The cryptocurrency industry is finally experiencing adoption worthy of what the technology has to offer the world. Mainstream penetration might still seem a distance away compared to technologies like the internet, but without early pioneers like Abraham Endre, perhaps better known throughout the industry as Silur, the industry would be nowhere as far as it is today.
Silur is an early Ethereum Foundation Contractor, early Monero activist, independent consultant, regular speaker, and researcher at Winger’s Research Centre of Physics as part of the Quantum Computing Group.
Bitcoinist had the pleasure of discussing the early days of Bitcoin with Silur, how the developer got involved in the industry, and where they see innovation across the market headed next.
In-Depth Q&A With Silur On Bitcoin, Blockchain And More
How did you first get involved in cryptocurrencies and the blockchain industry?
It was very fun, it basically grew around me. Back in high school I was “the hacker kid”, and my first ever interaction with Bitcoin was that you are not the coolest hacker in town if you don’t own bitcoins, so I had to have some. Then, I went to uni and my pentesting/cryptography math background allowed me to get the bigger picture behind blockchain.
I was always a religious follower of P2P tech. By the time cryptocurrencies became a huge thing I was ahead of most people in lexica, even though I still wasn’t an expert, but that was enough for the initial kickoff.
What compelled you not only to learn more, but become involved and contribute to many of the projects that are thriving today?
Around 2016, I was still working as a fullstack developer and pentester when some of the company’s clients I worked at started to ask around BTC. At that time I was doing open source stuff and was already active on IRC chats so my boss sat me down with the clients for some quick consulting. I was the only guy who knewed how to transact, how to do smart contract stuff. Etc.
But later I realized that a full workday ended with me consulting on blockchain – and later the niche technical stuff that gives people the competitive advantage. That was the sign that I needed to pivot into full-time blockchain work.
Can you tell us which cryptocurrency projects you have worked on, and what role your contributions may have played in its lifecycle?
Within the Ethereum Foundation, I originally contracted as a privacy researcher but quickly got involved in the development of eWASM. While learning a lot there, I was also doing pro-bono implementation work for Monero in the form of RingCT 2.0 and made speeches on the topic.
With regard to cryptocurrencies, I’m still involved in CasperLabs which is an enterprise-focused PoS chain, Ilgon which is an Ethereum fork with improved dynamic governance and dPos goals, and more.
I also architected the full cryptographic layer of QANPlatform, and coordinated the development for a while. Besides the new platforms, I developed dozens of dApps. For example – for IPWe, I made a full stack web3 MVP for handling intellectual property on the casper blockchain, and a couple ERC20s and ERC721, from which the most recent is NextEarth.
Since you first became involved in cryptocurrencies and blockchain, what in your eyes has been the most compelling innovation in the industry so far?
Censorship resistance. I was still a teenager when the Snowden thing happened, and even though I kind of knew that some people can trigger red flags and put themselves under surveillance (like a 16 year old kid who googles “how to write viruses in assembly”), I was shocked to realize that some organizations have so much control that even my digital nomad Mother is under surveillance.
I got immersed in privacy-enhancing tech like Tor, OTR, etc., and the most interesting of them all was blockchain, as it was a new trust model designed to address distrust over the internet generally. I exchange censorship-resistance with privacy a lot here because I do believe they come hand-in-hand, which is why I tried to focus on Monero and Zcash technologies as a start – which boosted my cryptographic skills a lot.
What innovations do you see coming down the pipeline next in this industry?
The most interesting ones would be layer2 solutions, especially MPC based layer2. The use cases of MPC on blockchain are impossible to enumerate, and this area of research gains traction year by year.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m developing niche cryptographic use cases like on-chain VRF and Bulletproof verification, membership proofs, and FHE. These are to make that missing competitive advantage over other platforms when you enter the market as “yet another blockchain”. I’m also developing NFTs and experimental layer2 gas optimizations for dApps.
Besides direct blockchain and smart contract developments, I have running projects for Cipher designs, AI trading and AI security, Biometric cryptography, and even government contracts for blockchain use cases.
How might other emerging technologies such as quantum computing impact the current cryptocurrency landscape?
As for quantum, it’s a very dangerous religious question to answer because it’s impossible to predict quantum capabilities regarding cryptographic attacks as of now. My personal opinion though is that if we cannot ascertain the impossibility of a quantum attack to a certain point, we are already insecure, which is one reason why I focus my research and work on post-quantum technologies.
And can you tell us a bit about your consulting activity?
As part of my independent consulting, I mostly focus on giving my clients “that competitive advantage”. When people are entering the market they have to communicate why their buyers should focus on them instead of competitors – what can they do that others cannot. Most of my activity goes toward designing and implementing this extra attribute to gain strong early traction in a sustainable manner. I always have to educate myself to be ahead of the industry and know the latest academic advances so I can quickly adapt them into niche and impactful solutions.