Even if the Creator Would Come Back : Interview with Tadge Dryja from MIT DCI ③

Thaddeus Dryja (Tadge) is the creator and the co-author of the Lightning Network who is leading research on scaling and interoperability of cryptocurrencies and Smart contracts at DCI (Digital Currency Initiative) as an open-source developer and research scientist.

Tadge Dryja

Interview Date :9th June 2020

Decrease in Bitcoin Interest

Japan is one of the countries where we see a decrease in interest in Bitcoin. There are other countries where there is an increase in interest in Bitcoin. It is hard to know why, but most of the time people use Bitcoin or other types of technology when their current system is not working. It’s interesting because I don’t think America really needs Bitcoin that badly. America has a pretty functional financial system, and there are credit cards, bank transfers, and cheques that are systems that do work. The same is true for the situation in Japan. Thus, I believe that it is probably more needed in other countries.

Another reason why Bitcoin is not so popular in Japan could be that there has not been much of interesting new technology in the market since 2017. Suddenly, there were so many ICOs projects in the market, the media wouldn’t leave the industry alone. Because it was so popular, we didn’t get any work done. Even at MIT, all these people were being interviewed, there were so many television covers on the industry, and everyone wanted to know about it due to that. For all of these billions of dollars that were sent into those ICOs, there is not much that came out of that either. What prompted it was that everyone wanted to get on to the next Bitcoin but that didn’t happen. In comparison to 2017, the interest may have decreased, but I don’t know if that was the best or most sustainable interest, to begin with as it was just a fad bubble. In my perspective, we can expect a lot of cool stuff coming out from the students working on new technology and do papers today more so than 2017.

A Potential Country for Unleashing Bitcoin

Concerning where Bitcoin could improve the payment system, I would say India is a place that could benefit from it. I have been to India a few times, and I have noticed that lots of Indian people like gold. The first time I went to India, I noticed very quickly gold was a thing there, and the nicest store that I went to in India was a gold store. When I asked the people about it, the said “we don’t trust the currency and the government”. And there is potential and technology in India. If you go to places like Bengaluru, there are so many tech startups creating a massive workforce. It seems like it would be a very good ecosystem for Bitcoin to be a part of for further development and stability of the country.

How to not Choose another Mt. Gox

I left Japan a little before the Mt. Gox crash. I felt bad because a lot of people lost huge amounts of money, but at the same time, you have to be aware of what you are putting your money into, when it was obvious they were incompetent right from the start. There was a transaction where Mt. Gox destroyed 2608 Bitcoins. Moreover, people were talking about this online. The head of Mt. Gox came out and states that they will “make it up to the users”. There were lots of signs beforehand indicating that this exchange was not a good place to invest your money.

When I was in Japan in 2011 and mining Bitcoin in my apartment and after I while “this is crazy why am I mining in my apartment when electricity is so expensive in Japan”. But I didn’t because I looked at Mt. Gox and thought to myself “I am not going to send my money there”. Early summer 2013, people started complaining about they couldn’t get their money out, they wouldn’t let the people withdraw their Bitcoins and money. There were many months of excuses by Mt. Gox for why they wouldn’t let the people withdraw their money. This was also at the time when Bitcoin became quite valuable; from a couple of 100 dollars to 1000 dollars and everyone was interested in it. I tried to tell everyone not to use Mt. Gox, but a lot of these things, if you are careful and take it from a technical standpoint, so you can see the risky as well.

Professionalism is Key for Credibility

I visited Gemini once and looked at the staff. They were wearing ties and suits, and the atmosphere made me feel like they are taking their job seriously. They are taking care of other people’s money and know that “if they screw up, they screw it up for millions of people” so they are taking responsibility. Plenty of scammers and bad exchanges can wear ties, but being in the office there seemed very different from many startups, and it didn’t feel like they were a “move fast and break things” type of company. Most people cannot physically go to the exchange though, so it’s hard to know and people need to do research, and even then, not just leave money on exchanges. So, when my friends ask me what exchange they should use, I would just reply with “use Gemini” as it seems like they know what they are doing.

However, to validate a company’s credibility, check for a company’s location, and what country it is in and if they are updated and active on the internet. It is also a good idea to look at their staff. Sometimes you don’t have any choice either. For example, if you want to buy a certain altcoin, but it is only available on a sketchy exchange. So, what are you going to do? Just be careful to not invest too much in it. Be careful and use an exchange with credibility, a place where some professionals and lawyers are a part of their team, and where they are taking their job seriously.

Even if the Creator Would Come Back

As much as I want to know, no one knows about Satoshi Nakamoto or how he was able to disappear so well. Developers don’t look into it or care about who he is or where he is. It’s really easy to prove who he is if he wanted to do that, and he can do it with just a couple of messages online, but he is not and is also gone now. At this point, it’s been so long so even if he would come back again and claim that Bitcoin is his invention, make it official by signs some papers, no one will listen to him or follow him. If he would say “let’s change Bitcoin this way”, everyone will say “no”. It’s like the Lightning Network I wrote and development together with Joseph Poon, and now no one listens to me. Even if I suggest something to be done in a certain way, there are so many others who are working on it now, and much more than me that it doesn’t matter who invented it or developed it in the beginning. The same goes for Satoshi and Bitcoin.

Lightning Network and Lightning Lab Establishment

I was in San Francisco in 2014, and I moved there because I just wanted to work on Bitcoin and smart contracts. There were many Bitcoin meetups, so we would hang out, eat pizza, and talk about technology. There I met Joseph Poon and we started talking about micropayments and Bitcoin. Joseph had an idea about the HDLCs, and I thought it was cool, and so we worked on it together. I came up with the idea of channels that would be persistent, and that could be updated which is better known is the lightning network today. So, we wrote that together in late 2014〜early 2015 and presented it at the San Francisco Bitcoin event. The audience seemed very interested, and they were talking about it. Then Elizabeth Stark came to us and said: “We need to make a start-up, I don’t want this to be only a paper, you need to make this happen”. So, we started making a company around it and developed the software. Today, there are so many lightning network companies and apps, and many people are working on it.

Interviewer , Editor : Lina Kamada



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