In episode 15, we’re featuring two more talks from MobileCoin’s Crypto Renaissance Conference. Up first is Alexander Rose, the executive director of The Long Now Foundation, an organization devoted to long-term thinking that is best known for building the ten-thousand-year clock. Then we feature a talk from isis agora lovecruft, cryptographer and research consultant at MobileCoin. Isis agora lovecruft joins to speak about Ristretto, the cryptographic technology that MobileCoin uses to preserve the privacy of its users.
Alexander Rose explains the roots of cryptography and how ledger systems have evolved over the last 5,000 years. He discusses how the first cryptography was language itself and how as more and more people speak the same language, cryptography happens because people want to buy and sell around the world. “In fact, the very first writing system that we know, Cuneiform form, was used to write the values of commodities in Sumeria and this is about 5,500 years ago”, says Alexander.
Alexander walks us through the roles cryptography has played throughout different eras all the way up to the present day. The modern ledger system no longer uses individuals as trust agents, instead using computers. This is where the blockchain comes into play. The blockchain allows us to have a distributed ledger system that everybody can trust which allows currencies to be built upon the blockchain system and create new forms of arbitrage.
Next, isis agora lovecruft takes the stage teaching us about Ristretto, the crypto technology they designed alongside Mike Hamburg and Henry de Vallance. isis agora lovecruft describes Ristretto as “an abstraction layer over non-prime order elliptic curves using practice.” Ristretto provides cryptographic engineers with the expected API, a prime order group using fast elliptic curve arithmetic under the hood. This provides a safe and efficient API for numerous recently developed constructions.
MobileCoin uses Ristretto internally for ring signatures which are used to sign transactions without revealing the identity of the signing party. Ristretto is also used for bullet proofs, which allow MobileCoin to create secure transactions that do not reveal the transaction amount or account balances while at the same time proving that the amounts were valid.
Isis agora lovecruft goes into detail about the inner workings of Ristretto and explains the impressive mathematics involved in the technology.
You can check out the entire presentations from Alexander Rose and isis agora lovecruft on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Buzzsprout. While you’re listening, don’t forget to subscribe to the Privacy is the New Celebrity Podcast on your favorite streaming service.
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