Miller discusses cryptocurrency on new Engineering at Illinois podcast
ECE Assistant Professor and CSL affiliate Andrew Miller was among the first guest speakers on Illinois Innovators, a new podcast series hosted by the College of Engineering's Marketing and Communications Coordinator Mike Koon.
This series will feature students, faculty, and alumni with noteworthy research, technological advances, and entrepreneurial efforts. Other notable guests include CSL's Sanjay Patel, who discussed virtual reality and his company Personify, Mayank Kale, who is affiliated with the Health Care Engineering Systems Center and CEO of Invoq Health, and Mani Golparvar-Fard, CEO of Reconstruct, Inc., a start-up with CSL's Tim Bretl.
Miller, a well-established cryptocurrency expert, joined the university in fall 2016. On the podcast, he explained the fundamental concepts of Bitcoin. Exchanging the currency involves the use of a website where an account is made. Some reputable sites for such exchanges include Kraken, Poloniex, and Coinbase. From there, the account links to a personal bank account. This is similar to the process involved in purchasing stocks. However, unlike stocks, there is no minimal amount with Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is surprising due to its function without a central admin. According to Miller, the security of Bitcoin depends on how it’s used. Currency can be in personal possession. However, most people will register with an account at an exchange rather than dealing with it directly. These exchanges can keep track of Bitcoin, yet they are not FDIC insured. The security is gradually improving, yet there are no guarantees.
Bitcoin centers on a concept called “mining” which has never existed in a distributed system before. In order to manage security without administrators, Bitcoin has been developed in a competitive atmosphere. Anyone can participate in Bitcoin mining by solving computational puzzles. The greater the computing power, the more likely one is to solve the puzzle and receive a monetary reward. A million dollars is spent daily on these mining rewards. Just like lottery pools, miners have been working together and sharing the rewards. This adds security to the system because more competition adds more computational power, making it increasingly difficult and expensive for the attacker.
He is convinced cryptocurrency will not compete with dollars. However, Bitcoin has reached a significant foothold that will continue to exist as a complimentary currency for niche communities. “So far, we’re just providing alternatives to existing currencies,” said Miller on the podcast. “I’m really excited about the potential to use these for new kinds of applications that we haven’t yet seen”.
Miller is interested in finding ways to maximize Bitcoin. This includes considerations of new interesting applications of the concept and improving Bitcoin security. Listen to the full podcast on Soundcloud.