The Quiet Master of Cryptocurrency – Nick Szabo, The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss

The Quiet Master of Cryptocurrency — Nick Szabo

Nick Szabo (@NickSzabo4) is a polymath. The breadth and depth of his interests and skill are truly astounding.

He’s a computer scientist, legal scholar, and cryptographer best known for his pioneering research in digital contracts and cryptocurrency.

The phrase and concept of “wise contracts” were developed by Nick with the objective of bringing what he calls the “very evolved” practices of contract law and practice for the design of electronic commerce protocols inbetween strangers on the Internet. Nick also designed Bit Gold, which many consider the precursor to Bitcoin.

This wide-ranging conversation is co-hosted by Naval Ravikant, a mutual friend and one of the most successful investors in Silicon Valley, who also happens to be one of Nick’s thickest admirers.

We cover a lot, including:

  • What is Bitcoin, what are cryptocurrencies, and what problem do they solve?
  • What is “social scalability?”
  • What is Ethereum and what makes it unique? Strengths and weaknesses?
  • How will clever contracts actually get adopted or go mainstream?
  • What are ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings)?
  • Blockchain governance — is there any existential risk?
  • “Humid” versus “dry” code
  • Pascal’s scams
  • Quantum thought
  • What fields will you be working on in the future?

Want to hear another podcast featuring Naval Ravikant? — Listen to this prior conversation. In this gig, we discuss the habits and behaviors of very successful and glad people (stream below or right-click here to download):

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your dearest quote or lesson from this gig? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and showcase notes…

Selected Links from the Scene

  • Connect with Nick Szabo:

Display Notes

  • Introductions and the story of how Nick and Naval met. [08:05]
  • What is cryptocurrency? [Ten:47]
  • Where did Nick’s interest in cryptocurrencies begin? [11:48]
  • What is cryptography? [12:56]
  • What are the benefits of cryptocurrency? [15:44]
  • Why is cryptocurrency significant to Nick? [17:13]
  • What is a blockchain? [17:43]
  • A brief history of currency. [Eighteen:51]
  • What makes money — including cryptocurrency — valuable? [23:59]
  • “Bitcoin is almost to computers what quantum mechanics is to physics — it throws a lot of people in the field off.” [26:53]
  • What is a wise contract? [30:45]
  • “Humid” versus “dry” code. [31:44]
  • The vending machine as the primordial clever contract. [33:36]
  • A situation where someone might want to use a multi-signature (multisig) transaction. [35:57]
  • What are ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings)? [41:56]
  • On the unpreventable bubbles that display up in any prediction market. [43:00]
  • Most common cryptocurrency misconceptions. [45:40]
  • What makes Bitcoin unique? [49:50]
  • What was the innovation of BitGold? [51:20]
  • What is proof of work, and how is it used in Bitcoin mining? [53:42]
  • Computational inefficiency and social scalability. [1:00:04]
  • Would it be possible for a government to regulate cryptocurrencies out of existence? [1:05:02]
  • What is the incentive for a financial center like Fresh York to be supportive (or cast a blind eye) to cryptocurrency development? [1:08:28]
  • Is Bitcoin inversely correlated to any particular asset classes? [1:Ten:13]
  • How do people accidentally lose their Bitcoins? [1:Ten:35]
  • What is Ethereum, and what are the pros and cons compared to Bitcoin? [1:12:53]
  • A cultural disconnect inbetween the traditional financial world and the cryptocurrency community. [1:17:28]
  • What are the most valuable components of the traditional finance world? [1:Nineteen:05]
  • What reliable sources might someone from the traditional finance world consult if they dreamed to learn more about cryptocurrencies? [1:20:40]
  • What will it take for the more widespread use of Bitcoin (or other cryptocurrencies) among everyday consumers? [1:23:05]
  • What are the common characteristics of charlatans who scam the system? [1:28:54]
  • How is “fork” used in the context of cryptocurrencies? [1:31:13]
  • What problems do users of cryptocurrency most commonly encounter when dealing with the traditional banking infrastructure? [1:37:00]
  • How does “unenumerated” tie into the Ninth Amendment of the United States Constitution? [1:46:23]
  • What is quantum thought? [1:49:24]
  • How has Nick trained himself to practice quantum thought? [1:50:52]
  • What are Pascal’s scams and how do they relate to Nassim Taleb’s Black Swan? [1:54:54]
  • For which emergencies or possible future events (e.g. “The Singularity”) should we be ready? [1:58:06]
  • Does Nick worry about anything in particular that most people seem to overlook? [Two:00:55]
  • How current technologies are attempting to overcome the potential for privacy leaks in transactions. [Two:03:29]
  • What makes certain cryptocurrencies appreciate in value over others? [Two:04:50]
  • Why Singularity and Simulation hypotheses are mutually special. [Two:12:31]
  • How does Naval minimize his mental surface activity in order to better concentrate on current endeavors? [Two:14:40]
  • Why future generations will most likely treat social media better than we do today. [Two:17:08]
  • Beloved books? [Two:20:42]
  • What high school class would Nick instruct? [Two:22:41]
  • What does Nick plan on writing about in the near future? [Two:24:42]
  • What would Nick’s billboard say? [Two:26:47]
  • Parting thoughts. [Two:27:15]

