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article imageAndreas Antonopoulos explains blockchain and bitcoin

By Ken Hanly     Sep 7, 2017 in Technology
Andreas Antonopoulos is a a Greek information security expert based in California but also a tech-entrepreneur and author. He has also quickly become one of the most ardent champions of healthy bitcoin practices.
Antonopolous has become a key player in the world of cryptocurrency. This article provides takes a closer look at his numerous activities involving blockchain technologies, including his testimony before the Canadian government and a significant speech at a recent conference in Africa. He has also been relentless in his criticism of those whom he felt posed dangers to the development of bitcoin and has refused to participate in activities that he found were not transparent.
Antonopoulos has a degree in Computer Science, Data Communications and Distributed Systems from the University College London. He has acted as a business consultant on open source and open networks as far back as 1990. His writings are extensive with over two hundred articles published. He is a a partner in Nemertes Research. He claims that the greatest threat to computer security is not so much experienced hackers as overly complex systems that are resulting from rapid technological changes in business operations.
Antonopoulos was at one time head of the Bitcoin Foundation's anti-poverty committee but he left in 2014 after disagreements with management of the foundation. Antonopoulos complained that the Foundation completely lacked any transparency in its operation. In January of 2014 he joined the firm Blockchain.info as Chief Security Officer, but later in September he dropped this role but stayed on as an advisor to the board. The company launched in 2011 and provides a cryptocurrency wallet as well as data on transactions and other aspects of the operation of the bitcoin blockchain..
By 2015 Blockchain.info had created over three million wallets for clients using their service. The company offers a dedicated service on the anonymous browser Tor to allow transactions to be carried out with greater privacy and making third party surveillance more difficult. The service claimed that transactions had exceeded one million by August 2016.
Antonopoulos was an early outspoken critic of the Mt. Gox trading platform, saying as early as April 2013 that it was a systemic risk to bitcoin, and a death trap for traders. He added it was run by people who were clueless. The platform was shut down in February of 2014. Bitcoin obviously recovered from its price decline.
Antonopoulos was also active in raising money to help out Dorian Nakamoto who was wrongly identified by a Newsweek article as the mystery creator of bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. He was able to raise 50 bitcoins with a value of $23,000 at the time. The first commercial transaction with bitcoin was to purchase two pizzas in Florida that cost a cool 10,000 bitcoins.
On the 8th of October 2014 Antonopoulos testified before the Banking, Trade and Commerce committee of the Canadian Senate and answered questions on how the government could regulate bitcoin in Canada. Antonopoulos advised Canada not to try to regulate the area prematurely. He argued that the government should wait until the technology is better understood as regulation could stifle the technology in its early days.
Chair of the Committee Senator Irving Gerstein claimed that Antonopoulos was considered to be a bitcoin guru and as having virtually written the book on bitcoin. Antonopoulos laid out the advantages and opportunities involved in a decentralized financial system such as bitcoin and the blockchain represented. The current system he claimed was fragile and risks were introduced by the many layers of regulation required. It also created what he called cosy relationships between regulators and industry insiders resulting not only in corruption but to financial crises.
Antonopolous said that decentralization and security were key to the operation of the bitcoin blockchain system. Antonopoulos said: "The ability to innovate without permission at the edge of the bitcoin network is the same fundamental force that has driven internet innovation for 20 years at a frenetic pace, creating enormous value for consumers, economic growth, opportunities and jobs." He claimed that this unregulated ability to innovate would allow for the invention of new decentralized security mechanisms based on such innovations as smart contracts, decentralized audits and hardware wallets.
Some senators asked Antonopoulos about the use of cryptocurrencies for purposes such as funding terrorists or money laundering. He replied that bitcoin is not anonymous and that empowering people to have better access to the financial infrastructure was much more important than the misuse of the system by a few. Athonopoulos warned that digital currencies should not be transformed and contorted into structures adapted to the operation of banks since they were intended to present an entirely different paradigm. A YouTube video of Antonopoulos presentation to the Canadian Senate is appended.
Also appended is Antonopoulos's presentation in 2017 at the Blockchain Conference in Africa in which he distinguishes blockchain from lesser technologies.
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