic systems.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Merkle proofs, Merkle Roots and his early forays into cryptography
  • Blockchains as living organisms
  • Why DAOs will be subject to a Darwinian evolutionary process
  • Why voting is flawed and we need new governance methods to save democracy
  • The concept of a DAO democracy
  • How prediction markets and futarchy would help govern a DAO democracy

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-09-12 21:38:39

#251 Glen Weyl: Radical Markets – Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society

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The rise of populism and increasing inequality have led to widespread questioning of democracy and capitalism. Glen Weyl, a political economist and Principal Researcher at Microsoft, along with legal scholar Eric Posner, published a book called ‘Radical Markets’. Radical Markets explores how restructuring property rights and voting systems could lead to more efficient markets and a more just society. Glen joined us to discuss the book and why the blockchain space is a fertile testbed to explore these radical new ideas.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Why blockchain is on a trajectory to exacerbate inequality and fail at improving the world
  • Why property should be seen as a monopolistic institution
  • How property rights create inefficient markets
  • The radical idea of transforming property rights via a Common Ownership Self-Assessed Tax (COST)
  • How the one-person-one-vote system contributed to the crisis of democracy
  • How quadratic voting works and leads to fairer outcomes
  • Whether or not buying of votes should be allowed in QV
  • His work with Vitalik and radical markets experiments in blockchain

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-09-05 18:13:56

#250 Clement Lessage & Federico Ast: Kleros – Crowdsourced Arbitration for Blockchain Applications

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Dispute resolution is the process by which contracting parties settle disagreements. Whether in the form of litigation, arbitration, or other means of mediation, every contract defines a dispute resolution mechanism and jurisdiction. It is the metaphorical Lady Justice, measuring the strength of each party’s arguments, and reaching a decision based on evidence.

Smart contracts are unique in this sense. Unlike traditional contracts, they are rigid and deterministic. Written in computer code, nuances in human language and vagueness of terms do not exist in this realm. There are no judges, no jury, just calculated execution.

The DOA hack and other similar events have prompted observers of the space to express the need for smart contract dispute resolution. Some have suggested “exit switches” that would allow for human intervention when edge cases appear. But could the arbitration process be integrated into the smart contract and on the blockchain?

We’re joined by, Federico Ast and Clement Lessage, respectively CEO and CTO of Kleros. This dispute resolution layer provides contracting parties with a fast and secure process for arbitration. The system is broken up into courts and sub-courts, each specializing in specific matters like e-commerce, insurance, and transport. In the event of a dispute, parties submit their case to Kleros, where a crowd of expert jurors analyses the evidence. When all votes are cast, the decision is enforced by the smart contract, which may unlock funds, or provide parties with additional time to fulfill the terms of the agreement. Clever incentive mechanisms reward jurors who vote with the crowd, making Kleros resistant to bribe attacks and collusion between jurors.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Federico and Clement’s respective backgrounds, including a crowd arbitration project called Jury.
  • The vision behind Kleros and the problem it addresses
  • The case for crowd-sourced jurors as a means to find the best judgment
  • The game theory and incentive mechanisms embedded in Kleros
  • Kleros’ hierarchical system of courts and sub-courts
  • How jury selection works and who administers courts
  • The system’s built-in governance mechanism and its purpose
  • The Kleros token, Pinkaion coin, and it’s utility in the system
  • “Doge on Trial,” a clever experiment to find authentic doges
  • The current status of the project and roadmap

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-08-30 19:46:43

#249 Ryan Zurrer: Polychain – A Crypto Hedge Fund Success Story

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We are joined by Ryan Zurrer, Principal and Venture partner, at Polychain capital. Polychain capital is a breakout crypto hedge fund with over $100 million in assets under management, and large investments in major crypto projects such as Dfinity, Polkadot, Filecoin and Vest. Ryan was the first person to join Olaf Carlson Wee in managing this fund. He built multiple companies in the wind energy industry prior to making a switch to the cryptocurrencies.

In this episode, we go behind the scenes of the Polychain success story. We get details on what crypto hedge funds are, how Polychain got started, reasons for its breakout success, its approach to blockchain investments and the current challenges of running a crypto hedge fund. Ryan also walks us through Polychain’s interest areas – Layer 1 blockchain protocols such as Filecoin, Dfinity and Polkadot; and financial derivative protocols. If you want to understand how some of the leading minds allocate capital at a large scale in the cryptocurrency industry, check out the episode.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • What is a crypto hedge fund?
  • Differences between a crypto hedge fund and a venture capital firm
  • The Polychain success story and how it played out
  • Polychain’s approach to cryptocurrency investments and entrepreneurs
  • Polychain’s major flagship investments – Filecoin, Dfinity and Polkadot
  • Polychain’s perspective in the “frozen Parity ether” debate

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sunny Aggarwal, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-08-22 14:03:40

#248 Uri Klarman: bloXroute – Layer-0 Scaling with Akamai for Blockchains

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Until now, proposals to improve blockchain scalability have addressed the problem in two ways. One seeks to increase efficiency by optimizing the blockchain or improving the consensus algorithm. The other comes in the forms of layer-2 solutions such as payment channels or side chains.

However, none have addressed the core bottleneck to scalability: TCP/IP network limitations. Improving the speed at which blocks propagate through the network is the layer-0 problem few people consider when thinking about scaling.

Fundamentally, network bottlenecks are what prevent blockchains from increasing their transaction throughput. Raising the block size or reducing the time between blocks has devastating effects on usability as the probability of a fork increases. At a certain point, the blockchain simply breaks as forks occur faster than blocks can propagate to all validators.

Remarkably, the web figured out how to scale decades ago with the invention of Content Distributions Networks, or CDN. This is what enables platforms like YouTube to steam thousands of hours of video to hundreds of thousands of people every second. However, traditional centralized scaling solutions lack the privacy and censorship resistance necessary to serve the decentralized web.

We’re joined by Uri Klarman, CEO of bloXroute. Founded by a team of researchers and systems designers from Northwestern and Cornel University, including Emin Gün Sirer, bloXroute allows practically every blockchain network to “scale today.”

As a scalability infrastructure, their Blockchain Distribution Network, or BDN, sits underneath blockchain networks. Anyone operating a miner can use the BDN without any changes to their consensus algorithm or protocol. By simply pointing their software to a bloXroute node, miners immediately benefit from propagations speeds orders of magnitude higher than the time which is currently required for blocks to be seen by all validators. This global network of servers is optimized to receive and stream massive amounts of transaction data to vast networks of nodes and miners.

While bloXroute relies on some level of centralization, it is probably neutral and cannot discriminate based on the contents, provenance or destination of a block. It also includes clever redundancy mechanisms which ensure availability in the event of an attack on the network.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Uri’s journey as an academic working in the field of networking
  • Defining the blockchain scalability problem as a networking problem
  • Past work and attempts to scale blockchains
  • The vision behind bloXroute and the problem it aims to solve
  • The Blockchain Distribution Network (BDN) and its technical architecture
  • How the BDN optimizes blocks and achieves 1,000x faster propagation times
  • How bloXroute archives provable neutrality and ensures network resiliency
  • The BLXR token and incentive mechanisms
  • The project’s goals, milestones, and product roadmap

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-08-15 18:22:39

#247 Ryan Selkis: Messari – Bringing Transparency and Self-Regulation to the Blockchain Industry

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Since he started blogging as Two Bit Idiot in 2013, Ryan Selkis has been both industry insider and industry critic. Consistently calling out excesses and abuses, but also maintaining his sights on the long-term potential.

He recently founded Messari, a project that aims to bring more transparency and fairness to the industry. Messari has narrowed in on siloed, inaccurate and incomplete data as a key factor that allows insiders to profit at the expense of the public. We talked about the various ways in which Messari tackles that problem, ranging from a community-led effort to gather project data to the ambitious goal of a token-curated registry of stand-up projects.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Ryan’s start into the crypto industry as pseudonymous blogger Two Bit Idiot
  • His insights from being the Digital Currency Group’s first employee
  • CoinDesk and the challenges of journalism in crypto
  • Why poor and inaccurate information benefits industry insiders at the expense of retail investors
  • Messari’s mission to lead a self-regulatory effort for the crypto industry
  • How an open, distributed crypto data library could help create a fairer playing field
  • The plans for Messari’s token-curated registry of projects following reporting standards
  • The economics and game theory around the Messari token and TCR

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-08-09 21:30:03

#246 Guy Zyskind: Enigma – Providing Scalable Privacy-Preservation to Smart Contacts

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Privacy and scalability are arguably the most challenging issues blockchains face. Scalable privacy-preserving state machines are inherently difficult. While cryptocurrencies like Zcash have proven trustworthy for simple transactions, privacy in smart contract platforms is an entirely different animal.

We’re joined by Guy Zyskind, CEO of Enigma, a platform for scalable decentralized apps which preserves privacy. The Enigma network treats Ethereum smart contracts as “secret contracts” and can perform computations on encrypted data. Inputs are broken into pieces and distributed to network nodes which perform computations on a segment of the full data. Once returned to the Ethreum chain, data is reassembled and may be decrypted to reveal the result. Leveraging secure multi-party computation and Trusted Execution Environments (TEE), Enigma prevents a malicious actor from gaining access to the input data and the computation results.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Guy’s background and secure computation research at MIT
  • The different approaches to privacy preservation in computing
  • The different multi-party computations methods and how they work
  • Fully Homomorphic Encryption in the context of MPC
  • How Enigma would preserve privacy for a simple application like tallying votes
  • How Enigma reads encrypted data from the Ethereum network and leverages Trusted Execution Environments to perform computations
  • How developers build smart contracts which use Enigma
  • The role of the Enigma token as an incentive mechanism
  • How Enigma ensures network availability by penalizing nodes which go offline
  • The current state of the project and upcoming milestones

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Sébastien Couture & Sunny Aggarwal, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-08-02 02:07:41

#245 Martin Becze: Primea – The Next-Generation Blockchain Operating System

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Martin Becze is a researcher at Dfinity working on a next-generation “Blockchain Operating System” called Primea – a continuation of his work on the eWASM project from his time at the Ethereum Foundation. Primea is an actor based IPC layer intended for use with WebAssembly programs.

Martin first learned about Ethereum in 2014 and was immediately drawn into the possibilities opened by having a contracting virtual machines on a blockchain. While the EVM was impressive, Martin saw the possibility for greater usability and efficiency by using the new WebAssembly standards being created, and so led a team at the Ethereum Foundation in the creation of a new blockchain virtual machine, called eWASM. We learn about Martin’s experience on the eWASM project and how the limitations of backwards compatibility led him to begin writing a brand new execution environment from scratch, rethinking some of the core designs and mechanics of the EVM – this project became known as Primea. Martin explains many of the fundamental design shifts involved with the Primea platform, including his focus on using the actor-based model and object capabilities (and what these even mean!). He also lays out how the Primea platform fits into the larger design of the Dfinity blockchain.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • eWASM – Ethereum flavored WebAssembly (eWASM) Design.
  • Primea – an actor based IPC layer intended for use with WebAssembly programs.
  • Webassembly
  • Dfinity – blockchain-based cloud computing project. Its aim is to develop a decentralized internet computer that will become the cloud 3.0.

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sunny Aggarwal, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-07-24 19:04:40

#244 Anthony Lusardi: Ethereum Classic Cooperative – Accelerating the Growth of ETC

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The 2016 Ethereum hard fork left us with two distinct Ethereum chains. While the main Ethereum chain dwarfs Etherem Classic in terms of market cap, ETC has sustained its position as a significant actor in the broader blockchain ecosystem. ETC’s recent listing on Coinbase demonstrates its credibility as a significant industry player.

We’re joined by Anthony Lusardi, Director of the Ethereum Classic Cooperative, an organization who’s goal is to promote the development of the Ethereum Classic Network. Similarly to other industry organizations, The Cooperative invests in core development of the ETC blockchain, community building, marketing, and brand awareness.

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Sébastien Couture & Sunny Aggarwal, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-07-17 20:29:09

#243 Evan Shapiro & Izaak Meckler: Coda – A Succinct Blockchain

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One of the key scalability challenges with public cryptocurrency blockchains is that their size grows linearly with the number of transactions. Mature blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum contain >170GB and >1 TB of historical data respectively. New nodes joining these chains need to download this data and verify it in order to become a “full node”. The number of full nodes is a key measure of decentralization, and difficulty becoming a full node translates into future centralization.

In this episode, we are joined by the duo of Evan Shapiro and Izaak Meckler, CEO and CTO at O(1) Labs respectively. O(1) Labs is a pioneering company that uses zkSNARK technology in order to construct a cryptocurrency blockchain, called Coda, that solves the blockchain size scalability bottleneck. New nodes joining the Coda network will be able to trustlessly boot up in under a minute by verifying cryptographic proofs that attest to the validity of the current chain. This technology has great potential to enable decentralization, and for one blockchain to be a light client of another blockchain.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Scalability challenges of current cryptocurrencies
  • Background on O(1) Labs and their mission statement
  • How Coda uses succinct computational integrity technology (zkSNARKs) to enable further decentralization of blockchains
  • Snarky – a domain specific language for zkSNARK computations
  • Current state of Coda and roadmap

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sunny Aggarwal, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-07-12 09:32:19

#242 Neha Narula: MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative – A Research-Driven Approach to Blockchain

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When the Bitcoin Foundation fell apart and funding for Bitcoin core development was needed, the MIT founded the Digital Currency Initiative to step in. In the years since, the DCI has evolved into a vibrant center of cutting edge research on some of the most difficult challenges around blockchain technology.

DCI Director Neha Narula joined us to discuss the DCI’s position between academia and industry, their policy on conflicts of interest, and their most fascinating research topics.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How her interest in distributed systems and scaling lead led her to the blockchain space
  • The mission and history of the MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative
  • How cryptocurrency might evolve over time as an academic field
  • The DCI’s project on digital fiat currency
  • How zkLedger could enable privacy-preserving auditing for distributed ledgers
  • Why sharding is unlikely to succeed in the short- and medium term
  • Why Neha is most optimistic about layer 2 approaches to scaling like lightning network
  • The story of discovering and writing about IOTA’s vulnerability
  • How DCI handles conflicts of interest and strives for neutrality

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-07-04 17:40:35

#241 Eric Larchevêque: Ledger – How to Build an Industry-Leading Cryptocurrency Security Company

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Before founding what is now one of the most successful companies in the cryptocurrency industry, Eric Larchevêque and his co-founder opened La Maison du Bitcoin, a Bitcoin education center and co-working space in the second district of Paris. It was through chance encounters in this space that Leger was born in the basement of 35 rue du Caire, where the company also operated a Bitcoin exchange desk and a handful of crypto miners.

Eric Larchevêque, CEO of Ledger, joins us again since his last appearance as a guest 200 episodes ago. We discuss the meteoric rise of Ledger from a ten-person team to now nearly 150 people across three continents. This fascinating discussion is a master class in product development, scaling at lightning speed, and staying true to your vision when everyone is pushing you to change course.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Eric’s background and how he became involved in the Bitcoin space
  • La Maison du Bitcoin and the early days of Ledger in Paris
  • The meteoric growth of Ledger and how the company managed to scale without imploding
  • The appointment of Pascal Gautier as President how to hire the right people when scaling fast
  • Ledger’s various funding rounds and lessons learned from working with corporate investors
  • The particularities of building products for the crypto community
  • Ledger’s product lineup (Nano S, Blue, and Vault) and target clients
  • The upcoming release of the revamped wallet app
  • Ledger Vault as a security solution for institutional investors
  • Ledger’s hardware technology and rock-solid approach to security

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-06-27 20:28:39

#240 Pamela Morgan: Cryptoasset Inheritance Planning

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While many cryptocurrency holders have thought about how to secure their assets, how to pass on cryptoassets in case of one’s death is rarely on people’s mind. Lawyer Pamela Morgan has been helping people and organizations build solutions to safely store their cryptoassets and has recently turned her attention to inheritance planning.

We discussed her new book “Cryptoasset Inheritance Planning” and how people can design a simple plan to give heirs a high chance of recovering assets in less than an hour.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How an impassioned talk on Bitcoin by Andreas Antonopoulos started her crypto journey
  • Common misconceptions lawyers have about crypto
  • Her work through Empowered Law on educating lawyers
  • Third Key Solutions and building non-custodial key management solutions
  • The most frequent mistakes people make when it comes to protecting cryptoassets
  • How to do inheritance planning for cryptoassets
  • Differentiating between technical and legal aspects to inheritance planning

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-06-21 19:46:31

#239 Grigore Rosu: The K framework – a framework to formally define all programming languages

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In the past few years, we witnessed the development of multiple smart contract languages – Solidity, Viper, Michelson, Scilla etc. These languages need to enable developers to write correct, predictable behavior smart contract code. Each language development effort therefore ends up spending resources into building formal verification toolsets, compilers, debuggers and other developer tools.
In this episode, we are joined by Grigore Rosu, Professor of computer science at UIUC [University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign] for a deep dive into the K framework. The K framework is mathematic logic and language that enables language developers to formally define all programming languages; such as C, Solidity and JavaScript. Once a language is formally specified in the K framework, the framework automatically outputs a range of formal verification toolsets, compilers, debuggers and other developer tools for it. Updates to the language can be made directly in K. This technology has massive implications for smart contract programming language development, and formal verification efforts in the blockchain space.
We also cover his efforts to express the Ethereum virtual machine using the K framework, and to develop a new virtual machine technology, called IELE, specifically tailored to the blockchain space. Check out the episode to understand a game changing technology in the formal verification and smart contract safety space.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Grigore’s background with NASA and work on formally verified correct software
  • Motivations to develop K framework
  • Basic principles behind the operation of K framework
  • How K deals with undefined behavior / ambiguities in a language definition
  • The intersection of K framework and smart contract technology
  • Runtime Verification’s collaboration with Cardano
  • KEVM and IELE, smart contract virtual machines developed by Runtime Verification
  • Broader implications of the K framework for the blockchain industry

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sunny Aggarwal, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-06-12 21:24:01

#238 Amrit Kumar & Ilya Sergey: Scilla – A Formal Verification Oriented Contract Language

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With the rise of smart contract technology, we’ve become acutely aware of the need for smart contract code to accurately reflect the intentions of its author; and for the code to have certain (safe) behaviors in all circumstances. Creating the languages and software tools to enable ordinary developers to write safe contracts has become an intense research endeavor in the cryptocurrency space.

Scilla is a Turing incomplete intermediate level language; inspired from the paradigms of functional programming and formal verification; that makes it easy for smart contract developers to automatically prove statements about smart contract behavior. For example, Scilla could allow a future multi-signature smart contract author to mathematically prove that funds in that contract would always be retrievable by certain addresses (and never get stuck like the Parity incident). The ability to mathematically prove such safety properties of the smart contract has the potential to be an enabling invention prior to widescale use of this technology.

In this episode, we are joined by Dr. Amrit Kumar and Dr. Ilya Sergey to discuss Scilla, the smart contract language of the upcoming Zilliqa blockchain. In a previous episode, we’ve already covered the vision and technical approach of Zilliqa to solve the transaction scalability problem of permissionless blockchains. This episode focuses specifically on their smart contract language development efforts.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Updated on Zilliqa’s progress since our last episode
  • The technology of mechanised proofs
  • Dr. Ilya Serger’s effort to mechanically prove safety properties of a blockchain consensus network
  • Aims of the Scilla language
  • Future capabilities enabled by the Scilla language
  • Developer experience and perspective using formal verification tools
  • How Scilla compares to Michelson, Tezos’ approach to smart contract languages with a similar end goal
  • Current state of development of Scilla, and next milestones

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sunny Aggarwal, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-06-06 07:56:24

#237 Matan Field: DAOstack – An Operating System for Collective Intelligence

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As a society, we have organized as tribes, hierarchies, and markets to accomplish the most impressive of achievements. Human cooperation and collective organization are present at nearly every significant milestone in the history of human civilization. As we move towards an increasingly connected and automated society and economy, there will become a need for decentralized infrastructure which enables companies and markets to make fast decisions at scale.

We’re joined by Matan Field, CEO of DAOstack, a new platform that aims to become the operating system for collective intelligence. DAOstack is building a toolset to allow decentralized governance and building self-organizing collectives at scale.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Matan’s background and journey since founding Backfeed
  • What is a DAO and the necessary components to create a functional DAO
  • The role of DAOs in today’s society and over the long-term
  • DAOstack as “WordPress for DAOs”
  • The different layers of DAOstack and their respective roles
  • Holographic Consensus and the governance model of the DAOstack Genesis DAO
  • The purpose of the GEN token and the idea of circular token economies
  • DAOstacks recent crowdsale and upcoming project roadmap

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-05-31 19:27:34

#236 Luis Cuende: Aragon – Decentralized Governance and the Fight for Freedom

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Aragon Founder Luis Cuende joined us to discuss their work on building tools for decentralized governance. We covered the origins of his deep drive, why this is a crucial fight for humanity and the tools that Aragon has built.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Luis became an advisor to the European Commissionas as a 16-year old
  • Why freedom and technology became Luis’ prime obsession
  • The origin story and vision of Aragon
  • The risk surveillance and authoritarianism pose to humanity
  • Why decentralized governance is the key to freedom
  • How to think about inequality and blockchain governance
  • Why on-chain governance makes more sense on application than protocol level
  • AragonOS and its different applications
  • The Aragon Network Token and potential role in a decentralized court system
  • The road to decentralizing Aragon organizationally

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-05-24 16:36:44

#235 Changpeng Zhao: The Meteoric Rise of Crypto Exchange Binance

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The rise of Binance is one of the most astonishing stories in the blockchain space. Within less than a year of its launch, Binance has become the most popular crypto exchange trading over $2bn per day. In the past quarter, Binance made profits of $200m, likely the fastest company ever to reach this success.

Binance Founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao (“CZ”) joined us to discuss why he started Binance and the extraordinary organization they built. We discussed the role of the Binance token, how their strong commitment to values helped build a loyal community, and how he sees the organization evolve in the future.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • CZ’s journey in the blockchain space from blockchain.info, to OKCoin to founding Binance
  • The astonishing rise of Binance to $200m/quarter profits in less than 1 year
  • How Binance went from deciding to do an ICO to finishing it in 2 weeks
  • Why strong values are a key differentiator for Binance
  • How Binance built a vibrant and loyal community
  • The critical role of the Binance token in its success
  • The principles CZ uses to run an efficient distributed organization
  • How regulatory competition is rapidly improving the conditions to build crypto companies
  • Binance’s plans to build a decentralized exchange

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-05-16 08:17:02

#234 Charles Hoskinson: Cardano – A Third Generation Smart Contract Blockchain

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We are joined by Charles Hoskinson, who played an early role in developing Ethereum and BitShares, and is currently the CEO of IOHK. IOHK is an engineering company that undertakes cryptocurrency research, contributes development efforts to the Ethereum Classic ecosystem, and is spearheading the release of Cardano – a third generation blockchain protocol. IOHK has made the news recently after the publication of fundamental research papers on the Proofs of Proof of Work and the Ourobouros PoS algorithm, and its recruitment of highly rated academics.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • IOHK’s role in the Ethereum Classic ecosystem, and how Ethereum Classic differs from Cardano
  • Cardano as a “”third generation blockchain”” and what this means
  • Governance system of Cardano and the challenges behind developing a decentralized governance system
  • Ourobouros PoS algorithm – why was it developed and what’s special about it
  • Ourobouros Genesis: how full nodes can be bootstrapped without requiring checkpoints
  • Cardano’s bet on K framework for smart contract execution

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sunny Aggarwal, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-05-08 20:49:25

#233 Humayun Sheikh & Toby Simpson: Fetch.ai – an intelligent learning blockchain network

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We are joined by Humayun Sheikh and Toby Simpson, founders of the Fetch.ai project. Humayun Sheikh is well known as the first investor in DeepMind, one of the leading AI companies in the world. This ambitious project seeks to create a self-learning blockchain network that fosters economic activity/combinations between off-chain AI agents. The fetch blockchain network will allow an AI agent, such as a delivery robot, to autonomously discover economic partners that would find its services and data valuable. Towards this goal, Fetch.ai claims to have found solutions to designing a useful proof of work system and building a scalable block chain.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Humayun and Toby’s background at Deep Mind
  • Toby’s background in the videogames industry building virtual worlds
  • The vision behind the Fetch.ai project
  • On solutions to useful PoW, salability and the complexity of the project
  • Timelines and what to expect from Fetch

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-05-02 13:25:12

#232 Karl Floersch: Plasma Cash and the Ethereum Roadmap

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Ethereum Foundation researcher Karl Floersch joined us to discuss the main projects to upgrade Ethereum: Casper, Sharding and Plasma. Karl has been playing a key role in creating a new and simpler specification for Ethereum sidechains called Plasma Cash. We discussed the evolution of the Plasma project and what Ethereum’s evolution in the coming years could look like.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Karl originally became involved in Ethereum
  • The role of Casper, Sharding and Plasma in the Ethereum roadmap
  • The problems with the original Plasma concept
  • How Plasma Cash provides a simple scalability solution
  • The challenge of data availability
  • Use cases and timeline for Plasma

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-04-24 21:18:33

#231 Ajay Prakash & Gavin Brennen: Qubit Protocol – Quantum Computing and its Coming Treat to Crypto

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With the advent of mature quantum technologies, many of the critical cryptographic protocols which secure the Internet, financial transactions and even military secrets may become susceptible to new attack vectors. For instance, while it may take a computer millions of years to decipher a public key’s corresponding private key, a sufficiently powerful quantum computer might achieve this in a reasonable amount of time. With this reality looming over us, many in the blockchain space worry that someone with access to a quantum computer might one day have the ability to steal their hard-earned crypto.

