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Watch > Episode > Professor Silvio Micali - Democratising Finance for the Masses: How Algorand Solves the Blockchain Trilemma

Professor Silvio Micali - Democratising Finance for the Masses: How Algorand Solves the Blockchain Trilemma


Founder of Algorand

Today’s guest is a true visionary and a man who has dedicated his working life to researching and formulating the fundamental elements that have been the driving force behind the emergence of cryptocurrency and decentralised finance.

Professor Silvio Micali is not just the founder and principal figure at Algorand, the groundbreaking crypto-based blockchain platform, he is also a near 40 year veteran of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, at MIT.

It is here that his pioneering research into the areas of cryptography, zero-knowledge, pseudorandom generation, secure protocols, mechanism design and blockchain have established the basis of so much of the innovation we now take for granted.

Born in Palermo, Sicily, in 1954, Silvio received his undergraduate education in Rome, graduating with a degree in mathematics in 1978, before earning his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley in 1982. After a postdoctoral position in Toronto, he joined the faculty at MIT in July 1983 and has remained there ever since, deeply ensconced in his research that has formed the foundations of much of what we know about modern cryptography.

He is the co-inventor of probabilistic encryption, Zero-Knowledge Proofs, Verifiable Random Functions and many of the protocols that were the driving force behind his decision to found Algorand in 2017, and has been making waves ever since thanks to its fully decentralised, secure, and scalable potential.

The blockchain trilemma as it is often referred is the quest to achieve secure and scalable networks that are fully decentralised while also being optimised for mainstream use and has been the most challenging aspect of every platform looking to take that next step in the DeFi ecosystem.

There have been numerous other hurdles to overcome, but, at Algorand with Silvio at the helm, we have seen a huge leap forward in what we know, understand and can expect from this rapidly emerging market. Silvio is smart, sharp-witted and has not only kudos among his peers but serious credibility thanks to his exhaustive research.

He is the recipient of the much-coveted Turing Award for his long-lasting and transformative work that has contributed to the mathematical foundations of cryptography while also receiving the Gödel Prize in theoretical computer science and the RSA prize in cryptography.

He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences plus the Accademia dei Lincei, and I for one and am delighted to share some time with him. He is an expert in every sense of the word and an intellectual leader in the DeFi space.

It is thanks to the great work by people such as Silvio Micali that my team and I are going “all in” on this technology and infrastructure and plan on spending the next ten years teaching, understanding, broadcasting, educating, investing in, profiting from and transforming this exciting new marketplace.

There are no limits to what we can achieve, and by working together as a team, creating a community of like-minded people, we can blaze a trail in this exciting and transformative decentralised finance space.

As Silvio, himself would say,

“Collaboration always wins over competition… and is more fun, too.”

That’s why I created the DeFi Academy and committed time and resources to provide a platform for success that YOU can be a part of.

The right kind of education is critical and that’s why I’m excited to sit down with Silvio and talk DeFi with one of its biggest players. Silvio is an incredibly smart guy, who continues to look at the big picture. He’s serious about sustainability and our impact on the planet, while also determined to provide opportunity and hope for the masses.

This episode will connect the dots and shine a light on the incredible infrastructure that exists while providing some clues as to what we can expect moving forward.

Download clips

A number of clips from this exclusive interview are now available to download, share and repost. Spread the word: grab these clips today!

  1. What was MIT like?
  2. The basics of cryptography
  3. The blockchain was a natural evolution
  4. Why Bitcoin is not an elegant solution
  5. The trilema is false
  6. What is proof of stake?
  7. Gas fees need to go down
  8. Will 2022 be the Layer 1 war
  9. Regulations can help the blockchain
  10. What are Zero Knowledge Proofs?
  11. I’m having a lot of fun
  12. NFTs are huge and are going to become bigger
  13. Why forking is not necessary
  14. Blockchain predictions for the future
  15. The future will always surprise us


00:00 | Trailer.
02:38 | Brian’s introduction.
03:36 | Professor Silvio Micali describes what it is like being at MIT.
07:43 | What Cryptography is and why it is such a powerful tool in many uses.
17:18 | What is an algorithm and why a smart contract is so useful in that sense.
21:11 | Professor Silvio Micali’s initial observations when he first saw Bitcoin.
23:00 | Bitcoin’s democratisation of finance for the masses.
26:28 | How Algorand proved Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin’s concept of the trilemma is false.
36:49 | Different types of proof of stake and what Algorand calls its proof of stake.
38:51 | When Ethereum moves to proof of stake there will still be no way to keep it decentralised without more protocols.
40:38 | If the cost of gas fees is not addressed it is not decentralised finance and not attainable democratically universally.
46:48 | Will 2022 be the year of Layer-1 wars and do Silvio and Algorand welcome competition?
51:39 | The new mentality of the Web 3.0 concept where the community takes the code and builds on it.
54:25 | What we need from regulators to enable cryptocurrency to move forward and Gary Gensler’s role.
1:02 12 | Professor Silvio Micali explains zero-knowledge proofs, their exciting potential and universal importance.
1:13:27 | What continues to motivate Silvio Micali to do what he does.
1:15:07 | Is he optimistic that the transparency of blockchain makes us be the best version of ourselves.
1:20:11 | What he thinks of the NFT market, Algorand’s participation in it and the effect of blockchain forking.
1:23:40 | What blockchain forking is and why Algorand’s consensus mechanism differs from everyone else’s.
1:26:33 | What is Professor Silvio Micali’s biggest challenge for Algorand over the next 12 months.
1:28:46 | The problem of blockchain bridging.
1:30:58 | His outlook for the future.
1:33:04 | Silvio Micali’s final thoughts for entrepreneurs.
1:33:55 | Brian’s summing up.


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