CoinDesk reporter Leigh Cuen is joined by Bram Cohen, author of the BitTorrent protocol and CEO of Chia. In this wide-ranging interview, they talk about Cohen’s early interest in “hard problems,” his unexpected ascent from sketchy to celebrity and much more.
Leigh and Bram discuss:
- The real promise and strengths of cryptocurrency
- Really interesting problems in cryptocurrency
- Getting started in crypto 20 years ago with MojoNation and glorious failure
- The origin of BitTorrent
- Speculative investment, the dot-com boom and where real wealth comes from
- The Bitcoin Wizards IRC channel and Bram's arrival in crypto
- How the Bitcoin Wizards stance on ASIC resistance led to Bram’s creation of "Proofs of Time" and "Proofs of Space"
- Getting rich as a side effect of making the world a better place
- Scaling, sharding and unsophisticated engineering
- Why "Proof-of-Stake" is a step backwards from "Proof-of-Work"
- A system that doesn't suck: How engineers try and fail to improve the finance industry
- The unregulated banking crisis, shadow banking and hiring the smartest minds to obfuscate leverage
- Why trusted third parties are the problem
- Satoshi's wonderful, horrible idea and the obviousness of Proof-of-Work
- What Satoshi did surprisingly well
- Why improving proof of work wouldn't really improve bitcoin
- Coherent goals: more decentralized and less wasteful
- Both Proof-of-Work and Proof-of-Stake have a scary degree of centralization
- Ethereum’s terrifying improvements to the on-chain programming environment
- New functionality within Chia that helps cryptocurrency feel less like "carrying around hundred dollar bills"
- Limiting opportunities for theft with user-controlled rate and recipient limiting
- Thinking about ecosystems and adoption
- What is your favorite use case for cars? Is it tires?
- Open source software, politics and adoption
- What is the role of advocacy in making something useful?
- Why bitcoin gets a bad reputation for things it doesn't have strong associations with
- Why "governance" is such a touchy topic
- Why Chia is funded by venture capital rather than token offerings
- How Bitcoin is different from what's come after it
- "Our technological capacity exceeds our political will to negotiate the terms of that capacity"
- Why Bram hates the "Fake it till you make it" ethos
- Engineering sticker shock
- The "everyone uses cryptocurrency for everything" narrative vs. the "how do we get anyone using cryptocurrency for anything good?" reality
- Better metrics for success than "getting rich"
- Great leaders and bullshit artists
- Bitcoin's trajectory and the meritocratic history of technology
- Colored coins, distributed identity, timestamps and censorship-resistant value
- Minimal functionality, subtle cleanups and simplified transaction formats in the Chia programming environment
- Chia's testnet
- And more...
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