We’re joined by Ajay Prakash and Gavin Brennen, founders of the Qubit Protocol, a decentralized blockchain-enabled governance protocol that is meant to select and fund the best startups in the quantum world. As a co-author of the recent paper “Quantum attacks on Bitcoin, and how to protect against them,” Gavin walks us through the primary threats that quantum computing poses on Bitcoin. Among the major vulnerabilities are hashing functions and Elliptic Curve algorithms used for digital signatures, both fundamental components of Bitcoin, as well as many other blockchain protocols.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • What are quantum technologies and how they differ from the existing paradigm
  • The areas and industries which are to benefit most from quantum computing
  • A refresher on hashing algorithms as one-way functions
  • What a quantum attack on Bitcoin mining might look like
  • How Elliptic Curve digital signature algorithms work and how public and private keys are generated
  • The three types of attacks a quantum computer could perform digital signatures
  • The expected timelines for these attacks to be viable
  • The potential countermeasures which could circumvent quantum attacks on Bitcoin
  • The Qubit Protocol as a DAO to fund quantum technology startups and the challenges of investing in the quantum space
  • The project’s roadmap and upcoming ICO

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-04-17 20:32:06

#230 Loong Wang & Taiyang Zhang: Republic Protocol – A Decentralized & Trustless Crypto Dark Pool

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Dark pools have existed for as long as there have been financial markets. Over-the-counter, or OTC markets, are sometimes also referred to as ‘upstairs trading,’ evoking the era when firms and high-net-worth individuals would meet in the upper quarters of financial markets to make large trades privately. A dark pool is a private forum where one has access to high volumes of liquidity outside the boundaries of public markets. Orders and trades represented in dark pools typically remain confidential outside the purview of the general markets, thus preventing undesirable market impact.

We’re joined by Taiyang Zhang and Loong Wang, who are respectively CEO and CTO of Republic Protocol. Republic operates as a decentralized dark pool for cryptocurrency trading pairs such as Ether, ERC20 tokens, and Bitcoin. Buy and sell orders remain confidential in a hidden order book until matched without any of the parties having access to the underlying details. Trades are settled using cross-chain atomic swaps without the intervention of a trusted third party.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Taiyang and Loong’s respective backgrounds
  • Dark pools, their role in traditional financial markets, and their economic impact
  • Dark pools in crypto markets
  • The Republic Protocol and the problems it aims to address
  • The different components and participants of the Republic Protocol
  • The Shamir Secret Sharing Scheme and its role in protecting orders from being divulged to the public
  • The role of nodes in Republic Protocol’s DHT network
  • The purpose of the REN token as an incentive mechanism protecting against malicious actors
  • Republic Protocol’s use of atomic swaps for decentralized settlement
  • The project’s recent ICO and release roadmap

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-04-11 23:00:53

#229 Ryan John King: FOAM – A Geospatial Proof of Location Protocol for Blockchains and Dapps

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In just over ten years, geospatial tracking has gone from being a niche technology used by the military and outdoor enthusiasts to mass adoption, available to just about every connected device in existence. GPS and other location-tracking systems not only allows us to find our way and share our location but is critical to businesses and governments. However, while GPS has become a standard thanks to its accuracy and availability, decentralized applications can’t rely on its location data as it can be easily spoofed and lacks reliability.

We’re joined by Ryan John King, CEO of FOAM, a blockchain protocol which aims to offer secure location services independent of external centralized sources such as GPS. FOAM introduces a novel crypto-spacial coordinate system that is better suited to blockchains than standard addresses or latitude and longitude coordinates. It also provides a Proof of Location Protocol, which leverages long-range low-power radio networks, and incentive mechanisms, allowing network participants to arrive at consensus on whether an event or agent is verifiably at a particular point in time and space.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Ryan’s background and how he became involved in the space
  • How geospatial tracking works and the pitfalls of GPS
  • The vision for FOAM and the problem it is trying to solve
  • The proposed Crypto-Spatial Coordinate Standard
  • FOAM’s Spacial Index fullstack visualizer
  • The Proof of Location Protocol proposed by FOAM
  • Low-power radio networks and their role in the system
  • The civil and business applications for FOAM

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-04-04 11:52:22

#228 Corey Todaro & John Bass: Hashed Health – Rebooting The Healthcare Industry

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The healthcare industry is paradoxical. On the one hand, treatment technologies represent some of the most advanced science known to humankind, while some administrative tasks are still performed using paper and fax machine. Studies have shown that the administrative costs of healthcare can represent up to one-third of the total cost of care. Also, as diagnosis, treatment, and care, becomes increasingly data-driven and patient-specific, the industry needs to adopt more secure and robust technologies to manage patient data and communications between the patient and the different participants in the healthcare supply chain.

We are joined by John Bass and Corey Todaro, who are respectively CEO and CPO of Hashed Health, an innovation firm focused on accelerating the meaningful development of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies for the industry. Hashed Health works to build solutions which leverage blockchain to solve some of the most important challenges facing this sector.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • John and Corey’s respective backgrounds in the building technology for the healthcare sector
  • Nashville as a hub for the US healthcare industry
  • What is Hashed Health and what problems the company is trying to solve
  • The particular issues facing the US and global healthcare sectors
  • How healthcare in the US differs from that of European countries
  • The different entities of Hashed Health: Hashed Collective, Hashed Labs, and Hashed Enterprise
  • Hashed Enterprise and the products they are building for the industry

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-03-29 18:49:13

#227 Peter Van Valkenburgh: Where US Cryptocurrency Regulation is Heading

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Over the past year, as cryptocurrencies and ICOs started to go mainstream, we have seen a huge surge in regulatory activities. In the US, many different regulatory bodies including SEC, CFTC and FinCEN stepped forward to regulate crypto projects in different ways. Seemingly contradictory statements have added to confusion and fear of a broad crackdown looming.

We were joined by CoinCenter Director of Research Peter Van Valkenburgh to shed clarity on recent developments and understand where things are heading.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The recent congressional hearings about cryptocurrencies and ICOs
  • How the US regulatory environment for cryptocurrencies evolved in the last year
  • Whether overly broad and contradictory regulation is emerging in the US
  • Understanding the difference between CFTC and SEC
  • Why CFTC regulating existing cryptocurrencies and SEC ICOs would be a good outcome
  • Why decentralized exchanges will be a likely target by SEC
  • The recent letter by FinCEN about ICOs and money transmission
  • Comparing US to European regulation and why the US could end up more friendly

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-03-21 17:24:49

#226 Bob Summerwill: Sweetbridge – Rewriting the Operating System for the World Economy

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According to the World Bank, universal financial access is vital to reducing poverty, and lack of access to credit plays a significant role in widening inequalities between developed and developing nations.
For producers at the end of the supply chain, and who typically have little access to capital, waiting for customers to pay for their products puts them at high financial risk and threatens their livelihood. What if there was a way to bring more liquidity to global supply chains, by allowing anyone to create liquidity from their existing assets.

We’re joined by Bob Summerwill, Community Ambassador at Sweetbridge, an ambitious project that aims to change the way global business operates at a fundamental level. While supply chains account for about two-thirds of the World’s GDP, value is trapped in non-liquid assets sitting in warehouses, on store shelves, or in the form of outstanding invoices. Sweetbridge acts as a sort of OSI model for global business. In the Sweetbridge economy, working capital is freed up by enabling individuals and organizations to borrow from themselves interest-free.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Bob’s background as a game developer
  • How Bob got involved with Ethereum and his role at The Ethereum Foundation
  • What is the Sweetbridge and how it aims to transform global business
  • How one can use Sweetbirdge to collateralize assets and borrow money
  • The different protocol layers of Sweetbridge
  • How Bridgecoin and Sweetcoin work, and their respective roles
  • The role and goals of the Sweetbridge Alliance
  • The upcoming token sale
  • The project roadmap and upcoming product releases

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-03-18 00:34:22

#225 Anson Zeall: Blockchain in Singapore and South East Asia

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We were joined by Anson Zeall, who is one of the leaders of Singapore’s blockchain and FinTech community. We discussed how the Singapore ecosystem evolved, why it became a popular place to locate cryptocurrency project, its current regulatory framework. We also dove into some of the projects he is currently involved in including one involving tokenizing cows!

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The evoluation of the Singapore blockchain ecosystem and role played by ACCESS
  • The favorable mechanics of Singapore’s regulatory regime
  • Singapore’s experiment to tokenize the Singapore Dollar on Ethereum
  • How Anson’s startup CoinPip uses Bitcoin as a payment rail in South East Asia
  • Sentinel Chain and its efforts to provide financial access to the unbanked
  • The upcoming Singapore blockchain conference De/Centralize

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-03-08 17:57:55

#224 Jeff Garzik: Metronome – Of Bitcoin Satellites and Built-to-Last Chain-Hopping Tokens

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We’re joined by Jeff Garzik, who was among the very first developers to work with Satoshi in the early days of Bitcoin. Later, he was a core developer at Bitpay and even tried to put a Bitcoin node on a satellite in space. Today, he is co-founder at Bloq, a company providing enterprise-grade blockchain infrastructure. Bloq recently announced a new project called Metronome that challenges some of the design and governance principles of many public blockchain networks.

Metronome is cryptocurrency that sits on top of existing blockchains and aims to allow tokens to easily move from one network to the other. A series of standard blockchain contracts allow for daily descending price auctions to occur automatically, and for users to buy and sell the tokens using a Bancor-like system with built-in liquidity.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Jeff’s background as a web developer at CNN and as a Linux developer
  • His early days in Bitcoin working with Satoshi
  • His thoughts on Bitcoin governance and lessons learned from the Segwit2X episode
  • The lessons learned from founding Bloq
  • What is Metronome and what problem does it aim to solve
  • Metronome’s self-governance and how the system is meant to evolve
  • The different smart contracts which make up Metronome
  • How Metronome allows MTN tokens to move to different blockchains
  • The economics of the protocol and the descending price auction system
  • The upcoming Metronome token sale and development roadmap

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-02-27 21:55:22

#223 Kyle Samani & Tushar Jain: Multicoin – Emerging Frameworks for Cryptoasset Investing

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That decentralized networks represent a massive investment opportunity is no longer a controversial view. In the last year alone, over 200 funds dedicated to investing in cryptoassets have been created.

But the principles and frameworks to understand this new world are still in its infancy. One fund at the forefront of advancing this understanding has been Multicoin Capital. Their Founders Kyle Samani and Tushar Jain joined us to discuss some of the concepts they use to invest in decentralized networks.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Google Glass and the origin story of Multicoin Capital
  • Why the most used smart contract platform will produce the winning store of value
  • Why they are bearish on Bitcoin
  • Why money is best thought of as an adjective not a noun
  • Differentiating between work, payment and burn-and-mint tokens
  • Why work tokens capture network value better than payment tokens
  • The future of Multicoin

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-02-21 14:02:11

#222 Amir Bandeali & Will Warren: 0x Protocol and the Decentralized Exchange Frontier

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Decentralized exchanges have been a holy grail in the cryptocurrency space, since at least the MtGox hack. They promise to derisk the act of exchanging cryptocurrency by leaving custody of funds in the hands of the users. And they should be resistant to regulatory pressure, creating a permissionless way to trade cryptocurrencies.

Among decentralized exchange projects, 0x has gained by far the most traction in the short time since launching. Co-founders Will and Amir joined us to discuss the 0x protocol, the emerging 0x economy and the vibrant community they’ve built.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Will and Amir started 0x
  • The definition of a decentralized exchange and why decentralized custody is key
  • The 0x architecture
  • Why 0x built a protocol and not just a decentralized exchange
  • The role and business model of relayers
  • The 0x token and its economy
  • The 0x governance process

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-02-16 11:56:12

#221 Greg Meredith & Nash Foster: RChain – The Scalable, Concurrent and Performant Blockchain

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We’re joined by Greg Meredith and Nash Foster of the RChain Cooperative. A fundamentally new kind of blockchain platform, RChain is rooted in a formal model of concurrent and decentralized computation. Powered by the Rho Virtual Machine, and secured by Casper proof-of-stake, RCain is partitioned, or shareded by default, forming a network of coordinated and parallel blockchains. The project, which is formed as a coop, leverages correct-by-construction software development to produce a concurrent, compositional, and massively scalable blockchain.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Rchain spun out of the Synereo project
  • The primary objectives RChain seeks to establish
  • The fundamental principles of RChain and RLang
  • The concepts of concurrency and parallelism in simple terms
  • How building concurrent systems implies scalability
  • The unique features of Casper consensus in the context of RChain
  • The importance of namespaces in RChain
  • Why this project was started as a cooperative
  • The current status of the project and roapmap

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-02-08 20:00:33

#220 Manuel Aráoz: Zeppelin and the Evolution of Smart Contract Development

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Zeppelin Co-Founder and CTO Manuel Araoz joined us to discuss his journey from building one of the first non-financial Bitcoin applications in 2012 to improving development and security practices for Ethereum smart contracts. We discussed the OpenZeppelin framework, a library of audited smart contracts as well as their new project zeppelin_os. Through on-chain, well-vetted and upgradeable smart contracts zeppelin_os aims to make developing Ethereum applications both easier and more secure.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Manuel’s journey in the blockchain space from proof of existence to BitPay to Streamium to Zeppelin
  • Why Manuel moved away from a pure Bitcoin focus to working on Ethereum
  • Why Zeppelin focuses on smart contract security
  • How smart contract security evolved since the start of Ethereum
  • The OpenZeppelin framework of audited Ethereum contracts
  • Why zeppelin_os and standardized, upgradeable on-chain contracts are the next evolutionary step
  • The core component of zeppelin_os: Kernel, SDK and markeplace
  • The ZEP token and its role in zeppelin_os

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-02-01 09:14:33

#219 Mance Harmon: Hashgraph – A Radically Novel Consensus Algorithm

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Hashgraph is a new consensus algorithm that radically differs from proof-of-work as well as proof-of-stake consensus algorithms. While work on Hashgraph begun in 2012, it’s design is radically different from today’s blockchain architectures. The Hashgraph team claims that it has found an optimal consensus algorithm design that will be impossible to significantly improve upon.

We were joined by Mance Harmon, who is CEO of the Swirlds, the company developing Hashgraph. Our conversation covered the origin story of hashgraph, how it compares to existing consensus algorithms and how Hashgraph works.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Leemon Baird and Mance Harmon’s long history of building companies together
  • What motivated Leemon Baird to start working on Hashgraph in 2012
  • The existing categories of consensus algorithms and their problems
  • How Hashgraph consensus combines voting and gossip protocols
  • The performance characteristics of Hashgraph
  • How a public Hashgraph network could look like

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-01-25 18:25:45

#218 Chris Burniske & Jack Tatar: Cryptoassets – The Rise of a New Asset Class

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Over the past year, cryptoassets have exploded in popularity. From a mere $18bn at the start of 2017, the aggregate market cap of all cryptoassets recently reached $820bn as interest in Bitcoin and its cousins went mainstream. Jack Tatar and Chris Burniske joined us to discuss their new book ‘Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond’. It is one of the first systematic views on cryptoassets from a mainstream investor’s perspective.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Jack and Chris originally became interested in Bitcoin and cryptoassets
  • Why the term cryptoassets is a good umbrella term for the different kinds of tokens
  • The different categories of cryptoassets: Cryptocurrencies, cryptocommodities and cryptotokens
  • How cryptoassets fit into an overall investment portfolio
  • How to value cryptoassets
  • Whether we are in a cryptoasset bubble and expectations for the future

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-01-17 21:54:03

#217 Andrew Trask: OpenMined – A Decentralised Artificial Intelligence Platform

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A significant part of the modern digital economy, is underpinned by machine learning models that are trained to perform tasks such as facial recognition, content curation, health diagnostics etc. Data to train machine learning models is the essential commodity of this century – a sentiment captured by epithets such as “”Data is the new oil””. Today’s dominant AI paradigm has companies focus their efforts on gathering data from their users in order to train models and monetise usage of the model. This model has many consequences such as loss of privacy for the user, consolidation of data in a handful of large companies, low access to data for startups and a fundamental impossibility of collecting sensitive data such as markers for depression.

Our guest, Andrew Trask, is building OpenMined – a platform that merges cryptographic techniques such as homomorphic encryption and multi-party computation and blockchain technology to create the ability to train ML models with private user data. OpenMined will allow AI companies of the future to develop models, have them trained on user data without compromising user privacy, and incentivise users to train their model. We walk through the OpenMined vision and its potential impact on AI business models and AI safety

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Challenges with the current AI paradigm
  • OpenMined’s vision to allow training of AI models with private user data
  • How OpenMined works under the hood
  • Applications enabled by OpenMined
  • Current state and OpenMined hackathon

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-01-11 10:56:46

#216 Brian Platz & Flip Filipowski: FlureeDB – A Scalable Blockchain-Based Graph Database

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Blockchain technologies are changing the way we think about data archival and storage. For instance, most database systems can only capture the current state of a data set. This means we must rely on secondary backup systems to ensure historical data can remain accessible, a stark contrast from what the most basic of blockchains provide out of the box. Database systems that offer immutability and historical context for data would be greatly beneficial for companies as it would make internal and external audits much less costly and time-intensive.

We’re delighted to bring you an interview with Flip Filipowski and Brian Platz. Flip is a veteran entrepreneur whose career spans 50 years, having worked for and founded some of the world’s largest software companies of the 80’s and 90’s. He is also the CEO of SilkRoad Equity and a Founding Partner of Tally Capital. Brian’s background includes having founded A List Appart in 1994, which is among the oldest and most influential web development blogs, and SilkRoad Technologies.

Flip and Brian join us to talk about their new company, Fluree. Their product, FlureeDB, is a scalable graph database which provides the benefits of blockchain technologies, such as immutability, replayability and fault tolerance. Currently, in development, the goal for FlureeDB is to support various consensus rules based on the network configuration: private systems, federated (or consortium) clusters, and fully decentralized public networks.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Flip and Brian’s respective backgrounds and entrepreneurial ventures
  • How blockchain will disrupt most major companies that exist today
  • FlureeDB and the problem it is trying to solve
  • How FlureeDB improves compliance procedures for enterprise
  • How FlureeDB can address some of the challenges ahead with regards to GDPR
  • FlureeDB’s technical infrastructure and elementary components
  • The different consensus modes and scalability properties of FlureeDB
  • Why they chose to structure the company as a Public Benefit Corporation
  • FlureeDB’s development roadmap

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2018-01-03 18:51:19

#215 Elizabeth Rossiello: BitPesa – Building Financial Platforms for Frontier Markets

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The prospect of providing digital cross-border payments for the world’s unbanked and underbanked population has always been one of the key use cases for Bitcoin. Cryptocurrencies can be seen as a way for people in developing countries to participate in the global financial market by allowing easy cross-border payments, cheap remittance transactions, and simplified lending options.

We’re pleased to be joined by Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO and Founder of BitPesa. BitPesa provides companies in frontier markets with the financial infrastructure to facilitate commerce and payments, where traditional financial markets are known to be fractured and expensive. As an early Bitcoin company founded in 2013, BitPesa is now present in a handful of African countries and provides essential financial services to businesses, allowing them to send and collect payments, and perform quick and affordable Forex trades.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Elizabeth’s journey to Bitcoin and BitPesa
  • BitPesa’s vision and how it compares existing mobile money platforms present in Africa
  • BitPesa’s offering and how it has evolved since the company was founded in 2013
  • The primary pain points and barriers to doing business in developing African markets
  • Foreign exchange markets in Africa
  • The challenges and opportunities regarding blockchain adoption in African markets
  • The future of Bitcoin as a payment system

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-12-27 18:51:21

#214 Christopher Fabian & Shaun Conway: Unicef & Ixo: Towards More Transparent Humanitarian Projects

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We’re joined by Christopher Fabian, Co-founder of Unicef’s Innovation Unit. We discuss how the global non-profit institution leverages innovative technology to solve real-world problems in humanitarian work. We explore the different applications of blockchain in the UN and Unicef, as well as the challenges we can anticipate when deploying these technologies in the developing world. Shaun Conway, Founder of Ixo Foundation, also joins the discussion as a startup working Unicef and talks about the value of a global reputation network for humanitarian projects.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Chris’ and Shaun’s respective backgrounds
  • A bit of background on the UN and Unicef
  • Unicef’s Innovation Unit and Venture arm
  • How Unicef evaluates the different technologies in the space (public, permissionned, etc.)
  • The challenges faced when deploying new technologies in the developing world
  • Unicef’s recent experimentation with an Ethereum smart contract
  • Potential applications for blockchain at the UN and Unicef
  • Unicef’s Venture arm and the types of projects in which they invest
  • Ixo Foundation, their collaboration with Unicef and the value of a Proof of Impact blockchain network

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-12-19 21:06:46

#213 Tim Swanson: Busting the Great Wall of Hype

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In the blockchain world, few people are as brave as Tim Swanson when it comes to busting hype. Tim’s unbiased, honest, and sometimes controversial opinions provide a refreshingly realistic view of blockchain adoption and applications of this technology by people and businesses. Cutting through the hype, the over-sold press releases ad the blind optimism of a completely decentralized economy, Tim’s insights provide a sobering look at the state of the blockchain.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Tim’s background and recent departure from R3
  • The current state of the enterprise blockchain market
  • The state of Bitcoin in the context of the recent price increase
  • Tim’s thoughts on the recent spike in ICO’s
  • The rumors and concerns surrounding Bitfinex and Tether
  • The rise of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as an asset class
  • Current problems in Bitcoin: governance and centralization of power
  • Tim’s new project: Post Oak Labs

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-12-13 20:25:36

#212 Adam Perlow & Asher Manning: Zen Protocol – A Decentralized Financial System

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We were joined by Founder Adam Perlow and Developer Asher Manning of Zen, a public blockchain project focused on building a decentralized financial system. The core premise of Zen is that none of the public blockchain networks are focused on financial asset. Zen is aiming to fill that gap through a Bitcoin-like UTXO architecture that supports multiple asset and smart contracts to enforce complex ownership rules.

