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Ari Paul and Muneeb Ali on Scalability, Custody, and Security
May 23rd, 2019
About this Episode
Today's episode features a conversation between Ari Paul - the cryptocurrency investor and co-founder of BlockTower Capital who also serves as its Chief Investment Officer - and Muneeb Ali, co-founder & CEO of Blockstack PBC.

Ari and Muneeb cover a variety of crypto developments from both a Political Science and Distributed Systems Engineering perspective. They focus particularly on the issues of scaling networks like Ethereum, whether sharding is a holy grail or not, the challenges of digital asset custody, and more.
Show Notes
  • 0:41 Muneeb: "How we met through Naval..."
  • 2:33 There aren't many industries or asset classes where you can show up and be talking with the leaders almost immediately.
  • 4:13 Muneeb: "What are you up to these days?"
  • 7:10 Muneeb: "I'd love to get your Poli Sci perspective on a complex system being directly interacted with by users versus a very simple base layer being built on top of."
  • 8:19 Ari: "One thing you see throughout time is some form of federalism."
  • 10:31 Muneeb: "Imagine a mainframe computer for the entire world... it's not scalable by definition."
  • 12:19 Muneeb: "Should you even be trying to attempt sharding at the blockchain layer?"
  • 14:19 Muneeb: "Nodes would need near global information... which kind of kills the purpose of having shards in the first place."
  • 16:52 Muneeb: "There's this notion - if you're interacting with the blockchain - that smart contracts are the only interface available."
  • 19:04 Muneeb: "Imagine a word processor... what parts do you want to hit the blockchain layer?"
  • 24:24 Ari on how development of solutions like sharding gets going.
  • 26:50 Muneeb: "We recently got pulled into some of the Ethereum scalability research... and recently did this public review of Casper's CBC."
  • 29:04 Ari: "It's very frustrating to me when I discover the religion in politics of crypto."
  • 30:03 Muneeb: "Sometimes people will ask me 'How is your Gaia storage system different FileCoin?'"
  • 32:58 Ari: "Are you going to be integrating any Craig Wright innovations into Blockstack?"
  • 35:34 Ari: "When you're playing poker, you want to play rational actors."
  • 36:11 Ari: On custody and the value of vanishing.
  • 37:07 Muneeb: "I do think [custody is] something that more and more people will start worrying about as our assets are in crypto currencies."
  • 40:11 Ari: "Something that scares me in an existential sense: all tech is breakable."
  • 42:30 Muneeb: "We really believe in the ability to exit."
  • 45:32 Ari: "My concern is in the asymmetry."
  • 47:57 Muneeb: "Look at SSL: maintained by one individual, then Heartbleed happened."
  • 49:24 Ari: "I think it's wonderful we've had some Proof of Work attacks on the Ethereum Classic network... that's antifragile."
  • 49:59 Ari: "The financial system doesn't worry about this because there's the fallback to legal."
  • 50:57 Ari: "Andreas Antonopoulos would say Bitcoin is uncensorable because the network can block bad actors, but..."
  • 51:28 Goodbyes.
  • 51:52 Credits
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    About Our Guest
    Ari Paul is the CIO and co-founder of BlockTower Capital. He was previously a portfolio manager for the University of Chicago's $8 billion endowment, and a derivatives market maker and proprietary trader for Susquehanna International Group (SIG). Ari earned a BA in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Ari is a CFA charterholder. BlockTower Capital takes long and short positions across a variety of cryptocurrencies.
      Ari Paul
      CIO of BlockTower Capital