Blockstream CEO Adam Back talks Bitcoin over a game of Jenga

Blockstream CEO Adam Back talks Bitcoin over a game of Jenga

Ever since childhood, Adam Back, now the CEO of Blockstream, has spent his time tinkering with programming code to look for encryption keys embedded in the software. Born in 1970, the London native completed his A-levels in mathematics, physics and economics before focusing on computer science and earning a Ph.D. from the University of Exeter. After devoting his career to applied cryptography, Back invented HashCash in 1997, a proof-of-work system used to limit email spam and denial-of-service attacks that later became more famous for its use in Bitcoin. In fact, Back was one of the few people quoted in the original Bitcoin Whitepaper.

Today, Back manages his Victoria, Canada-based digital asset custodian Blockstream, which raised $210 million in a Series B round last August. During an interview with Cointelegraph reporter Joe Hall, Back explained that what intrigued him so much about Bitcoin to begin with was its breeding ground for a lot of applied research and development. “It covers a lot of middle-level subjects or people, like math, computer science and programming,” he said.

When asked what advice he could give to the new generation of Gen Zs and Boomers approaching Bitcoin, Back suggested first getting to know the people in the industry. “I think the good way to get involved is to try to contribute to something as a volunteer, because you learn things when you come into contact with people. You know that there can be many different things to come across, like user interface, documentation or educational material.”

The 52-year-old cryptographer is also exploring new physical limits to the use of Bitcoin, literally. For a few years now, Back has operated the Blockstream Satellite Network, which broadcasts the entire Bitcoin blockchain around the world 24/7 through its leased satellites. “You can sync a node from scratch with the satellite; it will take a week or two,” he said, continuing: “but it actually takes all the history as well and puts it back together. And it’s a pretty cool kind of technology when it applies for error correction and redundancy.” According to Blockstream, the setup can “protect against network outages” and “allow areas without reliable internet connections to access Bitcoin.” Although, for the privilege of not needing internet to use Bitcoin, one would need a satellite set to receive broadcasts.

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