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Posted on: June Four, 2017.

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eighty four comments on “ The Quiet Master of Cryptocurrency — Nick Szabo ”

The fresh post isn’t available yet? Does it take a while to geyser?

Same here. Not demonstrating up in Overcast.

Same – not on PocketCasts yet either.

Legacy Feedburner issue. Should be immobile within hours. Thanks for the patience!

Excellent guest, love that you are covering this Tim, more please!

Tim, thank you for this. I’ve been a big believer in cryptos for a while and observing this material coming from sources such as yourself can truly help open more public eyes as to what it’s all about. Now is tomorrow is now..

So many of us learn/retain information through reading versus hearing. Any chance your podcasts will have transcripts soon?

Very glad to see this discussion on here! I’ve been posting various places about how cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies can fix the economics of content creators like you, Tim.

For example, for as much value as I’ve gotten from you in the past ten years, you’ve gotten mayb e $Four from me in book royalties. You’re doing fine, since you have millions of fans, but the threshold for making money off of content is very high, and creates some strange incentives.

You should look into STEEM, and a community such as Steemit. Imagine if every time you upvoted, commented, or created content, it was mining cryptocurrency. Also, imagine if your fattest fans could get cryptocurrency prizes for promoting your work. That’s essentially STEEM. It’s very cool (There’s a discussion with the Steemit CEO on my own podcast that you can check out if interested. The display is called “Love Your Work.”)

I totally agree with David Kadavy, Steem has been one of the best things that I came across in the cyptocurrency world

the community is just amazing!

Cool. I’ll check it out. Thanks, guys!

Good suggestion but I think this is messy. Tim already has a loyal following who trust him and purchase anything he puts out. STEEM requires time to master and might not be worth it for someone who already has so much clout.

It’s indeed the flawless way for people to understand criptos… Using it in a product! Go Tim Go… Go BlockChain and Criptos GOOOOOOOO

Thank you for this scene! One of my favs, loved the talk on Pascal scams fairly a golden nugget.

I agree with Naval

PLEASE have an gig with Taleb.

�� progress through not thinking. true, except it doesn’t vanish, it becomes algebra. and more susceptible to automation.

So looking forward to listening to this podcast but unluckily it doesn’t seem to be available yet on Stitcher. Any updates on when it will?

Thank you for sharing this type of content and insights with us! ��

Should be up now.

Indeed looking forward to this one as I just made the the leap into cryptocurrency (as my very first ever investment!).

However It hasn’t appeared on overcast yet?

Should be populated now. Had a Feedburner issue that was immovable.

Incapable to play the gig. Attempted numerous options provided help what am I don’t wrong. Have not had an issue before.

I’m confused about something mentioned in the podcast. Nick and Naval seemed to suggest that there was a limit on the number of transactions per block (evidently a hotly debated topic). From what I understand of the blockchain, each block only has the root of a Merkle tree in it and so there theoretically could be any number of transactions in the block. Where does the limitation come from?

A data limit of one MB per block is hardcoded into the protocol.