We talked through their original design choices, their use of formal verification, connection to Bitcoin and vision for a fully decentralized financial system.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Why existing public blockchains are ill-suited for financial instruments
  • Why Zen chose to use a Bitcoin-like UTXO architecture
  • How Zen uses formal verification to allow smart contracts without a virtual machine or needing gas
  • How the Active Contract Set reduces the burden on the miners
  • Walking through creating, trading and settling a call option on Zen
  • How Zen allows payments to be settled in Bitcoin
  • Getting data from the outside world with oracles
  • Zen’s use of Proof-of-Work regulated by on-chain governance

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-12-06 17:40:50

#211 Zoe Adamovicz: Neufund and the Case for Selling Equity on the Blockchain

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Neufund CEO Zoe Adamovicz joined us to discuss how Neufund is creating a platform to allow companies to sell tokens backed by actual company equity.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Neufund’s thesis of the revolutionary implications of token equity
  • The difference between ICOs and Equity Token Offerings (ETO)
  • Why from a regulatory perspective ETOs are uncomplicated
  • How Neufund’s token Neumarks serves to build a community
  • How the Initial Capital Building Mechanism is bootstrapping the ecosystem
  • The long-term vision of creating a global stock market

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-11-28 20:11:34

#210 Alex Morcos: Chaincode Labs and Why Bitcoin is Our One Shot at Creating Digital Gold

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Chaincode Labs Founder Alex Morcos joined us to discuss his journey, the role of the company in Bitcoin’s development and the views that drive his work.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Alex’s background in high frequency trading as a founder of Hudson River Trading
  • How Alex first learned about Bitcoin
  • The vision of Chaincode Labs
  • Why Bitcoin represents our only chance of creating digital gold
  • Why Bitcoin’s resistance to change is one of its core features
  • Why the NYA & SegWit2x approach was misguided
  • How getting consensus around a hard fork blocksize increase could work
  • Why Alex is not excited about the efforts to use blockchains in banks

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-11-21 20:01:05

#209 Amrit Kumar & Xinshu Dong: Zilliqa – A Scalable Sharded Public Blockchain

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Scaling public blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum is a long standing technical challenge. In this episode, we cover Zilliqa which has pioneered a design to scale public blockchain throughput with the number of nodes by sharding the blockchain. Sharding has been hitherto proposed as a scaling technique by Ethereum. Zilliqa is one of the first projects to propose a concrete design with an operational testnet processing a couple thousand transactions per second across several shards.

Our guests, Xinshu Dong (CEO) and Amrit Kumar (Crypto Lead), walk us through the objectives, protocol design and fundraising structure of this innovative project. We also briefly cover Zilliqa’s novel approach to designing a smart contract language and execution environment.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Sharding as a scaling technique
  • Different kinds of sharding, including state sharding and non-state sharding
  • How Zilliqa works under the hood – consensus algorithms & transaction processing
  • Zilliqa’s novel approach for a smart contract language
  • Details of a new cryptocurrency, Zillings

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-11-14 18:15:02

#208 Post DevCon3 Roundtable: State of Ethereum, Cosmos Retreat and Parity Hack

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For the very first time, all three Epicenter hosts found themselves in the same location. After attending Ethereum’s DevCon 3 in Cancun, we were at a Cosmos Retreat and discussed the conference, retreat, state of the Ethereum ecosystem and recent Parity hack.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Recap of Ethereum’s DevCon 3 conference
  • Current state of Ethereum
  • The most interesting new projects at DevCon
  • The post-DevCon Cosmos retreat
  • The internet of blockchain thesis
  • The case for blockchain’s having sovereignty
  • The massive loss of funds due to Parity’s flawed multisig contract
  • The pros and cons of an Ethereum hard fork

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain, Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-11-10 12:56:26

#207 Micah Winkelspecht: Gem – The Enterprise Platform That Powers Data-Driven Applications

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We are joined by Micah Winkelspecht, CEO and Founder of Gem. What started as a Bitcoin API in 2014 has evolved into a leading provider of blockchain solutions for enterprise. Gem addresses the problem of digital data silos and the complexities they introduce when companies and individuals collaborate and share information. Their product, GemOS, provides a full-stack blockchain middleware platform which allows companies to build applications on top of blockchains protocols like Ethereum or Hyperledger Fabric.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Micah’s background and how he got involved in the Bitcoin space
  • How the company and product have evolved to support his original vision
  • How blockchain technologies are transforming process digitization
  • The siloed identity problem and what complexities it introduces for people and companies
  • How GemOS is addressing fundamental issues in health care and insurance
  • How blockchain technologies can support regulated industries
  • Micah’s insights on creating awareness among enterprise clients
  • The importance of building ecosystems and network economies which enterprise can leverage

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-11-01 19:55:34

#206 Karl Kreder: Grid+ – Unlocking Direct Access to Wholesale Energy Markets

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Energy markets form a complex ecosystem of actors. Wholesale energy producers create energy through various means, grid operators transport electricity over long distances and deliver it to homes and businesses, who buy it from local utility companies. The utilities act as resellers in this scheme and take on much of the financial risk associated with selling a commodity which is consumed long before payment settlement from consumers. However, utilities have high operation and marketing costs and charge a high markup on the electricity they buy from wholesalers.

Karl Kreder, Co-founder of Grid+, a Consensys project, joins us to talk about how blockchain technology can help disintermediate utilities and allow consumers buy electricity directly from producers. The Grid+ Agent is a hardware device which sits in your home, is connected to your energy meter and can interact with the power grid. The Agent has built-in logic allowing it to respond to your energy needs and predict usage. It is also equipped with a Trusted Execution Environment and a wallet which keeps private keys secure and can make near real-time payments to the network.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Karl’s background and how he became part of Consensys Energy
  • A high-level overview of the energy market and the different players in this ecosystem
  • Where lie the inefficiencies and how they can be improved
  • The challenges facing the energy market today
  • The Grid+ Agent and its functionality
  • How the Grid+ Agent works and how it interacts with the grid
  • Other potential applications for the Grid+ Agent
  • The economics of the Grid+ smart contract and how it handles risk
  • The Grid+ token sale

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-10-24 18:03:50

#205 Galen Wolfe-Pauly: Urbit – A Digital Republic Reinventing the Internet

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Galen Wolfe-Pauly, CEO of Tlon, the company behind Urbit, joined us to discuss one of the most radical and curious projects to come on the podcast. In development for 15 years already, Urbit aims to unravel the cloud computing paradigm that led to the creation of internet monopolies like Google and Facebook. Instead, in Urbit, each person has a personal server, a kind of digital sovereign entity, where applications are run, which leaves control and data in the hands of users.

Galen joined us to discuss what the philosophy and ideas driving Urbit, how a radically different internet could look like and what our path is to get there.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The 15 year long history and evolution of Urbit
  • Understanding Urbit through the metaphors of a personal server, a personal blockchain, a republic or an operating function
  • The main Urbit components Nock, Hoon and Arvo
  • How Galaxies, Stars and Planets create Urbit’s hierarchy
  • The Urbit namespace and why it has value
  • How Urbit aims to radically reengineer how the internet works

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-10-18 07:44:23

#204 Ben Bollen & Jason Goldberg: Simple Token – Bringing Tokens to Mainstream Consumer Applications

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As the ICO boom continues to drive funding and interest in cryptocurrencies, mainstream consumer applications are increasingly looking towards tokenization. One of these was social network Pepo, founded by veteran entrepreneur and previous founder of fab.com Jason Goldberg. Faced with the difficulties of integrating blockchain, they decided to start Simple Token – a company focused on building easy solutions for mainstream applications to use blockchain.

Simple Token CEO Jason Goldberg and Chief Technology Strategist joined us to discuss the case for branded token, Simple Tokens architecture and the balance between easy user experience and decentralization.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Jason’s long history as an entrepreneur and the turbulent story of fab.com
  • The perils of raising too much money
  • How the quest to tokenize social network Pepo lead to founding Simple Token
  • The opportunity in tokenizing mainstream consumer applications
  • How Simple Token uses Ethereum and sidechains to allow companies to issue branded tokens
  • How Simple Token backs branded tokens through a staking contract on Ethereum
  • The economics of Simple Token and upcoming ICO

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-10-11 12:48:30

#203 Fredrik Voss: Nasdaq – How Blockchain Technologies Will Transform Capital Markets

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Nasdaq is one of the largest and most well known financial institutions in the World. As the second-largest stock market by market capitalization, Nasdaq is also one of the leading software companies in capital markets, providing its Nasdaq Financial Framework to exchanges all around the globe.

Fredrik Voss, VP of Blockchain Innovation at Nasdaq, joins us to discuss how Nasdaq is leveraging blockchain technologies to propel itself into the future. Having invested in Chain and Stratumn, Nasdaq is taking a very hands-on approach, building products which it integrates into the various software solutions they sell.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • A high-level overview of Nasdaq as a stock exchange and software company
  • Nasdaq’s thesis regarding blockchain technologies
  • The potential challenges ahead
  • What blockchain technologies bring to regulators regarding oversight and auditing
  • Nasdaq’s Venture Program and its investment thesis
  • Why Nasdaq chose to invest in Chain and Stratumn
  • Types of applications built in partnership with Chain and Stratumn
  • Fredrick’s views on Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-10-04 16:37:46

#202 Ari Paul: BlockTower Capital and the Cryptocurrency Opportunity

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For many years, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies were regarded as little more than a nerdy curiosity by the financial world. But with the rise of Bitcoin and Ethereum, the process of cryptocurrencies becoming a recognized asset class has begun.

One person at the forefront of this transformation is Ari Paul. Previously a portfolio manager at the University of Chicago’s $8 billion endowment, he recently left to start the cryptocurrency hedge fund BlockTower Capital. He joined us for an insightful conversation about one of the biggest trends in the industry.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Ari’s background as a portfolio manager at the University of Chicago
  • The difficulties of investing in cryptocurrency for a large endowment
  • Why he started the cryptocurrency hedge fund BlockTower Capital
  • How to construct a cryptocurrency portfolio
  • The hedge fund vs the VC model in the cryptocurrency space
  • Why cryptocurrencies represent an exceptional investment opportunity
  • The operational complexities of running a crypto hedge fund
  • Why an avalanche of institutional money is entering the blockchain space

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-09-26 18:53:58

#201 Matt Kerner: Microsoft’s Coco Framework – The Holy Grail for Enterprise

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Enterprise consortium blockchains have gained a lot of interest in recent months. And although we can see many applications for this particular type of network deployment, many questions remain to be answered before these systems can move to production. Issues related to scaling, network deployment, access controls and key management remain open at this point. With its deep roots in the enterprise, Microsoft hopes to have answers to these questions.

Matt Kerner, Partner GM for Blockchains at Azure, joins us to discuss Coco Framework. Coco is an open-source system which promises to enable high scalability and offer confidentiality for enterprise blockchain consortiums. This novel framework leverages Trusted Execution Environments (TEE) to deliver blockchain networks with throughput comparable to database speeds.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Matt’s background and role at Azure
  • Azure’s high-level thesis regarding blockchains
  • Coco Framework and how it fits in Microsoft’s vision
  • The different components of Coco and its architecture
  • The role of TEE’s in Coco
  • How Coco achieves confidential transactions
  • Identify management and network governance in Coco
  • How Coco fits into other blockchain initiatives at Microsoft
  • The framework’s roadmap

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-09-19 18:45:33

#200 Ciaran O'Leary: BlueYard – The Disruption of Venture Capital

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In the past year, the first killer application of blockchain technology has emerged: venture funding. As blockchain-facilitated crowdfunding is disrupting venture capital at blistering speed, we are joined by Ciaran O’Leary, Founder and General Partner at BlueYard. BlueYard stands at the intersection of this transition. Structured as a traditional VC fund, its thesis focuses fully on the decentralized economy and it invests in tokens too. Ciaran joined us to discusses what blockchain means for VCs and its implications for BlueYard.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Ciaran’s journey as a VC
  • How the VC industry has been changing
  • Why he founded Blue Yard and its investment thesis
  • Value creation in a blockchain economy
  • Buying equity vs buying tokens
  • Why tokens and ICOs are erroding the distinction between hedge funds and VC funds
  • Best practices for running ICOs

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-09-13 08:34:19

#199 Peter Czaban: Polkadot – The Internet of Blockchain Networks

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Scalability and interoperability are two of the main issues facing blockchain protocols today. In a future in which entire industries and economies rely on distributed technologies, it is unclear how blockchain networks will support massive amounts of data, and exchange transactions in a trusted way.

Peter Czaban, co-founder of Polkadot, joins us as we dive deep into the Polkadot Network. Polkadot is a heterogeneous multi-chain network, consisting of many connected chains (or parachains), all of which have their own set of features and characteristics. Transactions flow across chains, while Polkadot ensures the global security and consensus of the network, forming an ‘Internet of Blockchain networks’. Scalability is achieved through the parallel processing of transactions on the different parachains.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Peter’s background and his role at Parity technologies
  • What is the Polkadot project and what problems it is addressing
  • How Polkadot handles the issue of scaling
  • The different components of the Polkadot Network
  • The various players in the network
  • The consensus model used in Polkadot
  • The types of applications Polkadot would enable
  • The Web3 Foundation and its goals

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-09-05 18:24:23

#198 Nick Morgan: The DAO, the SEC and the ICO Boom

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Nick Morgan, a former attorney at the SEC, joined us to discuss their recent report on the DAO and what it means for the ICO boom.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The history and mandate of the SEC
  • Nick’s years as a trial attorney at the SEC
  • How the Howey Test is used to determine if something is a security
  • The application of the Howey Test to the DAO case
  • The weaknesses in their argument that token holders relied on the effort of others
  • Why the SEC did not prosecute the Slock.it founders
  • Why the SEC will likely focus on token sales involving fraud
  • How the SEC’s limited resources will make it hard for it to impact the ICO boom
  • The implications of the SEC report for cryptocurrency exchanges

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-08-29 13:12:09

#197 Dan Larimer: EOS – The Decentralized Operating System

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After Bitshares and Steemit, Dan Larimer’s latest project EOS has also gathered lots of attention. Their record-setting crowdsale has already raised $300m and is continuing for another year. Dan joined us to discuss his journey in the industry, what connects the different projects, how EOS works and how the EOS crowdsale works.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • A history of Dan’s previous projects Bitshares and Steemit
  • How Dan knows when the time has come to move to the next project
  • Why they describe EOS as a decentralized operating system
  • The EOS approach to scalability
  • Benefits and downsides of the EOS fee model
  • EOS’ Delegated Proof of Stake consensus
  • How EOS handles malicious validators
  • Addressing criticisms around EOS’s crowdsale terms and governance structure

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-08-23 08:37:28

#196 Arthur Falls: From Lobser Fishing to Blockchain Podcasting

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Prior to hosting his ground breaking podcasts Beyond Bitcoin and The Ether Review, Arthur Falls had left his home country of New Zealand to fish lobster off the coast of Maine. Like many people in the blockchain space, his unlikely journey into the world of decentralized technologies is a fascinating one, and he shares it with us in this episode.

Arthur recently traveled to over a dozen locations around the World, conducting interviews for an upcoming documentary. He shares what he learned and his favorite experiences from this trip.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Arthur’s unlikely journey from lobster fisherman to blockchain podcaster
  • A brief history of his past projects and what he has going on at the moment
  • His recent blockchain world tour and what he learned from that experience
  • His views on the state of the ecosystem and institutional investment money now flowing into the space

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-08-17 09:19:10

#195 Loi Luu: KyberNetwork – Towards Truly Decentralized Crypto-Asset Exchanges

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We’re joined by Loi Luu, Co-founder of KyberNetwork. This new decentralized exchange protocol, built on Ethereum, aims to match buyers with reserve operators, who create liquidity for crypto-asset pairs. Trades occur instantaneously and without the need for a trusted third party exchange operator.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Loi’s background and involvement with various projects such as TrueBit, Smart Pool, and Oyente
  • The desirable features of a decentralized exchange
  • Other decentralized exchange projects and how they compare to KyberNetwork
  • KyberNetwork’s unique design philosophy
  • KyberNetwork’s user experience and how a trade occurs from start to finish
  • The various actors in the network and their respective roles
  • How KyberNetwork mitigates certain vulnerabilities, such as transaction front running
  • How network actors are compensated
  • KyberNetwork’s DAO governance model and development roadmap

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-08-09 17:18:49

#194 Eyal Hertzog: Bancor and the Rise of User-Generated Currencies

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Bancor is a simple, but hard-to-understand protocol that enables price discovery and liquidity even for assets that aren’t actively traded. Co-Founder Eyal Hertzog joined us to explain how the Bancor protocol works and why they think it will play a key role in enabling a massive wave of small, but interconnected user-generated currencies. We dissected the workings of the protocol, its radical implications as well as the takeaways from their record-shattering, but controversial crowdsale.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Eyal’s background in early internet startups
  • The origin story of Bancor
  • Why asset markets suffer from the double coincidence of wants problem
  • The benefits of Bancor-based Smart Tokens
  • How Bancor and BNT can create a liquidity network
  • Why BNT benefits from network effects
  • What went well and what didn’t go well about the Bancor Crowdsale
  • Why Eyal thinks the price floor was a good idea

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-08-04 07:56:36

#193 Dave Collins & Jake Yocom-Piatt:: Decred – A Hybrid Approach to Blockchain Governance

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Dave Collins and Jake Yocom-Piatt join us to talk about Decred, a cryptocurrency which introduces an innovative system of community-based governance into its blockchain. Decred implements a hybrid Proof of Work and Proof of Stake system in which miners validate transactions, while users can vote on new features and upgrades to the protocol. This clever approach enables efficient blockchain governance, which has demonstrated to be successful in a recent protocol upgrade on the live network.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Dave and Jake’s respective backgrounds in the blockchain space
  • The challenges addressed by Decred, specifically regarding blockchain governance
  • Decred’s hybrid Proof of Work/Proof of Stake approach to governance
  • How users of the network vote on protocol upgrade with “”tickets””
  • Possible downfalls and attack vectors to this approach
  • How Decred’s governance model successfully implemented a hard fork on the production network
  • Decred’s approach to development funding

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-07-26 15:36:41

#192 Aviv Zohar & Yonatan Sompolinsky: Of Spectre & Ghosts – Radical Ideas to Scale Blockchain Tech

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Hebrew University academics Aviv Zohar and Yonatan Sompolinski joined us to discuss their research at the forefront of blockchain technology. We talked about their early proposals for scaling Bitcoin using the GHOST protocol, which later inspired Ethereum. And then we discussed SPECTRE and a new type of network based on directed acrylic graphs (DAG). DAGs abandon the blockchain data structure to allow constant generation of blocks that later get merged achieving block times of seconds and throughput many orders of magnitudes above current blockchain network.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Aviv Zohar wrote one of the first academic papers on Bitcoin in 2011
  • The GHOST protocol and how it could allow much faster block times
  • The difference between what Ethereum built and the GHOST protocol
  • Why DAG (Directed Acrylic Graphs) have massive advantages over blockchains
  • Towards massive on-chain scaling and speed with the SPECTRE Protocol
  • Their view on existing DAG-based networks like IOTA and Byteball

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-07-19 12:24:24

#191 Richard Craib: Numerai – A Revolutionary Hedge Fund Built on Blockchain and AI

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Numerai Founder Richard Craib joined us to discuss his radical project to build a hedge fund with network effects. Numerai manages its portfolio by giving its data in encrypted form to data scientists who compete to create the best predictions and get paid with cryptocurrencies. Numerai expects to radically alter the structure of the hedge fund and asset management industry.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How hedge funds work and what trends effect them
  • Quantitative trading and the role of AI in investing
  • How Numerai uses crowdsourcing and AI to manage its portfolio
  • How Numerai lets data scientists build models without knowing the underlying data
  • The Function of Numerai’s own token Numeraire
  • Why Numerai is switching from paying data scientists in Bitcoin to Ethereum
  • Numerai’s crazy goal of managing all the money in the world

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-07-11 20:35:20

#190 Erik Voorhees: Prism – The World’s First Portfolio Market Platform

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Shapeshift CEO Erik Voorhees joined us to discuss his journey in the industry, the evolution of the decentralized exchange Shapeshift and their latest project Prism. We spent most time diving into the mechanics and enormous potential of Prism. Prism allows users to create a portfolio of digital assets that is purely managed on the Ethereum blockchain and illustrates how blockchain-based financial products can be built.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Erik’s journey in the blockchain space from SatoshiDice to Shapeshift
  • Shapeshift’s evolution and long-term vision
  • Erik’s view on ICOs and why they will disrupt the stock markets
  • Prism – The world’s first trustless portfolio market platform
  • The mechaniscs of Prism
  • Why Erik supports SegWit2x

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-07-04 17:23:34

#189 Jimmy Song: A Fork in the Road for Bitcoin?

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After years of what has seemed like an endless debate, bitcoin may be at a crucial turning point in its relatively short lifetime. The question network scalability has divided the community into several factions which are seemingly irreconcilable. However, in just a few weeks, the future of bitcoin may be decided as miners and users throw their support behind one of many proposals to propel the bitcoin network into a new era.

Bitcoin Developer and Principal Architect at Paxos, Jimmy Song, joins us to discuss the different scalability proposals for which miners are currently signaling their support. Among others, Segregated Witness (BIP 141), Emergent Consensus (Bitcoin Unlimited) and SegWit2x (The New York Agreement), are gaining significant traction among miners. Will one of these proposals gain majority support, allowing for the network to upgrade with relative ease, or will we enter a situation where one proposal is backed by a strong minority of users, potentially forking the network into two?

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Jimmy’s background as a Bitcoin Developer and former VP of Engineering at Armory
  • A broad overview of bitcoin network’s current situation
  • An overview of the different scaling proposals for which miners are signaling their support
  • Important dates coming up in July and August of 2017
  • The difference between Segregated Witness and SegWit2x
  • The UASF and how it may affect SegWit2x implementation

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-06-27 22:14:25

#188 William Mougayar: Unpacking Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) and Token Sales

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Token sales, often called Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), are exploding in popularity. Seemingly each week a new record is hit with huge sums being raised by alpha-stage projects in almost no time. William Mougayar, an investor, author and blogger, who has been at the forefront of the token sale movement joined us to unpack the most dynamic trend in the blockchain ecosystem. We cover the great promise of token sales in disrupting venture capital and changing how startups are build and grown. We also address the apparent irrationality of valuations and what distinguishes a responsible from a reckless token sale.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The current state of the ICO market
  • Issues with recent ICOs such as BAT, Bancor and Gnosis
  • Why more attention needs to be paid to the relationship between token and application usage
  • How one should think about token valuations
  • Whether we are in a bubble or not
  • How VCs are responding to disruption through ICOs

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-06-20 18:29:20

#187 Alex Leverington & Julian Zawistowski: Golem – The Worldwide Decentralized Supercomputer

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With most of the world’s computing power concentrated in Internet companies’ data centers, the Internet has become a very centralized place. The Golem project aims to build the sharing economy of computing power. This “global, open sourced, decentralized supercomputer” will function thanks to the combined power of a massive network of machines, from personal laptops to whole data centers.

We’re joined by Julian Zawistowski and Alex Leverington, CEO and P2P engineer at Golem. We discuss how Golem hopes to create a more balanced distribution of computing power for the Internet.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • What is Golem and the problem it is addressing
  • What may people and companies use Golem for
  • How Golem compares to other projects like iExec or TrueBit
  • Who are the different participants in the Golem network
  • How Golem executes computations
  • The role Ethereum has to play in Golem
  • How payments work in Golem
  • The economic model for Golem’s decentralized marketplace
  • The project’s current status and roadmap

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-06-14 07:58:14

#186 Siân Jones: An Enlightened Approach to Blockchain Regulation in Gibraltar

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Our regulatory expert Siân Jones joined us to discuss her work on a regulatory framework for distributed ledger technology (DLT) for Gibraltar. We discuss how the framework differs from other efforts and aims to attract rather than curtail blockchain businesses. We also covered why the rapid changes require the flexibility of a principle-based approach to regulation. Finally, we discussed current trends around ICOs and how they could be impacted by regulation.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How the Gibraltar DLT Regulatory Framework came about
  • How Gibraltar’s approach differs from others like BitLicense
  • Why a principle-based approach is preferable for technology regulation
  • Why the framework focuses on custodial services, not decentralized protocols
  • The path from proposal to regulation
  • Recent trends in how ICOs are conducted
  • Why principle-based regulation could improve the ICO market

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-06-07 16:18:25

#185 Brendan Eich: Brave – Reinventing the Monetization of Content and Attention

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The saying goes: if you’re not paying for it, it’s likely that you’re the product. And with the rise of targeted ads, user behavior tracking, and alike, more and more users are turning to ad blocking software to protect their privacy and improve their browsing experience. In the last 25 years, the content monetization and Internet advertising industries have evolved to become complex ecosystems with multiple intermediating layers between users, publishers, and advertisers. This has created a situation where user’s rights are constantly violated and where little accountability exists.

