Emin Gün Sirer on Rethinking Blockchain, Promoting Good Crypto Use and Leaving Stagnation Behind

This interview has been edited and condensed.

The co-director of the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Smart Contracts (known as IC3), Emin Gün Sirer, is an associate professor at Cornell University, whose research focuses on peer-to-peer systems, operating systems, distributed systems and computer networking. He is one of the most influential scientists within the crypto and blockchain ecosystem, and his voice represents an academic view on the development of the technologies.

We met with professor Emi̇n Gün Si̇rer at Deconomy in Seoul, South Korea, and talked about the future of cryptocurrencies, the potential danger of their full implementation and the reasons for the stagnation of the technological evolution over the past 10 years.

Max Yakubowski: First of all, I would like to thank you for what you are doing. Because, honestly, for me, it was your research and papers I was reading when I was making my first steps into the blockchain and crypto industry. Scientists like you and Andreas M. Antonopoulos were my first guides into the ecosystem.

Emin Gün Sirer: Great, I am glad to hear that. That is a great way to get into it. And I’m glad I played a tiny role in that. That sounds great. I am always happy to hear such words, as I usually get the abuse. So, there are always some trolls who are attacking me for something I said or wrote. It's fantastic to, occasionally, hear something good.

The other thing that happens is there are a couple of people who do the equivalent of “hashtag Lambo.” They hit like a million dollars and then they send me a toy Lambo. So, I have a couple of toy lambos. (laughing) I took one picture on my desk of a Lambo toy, one is like 1/16 scale, and it is really accurate. And Nathaniel Popper [a journalist who covers finance and technology for The New York Times] wrote me back: “Did that really happen that somebody’d bought you a Lambo?” “Oh yes, it did! You will notice that it's in my maple wooden garage in old grove, looks really nice.” — That’s how rich I am.

Pessimism and optimism

MY: Yeah. It looks like we are coming to the end of the crypto winter and moving to crypto summer