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Crypto Startup School: A new type of computer drives waves of innovation

Zoran Basich


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Zoran Basich is the crypto editor for Andreessen Horowitz.

Editor’s note: Andreessen Horowitz’s Crypto Startup School brought together 45 participants from around the U.S. and overseas in a seven-week course to learn how to build crypto companionships. Andreessen Horowitz is partnering with TechCrunch to release the on-line version of the course over the next few weeks.

In week one of a16z’s Crypto Startup School, a16z general partner Chris Dixon discusses “Crypto Networks and Why They Matter, ” giving an overview of the crypto infinite, the transformative implications of its engineering, and the potential for crypto networks to lead a new wave of innovation. And in his talk on “Blockchain Primitives: Cryptography and Consensus, ” Dan Boneh, a professor in applied cryptography and computer certificate at Stanford, equips an introduction to the cryptographic footing of blockchains and how developers can use them to build brand-new types of applications.

Dixon says that crypto is poised to become the next major compute pulpit. Like mobile phones and the web before it, crypto offers opportunities for inventors and developers to build brand-new systems and applications, due to the decentralized blockchain engineering that underpins it. He describes blockchains as a brand-new type of computer — a virtual computer that runs on a network of physical computers, with encoded guarantees that it will continue to operate as designed. Really as the rise of mobile phones enabled an blowup of invention on top of that brand-new compute platform, crypto presents an opportunity for the next such “idea maze, ” he says. “Our feeling is this is an improbably rich motif space.”

The architecture of crypto enables new likelihoods, Dixon says, starting with digital currency but expanding to general computing and society is operated networks. In combination with the digital primitive of signs, which align incentives among network founders and users, this sets the stage for exponential innovation over the next decade that should repetition previous epoches of tech raise. “When a lot of really smart people who know computer science start thinking about computer science problems and have an financial incentive to do so, those computers tend to get a lot better.”

In the second presentation in week one, Dan Boneh asks the layers of crypto, including the consensus layer, and how Satoshi Nakamoto’s bitcoin whitepaper proposed a organisation that enables an unlimited number of participants to contribute to a blockchain without authorization and still come to verifiable consensus. He also talked about cryptographic primitives, how mining parts, how blocks are added to the blockchain, public and private keys, and zero-knowledge proofs. These distinct facets offer a fertile grind for open-source developers.

The application layer, Boneh says, is where a lot of the excite is, with a “thriving ecosystem” of applications passing on the blockchain in the area of decentralized investment( DeFi ). While technical, Boneh’s presentation is accessible to those who don’t have a background in cryptography or consensus mechanisms.

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