Emin Gün Sirer is a Professor of Computer Science at Cornell University and Co-director of IC3 (Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts)

He has made numerous contributions to both Bitcoin & Ethereum. His research spans, networking, distributed systems, and operating systems.

Professor Sirer created Karma – the first cryptocurrency to use a distributed mint-based proof-of-work – 6 years before Bitcoin existed.


In this episode, we discuss:

– Emin’s invention – Karma – the first decentralized cryptocurrency pre-dating Bitcoin

– The pros and cons of Segwit2x (which has now been abandoned)

– Little-known aspects of Bitcoin’s architecture and history such as the Bitcoin Relay, Falcon, and Fiber networks, selfish mining, the lightning network, sidechains, and much more

– We also discuss some of the relatively unknown academics who contributed the theoretical foundations to what we now know as Bitcoin



[01:00] – Who is Professor Emin Gün Sirer? Introduction and overview

[03:51] – How Emin got started with peer-to-peer technologies, cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, and Blockchain

[06:52] – What is Karma?

[08:35] – The Bitcoin Whitepaper and “folk theorems”

[14:35] – Karma vs. Bitcoin

[15:42] – Cryptopuzzles

[20:22] – The Falcon, Bitcoin Relay, and Fiber networks

[26:02] – What is Emin Gün Sirer’s role in the Bitcoin ecosystem?

[29:39] – Emin’s perspective on the Blockchain “killer app,” Blockchain hype, and the race to decentralize everything

[40:41] – How far away are we from fully functional decentralized reputation management systems and self-sovereign identities?

[44:23] – Professor Emin Gün Sirer summarizes Zero Knowledge Proofs

[48:34] – An overview of Segwit2x – pros and cons

[58:41] – Emin discusses the Lightning Network

[1:04:27] – A brief overview of sidechains on the Bitcoin network

[1:04:27] – A brief overview of sidechains on the Bitcoin network [56:57] – How to get in touch with the AirSwap team

[1:09:21] – Clearing up the link between Hashcash and Bitcoin (hint: Bitcoin is not simply Hashcash with inflation control)

[1:10:12] – The relatively unknown academics (Cynthia Dwork and Moni Naor) who crafted the theoretical fabric for Bitcoin

[1:14:00] – Emin gives us his thoughts on the consequences (or lack thereof) of a hard fork

[1:18:00] – Metcalfe’s law

[1:19:16] – Professor Emin Gün Sirer gives his prediction of the state of Bitcoin and Ethereum in 10 years (2027)

[1:25:20] – His thoughts on ICOs (must-listen!)

[1:28:10] – Emin’s advice to entrepreneurs interested in innovating with Blockchain and/or cryptocurrency

[1:31:13] – How to get in touch with Emin Gün Sirer

[1:32:19] – Conclusion






Falcon Network

Bitcoin Relay Network

Fiber relay network

Matt Corallo

Cut-through routing

Store and forward process


Reputation management systems

Equifax leak

Zero knowledge proofs


Andrew Miller

Segwit2x (now abandoned)


New York Agreement

Lightning Network

Initial Funding Event/commitment transaction (for lightning)

– Side Chains paper



– Cynthia Dwork and Moni Naor – “Pricing via Processing or Combatting Junk Mail?”

Differential Privacy

Willy Bot


Metcalfe’s law



– Blog – Hackingdistributed.com

– IC3 – www.initc3.org/

– Twitter: Emin Gün Sirer


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