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Tech talk #2: Blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies

Trust-less digital currencies have long been sought after by cypherpunks and libertarians. The blockchain, conceived in 2008, was the final piece needed to make a digital decentralized currency workable. Bitcoin was the first functional decentralized digital currency and the most widely known blockchain technology today. Bitcoin has since garnered publicity for it's meteroic rise in valuation, the birth of darknet markets, ransomeware, high-profile thefts on the scale of hundreds of millions, and its potential to redefine the way we make financial payments.

In this talk we will discuss the problem that cryptocurrencies are trying to solve and the underlying technology that make the first workable solution, the blockchain. We'll discuss the mechanisms of the most mature cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, to see how it functions and its limitations. Current and emerging features like multi-signature transactions, coinjoin, segwit, and lightning networks will also be covered. We'll cover major cryptocurrencies inspired by Bitcoin: Ethereum, Monero, Ripple, and IOTA. We'll discuss how their architecture differs, and what their value proposition is.

Some additional topics that may be covered are the efforts to centralize BTC by businesses, miners, and wealthy BTC owners; scam coins/tokens promoted primarily to enrich the founders who pump the value of their coin, sell at a peak, and abandon the project entirely with large profits but no accountability.