Interview with Stefan Dziembowski and his presentations in BIU Bitcoin Workshop

We had the opportunity to talk with Stefan Dziembowski, associate professor and leader of Cryptology and Data Security Group University of Warsaw. Stefan spoke in a workshop on Bitcoin held by BIU's Cryptography Research Group.

vpnMentor: You arrived to the event to present bitcoin. How much prominent is it in your research or is this just a hype that will not be included in your articles in 5 years? BIU_Poster_Bitcoin_800px

I have been mostly doing research in theoretical cryptography until recently. What I am looking for in my research is conceptually cool questions that are relevant to real-life problems in cryptography and security. I am sure Bitcoin is here to stay and 5 years from now, I am going to research it. What is nice about basic science is that you can still research it even if the hype goes away.

There are two things that are conceptually interesting about bitcoin:

  1. The idea of obtaining consensus in P2P networks using POWs (Proof of Work). For example: is the current blockchain technology the best we can get? Or: can you substitute POWs with something less wasteful?
  2. Smart contracts. What can you do with contracts that are executed automatically by the currency? I think that the idea would survive even if bitcoin itself does not.

vpnMentor: What is your estimation of bitcoin use for illegal goods. Is this just a niche that grabs attention or is this a real concern for bitcoin supporters?

It’s true that Bitcoin can be used by criminals, but the same is true for the paper money. There are even some estimates that most of the 100 USD bills in the US are used by criminals, but we don’t blame the paper money for the crime itself or consider it to be bad. In the same way, the fact that criminals use bitcoin doesn’t mean it is bad.

vpnMentor: What are the main opportunities and key threats for Bitcoin adoption in the coming years?

There are some technical scientific weaknesses in bitcoin design that currently seem more like theoretical problems but they show we don’t fully understand bitcoin security. We should still consider it as beta version and “use at our own risk”. On the other hand, bitcoin can be a victim of its own success if from some reason the governments find it as a threat and fight it. Some research indicates that Bitcoin may not be secure against government scale adversary.

Talking with research students of Cryptography Research Group in Bar Ilan University

Talking with research students of Cryptography Research Group in Bar Ilan University

vpnMentor: You were early on, on the Bitcoin train. Did you get rich from bitcoin exchange?

I personally not. I do research on bitcoin and I can’t allow myself conflict of interest. Also: I didn’t buy bitcoins when they were cheap, and now it’s probably too late to really get rich this way.

Below are Stefan’s presentations from the event

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