We’re joined by Brendan Eich, Founder, and CEO of Brave. As an early Internet pioneer, Brendan created Javascript while working at Netscape in the mid 90’s, and helped found the Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation, where he served as CEO for several years. Brave is a new desktop and mobile browser which blocks ads and tracking by default. This has the advantage of drastically improves page load times while protecting users’ privacy. But Brave is much more than just a browser. Their team will launch the Basic Attention Token, which will serve as the currency of attention marketplaces between publishers, advertisers, and users. With the ambition to turn the Internet advertising industry on its head, this new attention economy marketplace will eliminate the need for unneeded intermediaries, provide publishers with new content monetization models and remunerate users when they chose to share their data with advertisers.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Brendan’s background as an early Internet pioneer
  • How monetization of content and attention on the Internet are broken
  • How the Internet advertising industry works and the players involved
  • A high-level overview of the Brave browser
  • Brave’s features and product roadmap
  • The Basic Attention Token and its role as a currency for attention
  • How BAT will serve to create attention marketplaces between publishers, advertisers, and users

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by , and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-05-30 22:37:11

#184 Fred Ehrsam & Trent McConaghy: IPDB – The Interplanetary Database and its Applications in AI

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Data is the new oil, and those who control massive amounts of it have a major competitive advantage. That advantage becomes exponential when that data is used to teach artificial intelligence. Companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon have a far greater probability of building strong AI than smaller actors simply by the sheer amount of user data and metadata they possess. Let’s now envision an alternate reality where big data lives on public infrastructure and is accessible to anyone who wishes to use it for the purpose of teaching AI. Big data as a public resource could have the potential to enable vast amounts of innovation at the edges, far greater than that of a small set of incumbents building large centralized AI systems.

We’re joined by Trent McConaghy, who is the CTO and Co-founder of BigchainDB and Ascribe. Trent brings along a special surprise guest, Fred Ehrsam, former Co-founder at Coinbase. For the first half of the show, we have a fascinating discussion with Trent and Fred about the intersection of AI and blockchain technologies, and the implications of publicly available data sets on innovation in AI. For the second half of the show, we talk with Trent about the public implementation of BigchainDB, the Interplanetary Database (IPDB), and the applications for a public big data storage network accessible to all of humanity.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The issues which arise with big data centralization in the context of building artificial intelligence
  • How blockchain technologies could serve as the public data infrastructure for teaching AI
  • How an AI might gain financial dominance over humanity by selling art on a DAO
  • An update on Ascribe and BigchainDB
  • The IPDB network and what goals it hopes to achieve
  • The IPDB Foundation, its members and governance rules
  • The technical components of the IPDB network
  • Use cases and applications for a public decentralized global database

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-05-23 10:48:16

#183 Alex Van de Sande & Nick Johnson: ENS – A Global Naming System for Ethereum

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Naming systems are an important component of any networked information system. It’s difficult to imagine how the Internet could have been adopted by the masses had it not been for the Domain Name System, which translates machine-readable IP addresses into human-readable domain names. Blockchains, with their long and complex address formats, suffer from a similar problem. One might think a solution would be to apply the same naming system architecture we have for the public Internet to public blockchains. But DNS, in the eyes of many, is a largely flawed system. Centrally controlled by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Internet domain names are vulnerable to censorship and barriers to entry are kept artificially high – registering a new Top Level Domain (ex: .epicenter) costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.

We’re joined by Alex Van de Sande and Nick Johnson to discuss their approach to creating an open, secure and decentralized naming system for the Ethereum Network. The Ethereum Naming System (ENS) allows users to register .eth domain names, which can be used in supporting Ethereum wallets and clients. Names are reserved by placing a deposit in a smart contract and can be mapped to any Ethereum addresses. So rather than sending funds to 0x8cd…0935, one would simply need to type a memorable name like epicenter.eth into their wallet. Backed by the Ethereum Foundation, ENS will likely become the defacto standard for name registration in Ethereum.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Alex and Nick’s respective backgrounds and roles in the Ethereum Foundation
  • How the Internet’s Domain Name System works
  • The problems and pain points with DNS and how it is governed today
  • What is ENS and what problems it is addressing
  • The ENS auction system and how names are registered
  • The different parties involved in ENS
  • ENS’s technical architecture and governing smart contract
  • The current governance model of ENS and future plans for increased decentralization of governance
  • ENS’s economic model and technical roadmap

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-05-16 10:39:20

#182 Peter Van Valkenburgh: Towards Sound Bitcoin Policy

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Coin Center is a non-profit in Washington DC that focuses on research and advocacy issues facing public blockchain networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Their aim is to protect users and foster innovation through achieving sound policies and regulations.

Director of Research Peter Van Valkenburgh joined us to discuss the work of the center and the most pressing regulatory issues facing the industry today.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The origins and objectives of Coin Center
  • How to judge the success of Coin Center
  • Why Peter is more bullish on permissionless than permissioned blockchains
  • The three areas of blockchain regulation: Consumer protection, anti money laundering and securities
  • His view about ICOs
  • Why people should pay attention to money transmission regulations

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-05-09 10:26:45

#181 Carl Bennetts & Jarrad Hope: Status – The Mobile Ethereum Client

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The road to mainstream adoption of blockchain technologies is a long one. Although the user experience of wallets has greatly improved since the dark days of command-line only interfaces, decentralized applications continue to struggle with onboarding non-technical users.

Jarrad Hope and Carl Bennetts, join us to discuss Status, a mobile Ethereum client which aims to turn the standard wallet experience on its head. At its core, Status is a mobile instant messenger client that leverages the Whisper protocol for secure peer-to-peer communication. Through its familiar messaging interface and elegant design, users can chat and send Ether directly in the app. As the first implementation of Ethereum’s Light Client Protocol, users may also use decentralized applications such as uPort, Gnosis and Aragon on their mobile phones. Built as an open source project, Status’ developer platform also allows developers to easily port their Dapps to the app.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Jarrad and Carl’s background and journey to the Ethereum space
  • Status’ vision for a friendly, mobile Dapp client
  • Status’ technical architecture
  • How Status leverages Ethereum’s Light Client and Whisper protocols
  • The Status user experience and feature set
  • Jarrad and Carl’s views on privacy and how Status fulfils their goal of privacy by default
  • The long term vision for a Status Network
  • The project’s roadmap and business model

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-05-02 17:29:08

#180 Mano Thanabalan: Otonomos – Simplifying Incorporation and Automating Corporate Governance

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Anyone who has ever started a company knows just how tedious that process that can be. Whether it’s establishing a shareholder’s agreement, defining the company’s constitutional structure, raising funds, or transferring shares, corporate governance procedures remain largely paper-based, requiring validation from multiple stakeholders, and their lawyers. Blockchain technologies, and specifically smart contracts, provide the rails upon which these processes can be digitized and streamlined, reducing operational costs, eliminating errors and automating menial tasks.

Manu Thanabalan, CTO of Otonomos, joins us to discuss how his company is leveraging smart contracts to accelerate incorporation and automate corporate governance. Otonomos provides the tools and services which allow for anyone to start a company in any of the jurisdictions they support. Using their platform, founders are able to define board members and issue shares, while captables are kept up-to-date in real-time. Day-to-day governance mechanisms and standard procedures such as voting and share transfers are automated through a smart contact, which complies with local jurisdictional regulation.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Mano’s background as a quantitative trader and how he transitioned into blockchain
  • The fundamental problem Otonomos is addressing
  • How we may be able to unlock a tremendous amount of value by liberating shares currently locked in private companies
  • Leveraging smart contracts to automate standardized corporate legal procedures
  • The types of constitutional rules which can be digitized and automated with smart contracts
  • The ability to simplify accounting and auditing with Otonomos
  • The Otonomos technology stack
  • The current state of Otonomos and their product roadmap

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-04-25 19:05:53

#179 Thomas Voegtlin: Blocksize, Bitcoin Unlimited, ASICBoost and Activating SegWit

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Years into the great Bitcoin scaling debate no solution is in reach. Neither bigger blocks nor Segregated Witness have anywhere near consensus support. With the conflict escalating, a Bitcoin fork has become a real possibility.

Electrum Developer Thomas Voegtlin joined us to discuss the state of the Bitcoin scaling debate. We discussed Bitcoin Unlimited, ASICBoost, SegWit activation without miner support and how a Bitcoin fork could play out. Possible outcomes include that Bitcoin Unlimited gains a majority of hashing power and starts mining bigger blocks. In the event of a fork, a proof-of-work change could be done to defend the minority chain from miner attacks. And lately a proposal was brought forward to activate SegWit without the support of the hashing power.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • ASICBoost and its potential role in the conflict
  • How a Bitcoin fork could happen
  • How to split coins in case of a fork
  • How UASF could be used to activate SegWit without miner support
  • Requirements for UASF to be safe
  • How Electrum would handle a fork

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-04-18 12:54:26

#178 Gilles Fedak: iExec – Blockchain-Based Fully Distributed Cloud Computing Infrastructure

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For decades, science and academia have leveraged distributed computing to solve massive computational problems. Distributed grid computing schemes allow donors to volunteer their desktop computer’s idle resources toward scientific projects in physics, biology, and chemistry, where large amounts of parallel computing resources are necessary. Relying on software like BONIC, these networks provide features such as built-in fault tolerance and result verification. And with the proliferation of mobile and IoT, the potential for massively distributed grid networks has never been greater.

Gilles Fedak, a researcher at the French computer science research body Inria, joins us to discuss a new project which aims to build a high-performance distributed cloud infrastructure marketplace. Relying on mature grid computing technologies, iExec utilizes Ethreum to organize a peer-to-peer marketplace of computing resources, allowing anyone to rent their idle resources to grid networks. If it succeeds to execute on its vision, this game-changing project could revolutionize distributed computing through cost reduction and the commoditization of resources.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Gilles’ background as a distributed computing researcher
  • Distributed computing and it’s applications in science and industry
  • The problems we see in distributed computing networks
  • The iExec project and its vision for a distributed computing resource marketplace
  • How iExec works as an Ethereum smart contract
  • The different components and participants of iExec
  • The iExec token and upcoming crowds ale
  • The project’s business model and roadmap

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-04-11 20:22:41

#177 Christian Reitwiessner & Jason Teutsch: TrueBit – Scalable Off-Chain Computations for Ethereum

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Bitcoin and Ethereum miners collectively make up what is perhaps the most powerful computational resource in the world. However, mobile phones from the early 2000’s could arguably run more complex operations than these networks combined. While blockchains themselves may never reach the level of computational power of modern computers, they may be leveraged as the underlying verification layer for centralized computing.

We’re joined by Jason Teutsch and Christian Reitwiessner. They are the co-authors of a visionary whitepaper which describes Truebit. This protocol would allow complex computations to be executed on off-chain systems while being validated by Ethereum miners. The results of these computations would consequently be available to on-chain smart contracts. Truebit makes clever use of proof systems and game theory to build a protocol where a Task Giver can ask a third party, the Solver, to execute a complex computation in exchange for a reward. Not limited to Solidity, these could be executed in traditional languages such as Go, Python or C++. Verifiers could then challenge the results, incentivising the Solver to be honest or see his reward be stripped away. This incentive structure would guarantee fast and reliable results while eliminating the need for a trusted third party.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Jason and Christian respective backgrounds in the ecosystem.
  • The core problem being addressed by Truebit
  • Why a scalable decentralized computational resource is desirable
  • How Truebit makes use of proof systems and game theory to enable trusted computations off-chain
  • How the verification game works the incentive structures proposed in Truebit
  • The various use cases for Truebit
  • How Truebit could allow for blockchain interoperability without the need for “blockchain of blockchains” type networks

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-04-04 19:31:06

#176 Adam B. Levine: Building a Blockchain Podcast Network

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In the world of Bitcoin podcast, there is one show which definitely stands out as the longest running, Let’s Talk Bitcoin! In its 4-year history, the show has produced over 320 episodes and expanded to become a network of podcasts which includes Epicenter and many others.

We’re joined by Adam B. Levine the founder and host of Let’s Talk Bitcoin! It was thanks to Adam that Sébastien and Brian first connected in 2013, so in many ways, we consider him as the “”spiritual grandfather”” of Epicenter. Adam reflects on his signature show and the network he created in 2014. He discusses the future of the network and makes an announcement live on the show, which even takes us by surprise.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • The history of the Let’s Talk Bitcoin! podcast
  • What listeners can expect for the future of the show
  • The LTB Coin reward token experiment, what was learned and the future of that project
  • The Let’s Talk Bitcoin! Network and how it’s evolving
  • The Tokenly project and its use cases
  • Token.fm: a platform for music creators to sell licences to their music as tokens

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-03-28 15:46:20

#175 Miguel Vias: XRP’s Future for Cross-Border Payments

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For a long time the native asset of the Ripple network XRP was the cryptocurrency with the second biggest market cap. But with much of the supply controlled by Ripple, it remained surrounded by controversy. Still, XRP remains an interesting asset to enable cross-border payments in the future. Miguel Vias recently joined Ripple after a long career on Wall Street to develop XRP as a liquid and widely accepted asset.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Miguel Vias went from trading precious metals to XRP
  • The similarities between precious metals and cryptocurrencies
  • The role Ripple sees for XRP
  • The connection between XRP and interledger
  • Why the FinCEN fine changed Ripple’s course
  • XRP’s role in cross-border payments
  • How Miguel is trying to create liquid markets for XRP

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-03-21 20:31:20

#174 Carsten Stöcker: How Blockchains Will Power the Energy Grids of Tomorrow

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In the footsteps of the finance industry, the energy sector has been caught by the blockchain fever. Conceived over a century ago, increased usage and an explosion of devices have made energy grids outdated. Smart grids offer a two-way dialogue where electricity and information are exchanged between utilities and its customers. This new grid takes advantages of connected devices and green energy production to provide more reliability, security and sustainability.

Carsten Stöcker, Senior Manager Machine Economy & Blockchain at Innogy, shares his vision for how blockchains will serve as the transactional fabric for tomorrow’s smart grids. In this new paradigm, energy is locally produced and blockchains provide the rails on which local energy marketplaces can be built. The German utility has been conducting blockchain experiments for several years and is soon releasing the Mobility Transaction Platform moveX. The Ethereum-powered platform will serve an ecosystem of electric vehicles with transaction layer needed for charging, car sharing and mobility as a service.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Carsten’s background in technology
  • The history of RWE and creation of Innogy
  • Business models in a decentralized economy
  • How the energy grid system works
  • The transition from the traditional grid to the smart grid
  • How blockchains can be integrated in tomorrow’s smart grids
  • Use cases for blockchain and energy
  • Innogy’s moveX blockchain experiment for mobility

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-03-14 22:10:21

#173 Olaf Carlson-Wee: Polychain Capital – The Rise of Protocol Tokens

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Writing his college thesis on Bitcoin in 2012 and becoming Coinbase’s first employee in 2013, Olaf Carlson-Wee has been at the forefront of cryptocurrency for many years. Recently, he left Coinbase to start Polychain Capital, a hedge fund focused solely on investing in cryptocurrencies and protocol tokens. Olaf joined us to discuss his journey in the industry and the investment thesis behing Polychain.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Olaf Carlson-Wee became Coinbase’s first employee
  • The investment thesis behind Polychain Capital
  • Why protocol tokens represent a huge investment opportunity
  • The current state of tokensales
  • Why the blockchain crowdfunding campaigns will start resembling VC deal structure
  • His view on the state of the Bitcoin network and community

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-03-07 13:23:59

#172 Peter Rizun: A Bitcoin Fee Market Without A Blocksize Limit

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With both the Bitcoin Unlimited and Segregated Witness efforts far from reaching majority support and exploding transaction fees, the debate around how to scale Bitcoin continues on. One of the key arguments against bigger blocks and Bitcoin Unlimited is that a blocksize restriction is needed to create a healthy fee market. Dr Peter Rizun has been researching the economics of transaction fees in Bitcoin extensively and joined us to discuss what dynamics affect fees and why he thinks the blocksize limit will eventually fall.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Bitcoin seen through the eyes of a physicist
  • The dynamics that determine transaction fees in Bitcoin
  • How orphaning risks drive the fee market economics
  • The relationship between the block reward and the fee market
  • Why the blocksize limit will eventually fall
  • Why Peter supports Bitcoin Unlimited
  • The state of discussion between Bitcoin Core and Bitcoin Unlimited

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-02-28 17:50:30

#171 Vitalik Buterin: DAO Lessons, Casper and Blockchain Interoperability

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Ethereum Founder Vitalik Buterin joined us once again to discuss the state of Ethereum and the efforts to innovate the protocol. We covered the takeaways from the DAO fork, switching to the proof-of-stake system Casper and how to think about blockchain interoperability.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • – Lessons from the DAO hack
  • – The security flaws of Proof-of-Work
  • – Why Proof-of-Stake will provide more security and scalability
  • – The state of Casper and transition timeline
  • – Blockchain interoperability

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-02-21 19:15:37

#170 Jae Kwon: Cosmos – The Internet of Blockchains

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One of the key issues with blockchain networks is the lack of interoperability. In the early days of Bitcoin, blockchain interoperability was far from people’s minds. However, as new networks continued to emerge and gain traction, the ability to move assets freely from one blockchain to another has become a critical feature.

We’re joined by Jae Kwon, CEO and Founder of Tendermint, the team which is launching the Cosmos Network. Cosmos aims to build the internet of blockchains: A global network of blockchains, connected through hubs that allow trustless token transfer. Jae joined us to discuss the Cosmos vision, the underlying Tendermint consensus algorithm and upcoming fundraiser.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • What Cosmos is and the problems it hopes to solve
  • How Tendermint and Ethereum relate to Cosmos
  • How Cosmos differs from other attemps to solve blockchain interoperability
  • Cosmos’ consensus algorithm, BFT-PoS
  • The role of Hubs and Zones in the Cosmos Network
  • Cosmos’ native asset, Atom, and its role in creating liquidity for inter-blockchain exchange
  • How validator nodes will be chosen
  • Governance in the Cosmos Network
  • Applications for Cosmos
  • The Atom fundraiser and Cosmos’ product roadmap

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-02-14 09:28:36

#169 Silvio Micali: Algorand – A New Scalable and Secure Approach to Byzantine Fault Tolerant Consensus

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There is no doubt that proof of work, introduced in the Bitcoin white paper, has stood the test of time as a robust and resilient Byzantine Fault Tolerant consensus mechanism. However, many issues may prevent Nakamoto Consensus from securely scaling over the long term. The risk of validator centralization, network forking, block scarcity and high energy costs required to mine a block have all been extensively debated with no realistic long-term solutions to date. A new paper titled “Algorand” attempts to addresses these problems.

We’re pleased to be joined by Professor Silvio Micali, a computer scientist at MIT, who is known for his work in many of the technologies blockchains rely on today. As one of the co-inventors of zero-knowledge proofs, he has been decorated with a number of prizes and awards, including the Turing Award, which he received in 2012 for his work in cryptography.

Prof. Micali describes the concept of Algorand, an alternative approach to proof of work which offers high security guarantees while allowing the network to scale with demand. Relying only on a trivial amount of computation to validate transactions, Algorand also reduces the probability of network forks to near-zero. It uses novel mechanisms to select validators for blocks and enabling them to come to consensus on them.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Professor Micali’s fascinating career in the fields of computer science and cryptography
  • The technical limitations of proof of work
  • The ideal properties for a truly decentralized, secure and scalable cryptocurrency
  • Algorand’s new approach to Byzantine consensus
  • Algorand’s strong adversarial model
  • How validators are randomly selected by the network
  • How validators are chosen and how they arrive at consensus
  • How Algorand guarantees a low probability of network forks
  • How Algorand addresses the issue of scaling and block size
  • Algorand’s roadmap and future plans

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-02-08 18:23:03

#168 Rick Dudley: The Future of Ethreum as a Strongly Typed Proof-of-Stake Blockchain Network

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In the last year, blockchain protocols have matured at an exciting pace. Open source projects like Ethereum, the Eris stack and Tendermint are behind much of the experimentation being conducted at leading companies. These protocols would not be where they are today if it wasn’t for the hard work of dedicated open source developers.

One of those people is Rick Dudley. An opinionated and passionate developer, Rick is involved in multiple projects. He works as a DevOps at Monax, works closely with Vlad Zamfir on implementing Casper in Ethereum, is a leading member of the Coala organization and is Founder and CEO of the startup Vulcanize. Rick gives us insider insights on Ethereum and on how the project may evolve, in particular, once Casper is implemented and when more robust, strongly typed language VMs are made available to the protocol.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Rick got involved with blockchain and Ethereum
  • His views on the Ethereum’s planned transition to Casper
  • The risks and benefits of moving to Casper
  • The subtle differences between Casper and Tendermint
  • The recent break up of the Synereo project
  • Greg Meredith’s work on Rchain and Rholang, and how that relates to Ethereum
  • Potential synergies between Zcash and Ethereum
  • Vulcanize and VulcanizeDB

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-01-31 20:57:42

#167 Peter Harris: Democratizing the Music Industry with the Streaming Music Cooperative Resonate

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After the successful Ethereum crowdfunding campaign, musician and web developer Peter Harris saw a path to creating a fair, decentralized music streaming platform. Out of that Resonate was born. Peter joined us to discuss why the dysfunctional structure of the music industry results in a bad deal for musicians and why a decentralized platform supported by blockchain technology and run as a cooperative represents a better way forward.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How technology changed the ability of musician’s to make money
  • Why streaming platforms don’t compensate musicians fairly
  • The story of how Peter came to found resonate
  • Why Stream-to-Own is a better way to compensate artists
  • Why Resonate chose to build on BigchainDB
  • The benefits of the cooperative structure for decentralized platforms
  • The Resonate crowd-owning campaign

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-01-24 19:35:33

#166 Andrew Clifford & G. Andrew Stone: Bitcoin Unlimited

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Years into the controversy around how to scale Bitcoin, there have been many challengers to Bitcoin core’s dominance. After XT, Classic and others have faded, Bitcoin Unlimited has been gaining traction and emerged as plausible new way forward.

Bitcoin Unlimited wants to make the block size a parameter that is set by miners and nodes, but not fixed at a network level. They argue a natural fee market would emerge, allowing Bitcoin to rapidly scale and realizing its promise of electronic cash as well as store of value. The project is also member-driven, with democratic decisions driving its development decisions.
Core developer G. Andrew Stone and Bitcoin Unlimited President Andrew Clifford joined us for the episode.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Stone and Clifford first got involved in Bitcoin
  • The history of the blocksize debate and Bitcoin core alternatives
  • Why the Bitcoin block size should be determined by miners not developers
  • The natural fee market that would arise controlling the size of Unlimited blocks
  • How the non-profit organization behind Bitcoin Unlimited works
  • How a transition to Bitcoin Unlimited could look like

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-01-17 07:06:08

#165 Wrapping Up The Year and Looking Ahead at What’s to Come

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It’s been an eventful year in the blockchain space, for the Epicenter podcast, and its hosts. Brian, Meher and Sebastien look back on 2016 and provide a few personal updates, give their thoughts and insights on how the space evolved, and make predictions on where they feel the industry will go in the next year.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Brian, Meher and Sebastien give a few updates on their personal lives and professional projects
  • The current state of VC funding in the blockchain space
  • The application of blockchain technologies in enterprise and the corporate development cycle
  • The current state of the Bitcoin and Ethereum ecosystems and provide our thoughts on their respective futures
  • Predictions for 2017 and speculations on how the industry will continue to evolve

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain, Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-01-09 21:13:38

#164 Ari Juels: Authenticated Data Feeds and Criminal Smart Contracts

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Ari Juels, a Professor at Cornell Tech (Jacobs Institute) and former Chief Scientist of RSA, joins us to discuss his work two of his blockchain-related research topics: Authenticated Data Feeds for Smart Contracts and criminal smart contracts.

One of the shortcomings of decentralized smart contracts is their inability to retrieve information from the outside world. Smart contracts can’t make API calls to websites and data feeds, but rely on oracles to feed real-world information to the chain. This potentially requires a high trust in the oracle operators. Authenticated data feeds promise to solve the problem by relying on Intel’s novel SGX hardware.

