All Undergrads Should Learn About Bitcoin & Blockchain

Jeremy Clark

This interview was originally published by our French franchise partner

Bitcoin (BTC) officially turns 11 on January 3, 2020. As the token enters its third decade, how does one of the first few academics to ever write a paper on BTC see the future of Satoshi Nakamoto’s creation?

Jeremy Clark, associate professor and the NSERC/Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton (RCGT)/Catallaxy Industrial Research Chair in Blockchain Technologies at the Concordia Institute for Information Systems Engineering, tells all about BTC’s academic past, present – and future.

How did you first get involved in Bitcoin and blockchain technology?
When I was at university, I was really into cellular automata. My friend (and now my research colleague) was into encryption. We agreed to combine our interests for a final year project and I got hooked!

A year or so later, I met one of the founders of the whole movement, David Chaum. David invented the concept of digital cryptocurrencies when I was still in diapers!

We began working together on secure voting-related projects. I found the subject amazing because I realized that it was both highly technical and could have a real social impact.

You could design protocols and write code, but then later you would talk to policymakers and election officials. Ultimately, I got to see people casting votes using the system we had created!

How did you react when you first came across Bitcoin?
To be honest, back then, most online crypto-hangouts – including the cryptography mailing list that the Bitcoin white paper was posted to – were full of half-baked ideas about creating digital currencies.

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So, embarrassingly perhaps, I did not look deep enough into it to see anything different about Bitcoin. But after I had heard my colleagues mention it a few times, my ears pricked up. And when I came to understand one of its key components, the proof-of-work consensus…

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