Blockchain! With Steve Mildenhall

This week I published (mp3youtube) my blockchain episode with Steve Mildenhall and reprised the topic with Steve for a talk at the Casualty Actuarial Society Annual Meeting (video will be forthcoming). These two ‘events’ were the culmination of a few months-long deep dive into the technology and application of blockchains, particularly for insurance.*

For the sake of this post I thought I’d put down some of the more important reference material for my blockchain education. These sources were invaluable. Enjoy!

Chris Dixon’s comment in this podcast that crypto currencies are the natural funding mechanism for networks was a powerful early aha moment for me:
https://a16z.com/2018/07/31/cryptonetworks-decentralization-web-scale-building-blocks/

Here’s Vitalik Buterin’s podcast with (NU Guest) Tyler Cowen (Vitalik invented Ethereum):
https://medium.com/conversations-with-tyler/vitalik-buterin-tyler-cowen-cryptocurrency-blockchain-tech-3a2b20c12c97

Here I learned a lot about the pre-history of bitcoin, which was embodied in BitGold, a precursor in many ways. It was in studying BitGold that I learned that the real innovation in Bitcoin was

  1. The social innovation of getting miners to collectively agree on the latest block by voting with their hashing power.
  1. One other difference was the decoupling of computing power and coins produced. Computing power is a waste product.

https://medium.com/@insearchofsatoshi/bit-gold-and-bitcoin-9357176cd420

and Szabo:
https://web.archive.org/web/20171118033020/https://unenumerated.blogspot.ie/2011/05/bitcoin-what-took-ye-so-long.html

Szabo on origins of money:
https://web.archive.org/web/20160921140955/http://szabo.best.vwh.net/shell.html

You can learn a lot about a technology by learning what the key incremental innovation was that made it work. Blockchains are a governance innovation, a *social* innovation.

Here is another good interview with Buterin:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaUOZxxbIz8

*I put together a ‘working’ insurance company on my home machine running a local Ethereum node and found the whole experience fascinating. If anyone is interested in seeing it I’d be happy to walk you through the thing.

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