We also talked about how criminals could use smart contracts to more efficiently conduct crimes such as incentivizing the theft of private keys or even soliciting real-world crimes such as murder.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Ari’s background in cryptography and cryptocurrencies
  • The pain points with oracles as we describe them today
  • The idea behind Authenticated Data Feeds
  • The hardware and software architecture of the Authenticated Data Feed model and how hardware isolation works
  • How Authenticated Data Feeds could be used to create criminal smart contracts
  • The differents ways in which criminals could use Authenticated Data Feeds to release bounties for crimes such as private key theft or even murder
  • Countermeasures to fight criminal smart contracts
  • The Initiative For Cryptocurrencies & Contracts (IC3) and its raison d’être

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2017-01-03 12:39:02

#163 Roger Ver: Bitcoin, Liberty and the Scalability Roadblock

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Roger Ver is one of the earliest Bitcoin investors and through his tireless evangelizing of the cryptocurrency became known as ‘Bitcoin Jesus’. Roger joined us to discuss Bitcoin’s incredible potential to foster liberty. We also discussed how the current stalemate about how to scale Bitcoin is threatening that potential. And, finally, the mining pool operated by his site Bitcoin.com that is supporting the Bitcoin Unlimited client.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Roger Ver became the first investor in Bitcoin startups
  • What the Bitcoin community was like in 2011
  • The appeal of Bitcoin for voluntaryists
  • Why the scalability stalemate is crippling Bitcoin
  • Bitcoin.com’s new mining pool and support for Bitcoin Unlimited
  • His vision for the future of Bitcoin

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-12-28 00:22:25

#162 Ned Scott: Steem – The Blockchain-Based Social Media Platform

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Few crypto projects have gotten as much attention and caused as much controversy as Steem. The blockchain-based social media platform launched early this year and managed to gain real user traction building up a vibrant community of contributors. The Steem token quickly entered bubble territory reaching a market cap of almost $400m and losing 90% of its value since.

Steem Co-Founder and CEO Ned Scott joined us to discuss the ambition of the project and its short tumultous history. We also discussed some of the accusations against Steem and its unorthodox launch.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Steem was launched out of the BitShares community
  • The different components and tokens of the Steem system
  • How Steem rewards content contributors
  • The controversial Steem launch and criticisms of the project
  • Why Steem transitioned from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake
  • The potential disbalance of power due to the Steem distribution
  • How Steem managed to build a vibrant user community

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-12-21 12:37:18

#161 Marley Gray: Project Bletchley – Microsoft’s Blockchain 3.0 Architecture

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In their relatively short lifespan, blockchain technologies have already undergone significant milestones. Bitcoin’s blockchain, often referred to as Blockchain 1.0, features a simple database ledger that records transactions in a chronological order and represents the state of the network to participants. Ethereum, or Blockchain 2.0, introduced the notion of smart contracts. Microsoft’s Bletchley Project introduces a new modular architecture which might mark a new milestone for blockchain technologies.

Marley Gray, Principal Program Manager Blockchain at Microsoft, joins us to talk about Microsoft’s approach to blockchain architecture. With enterprise in mind, Bletchley introduces the concept of “Cryptlets”, the core building blocks for introducing a secure middleware tier into blockchain application infrastructure. These computational units, running off-chain, on secure trusted container enclave hardware, could provide trusted data to on-chain smart contract logic.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Marley’s background and experience at Microsoft
  • Why Microsoft is aggressively pursuing blockchain technologies (compared to other large tech companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc)
  • Microsoft’s Azure Blockchain-as-a-Service offering
  • Project Bletchley, its goals and the problems it is trying to address
  • The primary use cases in which Bletchley may provide value
  • How Bletchley addresses the issue of deploying consortium style blockchains
  • What are Cryptlets and how do they relate to Bletchley
  • How Cryptlets are different from Oracles
  • How Cryptlets could provide data to Ethereum-style smart contracts

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-12-13 20:17:47

#160 Brian Behlendorf: How Hyperledger is Developing Foundational Blockchain Technology

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As a lead developer of the Apache webserver and founder of the Apache Software Foundation, Brian Behlendorf has played a central role in building internet architecture. Recently, he became Executive Director of the Hyperledger Project that aims to build foundational blockchain technology in an open-source, collaborative way.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Brian’s role in the development of the Apache server and Apache Software Foundation
  • The flaws in how blockchain software is currently being developed
  • Why blockchain needs a foundation to steer the development of its foundational technology
  • The key lessons from the Apache Software Foundation that inform Hyperledger’s approach
  • Hyperledger’s membership and organizational structure
  • The role of software licenses and why he favors Apache

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-12-05 21:47:14

#159 Anuj Das Gupta & Richard Caetano: How Stratumn Secures Processes

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Stratumn CEO Richard Caetano and Head of Research Anuj das Gupta joined us to discuss their work to bring security and integrity to processes. We covered the philosophy behind the company and why they use cryptography and other technologies coming out of the crypto space while shunning a classical blockchain design.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Paris-based startup Stratumn was founded
  • Why Stratumn’s thinking revolves around processes
  • How Proof-of-Process secures the who, what, where, when and why of each step of a process
  • How Stratumn uses Zero Knowledge Proofs to protect privacy
  • The connection between Proof-of-Process and blockchain protocols
  • Why using cryptography to secure processes didn’t gain traction earlier but does so today

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-11-29 13:02:56

#158 Mona El Isa & Reto Trinkler: The Polkadot Protocol – One Blockchain to Connect Them All

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System scalability and extensibility of system features are two central problems around which research in the cryptocurrency / blockchain industry has centered. For example, the Blockstream sidechains project foresaw hundreds of blockchains coordinating together to form an ‘Internet of Chains’ delivering extensibility to the Bitcoin system.

Recently, Dr. Gavin Wood, co-founder of Ethereum and Parity, put forth Polkadot, a technical vision to achieve the similar end-goals using different system architecture. Polkadot could enable individual blockchain networks to share security and communications infrastructure with other blockchain networks, forming in effect an ‘Internet of Blockchain networks’.

Melonport, a team based out of Zurich, has taken up the challenge of deploying the Polkadot network and also building decentralized asset management software on the same network. In this episode we converse with Mona El Isa and Reto Trinkler, co-founders of Melonport, in order to discover more about the overall vision.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Melonport, a team based out of Zurich, has taken up the challenge of deploying the Polkadot network and also building decentralized asset management software on the same network. In this episode we converse with Mona El Isa and Reto Trinkler, co-founders of Melonport, in order to discover more about the overall vision.
  • Description of problem(s) Polkadot seeks to resolve
  • Analogous design problems from technological history
  • Overview of Polkadot network
  • Overview of Melonport asset management software
  • How Melonport and Polkadot connect with each other
  • Next steps for the team

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-11-22 19:21:37

#157 Dominic Williams & Tom Ding: DFINITY – The Quest for a Decentralized Cloud

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String Labs founders Tom Ding and Dominic Williams joined us to discuss their project DFINITY, a next-generation blockchain network. Through leveraging technological advances, DFINITY aims to deliver an infinitely scalable decentralized cloud that will be able to power applications from decentralized search to supply chain applications. We covered DFINITY’s approach to scalability, interoperability, consensus as well as their sophisticated approach to governance: The Blockchain Nervous System.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Tom and Dominic ended up founding String Labs
  • The DFINITY project and objective of an infinitely scalable decentralized cloud
  • How consensus works in DFINITY
  • Governance in DFINITY through the Blockchain Nervous System
  • Threshold Relay signatures and other new technologies that are part of DFINITY
  • The importance and mechanics of public/private blockchain interoperability
  • DFINITY’s business model

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-11-14 09:25:42

#156 Leanne Kemp: Everledger – Detecting Diamond Fraud and Theft

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As is the case with most luxury goods, the diamond industry is faced with the issues of theft, fraud, and counterfeiting. Illegal activity is present at every level of the supply chain, which collectively costs the industry and its insurers hundreds of millions of dollars each year. In recent years, international treaties and regulation have been put in place in an attempt to combat illegal activity, but criminals are most often a step ahead.

Leanne Kemp, CEO of Everledger, joins us to explain how her company is using advanced geological techniques, and blockchains, to bring more traceability to the diamond industry. Everledger, whose clients include many of the largest insurance companies, builds software which allows for a diamond’s unique characteristics to be hashed and notarized in the blockchain. Hence, a stone’s provenance, and the trail of ownership can be traced, therefore limiting the opportunities for fraud and making it difficult for stolen diamonds to re-enter the market.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Leanne’s background as a technologist
  • A broad overview of the diamond industry
  • A look at the diamond supply chain
  • What roles banks and insurance companies play in the supply chain
  • How diamonds are uniquely fingerprinted
  • The Kimberly process and other regulations
  • Everledger’s technology stack and business model
  • Other sectors which can also benefit from increased traceability

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-11-07 16:33:01

#155 Mike Hearn & Richard Brown: Corda – A Distributed Ledger for Financial Services

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Attracting over 70 of the world’s biggest financial institutions to its consortium in just over a year, R3 has accomplished a formidable task. Aiming to rethink the fabric of the financial system, they first conducted experiments testing blockchain platforms for their member and last year began developing their own distributed ledger platform: Corda.

The effort to build Corda was lead by R3 CTO Richard Brown and the former Bitcoin developer and R3 lead architect Mike Hearn. In a wide-ranging discussion, we covered the vision of the project and why it represents a radical departure from existing blockchain platforms.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The origin story of R3
  • Why existing blockchain designs didn’t meet their needs
  • How the R3 team lead a design effort to develop a new platform from scratch
  • The business problem Corda is aiming to solve
  • The components of Corda’s architecture
  • How Corda handles privacy
  • Notaries and preventing double spends
  • Open sourcing Corda and the plan to join Hyperledger

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-10-31 22:53:31

#154 Greg Meredith: Synereo – Rebuilding the Attention Economy from the Ground Up

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As content becomes more and more abundant and immediately available at our fingertips, our limited attention is a barrier for those whose business it is to attract and harness it. In this context, large (social) media companies understand that attention is a scarce commodity, and, as has been demonstrated, those who control attention wield enormous power over our society.

We’re joined by Greg Meredith, CTO of Synereo, to talk about how this new Blockchain platform rebuild the attention economy. In a sense, Synereo is to attention, what Bitcoin is to money, in effect, removing intermediaries from the transaction between those who have attention, and those who wish to attract it. Greg, also gives his insights on how functional programming languages could allow for verifiable computational smart contracts.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Greg’s background as a mathematician and his work on Microsoft’s BizTalk Process Orchestration
  • How he transitioned into the crypto-currency space
  • What is Synereo and what the project is trying to achieve
  • Greg’s thoughts on the attention economy and how it is fundamentally broken
  • Synereo’s technology stack
  • How Vlad Zamfir’s Casper consensus algorithm influenced Synereo
  • Rholang, Synereo’s functional smart-contracting language
  • Synereo’s economic model and product roadmap

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-10-25 23:23:43

#153 Alex Wearn: Decentralized Capital and Government Currencies on Ethereum

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A topic which is often discussed is the limited use of Ethereum applications without stable cryptocurrencies. Prediction markets are a prime example of this. When one makes a prediction using Ether, he or she is in fact entering into to speculations: one being the outcome of the actual prediction, the other being the price of Ether when the prediction resolves. Projects like Maker DAO try to solve the problem by developing complex systems to ensure that a blockchain token keeps its value in sync with fiat currencies. But Decentralized Capital is taking a different approach by issuing fiat-pegged tokens on Ethereum that are backed by bank deposits. CEO Alex Wearn joined us to explain their approach to providing a fundamental piece of Ethereum infrastructure.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The problem Decentralized Capital is trying to solve
  • What the architecture of Decentralized Capital looks like
  • The relationship between Crypto Capital and Decentralized Capital
  • Why the ability of freezing and confiscating assets is required
  • Some of the best use cases for Decentralized Capital
  • The regulatory environment of Decentralized Capital
  • The Decentralized Capital business model

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-10-17 21:47:44

#152 Tuur Demester: Investing in Bitcoin

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In 2012, a year after discovering Bitcoin in Argentina, Dutch economist Tuur Demeester became one of the first people to advocate investing in Bitcoin to a mainstream audience. Tuur joined us to discuss his thesis for investing in Bitcoin and how it has evolved over time. We also talked about the road ahead and how other cryptocurrencies and Ethereum compare as investment opportunities.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Tuur discovered Bitcoin in Argentina in 2011
  • The case for investing in Bitcoin
  • The current state of Bitcoin and metrics he looks at
  • Projections for the Bitcoin price
  • How Bitcoin compares to gold
  • The current state of the financial markets

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-10-10 22:03:03

#151 Ian Grigg: Ricardian Contracts and Digital Assets Prehistory

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Before 2013 few people paid attention to Bitcoin and blockchain, yet even back in the 1990s a vibrant group of prioneers pursued the vision of financial cryptography and digital cash. One of these was financial cryptographer and software developer Ian Grigg, who today works as an architecture consultant for R3.

Grigg joined us for a discussion of the history of the digital cash, Bitcoin and his work on Ricardian Contracts, which foreshadowed today’s smart contracts.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The origin story of financial cryptography
  • DigiCash and the startup scene around it in the 1990s
  • Ricardian Contracts and why contracts are central to digital assets
  • Ricardian Contracts vs blockchain

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-10-03 22:25:39

#150 Devcon 2 and the State of Ethereum

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Last week the biggest blockchain-focused developer conference took place in Shanghai, China: Ethereum’s DevCon 2. Epicenter show host Meher Roy was at the conference and brought back his impressions and insights for a comprehensive discussion of the current state of Ethereum projects and the Ethereum community.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • What Ethereum’s developer conference DevCon 2 was like
  • The big change in going from concepts to alpha version over the last year
  • The continued lack of sustainable business models in Ethereum
  • The lack of interest by Venture Capitalists and the big tech companies in Ethereum and blockchain technology
  • The current state and incentive problems of crowdsales
  • Three areas of focus in Ethereum: Scalability, Privacy and Governance
  • The search for the next protocol

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-09-26 08:09:22

#149 Lukas Abegg: Smart Contracts and the Law

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That blockchains represents a fundamental technological revolution has become widely accepted. What is still more nebulous, but could turn out just as disruptive is how smart contracts while transform the legal system and our understanding of what contracts are and how they work.

Legal researcher Lukas Abegg who is currently finishing his PhD on copyright issues around 3d printing and has been researching smart contracts as well joined us to discuss the question whether code is law and what blockchain can learn form 3d printing.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The copyright questions around 3d printing
  • How legal issues around 3d printing are like issues around smart contracts
  • How information theory can help us conceptualize smart contracts
  • The thesis of Lessig’s book ‘Code is Law’
  • The case for law regulating code
  • Why Alternative Dispute Resolution has big potential for blockchain applications

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-09-19 22:59:41

#148 Kyle Torpey: Diving Into Bitcoin – The Debates, the Issues and What’s to Come

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We’re joined by Kyle Torpey, a freelance writer, and journalist who writes for a number of publications in the blockchain space including Bitcoin Magazine, Coin Journal, and others. Know for his well-written articles and in-depth reporting on the important topics affecting Bitcoin today, Kyle provides his point of view on the scalability debate and gives an update on the recent and upcoming changes to the bitcoin protocol.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • An update on the scalability debate
  • The outcome of the recent Hong Kong scalability workshop and code dev meeting in California
  • The Bitcoin core development process
  • The recent release of Bitcoin Code 0.13.0
  • The inclusion of Segregated Witness and what it enables
  • Upcoming features in the roadmap
  • Takeaways from the Ethereum hard fork
  • Division in the Bitcoin community
  • The evolution of the Bitcoin ecosystem in the last 2 years
  • Potential mainstream applications for Bitcoin

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-09-12 10:33:54

#147 Sarah Meiklejohn: Anonymity, Central Bank Cryptocurrencies and the Academic View on Bitcoin

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With academic research on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies still in its infancy, Sarah Meiklejohn’s track record of publications in the area stands out. The UCL computer science professor has explored topics ranging from anonymity in Bitcoin to how a central bank could go about issuing a cryptocurrency.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • What techniques can be used to deanonymize Bitcoin users
  • How Bitcoin’s usage evolved over time
  • Whether privacy-enhancing overlays in Bitcoin currently work
  • What a cryptocurrency issued by a central bank could look like
  • The architecture of RSCoin

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-09-05 20:49:24

#146 Ryan X. Charles: Allowing Content Creators to Own and Monetize Content with Yours

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In the last 20 years, content publishing platforms have proliferated to an almost insane number. There are countless places where people and companies can post articles, blogs, videos, photos, live content and so on. Despite this diverse offering, little innovation has happened in monetizing content, which still mostly remains ad-based.

We’re joined by Ryan X. Charles, Bitcoin Developer and Founder of Yours. Yours would like to address the monetization problem by allowing content producers to earnBitcoin when they create good content. Yours is an in-browser application which implements a Bitcoin wallet and enables micro-transactions through their own implementation of the Lightning Network. Content Creators are paid by Curators who attribute value to the content. Curators are themselves rewarded when content they find valuable goes viral.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Ryan’s background as the Lead Developer of BitCore, and his experience at BitGo and Reddit
  • What is Yours and what types of applications it enables
  • The technical components of Yours
  • The Yours application and how users post and access content
  • Why he chose to build Yours on bitcoin
  • How micropayments are implemented in Yours
  • How Yours addresses the issue of copyright infringement
  • What challenges Yours may face in order to reach critical mass

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-08-29 19:16:16

#145 Russell McLernon & Stephen King: RexMLS – Disrupting Real Estate with a Decentralized MLS

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One of the sectors which is ripe for disruption is the real estate industry. In the US for instance, a handful of historic and very powerful players operate what is known as MLS, or Multiple Listing Services, and hold unofficial monopolies on residential and commercial real estate listings. Brokers, who depend on these listing services to sell properties, agree that their incumbent positions have created a situation where fees have continued to rise, while little to no added value has been added for their users.

Stephen King and Russel McLernon join us to explain RexMLS, a decentralized Multiple Listing Service built on Ethereum and IPFS. Currently in beta, the DApp would allow brokers to list properties at a very low cost, and be accessible to international markets, something which is lacking in the current model.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The basics of MLS or Multiple Listing Services
  • What is RexMLS and the problems it is trying to address
  • The benefits of a decentralized MLS
  • The different technical components of RexMLS
  • Why they chose Ethereum and IPFS
  • The user experience of RexMLS
  • The product’s roll-out phases
  • How users are incentivized to participate in the system
  • The RexDex token exchange and the token injection model
  • RexMLS’s governance model

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-08-22 19:14:59

#144 Alex Chepurnoy & Charles Hoskinson: IOHK, Scorex and the Case for Ethereum Classic

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From BitShares to his central role during the inception of Ethereum Charles Hoskinson has continually influenced key projects in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. After departing the Ethereum project in 2014, he has recently stepped back into the limelight by pledging support and resources to turn the fledgling Ethereum fork ETC into a viable project.

Charles joined us together with Alex Chepurnoy, a developer at his company IOHK. Besides Ethereum Classic, we talked about IOHK and Scorex, IOHK’s modular blockchain framework project that Alex Chepurnoy has been leading.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The vision and activities of IOHK
  • Scorex: A Modular Blockchain Framework
  • Conflicts of vision that lead to Charles’ departure as original CEO of Ethereum in 2014
  • Why the hard fork broken Ethereum’s social contract
  • Why ETC should differentiate and find its own path
  • The role governance could play in ETC’s future

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-08-15 19:13:20

#143 Joey Krug: Augur – A Decentralized Crowdsourced Prediction Market Built on Ethereum

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Prediction markets are fascinating financial instruments which have proven to be accurate at making predictions on things like the outcome of elections, geopolitical events and sporting events. But in our heavily regulated financial world, they are the subject of much controversy. In 2013 for instance, a well-known US prediction market, Intrade, was forced to shut down following a civil suit filed by the CFTC. While some people consider prediction markets to be a useful tool for society, others consider them to be a form of gambling, which is one of the reasons why they have been met with such resistance in certain countries. A purely decentralized prediction market would operate outside the scope of the regulated financial world and be resistant to censorship and outside intervention.

We’re joined by Joey Krug, Co-Founder and Core Developer at Augur, a decentralized prediction market built on Ethreum. The project, which was initially meant to be a Bitcoin sidechain, has ported to Ethereum and is currently in beta on the Testnet. Users can forecast real-world events, such as the outcome of the US election, and earn profits if they are accurate in their predictions. Reporting on events is crowdsourced using a consensus-based system similar to proof-of-stake.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How prediction markets work
  • The controversy around prediction markets
  • The Augur project and what it is trying to achieve
  • The evolution of Augur
  • The different components of Augur
  • Reporting on events and the reputation token
  • Security, attack vectors and how they can be mitigated
  • Augur’s business model
  • The ethical aspects of prediction markets
  • Augur’s structure and governance

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-08-09 19:11:38

#142 Claire Warren & Scott Farrell: DnA Contracts – Bringing Human Discretion to Smart Contracts

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Blockchain smart contracts are self-executing contracts composed of computer code. These programs, which are executed by the entirety of the network, enforce the rules described within the code. Effectively, in this realm, code is law. And as we’ve seen recently, altering the outcome of that code after it has been deloyed, should we later realize that it was flawed or did not produce an intended result, can be messy. In addition, there are instances where human intervention can be necessary or even desirable. Take a mortgage agreement for example. Should a smart contract be entrusted with the responsibility of making a decision when the borrower can no longer make his payments? In cases such as this, subjective human intervention is be necessary.

Scot Farrell and Claire Warren, lawyers at the global law firm King & Wood Mallesons, think that humans should not be automated out of every process. While code is logical and predictable, it cannot act reasonably or take into account certain unforeseen events. They have proposed DnA contracts (Digital and Analog), where automation can occur when absolute automation is possible, but where humans may intervene at the edges and provide input when needed.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • What issues DnA contracts are trying to address
  • The basic concepts behind DnA contrats
  • The scenarios where DnA contracts may be valuable
  • Examples of DnA contracts applied to interest rate swaps and mortgages
  • How DnA contracts could be integrated with blockchain technologies
  • The impact of DnA contracts on legal services

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-08-01 19:10:06

#141 Ralph Merkle: Revolutionizing Democracy Using DAOs

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Legendary scientist and cryptography pioneer Ralph Merkle joined us to discuss his recent paper on DAOs. Merkle examined how the voting mechanisms in today’s democracies are flawed and how a decentralized, transparent DAO making decisions using prediction markets could create more efficient democratic systems.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Merkle proofs, Merkle Roots and his early forays into cryptography
  • Blockchains as living organisms
  • Why DAOs will be subject to a Darwinian evolutionary process
  • Why voting is flawed and we need new governance methods to save democracy
  • The concept of a DAO democracy
  • How prediction markets and futarchy would help govern a DAO democracy

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-07-25 19:08:20

#140 Manfred Karrer: Bitsquare – The Decentralized Open-Soure Cryptocurrency-Fiat Exchange

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Exchanges are often criticized as a central point of failure of the cryptocurrency space. This isn’t without justification as, in recent years, we have seen a number of exchanges get hacked, robbed, or embezzled by their founders, which is far from insignificant. One proposed alternative are decentralized exchanges that would allow people make peer-to-peer trades using sophisticated smart contracts. However, there remains the fundamental challenge of interfacing with the legacy banking system.

Manfred Karrer joins us for a lengthy discussion on Bitsquare, a decentralized cryptocyrrency exchange which supports most fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies. Built to be a decentralized equivalent of LocalBitcoins, the Bitsquare client, which connects to the peer-to-peer network, uses Tor by default, which makes it almost completely anonymous. There are also a number of safeguards in place to eliminate the potential for fraud and theft, as well as an arbitration system to resolve disputes between traders.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The motivation behind Bitsquare
  • The Bitsquare client and user experience
  • A walkthrough of a typical trade
  • The mechanics of the order book
  • The fiat currency transfer mechanism
  • The current and future arbitration process
  • Manfred’s thoughts on DAOs
  • Bitsquare’s product roadmap

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-07-19 19:06:55

#139 Martin Köppelmann: Gnosis – The Ethereum Prediction Market

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Few things arouse among free market believers and enthusiasts of decentralization as prediction markets do. By allowing people to bet on any range of outcomes they promise more efficient markets and better information. Few people have worked with as much dedication on making the promise of prediction markets a reality as Martin Köppelmann.

