AMA Recap: Prof. Emin Gün Sirer

Below is a full-recap of the AMA, for the gem chasers who couldn’t make it, or for anyone that’s interested. Feel free to have a read!

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Radar 🍥:

Perfect. So how did you get into crypto personally? Was it as an investment or did you always have the intention to get into the tech side of crypto and build a solution for the people? how did the journey start with you in crypto essentially.

Emin Gün Sirer:

Ah, my entry into crypto goes back a long ways. Back to 2001/2002. I was a very young assistant professor back then. And peer-to-peer filesharing systems were just starting up. Except there was a huge problem: people would download files but not upload them. They would take resources, but not give.

So one response to this was Bittorrent, which is based on barter.

I had a different idea: what if we invented an internet currency that you could mint out of the thin air? You need to use it to get resources, and to not run out, you need to give resources.

The resulting system was called Karma. It was published in 2003. That’s 6 years before Satoshi. It was the first currency that implemented the idea of minting coins via proof of work.

Radar 🍥:

wow

Emin Gün Sirer:

Satoshi did have a big improvement on top of Karma, in that he used proof of work for consensus as well. But I was there many years before bitcoin came along.

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(I’ll use a . to indicate the end of a response)

Radar 🍥:

So your vision was actually close to Satoshi, and you had thought of the idea of having an internet currency.

Emin Gün Sirer:

Actually, I wish I could say that, but he had more of a grand plan than I did. I was targeting Internet usage only. He was planning to replace fiat currencies.

And my timing was kind of bad: it was right after 9/11, so everyone was spooked by terrorist financing. I was counseled to not pursue this, because I would not be able to attract funding as a young professor. So I drifted away from the area. The paper is well-cited, but it took Satoshi, his improvement on the consensus side, and his timing right after the 2008 crisis, for the world to see the benefits of decentralized currencies.

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Radar 🍥:

I understand, and thank you for being transparent with your answer. It allows everyone to understand some thought processes of your take on crypto, which fascinates me.

What about DeFi. Do you see DeFi being a different category to mainstream altcoins or even Bitcoin? Or would you class them of all being an internet currency and generally serving the same purpose?

Emin Gün Sirer:

DeFi is an entirely different asset class. Systems like Avalanche, Bitcoin, and Ethereum are what we call “Layer 1”. They are the foundational layer in the software stack on which everything else rests. DeFi tokens, like PNG, UNI, and SUSHI, are implemented on Layer 1, to carry out separate functionality. They serve entirely different purposes. Layer 1s are all about securing the financial system and facilitating the functionality on top, while DeFi has its own complex, mostly financial, goals.

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Radar 🍥:

So what is the purpose of Avalanche, and what problems does it solve ?

Emin Gün Sirer:

Avalanche is an open-source platform for launching decentralized applications and enterprise blockchain deployments in one interoperable, highly scalable ecosystem.

It is the first smart contracts platform that processes 4,500+ transactions/second and instantly confirms transactions. Ethereum developers can quickly build smart contracts on Avalanche as Solidity works out-of-the-box.

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Radar 🍥:

Have you ever thought of connecting Avalanche with mainstream people who always did want to build Decentralized Applications, however lack in developing skills as a whole?

Emin Gün Sirer:

Yes, certainly! We need accessible DeFi for all. Until recently, DeFi was hampered by high transaction fees: it is just too expensive to interact with the various lego blocks on previous Layer 1s, because those Layer 1s lack the capacity to handle the necessary load. Avalanche’s scale, speed and cost makes it an attractive platform for launching DeFi applications as well as interacting with existing systems. For developers who have built with Ethereum & Solidity, building on Avalanche is easy and only requires a few small changes to deploy applications on the network. If you haven’t built on Ethereum, Avalanche is a great place to start as the cost of experimenting on the network will be far lower.

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Radar 🍥:

It sounds amazing, and interesting for curious new developers to experiement on Avalanche.

Where did the name of Avalanche come from and what does it represent/symbolize ?

Emin Gün Sirer:

The name of the protocol is a send-off to the way it works: decisions in the network are made as an ensemble of nodes that grow in size, starting from an inital snowflake (the first proposer), growing to a bigger snowball (when the size that’s ready to commit is beyond an initial threshold) and turns into an unstoppable avalanche where the network commits the transaction and makes it immutable.

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Radar 🍥:

A lot of thought has even gone into the name, as I Imagined.

Are you thinking to implement anything else to the AVAX ecosystem in the near future? Will we see any other solutions or use cases in Avalanche?

Emin Gün Sirer:

I do plan to build interesting applications on top of Avalanche, and I’m also super excited about the things our community will build on top. Avalanche has this nice feature we call “subnetworks,” which enable people to launch their own blockchains, with their custom rules and custom participants. This feature is designed for institutions and enterprises who have become disenchanted with what blockchains can do for their businesses after years of being sold private networks with no innovation or public networks that aren’t flexible enough for unique requirements like compliance and data privacy.

