MIT Bitcoin Expo 2023

in #bitcoinlast year (edited)

MIT Blockchain Title Image

This weekend was the #MITBitcoinExpo. Attendance was down from last year, but it was filled with interesting people and talks.

All the talks are streamed for free at, but here are some of the highlights I noted from what I was able to attend.

The best goodie at registration was this nifty cold storage wallet.

HW Wallet Front

HW Wallet Back

ZeroSync, which is less than a year old, had a fascinating update on their work adding proofs to Bitcoin.

Notably, they have a working “assumevalid” proof, and they showed some promising early performance measurements. That 3.5hrs easily becomes viable after some optimization work. To come this far in such a short time frame is impressive.

The decentralized identity panel focused on not doing illegal things on the blockchain (⛔no PII on chain ⛔), not reinventing the wheel (passports), and things that provide defined value (POAPs).

I learned that a good number of people submit code for audit that doesn’t even compile at the Smart Contract Security and Auditing panel. Also, strong agree with Patrick Collins that you really should be fuzz testing your smart contracts BEFORE an audit! talked about their latest ZKP hardware, boasting a 300x speedup over some implementations, and roasting even the fastest GPU implementations by 15-20x.

At the VC panel, I really resonated with Wei Dai's comments that some of the next exciting developments are likely to be trust minimization and interoperability/composability, among others, and that we will see some interesting applications (e.g., ai+crypto).

Speaking of interoperability, later in the day Thomas Hardjono gave an excellent overview of the IETF standard for asset transfers. That stuff in the gray is where innovation is needed (and money to be made).

The most surprising talk, to me, was Rene Pickhardt's talk on the limits of the lightning network. While he cautions that these are early results subject to change, I’ll let the slides speak for themselves:

At the keynote Neha Narula gave us a history lesson and dropped wisdom about some big issues in crypto. I was encouraged to see usability and privacy (in addition to scalability and security) on her list of key properties.

This was the 10th anniversary of #MITBitcoinExpo, and it is all done by the student run MIT Bitcoin Club. Kudos to the volunteers who made this critical event possible!


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