After founding the Bitcoin prediction market Fairlay, he turned to Ethereum and started the Ethereum-based prediction market Gnosis. We discussed his views on the DAO heist, differences between Fairlay and Gnosis and their upcoming tokensale.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How the DAO heist happened and what we should learn from it
  • The Bitcoin prediction market Fairlay
  • From Fairlay to Gnosis: Building a prediction market on Ethereum
  • The Gnosis architecture
  • Gnosis’ planned crowdsale and DAO
  • Gnosis business model and what will determine the value of the tokens
  • The difference between Gnosis and Augur

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-07-11 19:05:36

#138 Sergio Lerner: How RSK Will Bring Smart Contracts to Bitcoin

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Security researcher and RSK co-founder Sergio Lerner joined us to discuss RSK (also Rootstock), the project to launch a turing-complete smart contract sidechain to Bitcoin. We talked about how he got into the industry, spending countless days analyzing Bitcoin for vulnerabilities and finding a few along the way. And, of course, RSK, the ambitious project to strenghten the Bitcoin ecosystem through adding smart contract capabilities.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Sergio initially got involved in the Bitcoin space
  • His early work on turing-complete cryptocurrencies going back to 2012
  • Why financial inclusion is the most important problem to solve
  • Merged mining and RSK’s security model
  • How RSK compares to Ethereum
  • RSK’s business model

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-07-04 19:04:19

#137 Siân Jones: Regulatory Update – The Brexit, the EU and the DAO

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With recent news surrounding The DOA and the Brexit vote causing a stir in the blockchain world and beyond, it seems like a regulatory update is due. So we called up our favorite regulatory affairs specialist Siân Jones to enlighten us on some of the recent developments in Bitcoin and blockchain regulation.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The Brexit and it’s potential impacts on the Blockchain and Fintech space in the UK
  • The Bank of England opening its doors to more than a thousand financial institution and payment service providers
  • Some of the initiatives by the UK government to potentially adopt blockchain technologies
  • The recent European Parliament plenary sitting on virtual currencies and the Distributed Ledger Technology Task Force
  • An update on BitLicense and its impacts a year and a half after being adopted in New York
  • The potential regulatory implications of DAOs

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-06-27 19:01:33

#136 Arthur Breitman: Tezos – A Self-Amending Crypto-Ledger

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The lack of an explicit governance mechanism has created deep problems for Bitcoin. Ethereum, with the DAO-related soft/hard-fork discussions, may face similar challenges ahead. Yet, already in 2014 Arthur Breitman quietly started working on cryptocurrency network Tezos that has an explicit mechanism to let coinholders vote on protocol upgrades.

Our discussion with Breitman centered around how explicit governance could lead to a more secure and evolutionary protocol. We also discussed Tezos’ approach to smart contract that tries to prevent bug-riddled and insecure smart contracts such as the DAO which has thrown Ethereum into a deep crisis.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Why stakeholders voting on forks can prevent consensus attacks
  • The mechanics of Tezos’ governance
  • How an upgrade mechanism could allow Tezos to rapidly and radically evolve
  • Why the programming language in which smart contracts are written is crucial for security
  • Why a functional language that allows formal proofs such as OCaml is more suited for smart contracts than Ethereum’s solidity
  • The road ahead for Tezos

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-06-20 19:00:06

#115 Matan Field: Backfeed – The Social Operating System for Decentralized Organizations

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The idea that in the future tokens will play a crucial role in networks and organizations to incentivize decentralized collaboration and reward contribution is not new. It’s the original decentralized autonomous organization idea that has informed many projects that have been on the podcast (Swarm, Ethereum, Factom, Storj, etc). For Matan, the vision originally led to found decentralized ride-sharing application LaZooz. One year ago, he left LaZooz to found Backfeed, which is building the tools that so far have been missing to make mass collaboration without a central party possible.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How he became interested in blockchains and started the ridesharing application LaZooz
  • Backfeed’s vision for a social operating system for decentralized organizations
  • The role of reputation, proof-of-value and tokens in Backfeed
  • The applications Backfeed is currently building
  • The business of model of Backfeed

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-06-14 22:07:35

#135 Stephen Palley: Lawmodynamics – How to Sue a DAO

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For many the promise of decentralized applications and DAOs is to be beyond the limitations and rigidity of the existing legal system. There is no question that where DAOs can roam freely, innovation can accelerate. But can the law, courts and regulations be left behind so easily?

Lawyer Stephen Palley joined us to discuss what happens when the new and old worlds collide and how courts will look at what goes on in the land of DAOs and DApps.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Whether trust is reduced, removed or just shifted elsewhere in blockchain systems
  • If creating decentralized applications could create liability risks
  • Why courts will impose a legal structure if a formal one doesn’t exist
  • The concept of jurisdiction and how it could affect DAOs
  • Why one should be careful with saying a DAO provides insurance

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-06-13 00:03:16

#134 Emin Gün Sirer & Vlad Zamfir: On a Rocky DAO

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Raising $150m+ through its toke sale, ‘The DAO’ has become the most notable decentralized application to date. The ambitious goal of the project is to form an decentralized organizations that efficiently makes investment decisions and generates a return for the token holders.

Computer Science professor Emin Gün Sirer and researcher Vlad Zamfir joined us to discuss the various security issues with the daring project and why they’ve called for a temporary moratorium on funding proposals.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How the DAO works
  • What the role of the curators is
  • What splits are and how they became a way to withdraw funds
  • Why the DAO has a bias towards approving proposals
  • How attackers could ‘stalk’ token holders when withdrawing their funds
  • How the DAO can be upgraded

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-06-06 23:58:57

#133 Julien Hamonic & Pascal Hamonic: Applying the Mechanisms of Thermoregulation to Cryptocurrencies

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One of the problems often cited when talking about cryptocurrencies is their level of volatility compared to traditional fiat currencies. This makes most cryptocurrencies a poor instrument for storing value, and introduces complexities when making purchases in fiat amounts. Stable cryptocurrencies include mechanisms which allow them to stay pegged to fiat currencies like the US Dollar or Euro. They present a number of advantages, and, in addition to taking the headache out of making purchases, can be used by cryptocurrency traders who need a stable unit of account for hedging their assets.

We talk to brothers Pascal and Julien Hamonic, Core Members of the Nu team about the NuBit stable cryptocurrency. Similarly to the mechanisms that keep our body temperature stable, NuBits relies upon the introduction of new coins into circulation when demand increases, and for coins to be taken out of circulation when demand drops. Shareholders (NuShareholder) vote on these measures as the network relies on custodians who bring liquidity into the market in exchange for dividends, and on speculators who “”park”” coins in exchange for potential returns when demand increases again.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • What is NuBits and what is the goal it is trying to achieve
  • The different components of Nu (NuBits, NuShares)
  • The economic mechanisms behind the $1.00 USD peg
  • Who are the different participants in the network (NuBits users, NuShareholders, custodians)
  • The important role of custodians in providing liquidity to the network
  • The consensus model used in Nu
  • The initial allocation of NuBits and NuShares
  • The governance mechanisms in Nu

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-05-30 23:54:20

#132 Stephan Tual: Building a Universal Sharing Network on Ethereum and a $150M DAO

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In this episode we welcome back Stephan Tual, the COO of Slock.It, a German startup working at the intersection of the Internet of Things and the Ethereum blockchain. Slock.It’s small team also wrote the smart contracts that power ‘The DAO’, a decentralized capital management entity that recently raised north of $160 million for investing into Ethereum based projects. ‘The DAO’ has been featured in many mainstream news outlets, such as New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Economist.

The interview explores the vision, motivation and challenges behind both ‘The DAO’ and Slock.It.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Stephan’s background and role as CCO at Ethereum Foundation.
  • What is ‘The DAO’ and how it relates to Slock.It.
  • DAOlink and the business opportunity of enabling interactions between DAOs and traditional firms.
  • Opportunities, assumptions and challenges for ‘The DAO’.
  • Vision and products of Slock It – Univeral Sharing Network and the Ethereum computer.

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-05-23 23:49:25

#131 Evan Schwartz & Stefan Thomas: Building the Internet of Payments with Interledger

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One of the foundational problems in payment networks is that they are mostly uninteroperable. This problem exists at all levels, from consumer payment solutions like PayPal, to national and multi-national banks. This complexity is brought on by the proprietary nature of payment networks, and moving value from one to another requires a negotiation between parties on which common payment network to use in a transaction. We saw similar problems in the early days of the Internet, assembled around protocols which allow for data to be routed and move between networks in a standardized way.

We’re joined by Stefan Thomas and Evan Schwartz, co-creators of Interledger. This neutral protocol would bring the same level of interoperability we know take for granted around the flow of data, to payments, thus allowing money to move freely across networks. A market maker, who holds accounts in both networks, would receive funds in escrow from a sender, and move funds to an escrow account with the receiver, getting paid by the sender when he shows the proof the funds were delivered to the receiver.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • What is Interledger and what problem is it trying to solve
  • Interledger’s architecture
  • How connectors and routing works, and how we may compare it to the way data flows on the Internet
  • Cryptographic Escrow and its role in Interledger
  • Requirements for payment solutions to become Interledger compatible
  • Interledger’s community group at the W3C
  • How Interledger applies to micropayments
  • Ripple’s role in Interledger

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-05-16 23:45:44

#130 Erik Voorhees: Fooling the Fox – The Story of the Shapeshift Hack

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In the short history of the Bitcoin industry, there has been an impressive amount of high profile hacks, ranging from a few hundred thousand to many millions of dollars. In all of these, customers, Bitcoin users, where robbed of their funds because poor security policies, negligence, incompetence, or plain old scamming. Recently, the cryptocurrency conversion service ShapeShift fell victim to a hack in which over $200,000 of company funds were stolen, initially by an employee, and then by a hacker to whom this employee had sold sensitive company information. Luckily, no customers lost any money as ShapeShift does not hold any funds on behalf of users.

We talked to ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees who walks us through this captivating ordeal, which sounds like it could be the plot of a movie. He speaks about how the company is trying to recover and what he has learned from this unfortunate event.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How the ShapeShift hack went down
  • What steps the company has taken to avoid this from happening again
  • What he learned from the hack
  • ShapeShift’s long-term vision as a company and product
  • Ethereum’s role in their recent growth
  • His history as an entrepreneur in the Bitcoin space
  • His views on libertarianism and the long-term impact of Bitcoin on that movement

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-05-09 23:41:39

#129 The Far Future in Front of Us

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As the blockchain field continues evolving rapidly, Sebastien, Meher and Brian take some time to discuss the current environment and the longer term implications of blockchains. We discussed how smart contracts could affect the pace of innovation and the competitiveness of industries. We also talked about the role DAOs will play and what we can take away from the current DAO crowdsale and its connection with Slock.it.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How companies running on smart contracts could impact the pace and cost of innovation
  • A smart contract-based insurance example
  • Why smart contracts and blockchains will challenge our understanding of organizations
  • The current state of DAOs
  • Slock.it and the DAO crowdsale

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain, Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-05-02 23:38:35

#128 Jed Mccaleb: Stellar and the Vision of an Open Financial System

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When Jed McCaleb discovered Bitcoin, there didn’t even exist an online marketplace to trade the cryptocurrency yet. The experienced founder who had earlier started file sharing site eDonkey, acted fast and started the first Bitcoin exchange MtGox which he later sold to now-infamous Mark Karpeles. Jed later founded the pioneering Ripple project before leaving to start Stellar.

We discussed his journey through the industry and the ambitious plans Stellar has to create an open financial system that will give access to financial services to a much broader spectrum of humanity.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Jed’s early involvement in the industry and founding of MtGox and subsequently Ripple
  • Why Jed left Ripple and started Stellar
  • How Ripple and Stellar differ
  • The Stellar Consensus Protocol
  • Why the organization behind Stellar is a non-profit foundation
  • Stellar’s focus on developing markets and Nigeria in particular
  • The role and distribution of Stellar’s currency Lumen

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-04-25 23:34:36

#127 Anthony di Iorio: Jaxx – Ethereum and Why Community Matters

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We were joined by repeat guest Anthony di Iorio, a definite contender for having (co-)founded the most projects in the blockchain space including Ethereum, Kryptokit, Decentral and Jaxx. We got an update on the vibrant Toronto blockchain scene and Decentral. The main discussion revolved around the new wallet Jaxx that is simultaneously a Bitcoin and Ethereum wallet and takes a significant step towards a more unified and accessible cryptocurrency experience. Finally, we discussed his recent appointment as Chief Digital Officer at the Toronto Stock Exchange / TMX Group and the upcoming trade show Blockchain World Expo.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Update on Decentral and Kryptokit
  • How the Jaxx wallet
  • Unique UI challenges of Ethereum wallets
  • The role of community in bringing innovation to corporates
  • His role as Chief Digital Officer at the TMX Group
  • The upcoming Blockchain World Expo in Toronto

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-04-18 23:31:16

#126 Trent McConaghy: BigchainDB – Scalable Public Distributed Databases

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One of the major drawbacks of Bitcoin is its low transaction throughput. Maxing out only a handful of operations per second, there have been many proposals to scale it up so that it can compete with existing distributed database technologies. As the blockchain’s demand continues to increase, it’s unclear if the Bitcoin protocol will ever be able to handle thousands, if not millions of transactions per second. BigchainDB is taking a different approach. Rather than trying to scale up blockchain technology, it starts with a big data distributed database, RethinkDB, and adds blockchain features and characteristics.

Trent Mcconaghy, Co-founder and CTO of Ascribe and BigchainDB, joins us to talk about how this protocol may become to databases, what IPFS and Ethereum are to distributed filestorage and computing, respectively. Able to perform more than one million writes per second and capacities in the petabytes, BigchainDB has the ambition to become the world’s public database platform.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • A brief update on Ascribe since Trent was last on the show
  • The motivations behind BigchainDB and that problems it’s trying to solve
  • How BigchainDB plans to solve the typical scalability bottlenecks found in blockchain protocols
  • BigchainDB’s capacity, performance and latency characteristics
  • BigchainDB’s consensus model, applied to RethinkDB
  • Potential application for BigchainDB, in both centralised and decentralised application stacks

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-04-11 23:26:48

#125 Florian Glatz: Defining a Legal Framework for Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAO)

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The relatively new concept of a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), is often praised as a new type of organizational structure that has no identifiable owner or owners, and whose actions are automated and determined solely by a pre-defined set of rules. Views on DAOs differ widely. On one hand, members of the Bitcoin/blockchain space often portrayal them as AI-like swarm organisms, free from the shackles of nation-states, and that can act at will regardless of laws or regulation. On the other hand, legal experts caution that, like corporations, DAOs and their creators could be held liable in civil lawsuits, and that they may be served a hard dose of reality when they end up in court.

We are joined by Florian Glatz, attorney, researcher and software developer (not to mention the proud owne r of the awesome domain name blockchain.lawyer). We discuss some of the basic legal concepts surrounding contracts and in what ways smart contracts may or may not fit within our existing legal framework. We also dive deep into DAOs, and address some of the challenges they may pose in the near and distant future.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The history of innovation in law
  • How merchant law (Lex Mercatoria) emerged in the 13th century
  • How we can define smart contracts
  • The legality of smart contacts
  • The need for natural language contracts vs. contracts which are written in code
  • Decentralized Autonomous Organizations
  • The Slock.it DAO
  • What would happen if one tried to sue a DAO

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-04-04 23:24:18

#124 Rune Christensen: Maker DAO Ethereum’s Decentralized Central Bank

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The challenges Bitcoin’s wild volatility represents for achieving mass adoption have made the necessity for stable cryptocurrencies apparent long ago. With Ethereum applications, the problem is even more apparent as many use cases from predcition markets to insurance are impractical using the even more volatile ether. Maker DAO is an ambitious attempt to solve the problem by building a bank-like system to issue a value-stable currency on Ethereum.

Rune Christensen joined us to discuss the need for Maker and the complex system to guarantee stability.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Why money is the most successful product ever
  • What makes stablecoins are necessary
  • The different components of Maker such as the stablecoin Dai, the token MKR and the role they play
  • Why Maker needs insurance against black swan events
  • Maker’s different planned stages of increasing decentralization
  • The MKR token sale and its value proposition for investors

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-03-28 23:20:37

#123 Brock Pierce: From Digital Goods to Digital Currency

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We’re joined by , Chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, investor and all around emblematic figure of the Bitcoin ecosystem. Brock tells his story, from his early beginning a entrepreneur in his teens, to the massively successfull video game industry businesses he built in the early 2000s.

As Chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, he gives us his perspective on how the Foundation’s role has evolved over time and its areas of focus going forward. Brock also weighs in the recent debates around governance and block size.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The lemonade-stand beginnings of Brock’s entrepreneurship story
  • How he became involved in gaming and pioneered the sale of digital goods
  • The 400,000-strong professional gamer supply chain he built in China
  • His first contact with Bitcoin and the initial concerns he had
  • Blockchain Capital and how he ended up investing in dozens of Bitcoin startups
  • The blocksize debate and whether Bitcoin needs an explicit governance process
  • The future of the Bitcoin Foundation

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-03-21 23:16:41

#122 Zooko Wilcox-O'Hearn: Zcash – An Open Financial System with Privacy

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For Zooko Wilcox-O’Hearn, part of the cypherpunk movement since the early 1990s, the vision of a decentralized financial system that has both openness and privacy has existed since long before Bitcoin. After many failed attempts, Bitcoin proved that that vision could be achievable. But Bitcoin also failed to deliver on the privacy features as blockchain analysis allows tracing movements and deanonymizing many users.

Zooko joined us to discuss his project Zcash, a fully anonymous cryptocurrency that is scheduled to launch in July. Through Zcash’s use of ground-breaking Zero Knowledge Proofs (or zkSNARKs) the blockchain will leak no information about sender, recipients nor amounts. It was a fascinating discussion of the most anticipated launch of a cryptocurrency since Ethereum.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Zooko’s long cypherpunk history
  • How overconfidence derailed many cypherpunk projects
  • Why Bitcoin’s privacy is broken and how Zcash provides true privacy
  • The too-good-to-be-true Zcash team
  • Why Zcash is based on a fork of Bitcoin
  • How the initial parameter generation creates a potential security weakness
  • Why Zcash believes in an evolutionary approach to designing cryptocurrency protocols

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-03-14 23:12:18

#121 Jeremy Stephen & Winston Moore: Barbados, Bitcoin and Central Banking

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For orthodox Bitcoiners central banks are often seen as the incarnation of evil. But , alas, in the case of two Carribean central banking economists the feeling of reprehension wasn’t reciprocated. Winston Moore and Jeremy Stephen were formerly associated with the Central Bank of Barados and fascinated by the potential of cryptocurrencies, they explored the consequences of their central bank holding Bitcoin as part of their international reserves. They joined us for a discussion of central banking, the pecularities of monetary policy in a small island nation and what Bitcoin could bring to the equation.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The function of central banks
  • The role international reserves hold for central banks
  • The peculiar challenges of central banks of small island nation states
  • How speculative attacks on central banks work
  • Why central banks may want to hold cryptocurrencies as part of their portfolio
  • How Bitt plans to issue Barbados Dollar using the Bitcoin blockchain and the open asset protocol

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-03-07 23:08:35

#120 Maciej Olpinski: Solving the Economic Mismatch Between Content and Attention

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The problem around content monetization is one which content producers are constantly trying to solve. At the core of this problem is a mismatch between supply and demand. Content, which is increasingly abundant, is captured by human attention, which is in limited supply. The volume of content being produced is growing at staggering rates while total human attention remains flat.

Our guest, , argues that the current content monetization model is outdated, broken and is in need of an overhaul. Previously at Google and YouTube, Maciej has a broad understanding content monetization models and lays out a vision for open marketplaces for attention using blockchains. He argues that content discovery systems like the Google Page Rank algorithm and Facebook’s News Feed could be replaced by open networks based on the mechanics of Bitcoin.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How the current content monetization model works and why it’s broken
  • The inner workings of content discovery
  • The economics of content discovery
  • Open marketplaces for attention and reputation
  • New web-native business models for content discovery

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-02-29 23:01:29

#119 Adam Gibson: A New Kind of Auditing – Cryptographic Proof of Online Accounts

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A pioneering feature of Bitcoin is verifiability of transactions: It is designed to enable low-power devices and high end computers alike to be able to verify occurrences on the blockchain.

This observation led our guest, Adam Gibson, to wonder why webpages aren’t so easily verifiable as a Bitcoin transaction? Can I prove to you that I have certain bank account balance over the internet? Why do we submit photocopies of passports rather than furnishing a cryptographically verifiable proof of citizenship by logging on to a Government site?

Born out of this intellectual itch is the TLS Notary protocol. It pioneers a new kind of auditing that enables participants to prove that a certain https page was in their browser. This protocol paves the way to brilliant designs for Proof of Reserves, Smart contract oracles and Decentralised fiat-to-bitcoin exchange.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Why is the current Web structured to be not easily verifiable?
  • What is TLS and how does it work?
  • How TLS differs from SSL
  • The TLS Notary protocol
  • Capabilities and limitations of TLS Notary
  • Applications of TLS Notary including provably honest smart contract oracles

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-02-22 22:58:51

#118 Manu Sporney: W3C – Making Payments a Web Standard

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A typical online transaction today isn’t very different from how it was done 25 years ago at the dawn of the Internet. In fact, online payments haven’t changed much at all. When we want to pay for something online, we copy very sensitive credit card information into a form on a website and trust that website to capture it securely and make proper use of it. If this seems like an old and antiquated way to pay, that’s because it is, and it costs billions of dollars per year in security and fraud prevention. The World Wide Web Consortium wants to standardize the way we pay online, making it more secure, and hopefully a better experience for users.

is a computer scientists and Standards Lead at the W3C. We talk about some of the core problems with dealing with credentials on the web and making online payments. Specifically, we discuss the Web Payments Working Group (WPWG), and their efforts to bring banks, payments providers and browser manufacturers together to converge around a standard set APIs to make for a better and more secure payment experience for all users.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Manu’s interest in Bitcoin and blockchains
  • His role in building the JSON-LD standard
  • What is the W3C, what are it’s roles and how does it operate
  • The level of interaction between the Bitcoin community and the W3C
  • The fundamental problems of dematerialised payments online
  • What it means to standardize payments online
  • The Interledger Payments Community Group
  • Manu’s company Digital Bazaar

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-02-15 22:54:36

#117 Eric Lombrozo: Upgrading Bitcoin with Segregated Witness

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In the midst of the heated blocksize debate one could be forgiven to think that there is very little Bitcoin developers are able to agree on. Yet, when core developer and Blockstream co-founder Pieter Wuille introduced the concept of segregated witness at the Scaling Bitcoin conference in Hong Kong most of the Bitcoin community quickly rallied behind the proposal.

Eric Lombrozo, CEO of wallet company Ciphrex and responsible for running the segregated witness testnet, joined us to discuss the proposal and its implications. Segregated witness, it turns out, does not only provide an elegant way to increase the blocksize via a soft-fork, it also solves transaction malleability and greatly simplifies updating the Bitcoin’s scripting language. It’s a crucial topic and may well enable a new wave of accelerated innovation in Bitcoin.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The various benefits of segregated witness
  • The mechanics of segregated witness
  • How segregated witness solves transaction malleability
  • How segregated witness could increase the blocksize to 2-3MB with a soft fork
  • What segregated witness means for wallet developers
  • How segregated witness could facilitate development of off-chain networks such as Lightning Network
  • The important difference between hard forks and soft forks
  • How segregated witness will allow updates of Bitcoin’s script language via soft forks

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-02-08 22:51:00

#116 Eli Ben-Sasson: Zero Knowledge Proofs

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Zero Knowledge Proofs are methods of providing cryptographic proofs to another party while keeping some information secret. The simple concept of ZKP offer tantalizing possibilities: Banks could prove solvency without revealing depositors. Governments could prove the fairness of an election without compromising privacy.