I’m also excited about the DeFi innovations on top of Avalanche. There are now DEXs based off of Uniswap on top of Avalanche (built by independent groups). I hear from groups building new applications all the time. A chain that is fast and scalable brings out a lot of innovation and I’m excited about what is to come.

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Radar 🍥:

Definitely amazing and something to be proud of as well. What is your end vision for Avalanche? Do you feel like you have succeded with your targets? Or is this just the beginning for $AVAX

IMO I think we are just getting started, especially how Avalanche is so relatable to DeFi innovations..

Emin Gün Sirer:

We’ve had a great start, but we’re just starting out. The deployment of Pangolin on Avalanche last week was a big event that brought with it a lot of usage. Overall, it feels like we’re living though Bitcoin’s 10-year lifetime at high speed. We had the “pizza moment” (where someone paid 10,000 btc for two pizzas), we had a bug that we successfully recovered from, and there’s a lot of fun ahead.

Avalanche and DeFi are only scratching the surface of their potential right now. Avalanche creates a new market structure defined by velocity, efficient use of capital, and innovation in new products and services that aren’t possible with current fees and extensive wait times for transaction finality.

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Radar 🍥:

I feel the same way. I think we are going to see tremendous things once we see Avalanhce and DeFi well connected, sort of like AVAX can be seen as the backbone of DeFi in the near future, there is just so much potential…

You are a professor at Cornell University, so you are used to seeing alot of the younger generation as a majortiy. What do you think about adoption? Are we succeeding in adoption. Do you think crypto can be implemented heavily as a global financial system and replace traditional methods?

Or are we still very very new with this technology?

Emin Gün Sirer:

Absolutely! I keep getting told by my friends that “we need to do more to improve crypto education.” That’s certainly true, we do need to offer more courses. But from what I’ve seen at Cornell, there is already huge demand for crypto-related programs at universities. Young people just see this stuff and they get it. It’s like how the current generation was with the Internet. You take a look at it, and once you figure out how it works, you get the idea. It’s the older folks who need to be educated about how this works.

We are still in the early stages, but institutional adoption is coming. We just saw companies, including Tesla, convert portions of their balanche sheets into crypto. And I believe we’ll see more of that in the future.

So overall, I think crypto will grow on the side of traditional finance. It will (and has been) initially ignored, and then it’ll be noticed (which is where we are, DeFi is just beginning to establish itself and being noticed by people who are doing traditional finance), and then it’ll grow so big that at some point, traditional finance will have to integrate itself into it.

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Radar 🍥:

Amazing! I don’t want to take up too much of your time as I know you are a very busy individual, and even you dedicating 1 hour to us today has been very delightful.

I just want to get some questions in from the community if that’s okay with you?

Emin Gün Sirer:

Certainly.

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Radar 🍥:

Okay great, so I’m going to unlock the chat now and feel free to answer to any questions you feel comfortable with!

Emin Gün Sirer:

Sure, I’ll try to answer a few.

Rajeeshwar Vinaykumar — High School Dropout, Disabled War Veteran, Software Engineer:

Emin, with increased network congestion (size of ETH network) can you say with confidence that the gas fees will remain low?

Emin Gün Sirer:

No, as usage rises, fees have to rise until they are equal to that of Ethereum. The big difference is that, at the point where a high-capacity chain is saturated, it will be performing fare more work.

Blind5ight (Watch out for scammers):

Emin Gün Sirer:

So true! I am not a UX person, so I don’t have too much to add personally. This is one area where the communities have to come up with new, innovative ways of hiding the complexity of the system. All of crypto suffers from this, and we need wallets that are easier to use, better payment solutions, easier interactions and so on. One thing I can add is that, when a chain has short latencies, it is much easier to build a good UX around it.

Burcusan BS:

Do you think Quantum Computing Will Break Cryptocurrencies? What is Avalanche’s plan for that?

Emin Gün Sirer:

Quantum computing (QC) is a fascinating field. First of all, there will be many breakthroughs in QC over the next few decades — we need many breakthroughs before it becomes practical. So we’ll get plenty of warning before QC is a real threat to cryptocurrencies as a whole. I don’t see this happening for another 10 years or so. One nice feature of Avalanche is that it supports multiple signature formats, so it is quite feasible to switch to QC-proof signatures. We actually already built a prototype system for this last summer, but there is no point in deploying it, as QC-proof signatures take up more space than ECDSA, and QC isn’t practical yet. So, I have no worries on the QC front.

Anyone wishing to implement a high-performance, largescale payments network needs to, at least, look seriously at Avalanche. A second benefit that Avalanche offers is that it’s possible to implement a CBDC as a subnetwork, where the validators go through the kinds of vetting processes that a CB might requires. Finally, some CBDC schemes that I’ve heard discussed require stringent regulatory requirements. These are either impossible or very costly to implement with today’s systems, but they are easy to implement on top of Avalanche because it offers the ability to support custom virtual machines. So that’s three solid reasons for why a CBDC makes more sense to issue on Avalanche than any other platform.

Note that I’m a technologist and categorically cannot answer any questions related to token prices.

I need to go back to building applications on top of Avalanche but appreciate the time from everyone in this community. Best wishes to all of you.

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