Adam Back on the Magic of Cryptography and why Bitcoin matters


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Adam Back is the inventor of Hashcash, a method to prevent spam emails, that was used with minor changes as the proof-of-work method in Bitcoin. His work is cited in the Bitcoin whitepaper as well as in the Tor Browser whitepaper. He is a seasoned cryptographer with a PhD in computer science and distributed systems. As co-founder and CEO of Blockstream he is building the infrastructure for the internet of the future.

Adam Back and podcast host Anita Posch
Photo: Daisy Komen Photography

The topics of our interview:

  • his interests in school, growing up in England
  • the evolution of his work up to Bitcoin
  • learnings from DigiCash
  • his idea for Hashcash
  • Cypherpunks and their interest in privacy
  • Bitcoin analogies to the early internet
  • monopolies vs peer-to-peer
  • privacy and fungibility in Bitcoin
  • Dandelion protocol, lightning network, wallet fingerprinting, tap-root, Schnorr signatures, confidential transactions
  • the Understanding Bitcoin conference
  • what people need to know about Bitcoin
  • Bitcoin satellites
  • the properties of Bitcoin
  • open collaboration and shipping of products

“The properties I like about bitcoin are, that it’s censorship resistant and permissionless and you don’t need to establish a bank account to use it and that’s great for people in emerging markets that can’t participate in expensive things.” – Adam Back

“Anybody who is interested in the properties of bitcoins should to be able to get access to it. So we do need some technologies with more global reach and the satellite coverage is almost global.” – Adam Back

“Somebody with a satellite dish, a generator, a solar panel and a Raspberry Pi could operate a whole business in the desert with no infrastucture.” – Adam Back

“It’s very interesting, different people find bitcoin interesting for different reasons.” – Adam Back

“The government does not own the individual, the individuals employ the governments.” – Adam Back

“With this kind of technology individuals can directly take more control of their lives and have more self-determination.” – Adam Back

“Bitcoins fungibility is not perfect, but it’s improving slowly.” – Adam Back

Shownotes

Links

UnderstandingBitcoin Conference Day 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40mdFIAEh4E
UnderstandingBitcoin Conference Day 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2iv2MiGaYI
Blockstream satellite
Adam Back on Twitter
Blockstream

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1 Comment

  1. Tom DonnellyApril 16, 2019

    “At age 16 there was no Computer Science at A’level .. in the UK…”.

    Wrong.

    Introduced in 1976 and I passed in 1978, having previously acquired an O’level the year it was introduced.

    Reply

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