Computer science professor Eli Ben-Sasson joined us to discuss where blockchains and cryptocurrencies intersect with Zero Knowledge Proofs and related technologies such as zkSNARKs. It offered a fascinating view into what will surely become a core part of blockchain tech in the future.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • What are proof systems?
  • Zero Knowledge Proofs (ZKP) and other terminology such as SNARKs and zkSNARKs
  • The mechanics of Zero Knowledge Proofs
  • The role of performance in Zero Knowledge Proofs
  • Applications of ZKPs
  • The widespread potential impact of ZKP to verify processes

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-02-01 22:12:41

#114 Vinay Gupta: From Lawyer Capitalism to Programmer Capitalism

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Vinay Gupta has been a programmer, 1990s cypherpunk, ‘resilience guru’, Ethereum release coordinator and currently collaborates with Consensys to mainstream smart contract technology. He also invented the Hexayurt, a cheap and resilient architectural structure for disaster-stricken communities.

Recently, Vinay has become a thought leader in the cryptocurrency space. He is famed for his eloquence and ability to distill the crypto-finance technological paradigm into easy big-picture visualisations. Check out this podcast for some unique insights into technology, politics and history.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • His work on resilience. The connection between resilience and cryptocurrencies
  • A history of the cypherpunks – who they were, what they believed in and why they failed.
  • Why smart contracts matter? What is special about them?
  • The impact cryptocurrencies will have on capitalism
  • Why cryptocurrencies could be a great tool to explore basic income

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-01-18 22:02:45

#113 Dustin Byington, Ethan Buchman & Jae Kwon: Tendermint – Private Modularized Blockchains

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As blockchain technologies mature, new protocol specifications are emerging, which take unique approaches to software design and how consensus is achieved. We have talked about Multchain and OpenChain in the past, but Tendermint promises to be a viable solution for many permissioned blockchain use cases. It’s design is modular, meaning that the application layer (smart contract) and the consensus layer are completely independent. This provides added flexibility and allows for business logic to be written in practically any programming language. In addition, its unique approach to consensus, a round-robin Proof-of-Skate algorithm, is much better suited for permissioned blockchain scenarios than Proof-of-Work.

Meher and Sebastien talk to Tendermint co-founders, Jae Kwon, Dustin Byington and Ethan Buchman, about this promising new blockchain protocol and how it is different from other projects we’ve seen so far.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Tendermint came to be and how it has evolved since its creation
  • Smart contract programming and the Tendermint Socket Protocol (TMSP)
  • How Tendermint makes use of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM)
  • Tendermint’s approach to PoS consensus and its scalability benefits
  • Use case for permissioned and public blockchains
  • Future plans and business models

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-01-11 21:58:43

#112 Casey Kuhlman: Permissioned Blockchains and Disrupting Industrial Application Design

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Permissionable blockchains have gained much attention from enterprise this past year, and specifically, the traditional fiance and FinTech sectors. As new protocols emerge and the technology is matures, it is becoming apparent they are simply a new class of database, one which integrates business logic (smart contracts) and a consensus layer (PoS, PoW, etc).

is the CEO of Eris Industries, a company which specializes in building permissioned blockchain systems for enterprise. Their aim is to deliver the technologies which enable companies to easily build and deploy applications which make use of blockchain and smart contract technologies.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Casey’s impressive background as an engineer, Marine soldier, lawyer and startup founder
  • Eris Industries and what the company is trying to achieve
  • Permissionable blockchains and their usefulness in industrial applications
  • Smart contracts, how to explain them and legal status
  • How blockchains can be used to revolutionize the way organizations construct business processes
  • The idea of Blockchains-as-a-Service
  • The various use cases for blockchain technologies

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2016-01-04 21:52:36

#111 Andrew Miller: The Gas Model and Ethereum’s Economics

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Andrew Miller is a computer science PhD student at the University of Maryland who focuses on cryptocurrency. Having gotten involved in Bitcoin in 2011 and focused on cryptocurrencies early in his research work, he is one of the most prolific researchers in the field.

Our discussion mainly focused on security aspects of Ethereum including their gas model, Proof-of-Work algorithm and plans to switch to Proof-of-Stake.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How he got involved in doing research on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies
  • The blossoming of academic interest in the topic
  • His work on analyzing Ethereum’s gas model
  • Potential vulnerabilities of the Gas model
  • Ethereum’s PoW algorithm
  • How Ethereum handles the block size limit

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-12-28 19:03:42

#110 James D'Angelo: Satoshi’s Big Mistake and the Centralization of Bitcoin

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With over 600,000 views, James D’Angelo’s educational videos at the World Bitcoin Network are among the most popular resources on Bitcoin. Besides his excellent technical explanation, he has also been vocal about the dangers of the increasing centralization of mining.

James joined us to talk about his background as a rapper, the World Bitcoin Network, his proposal to use the Bitcoin blockchain to fight climate change and his argument that keeping Bitcoin decentralized would require sacrificing the anonymity of miners.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How he first learned about Bitcoin and started the World Bitcoin Network
  • His proposals on identity and climate change
  • The crucial mistake Satoshi made in designing Bitcoin
  • Why none of the current ideas can solve the underlying problem of the centralization of mining power
  • Why decentralization should be the only design criterion for Bitcoin
  • His Axiom: That anonymity and decentralization of miners are inversely correlated
  • How Identity-based Mining could foster decentralization

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-12-21 20:11:22

#109 Tim Pastoor: Identifi – Rethinking Identity as a Decentralized Web of Trust

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Identity is probably one of the most important constructs in our society. In our modern world, protecting one’s identity has become complex, as we no longer rely solely on governments to prove who we are. In addition, most identity sources can be easily compromised. Credit cards and social security numbers weren’t developed with the Internet in mind, and other identifiers such as logins and passwords aren’t well suited truly secure authentication and authorisation.

We’re joined by Tim Pastoor, Founder of 2way.io, to discuss how we can improve control of our identities using concepts borrowed from Bitcoin. Tim walks us through how people could better manage different identities and build reputation networks using Identifi, a global address book protocol invented by Martti Malmi, one of the very first Bitcoin users. We also talk what role this system could play in the future as autonomous agents and artificial intelligence become more prevalent.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The history of identity systems and how traditional identity systems are broken
  • How the invention of Blockchain technologies changed the way we think of identity
  • The Identifi protocol and how it works
  • How we can build reputation through Webs of Trust (WoT)
  • The future of identity and how Identifi could provide ID for IoT, robots, autonomous agents and artificial intelligence
  • 2Way.io and what the company is trying to achieve

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-12-14 17:26:26

#108 The Big Chain Powwow

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The Bitcoin and blockchain industry has been through a lot this year. While the Bitcoin price has experienced relative stability, perhaps indicating slow growth, the space has grown into a rich and diverse ecosystem of startups and open technologies. Through inspiring proof-of-concepts and exciting use cases, blockchain technologies have gained legitimacy as a viable technology to improve transparency, reduce costs and optimise processes, to name a few of it’s benefits.

In this episode, all three Epicenter Bitcoin hosts, Brian, Sebastien and Meher, come together to look back on the events which marked the space this past year, and speculate on where thing may be heading in the future.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Shift in focus from Bitcoin to blockchain technologies
  • Public vs. private blockchain debate
  • Bitcoin blocksize debate
  • Media censorship and r/Bitcoin dictatorship
  • Ethereum and it’s flourishing ecosystem
  • Sebastien’s new startup: Stratumn

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain, Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-12-08 19:53:06

#107 Gideon Greenspan: MultiBit – The Blockchain is a New Database Paradigm

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Gideon Greenspan, a computer scientist and CEO/Founder of the Israeli startup Coin Sciences, joined us for a discussion of their private blockchain platform MultiChain. Besides diving into the popular question of what’s the point of a private blockchain, we covered his earlier colored coins implementation as well as his view that blockchains are best understood as a novel database paradigm.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Gideon got involved in the blockchain space
  • Their colored coins implementation MultiSpark and why it failed to get traction
  • Why he saw a market for an open-source private blockchain platform and started MultiChain
  • What mining diversity is and how it is used for consensus in MultiChain
  • How permissions work in MultiChain
  • The issues of privacy in blockchains and why you can’t have auditability and privacy
  • How private blockchains differ from regular distributed databases
  • The five criteria to decide if a project needs a blockchain
  • The problem he sees with smart contract blockchains

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-11-30 22:35:20

#106 Christian Decker: Scaling Bitcoin with Duplex Micropayment Channels

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Christian Decker is a PhD student at ETH Zurich, where he is currently finishing up the world’s first PhD thesis entirely about Bitcoin. The computer scientist has been part of the Bitcoin community since 2009 and just recently turned off his last miner after 6.5 years!

We talked about the current scalability debate and what his research indicated what blocksize could reasonably be handled today. We also discussed his proposal for Duplex Micropayment Channels. Like the Lightning Network, Duplex Channels use a network of payment channels to enable cheap, instant and trustless offchain transactions. The proposal, which he is currently implementing, is one of the most promising approaches to scaling Bitcoin.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How losing 9000 btc got him on the front page of the New York Times
  • The scaling Bitcoin debate and what blocksize could be handled today
  • How payment channels work and could be used for off-chain transactions
  • The advantages Duplex Micropayment Channels have with regards to privacy
  • The differences between Duplex and the Lightning Network
  • Whether off-chain transactions could work on Ethereum as well

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-11-23 20:43:55

#105 Vlad Zamfir: Bringing Ethereum Towards Proof-of-Stake with Casper

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With Proof-of-Stake (PoS) a blockchain is secured not by spending an external resource such as electricity but by using value internal to the chain itself. The promise of higher security at a lower cost is what also drives Ethereum to plan a move away from Proof-of-Work to PoS in the future.

Ethereum researcher Vlad Zamfir, who leads their effort in the complex search for the optimal PoS consensus system joined us for an in-depth discussion of the challenges of PoS, the approach Casper is taking and what consensus in Ethereum land could look like in the future.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How he became interested in consensus and Proof-of-Stake (PoS)
  • Why Ethereum plans to switch to the PoS systems Casper in the future
  • What the Long-Range Attack and Nothing-at-Stake problems are and how Casper addresses them
  • How a betting mechanism is used to get validators to reach consensus
  • What centralization pressures exist for validators and what operating a validator will look like
  • The role of security deposits in Casper
  • The difference between Tendermint and Casper
  • Whether forks create big UI/UX issues for Casper
  • Why Casper is very light client friendly

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-11-16 20:25:01

#104 Giyom Lebleu: The Gyft of the Blockchain and Improving Prepaid Cards

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Businesses with the alleged potential to become the next Google are plentiful in Bitcoin-land, but finding actual commercial success is a lot harder. The best example of a commercial success is gift card company Gyft that became known as the first place to give access to a wide range of merchants for bitcoin holders and later achieved the largest exit so far in the crypto space in an acquisition by payments company First Data.

Gyft CTO joined us to talk about how he got involved in FinTech, what makes gift cards so interesting and how recently Gyft has been trying to reinvent gift cards by using the power of the blockchain.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Giyom’s early involvement in FinTech in the early 2000s
  • His previous projects Bernal Bucks and Credibles that explored gift cards and alternative currencies
  • Why gift cards are a great place for financial innovation
  • The mechanics of gift cards today and why their security is broken
  • How Gyft Block can improve the security of gift cards using the blockchain
  • Why Gyft moved their gift cards off the Bitcoin blockchain onto private blockchains
  • Giyom’s view on the utility of Bitcoin and private blockchains

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-11-09 21:01:46

#103 Emin Gün Sirer & Ittay Eyal: Bitcoin-NG – Scientists Versus the Church

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One of the concerns confronting the Bitcoin community is that of scaling the transaction throughput rate: How do we go from the current rate of approx. 5 transactions per second to a thousand times that?

In this episode, we talk to Emin Gun Sirer and Ittay Eyal from Cornell University regarding Bitcoin NG; a next generation Bitcoin blockchain design that addresses some protocol based limitations preventing Bitcoin from increasing transaction throughput.

Their proposal also enables fast (initial) transaction confirmations on the order of 10-20 seconds.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Metrics to measure the security and fairness properties of Nakamoto consensus as implemented in Bitcoin.
  • A network emulation of Bitcoin designed by their team to study properties of Bitcoin network.
  • Technical design of Bitcoin NG
  • Concerns with Bitcoin NG
  • Impact of Bitcoin NG on various stakeholders if it is adopted in the main Bitcoin network.

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-11-02 18:08:50

#102 Flavien Charlon: Openchain – Centralized Digital Assets Without Blockchains or Consensus

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Among the dividing themes in the Bitcoin space is the idea of public versus private blockchains. While some argue that private and permissioned blockchains can offer better scalability and lower latency for enterprises, others insist the Bitcoin blockchain will offer the best level of security and robustness longterm. Recently, projects have emerged that propose the best of both worlds by leveraging both off-chain and on-chain transactions.

This is the idea behind Openchain, an “open source distributed ledger technology, suited for organizations wishing to issue and manage digital assets in a robust, secure and scalable way.” Openchain uses a client-server model where there is only one authoritative validating node. Read-only observer nodes keep the central node honest by auditing transactions in real time. About every 10 minutes, a copy of the Ledger, and its transactions, is hashed and inserted into a Bitcoin transaction so that it can be fossilised in the blockchain.

We’re joined by Flavien Charlon, the one-man operation behind Predictious, Coinprism, the Open Transactions Protocol and now Openchain. We talk about this fascinating new software, which aims to offer enterprises a digital ledger protocol that is highly scalable while enjoying the benefits of the Bitcoin blockchain for immutability.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Flavien gives an update on Coinprism and his other projects
  • The Openchain protocol and what it’s trying to achieve
  • The technical architecture of Openchain and the client-server model it implements
  • How Openchain uses the Bitcoin blockchain to “anchor” transactions into every block
  • Openchain’s consensus model
  • The ability for Openchain to interoperate with other ledgers and blockchains
  • Flavien’s thoughts on what the ecosystem might look like in 10 years

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-10-26 21:47:23

#101 Muneeb Ali & Ryan Shea: Onename – Bringing Decentralization to Identity with Blockchain ID

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A brilliant fact about crypto-economic blockchains is that they enable the construction of naming systems that transcend limits imposed by Zooko’s triangle. Traditional naming systems such as human names, Domain Name System (DNS) and Facebook profile names are subject to Zooko’s triangle and cannot be secure, human memorable and decentralised at once. For instance human names such as Meher Roy are human-memorable and decentralised but not secure (nothing prevents hundreds of people being called Meher Roy). Domain Names like https://epicenterbitcoin.com are secure and human-memorable but require a central authority to hand out names.

OneName leverages Bitcoin to build a Global Identification system called blockchain ID. Blockchain IDs for users can be associated with real world identity data such as social media profiles, government issued papers etc. In this episode we converse with Ryan Shea and Muneeb Ali, co-founders and leaders of OneName, Blockstore and BlockStack. They explain the rationale and vision behind their push for a Global Decentralised Identification and Verification system.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Zooko’s triangle and how Bitcoin breaks the triangle
  • The general idea behind blockchain ID, how it works and its component transactions
  • Why OneName migrated their blockchain ID system from the Namecoin to the Bitcoin blockchain
  • Technical design of Blockstore and how it enables decentralised storage and association of large datasets to blockchain IDs
  • Vision and use cases for Decentralised Identity, authentication and identity verification.
  • The notion of Probabilistic Identity

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-10-19 17:36:15

#100 Juan Benet: IPFS – Decentralizing the Web with the Inter-Planetary File System

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We’ve made it to episode 100! Our guest for our celebratory episode is Juan Benet, inventor of the Inter-Planetary File System and founder of Protocol Labs. IPFS is a distributed file system that seeks to connect all computing devices with the same system of files. The possibilities for IPFS could range from distributed cloud hosting to websites without central servers to even replacing HTTP. It’s a project as audacious as any we’ve had on the podcast and Juan did an outstanding job explaining the technology and vision.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Why HTTP is broken and how IPFS could complement and ultimately replace it
  • The different technologies IPFS is based on including DHT, Git, Bittorrent and SFS
  • How IPFS could enable the ‘permanent web’ by distributing file storage
  • Content-addressing and how hosting works on IPFS
  • Mutable content and the Interplanetary Naming System (IPNS)
  • Filecoin and incentivizing hosting on IPFS
  • Why IPFS is a great fit for smart contracts
  • How he wants to build and monetize core internet protocols with his company Protocol Labs

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-10-12 23:10:46

#099 Esteban Ordano & Manuel Aráoz: Streamium – Pay-Per-Second Video Streaming for Indie Producers

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One of the key innovations of Bitcoin is the ability to easily implement payment channels. A number of use cases have been discussed or demonstrated, among which is the idea of pay-per-use. This is particularly useful when charging for things like WiFi or streaming video by the second. With this in mind, one could imagine a line of communication between two peers, where data flows in one direction and payments flow in the other.

This is the idea behind Streamium, a free and open-source service which allows content creators to stream live video directly to viewers, and get paid instantly. We’re joined by Manuel Aráoz and , the two brilliant software engineers from Argentina who created Streamium. They have worked together on numerous Bitcoin projects these past few years, including ProofOfExistence.com, Faradam, Decentraland, RelayStore, and actively contributed to the BitCore javascript library.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The current state of Bitcoin in Argentina
  • The general idea behind Streamium, how it works and its technical components
  • How payment channels are implemented in Streamium and its various use cases
  • The Faradam project
  • The prospect of alternative content funding models made possible by Bitcoin micropayments
  • Proof-of-existence and what innovations blockchain technologies brings to data notarization
  • The Decentraland project and the vision for a blockchain-based virtual reality

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-10-05 18:19:46

#098 Robin Hanson: Futarchy – Prediction Markets and the Challenge of Disruptive Technology

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When invented the concept of prediction markets almost thirty years ago, he felt he had stumbled on a concept with huge implications. By allowing people to bet on the likelihood of future events, prediction markets promise to allow better forecasts and better decision making.

Research into the area has been vibrant, culminating in Hanson’s concept of Futarchy: A prediction-market based governance system. At the same time, the real-world applications have been few and far.

Hanson, an associate professor of economics at George Mason University, joined us to discuss his invention, futarchy and the challenges of disruptive technology.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How prediction markets can surface information
  • The history of prediction markets
  • How futarchy works
  • Whether futarchy could settle the blocksize debate
  • Why prediction markets failed to get wide adoption
  • How Bitcoin is facing a similar adoption challenge

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Meher Roy, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-09-28 16:34:24

#097 Paul Sztorc: Truthcoin & Prediction Markets – From Information-Overload to Crowd Intelligence

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Prediction markets are considered one of the most promising applications of blockchain technology. Although the concept and some early implementations have existed for years, decentralized prediction markets present a number of advantages to their centralized counterparts.

joins us to discuss Truthcoin, a “Peer-to-Peer Oracle Protocol which absorbs accurate data into a blockchain so that Bitcoin-users can speculate in Prediction Markets”. We dive deep to explore the advantages of decentralized prediction markets, their various real-world applications, and their potential to revolutionize the creation and propagation of knowledge in our society.

On this episode, we are thrilled to introduce a new co-host on Epicenter Bitcoin, Meher Roy. He has a biochemical engineering background and previously worked as an adviser to HyperLedger. Since discovering Bitcoin, he spends most of his free time understanding blockchain technology and its potential impact on our lives. We’re confident that Meher will bring a high level of understanding and critical thinking to the topics we cover, and we’re certain our listeners will be as happy as we are to have him on the show.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • What are prediction markets and why they are useful
  • The mechanics of prediction markets
  • The potential for prediction markets to provide useful aggregation to today’s abundant information
  • The parallels between crowd intelligence and artificial intelligence
  • The different components of Truthcoin and the state of the project
  • How Truthcoin differs from other decentralized prediction markets

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Meher Roy & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-09-21 17:15:49

#096 John Clippinger: Developing a Social Ecosystem of Trusted, Self-Healing Digital Institutions

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It is often said that technology is neutral. It’s certainly commonplace for Bitcoin to be thought of as such. In reality, technologies may be characterized as an embodiment of human intention, and therefore, cannot be considered as culturally or politically neutral. At least, this is the opinion of our guest, . A research scientist at MIT Media Lab and CEO of ID3, a nonprofit which aims to deploy a new generation of trusted digital institutions, John has spent the last seven decades researching the interaction between technology and society.

He joins us for a fascinating discussion on the flaws of our institutions in present day society and how we can leverage technology to build a new social ecosystem.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The political values of Bitcoin
  • The idea of cooperative currencies
  • The current state of identity and data ownership, and how it may be improved
  • The governance of decentralized technologies
  • How cybernetics and self-organizing systems may be applied to governance
  • The Open Mustard Seed framework

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-09-14 17:53:29

#095 Adam Back: Why Bitcoin Needs a Measured Approach to Scaling

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As the debate about forks, the blocksize and decision making in Bitcoin continues, we are joined by Adam Back. Adam is best known for his invention hash-cash which became one of the fundamental building blocks of Bitcoin. He is also the inventor of the sidechains concept and founder and president of Blockstream, the single biggest employer of Bitcoin core developers.

With Adam we talked about the different blocksize proposals and how a decentralized cryptocurrency should be governed in general. He is an influential conservative voice in the current debate and has been warning that a rapid increase of the blocksize could undermine the decentralization of Bitcoin.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Adam’s concerns with Bitcoin XT and the approach by Gavin Andresen and Mike Hearn
  • Why Adam favors a slower blocksize increase to preserve decentralization
  • How Bitcoin will function as a settlement network in the medium-term with the bulk of transactions going through the Lightning Network or sidechains
  • Why forks are in Bitcoin are different from forks in other open source projects
  • The upcoming Scaling Bitcoin workshop in Montreal

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-09-07 16:21:18

#094 Gavin Andresen: On the Blocksize and Bitcoin’s Governance

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As the debate about the blocksize continues to roar through the Bitcoin community, Gavin Andresen joins us to take a step back and ask the big questions: How should these decisions be made in the first place? What does the governance of Bitcoin look like now and what do we want it to look like in the future?

In a challenging time for Bitcoin, it’s a critical discussion to have with the Chief Scientist of the Bitcoin Foundation and successor of Satoshi. We cover everything from the current blocksize debate to the nature of forks to how decisions will be made in Bitcoin XT.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • MIT Digital Currency Initiative
  • The way Gavin thinks about Bitcoin
  • How were decisions made throughout Bitcoin’s history
  • What the Nakamoto/market consensus is
  • Forking the software vs a fork of the blockchain
  • Who should make decisions in Bitcoin and how the interest of different stakeholders should be reconciled
  • Why the desirable state is to move towards many different implementations
  • How decisions will be made for the Bitcoin XT code base

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-08-31 16:09:26

#093 Simon Dixon: How Bank to the Future is Rethinking Finance

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Ever since the financial system collapsed in 2007, the call for alternatives has grown louder. Bitcoin itself can be seen as such an alternative. Simon Dixon’s search for a way to put capitalism on a sounder financial footing began before Bitcoin with a focus on equity crowdfunding. Since then he has built Bank to the Future into an innovative crowdfunding business that takes an aggressive contrarian stance. He has also launched an investment fund focused on cryptocurrencies together with Max Keiser called Bitcoin Capital.

He joined us for a fascinating discussion about the flaws of the banking system, Bitcoin and the search for alternatives.

Note:
Our sponsor Vaultoro is raising an equity crowdfunding round on Bank to the Future. Read about the details and invest here: http://bit.ly/1ER5gIo

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Why capitalism is built on a broken banking system
  • The problems Bitcoin solves
  • The flawed ways banks approach blockchain technology
  • How Bank to the Future is a contrarian bet on the financial system
  • Bitcoin Capital, the fund he started with Max Keiser
  • How Bitcoin Capital and BnkToTheFuture work together

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-08-24 17:49:02

#092 Stefan Thomas: Understanding Ripple

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In a long-overdue episode, we finally had the chance to dive into one of the most known but poorly understood cryptocurrency/blockchain project: Ripple. Reviled by many in the Bitcoin space, we put aside any prejudices and sat down for a fascinating conversation with Ripple Labs CTO Stefan Thomas.

We talked about his early days in the Bitcoin space, how Ripple came about, what the Ripple network looks like today and how its consensus protocol works.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • ‘ early experiences in the Bitcoin space
  • How Ripple was created
  • The problem Ripple is trying to solve
  • How the Ripple consensus algorithm works
  • Whether Ripple is decentralized or not
  • What the correspondent banking system is and how Ripple wants to disrupt it
  • The recent FinCen fine and what it means for Ripple

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-08-17 15:44:21

#091 Vitalik Buterin: Ethereum Frontier Launch, Scalability and the Road Ahead

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Close to two years after the initial whitepaper, the revolutionary Ethereum network has finally launched. The decentralized smart contract platform is, without a doubt, the most exciting cryptocurrency project since Bitcoin. The versatile platform with its turing-complete scripting language aspires to power the distributed applications of the future.