Good scene, and good info. And yet, incomplete. Dash solved the blockchain size problem in one day. Dash pro-actively solved the slow transaction problem by having incentivised masternodes to produce a phat and sturdy infrastructure of more than Four,400 active knots. AND designing and implementing Instant send. Sent in a few seconds, not minutes or hours or days. You should have a conversation with Amanda B. Johnson to pack in these gaps in your skill base.

2017 is a yearlong “media swift” for me, but I listened to my very first podcast this year in case there were any thoughts on cryptocurrencies which might switch my investment practices. Gratefully, there wasn’t, but I learned a ton.

Good scene. Thank you all!

Some questions/topics I’d love to see discussed among you three in the future (if you’ve written about these, feel free to react with a link to your thoughts):

– I’d like to hear you all talk even more more about what factors influence the price of a cryptocurrency. If you’re willing to go more into detail, I’d love to hear thoughts on price vs. difficulty, and maybe even efficiency from a mining perspective, etc. (The relationship inbetween price and mining difficulty seems like it’s fascinating.)

– I was recently tempted to build an ethereum mining equipment (I determined against it to concentrate on the website more) based on this fact: mining uses photons from the sun (through fossil fuels or solar, it doesn’t matter) to produce electro-therapy to process computations to earn a cryptocurrency “commission” which can then be exchanged for actual food or products. That’s mind-blowing, and I’d love to hear you three talk about it.

– Getting more philosophical… Mr. Ravikant and Mr. Szabo both take the perspective that the idea of AGI/ASI stepping on us (humans) like a bug is a “pascal scam.” (Wow: thanks for a different perspective!) Okay, fine. But assume for this question that AGI/ASI is indeed going to exist at some point in the future: could the blockchain (or similar technology) be a sort of arrow-of-time or sense of memory into the past (far more accurate than our own biological memories) for this “being” ? Would love to hear/read thoughts.

– Could the blockchain somehow be used for, say, password/identity storage (like LastPass?)? I don’t truly even understand my own question here…

– What happens if tomorrow or next week, on a quirk, President Trump determined

– that the U.S. government is going utter force into backing a cryptocurrency like bitcoin? or,

– that trading in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies is illegal? (obviously Congress would do its thing here, but what if the executive branch attempted?)

– How might you speculate as to where the NSA could be with its technology of a) cracking encryption or b) a potential capability to alter the blockchain or current block? (Considering that, historically, the NSA is years ahead of anything we already publicly have.)

Lots of reading ahead from this gig. Wowsers.

Anyway, thanks again. Well worth cracking a media quick for this gig.

[Moderator: disclaimer liquidated]

Some of the main factors that influence the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies include:

* Market supply and request

* Total amount of Bitcoins and Bitcoin holders

* News in mass media

* Political and economic events worldwide

Tim released this gig during a bullish market as a bubble was growing. The last duo days, we’ve seen a few of these factors in activity. Specifically technical issues (scalability of Ethereum, a possible Bitcoin fork/split) and news in mass media (both highlighting the bubble and these technical issues).

As always thanks for the awesome podcast!! I’ve read a few articles recently about cryptocurrency, which just confused me more. This podcast was very helpful and certainly helped in cracking it down into simpler terms. I have been interested in investing without buying the actual “coins”. The only investment option I’ve come across is the investment trust GBTC, which has skyrocketed in the last month. I didn’t hear any mentioned, but wondered if you know of any other options?

Big fan of all of your stuff…own every book and am kicking off to listen to your podcasts now too!

I’ve obviously seen a few of your Facebook Live sessions as well. I happen to work for one of Facebook’s Live Technology Playmates, BumeBox, and we have a implement that influencers and celebrities use on Facebook to curate comments during very high-volume events. Our ‘Live Prompter’ makes it much lighter to find higher quality and more relevant comments from amongst the thousands (many of which are low quality and even spam). Some of our fucking partners include U.S. Soccer, MLS, Univision, MTV, Mariah Carey, San Jose Sharks, CBS, WWE, UFC, and more.

Live Prompter is totally subsidized by Facebook, so its free for you to use and will honestly just improve the quality of your Live sessions.

I dont mean to spam you here, but just am attempting everything I can to get in touch. Feel free to email me if interested in learning more.

For some reason this is still not coming up on Pocket Casts (andorid). I’ve never had this issue before, I even unsubscribed and subscribed again. Any idea why this may be? Excited for this gig.

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