Ethereum Founder Vitalik Buterin joined us for the second time to discuss the Frontier Launch, future plans for scalability, governance and the road ahead for the organization and the protocol.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Ethereum’s frontier launch and the upcoming development stages
  • The plans for how to create a scalable blockchain architecture
  • The thinking around transitioning to proof-of-stake
  • The state and new board of the Ethereum Foundation
  • How Ethereum’s development will be funded in the longer term
  • His thoughts on the governance of Ethereum and Bitcoin
  • When private blockchains make sense and if Ethereum
  • What mistakes were made during the development of Ethereum

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-08-10 15:22:46

#090 Dave Hudson: Insights from the Data Mine and Other Adventures Around the Block

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Bitcoin mining and the intricate game theory that surround it is a topic that we’ve visited many times. Difficult to grasp in its complexity, it is these dynamics that determine the security of Bitcoin in the short and in the longer term. This time we were joined by none other than Dave Hudson. He is the author of the leading mining blog hashingit.com, VP of Software at PeerNova and had a long career in chip manufacturing including at Qualcomm.

We talked about dynamics in the mining market, security issues with Bitcoin’s design and his data-informed views on the blocksize debate.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How he became interested in mining and what metrics he finds most interesting
  • How miners would be affected by a blocksize increase
  • The flaws in Satoshi’s design of the reward scheme
  • Why transaction fees will not make up for the block reward decrease in 2016 and why that will lessen the security of Bitcoin
  • The long-term role of Bitcoin as a settlement network
  • The problem with accepting 0-conf transactions
  • The future of mining and why 21 Inc’s plans seem nonsensical

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-08-03 15:52:56

#089 Greg Slepak: The Turtle Crawl Towards Internet Decentralization

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Amidst all the discussion of alternative uses of blockchains, it is often forgotten that the very first fork of Bitcoin, Namecoin, pursued a daring vision for a decentralized, censorship-resistant internet. Greg Slepak, co-founder of the okTurtles Foundation joined us for an interesting discussion of DNS, Namecoin and how blockchains can be used to decentralize the internet.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • What DNS is and the role it plays in the architecture of the internet
  • What man-in-the-middle attacks are and why certificate authorities offer poor protection
  • How certificate authorities, SSL, IP routing and VPNs work
  • Why the current model is broken from a privacy and security perspective
  • How Namecoin and the blockchain could enable a decentralized and more secure internet
  • The security risks when online identity is tied to a private key and how they could be mitigated
  • What DNSChain is and what projects okTurtles is working on

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-07-27 11:48:24

#088 Siân Jones: Bitlicense and the Regulatory Straitjacket

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In this episode, we revisited the perennial topic of digital currency regulation with Siân Jones, our regulatory correspondent and founder of the regulation-focused virtual currency consultancy COINSULT. With the final version of the BitLicense, what may turn out to be the most influential document for digital currency regulation, is now out. Besides diving into many different aspects of the onerous BitLicense, we talked about California’s coming rules, how Bitcoin startups will be affected and the implications of Ripple’s fine.

NOTE: Since the episode was recorded the advocate general at the EU Court of Justice recommended that Bitcoin be exempt from VAT.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • A brief primer on BitLicense and the process by which it emerged
  • What the key aspects of BitLicense are and how they changed through the revisions
  • Why BitLicense will stifle innovation by dramatically increasing the cost and bureaucratic burden of running a digital currency startups
  • How different companies are responding to the rules
  • Why California’s virtual currency draft bill got a lot of things right
  • What Ripple got fined for and why FinCEN could go after most cryptocurrency startups for the same reasons
  • The status of the European Court of Justice case on VAT

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-07-20 16:29:11

#087 John McDonnell: How Bitcoin Will Win Online Payments

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Solving the pain points of online payments was the applications that garnered the most attention in Bitcoin’s early days. In recent times, as consumer adoption of Bitcoin payments has been underwhelming much of that attention has shifted elsewhere. Nevertheless, companies keep working hard on making the vision of a universal, global payment system a reality.

Among those companies, one stands out as the top contender to compete with existing payment systems: Bitnet. Funded with a heavy warchest and the company is ran by veterans of Visa and Cybersource, a company started in 1994 to help merchants accept credit cards online that was sold to Visa in 2007 for $2bn. They have been working behind the scenes to get Bitcoin to break through with merchants.

CEO John McDonnell joined us for an important discussion of how online payments work today, why they are broken and how Bitcoin will revolutionize the industry.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The story of Cybersource and payments in the early day of the internet
  • The pain points with online payments for merchants and consumers today
  • The role of the different actors such as payment processors, card networks, merchants and issuing banks
  • The niches where Bitcoin payments could break through first
  • Why coming from inside the payment industry provides Bitnet with a huge advantage
  • Why they are focusing on Payment Service Providers instead of acquiring merchants directly
  • His view on BitLicense and how it will affect Bitcoin payment processors

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-07-13 19:09:53

#086 William Mougayar: The Business of Decentralization

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Peter Thiel argued in his book ‘Zero to One’ that the way to build a great and highly profitable company is to build a monopoly. But with decentralized technologies, there is a real question whether these monopolies can be built or whether the monopolies will end up being publicly owned goods (like Bitcoin) that can’t be monetized directly.

William Mougayar, who is an experienced tech executive and angel investor, has been writing extensively about these issues and was one of the investors in OB1, the venture-backed company launched by the founders of the decentralized market place Open Bazaar. He joined us for a discussion of the cryptocurrency space, Ethereum, Open Bazaar and monetizing decentralized technologies.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Bitcoin as the new, thin cloud
  • His long-term predictions about where the space is going
  • What kind of business models are the most promising
  • Why he chose to invest in OB1, the company behind Open Bazaar
  • What the state of Venture Capital in the cryptocurrency space is

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-07-06 15:11:14

#085 Adam Draper: Accelerating 100 Bitcoin Startups with Boost VC

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Revolutionary progress doesn’t happen without lots of work and in the case of Bitcoin that requires many different startups building technology. Few have contributed to this as much as Silicon Valley based startup accelerator Boost VC, which has been focusing on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency startups since 2013. Focusing exclusively on Bitcoin for an extended time, they’ve invested in companies such as Blockcypher, Coinprism, Coinjar, Mirror, Snapcard, Zapchain and many others.

Boost VC Founder Adam Draper joined us to discuss running an accelerator, their investment thesis and why they’ve chosen to add Virtual / Augmented Reality startups to the program.

NOTE: Applications to join the next tribe of Boost startups can be submitted until Wednesday July 1. If you’re interested in applying go here: http://bit.ly/1IG49MQ

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The qualities they look for in companies (8:50)
  • What the overarching Boost VC investement thesis is (14:40)
  • His view on the BitLicense rules and how they affect cryptocurrency startups (38:14)
  • How regulatory concerns have risen among their startups (41:40)
  • Why they chose to add Virtual / Augmented Reality to the program (47:50)

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-06-29 17:57:52

#084 Tim Swanson: Permissioned Ledgers and the Case for Blockchains Without Bitcoin

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One topic that is guaranteed to cause heated discussion among cryptocurrency enthusiasts is the idea that blockchains can be controlled by known validators and function without an underlying cryptocurrency. Some think this is a non-sensical idea fabricated by those spineless enough to want to appease regulators and but clueless enough to miss the whole point of cryptocurrencies. But others believe that Bitcoin is unsuited for a lof of ‘Bitcoin 2.0’ applications and that permissioned ledgers have wide-reaching potential to increase efficiency and transparency.

Tim Swanson joined us for an important discussion of permissioned ledgers. He’s among their best-known proponents and has recently published a whitepaper discussing how they work and looking at different startups in the space.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Why the ‘blockchains without bitcoin’ idea is so controversial
  • Why it is strange that KYC is done widely on Bitcoin users but not on the validators
  • Why even semi-decentralized blockchains can provide big efficiency gains
  • Why the 51% attack possibility is an obstacle for the use of the Bitcoin as a settlement network
  • Why financial institutions don’t care about censorship resistance but do care about irreversibility

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-06-22 15:04:34

#083 David Andolfatto: Fedcoin – The Implications of Cryptocurrencies Issued by Central Banks

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Many people think of Bitcoin as the ultimate contender against the power of central banks, most importantly the Federal Reserve System. But that is certainly not the only way that cryptocurrencies and the blockchain can be used and one particularly interesting idea is that central banks could issue their own cryptocurrencies.

To discuss how this could be done and what the consequences could be we were joined by David Andolfatto, a Vice President of Research at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and a professor of Economics at Simon Fraser University.

The views and opinions expressed by ou guest are his own and should in no way be attributed to his employer.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • What makes good money? How does Bitcoin fare in comparison?
  • What is Fedcoin and how could it work?
  • Why the tension between a governments desire for control and the desires for ‘permissionless innovation’ could make this difficult to implement
  • Whether Fedcoin would threaten fractional reserve banking
  • Why competition between currencies, both governmental and non-governmental, could be a good thing

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-06-15 14:36:50

#082 Mike Hearn: Blocksize Debate at the Breaking Point

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Whether the block size should be increased to 20MB has created more controversy than any other question in Bitcoin’s recent history. For some, it is an urgent and necessary step in Bitcoin’s evolution. Their view is that leaving the block size at 1MB would be irresponsible inaction with potentially catastrophic consequences. Others see increasing the block size as unnecessary and a dangerous first step down a slippery slope towards a more centralized Bitcoin.

We were joined by Mike Hearn, along with Gavin Andresen the most outspoken supporter of a block size increase. He is also the creator of Bitcoin XT, a modified fork of Bitcoin Core, that may become the vehicle for the push for bigger blocks if no agreement is reached regarding Bitcoin Core. Don’t miss this crucial conversation!

Topics covered in this episode:

  • What would happen if blocks started being consistently full
  • Whether bigger blocks create a centralization risk
  • Why Bitcoin core development has become pervaded with toxic division
  • What Bitcoin XT is and how it differs from Bitcoin Core
  • The roadmap ahead and how a transition to BitcoinXT would occur
  • Update on Lighthouse

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-06-08 14:14:35

#081 Nathaniel Popper: Digital Gold – The Inside Story of Bitcoin

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From the mysterious creation story, to the early development among a small group of cypherpunks, to the emergence of the Silk Road, the collapse of MtGox, to the entry of a tidal wave of VC money and the Silicon Valley elite, Bitcoin’s short history has been action-packed. It’s no surprise that this could make for a riveting story and NY Times journalist Nathaniel Popper’s book ‘Digital Gold – Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money’ is precisely that.

Popper joined us for a conversation about his must-read book about the remarkable story of Bitcoin.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Nathaniel Popper ended up writing a book about Bitcoin
  • Why he chose ‘Digital Gold’ as a title and some of its different connotations
  • Why he chose to focus on the people and stories of Bitcoin rather than the technology
  • The story of the Silk Road and how it played such a critical role in the early days of Bitcoin
  • How Xapo CEO Wences Casares came to play a crucial role in evangelizing Bitcoin among Silicon Valley’s power players
  • The rising tension and passing of influence between the old, ideological guard and the newer Silicon Valley crew

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-06-01 14:24:53

#080 Joseph Poon & Tadge Dryja: Scalability and the Lightning Network

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Since Gavin Andresen’s proposal to increase the Bitcoin block size, how Bitcoin can scale to accommodate higher transaction volumes has been heatedly debated among developers. One of the most promising long-term options to allow near infinite scalability is the Lightning Network. Joseph Poon and , the co-authors of the whitepaper, joined us for a discussion of scalability and how the lightning network could allow massive numbers of off-chain transaction in a trustless way.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Why Bitcoin has a scalability problem
  • How payment channels work and the architecture of the Lightning Network
  • Why the Lightning Network would still require a block size increase
  • How transaction fees would work in the Lightning Network
  • How the Bitcoin blockchain would take on a court-like function to ensure honest off-chain behavior
  • The risks and downsides to the Lightning Network

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-05-25 19:22:52

#079 Rodolfo Novak: Coinkite and the Feature Factory

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Started in May 2013, Coinkite has by now almost advanced to senior citizen status in the short-lived Bitcoin startup space. CEO Rodolfo Novak joined us for a discussion about what drove their initial interest in Bitcoin, why they initially focused on providing ‘bank-like’ services and how they’ve transitioned to powering the infrastructure of countless Bitcoin startups with their API. We also discussed multi-sig and the business strategy they pursued that allowed them to be profitable and not require venture funding.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Coinkite started
  • Why they have come away from calling themselves a Bitcoin bank
  • Why they have been putting so much emphasis on multi-sig
  • How they’ve ended up building an insane amount of features
  • The transition of their business model to providing a powerful API for startups
  • What the Bitcoin ecosystem in Toronto is like

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-05-18 15:52:21

#078 Trent McConaghy: Ascribe – The Internet of Ownership

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The idea of using the Bitcoin blockchain to represent and track the ownership of off-chain assets is almost as old as Bitcoin itself. One of the startups that is pursuing this vision is Berlin-based Ascribe, which allows creators to register (‘ascribe’), transfer and archive digital art.

Ascribe CTO joined us for a fascinating discussion of their ambitious goals to enable a so-far elusive secondary market for digital art, help creators monetize their work and ultimately retrofit an entire ownership layer to the internet.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Why ownership in the internet is broken
  • How Ascribe wants to realize the vision of Project Xanadu of an internet with bi-directional links and baked-in copyrights
  • How the SPOOL (Secure Public Online Ownership Ledger) protocol works
  • The components of the Ascribe tech stack
  • How Ascribe will crawl and similarity-match the entire internet to retrofit an internet of ownership
  • Why Ascribe focuses first on the digital art market

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-05-11 17:05:32

#077 Andreas Antonopoulos: Mastering Bitcoin

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Few question that educating people about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies is one of the most important and challenging tasks to achieve mass adoption. And perhaps even fewer disagree that there is no one more gifted at communicating the revolutionary potential of Bitcoin than Andreas M. Antonopoulos. A technologist, entrepreneur, LTB host and author, he has been speaking, writing and educating about Bitcoin for years and become one of the most popular people in the Bitcoin space.

He joined us to talk about his new book, his journey in the Bitcoin space, educating lawmakers about Bitcoin and the exciting future awaiting us.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Why he wrote ‘Mastering Bitcoin’ and how the reception has been so far
  • What he currently spends him time on
  • How he introduces new people to Bitcoin
  • What NOT to do when telling someone new about Bitcoin
  • His experiences speaking in front of the Canadian and Australian Senate
  • Why he believes in the community’s ability to keep evolving Bitcoin

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-05-04 18:48:35

#076 Emin Gün Sirer & Ittay Eyal: From Selfish Miners to The Miner’s Dilemma

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Bitcoin’s approach to solving the double spending problem is to make a collusion and attack on the network prohibitively expensive. One of the main factors that will determine Bitcoin’s chance of survival in the long-term is whether the behavior that maximizes the profits of miners contributes to or sabotages the health of the network.

The game theory that determines this is complex and our understanding of it still incomplete. But research is increasing and two people who have been at the forefront of this work are , a professor in computer science at Cornell University, and Ittay Eyal, a post-doc at the same department.

They joined us for a fascinating discussion of their work on ‘selfish mining’, the incetive structure that underlies Bitcoin and their recent positive conclusions from the Miner’s Dilemma.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Emin Gün Sirer’s early interest in cryptocurrencies and work on a cryptocurrency to incentivize bittorrent users in 2004
  • What selfish mining is and how miners could profit from withholding blocks
  • How an attacker would execute a selfish mining attack
  • Why the miner’s dilemma implies that the equilibrium might be small mining pools
  • Why the lack of security of clients and servers is holding back adoption

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-04-27 20:26:02

#075 Paul Brody: Internet of Things and the Democracy of Devices

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As the cost of computing continues to plummet, the number of connected devices is increasing dramatically. In the future powerful computing capacity will be in billions of devices ranging from the lightbulb to the car door to new wearables. This new internet of things (IoT) will dramatically change our lives.

Paul Brody, a Technology Strategist and the former VP of Mobile and IoT at IBM, joined us for a discussion of where the IoT is going. We discussed their white paper on why a decentralized, blockchain-based internet of things could solve the problems of the current IoT in terms of privacy, scalability, and business models.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • What the Internet of Things and its core value proposition is
  • Why the current IoT business models are broken
  • How a decentralized IoT infrastructure would be more secure, scalable and economically feasible
  • What role the blockchain could play in a decentralized IoT
  • The three components of IBM’s ADEPT proof-of-concept

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-04-20 14:47:29

#074 Robby Dermody: Counterparty – Assets, Dividends and Decentralized Exchange

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In the crowded race to become the leading ‘Bitcoin 2.0’ platform, Counterparty has stood out by avoiding fancy crowdsales and instead building a platform that works. The protocol, which sits on top of Bitcoin and thus benefits from the security of its mining power, allows issuing assets, paying dividends or trading in a decentralized way. Over the past year, it has been the platform of choice for many crowdsales and is also what powers LTBCoin.

Co-Founder Robby Dermody joined us for a discussion of the features and evolution of the project.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Why they create the initial XCP supply by destroying bitcoins
  • What the different components of the Counterparty system are
  • What distinguishes embedded consensus systems like Counterparty
  • Why crowdfunding has become a major use case for Counterparty
  • Why Counterparty’s Ethereum-style smart contracts will play an important role in the future
  • Their new company Symbiont, which aims to commercialize Counterparty’s technology

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-04-13 19:14:34

#073 Dan O’Prey & Daniel Feichtinger: Hyperledger Decentralized Ledger Platform

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The cryptocurrency ecosystem is increasingly divided into different camps. There are those betting and working on the eventual mainstream success of Bitcoin. And there are those who take elements of Bitcoin’s technology and repurpose them to improve existing systems.

Hyperledger is one of the projects firmly in the latter camp. They are envisioning a world where innumerable interoperable ledgers are operated by different parties. Hyperledger is their tool for the creation and management of these ledgers. CEO Dan O’Prey and CTO  joined us for a discussion of the project, underlying technology and their view of where the cryptocurrency ecosystem is going.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Why Hyperledger is trying so solve a fundamentally different problem than Bitcoin
  • How networks consisting of known parties can have massive performance and scalability advantages over anonymous networks
  • Why Hyperledger doesn’t have or need its own currency
  • How Hyperledger can vary the degree of decentralization and security depending on use-case
  • Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance (PBFT)

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-04-06 15:39:38

#072 Siân Jones: Cryptocurrency Regulation Update – UK, Isle of Man, California, Bitlicense

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When one is busy driving a technological and societal revolution forward, complying with complicated regulatory requirements is rarely a top priority. Yet, the reality is that at this stage the often ambigious and rapidly evolving regulatory landscape can have an outsized impact on the fate of cryptocurrency startups and on the adoption/integration into existing systems.

Epicenter Bitcoin Regulatory Correspondent and founder of COINsult Siân Jones joined us for an update on the state of Bitcoin regulation in a variety of jurisdiction.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The recent statement by the UK’s treasury on digital currencies
  • How the Isle of Man keeps pioneering a cryptocurrency-friendly environment
  • The stance of the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) towards Bitcoin
  • The insanity of the looming BitLicense rules and difficult-to-predict consequences they may have

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-03-30 19:04:00

#071 Lisa Cheng: Token Sales and Crowdfunding in the Cryptocurrency Space

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Creating a new token and selling it to fund the development of software has become a preferred way of fundraising for cryptocurrency entrepreneurs. It’s a tempting tool, allowing startups to avoid traditional investors, build a community and allow anyone anywhere to own a stake in the project. For participants, there is the promise of big financial upside and being part of novel undertakings.

Lisa Cheng, whose consulting firm Vanbex has accompanied many crowdsales, joined us for a discussion of this revolutionary way to fund and monetize open source software.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Why crowdfunding and cryptocurrency are a natural fit
  • A brief history of crowdsales in the cryptocurrency space
  • US securities law and the questionable legality of token sales
  • The value of writing a solid white paper before launching a sale
  • Elements of a successful coin launch
  • The role of companies like Swarm and Koinify in conducting crowdsales

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-03-23 20:02:25

#070 Michael Gronager: Chainalysis – Surveillance and the Path to Mass Panic

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When spinning up a few hundred data-gathering Bitcoin nodes prevented some breadwallet users from transmitting bitcoin transaction, a minor panic quickly erupted about the Bitcoin compliance startup Chainalysis and their supposed sybil attack on the Bitcoin network.

Chainalysis CEO Michael Gronager joined us for a discussion of what happened and what role transaction monitoring will play in the future. We dove deep into the tension between the desires for user privacy and the requirements to achieve integration into existing financial services.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How Chainalysis’ nodes caused problems for breadwallet
  • What damage a large scale sybil attack could really do to Bitcoin
  • The role transaction monitoring will play to achieve Bitcoin integration in existing systems
  • Why transaction-related blockchain analysis does not threaten Bitcoin’s fungibility
  • The best way users can protect their anonymity

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-03-16 23:19:51

#069 Thomas Voegtlin: Electrum, SPV Wallets and Bitcoin Aliases

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Powering an estimated 5-10% of all Bitcoin transactions, Electrum is one of the leaders of the Bitcoin wallet space. The open-source walled was started in 2011 and played a key role in the development of the light-weight SPV wallets. Developer Thomas Voegtlin joined us for a discussion of Electrum, their recent 2.0 release and the rapidly evolving Bitcoin wallet space in general.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The evolution of Bitcoin wallets and what motivated him to start Electrum
  • Electrum 2.0 and its new features such as Multi-sig and hardware wallet support
  • The security tradeoffs between using an SPV wallet versus a full node client
  • How Bitcoin aliases could do away with Bitcoin addresses

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-03-09 20:51:55

#068 Kamikaze Attack – Block Halving and the Perils of Proof-of-Work

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Is Bitcoin secure from attacks that could destroy the currency? To a large part, this is determined by how expensive it is to carry out an attack and by the potential profits the attacker could generate. Ideally, an attack is so expensive to carry out that no profit-driven attacker would engage in it.

But in this episode, Brian argues that the cost of attacking Bitcoin will likely decrease in the future and the ability to short Bitcoin and thus benefit from an attack will increase dramatically.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • How an attacker would need to go about shorting bitcoin
  • How the kamikaze mining pool could be used to bribe miners to join the attacker
  • Why all profit-driven miners will have an incentive to join the attack, whether or not they believe it will succeed
  • Why the block halving in 2016 could be an exceptionally dangerous time for Bitcoin, since an attack would be cheap to execute and likely to succeed
  • How a gradual decrease of the block reward, instead of the 4-year halving rhythm would reduce risk

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-03-02 18:52:52

#067 Brian Hoffman: OpenBazaar – Peer-To-Peer Commerce, Third-Party Arbitration, Ricardian Contracts

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What Bitcoin did for money, OpenBazaar is trying to achieve for commerce. Born as a fork of the Dark Market project, OpenBazaar aims to facilitate online trade by removing unneeded middlemen. Built as an open source protocol, users simply install the application on their computer to gain access to marketplaces available on the network. From the app, they may also place items or services for sale by creating “Ricardian contracts”, which get propagated to the network and made accessible to everyone to see. The protocol, which uses Bitcoin as a means of payments, utilises multi-signature transactions. This makes it possible for transacting parties to include third-party arbitrators, who may intervene in the event of a dispute. We talked to Brian Hoffman, the project’s Lead Developer, about this paradigm-shifting project and the potential it has to disrupt person-to-person marketplaces such as eBay. Currently in beta, OpenBazaar is due for a full release in Q1-Q2 of 2015.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • History and current status of the project
  • Mechanics of a simple transaction on OpenBazaar
  • Ricardian contracts
  • OpenBazaar’s proposed arbitration model
  • Reputation and the important role it plays in peer-to-peer trading
  • Business models that may be threatened by this technology

Episode links:

This episode was hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sébastien Couture, and is availble on YouTube, SoundCloud, and our website.

Date: 2015-02-23 20:21:36