The blockchain and crypto industries have seen a lot of positive changes in recent years, with many professionals and enthusiasts developing new technologies and groundbreaking applications. Kadena has also experienced many significant changes and hit many groundbreaking milestones since its inception in 2016. So, we thought we would catch up with one of the blockchain industry pioneers, Stuart Haber, a renowned cryptographer and a Kadena advisor since 2018. We discuss his past and present work, and his thoughts on the blockchain industry and blockchain-driven applications.
Stuart Haber is a renowned cryptographer and computer scientist, most well-known for pioneering digital time-stamping technology alongside W. Scott Stornetta, a renowned physicist and scientific researcher. Together, Haber and Stornetta published a technical paper in 1991 titled “*How to Time-Stamp a Digital Document*,” which outlines their solution to authenticating digital documents by introducing a computationally practical procedure that could essentially time-stamp digital records to ensure that its users are unable to back-date or forward-date the document, without any need to trust a central entity in the system.
Haber and Stornetta’s work greatly contributed to the foundation and development of the blockchain. Most notably, their paper was cited a few times in the white paper, “*Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System*,“ by Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator(s) of Bitcoin.
We asked Stuart a range of questions about his work with respect to cryptography, his past employment, and his thoughts on the blockchain and Kadena.
Cryptography is the art and science and engineering of protecting information and communication through the use of codes for the following purpose: 1) ensuring that the data can only be processed and read by its intended recipient(s), and 2) preventing any sort of changes or manipulation to the data.
Ron Rivest, a renowned cryptographer, stated that “cryptography is about communication in the presence of adversaries.”
After college, I spent a couple of years earning a passable living as a juggler in Paris. I had a two-person juggling act with another American juggler who was residing in Paris at the time. Interestingly, my friends from the French circus world introduced me to another juggler at a little rehearsal hall — who later became my wife.
To date, it remains one of my fondest memories and endeavors.
I am very appreciative that Satoshi gave Scott and me a few proper academic footnotes in the Bitcoin white paper. It is always rewarding to know that our work contributed to the creation of the world’s largest cryptocurrency, and then to the blossoming of the wonderful variety of work in the blockchain world.
Are you surprised at how your time-stamping technology evolved into the blockchain we see today and that it now powers cryptocurrencies?
When we came up with our time-stamping procedure, we were looking at securing all types of digital documents, not just financial system documents. The goal was to ensure the integrity of any digital record. And a digital record is just a string of bits, so it could be anything — a financial transaction, an email, a digital notebook entry, and so on. It took a long time before we saw our idea take off in the real world, starting with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. It is very rewarding to know that our work contributed to the development of the blockchain and spurred so much interest and innovation in technical, political, and social circles.
I keep myself busy these days. I’m currently an advisor and consultant for several companies, including Kadena. At Kadena, I apply cryptographic security principles to Pact, reinforcing platform safety.
I also partake in a few speaking engagements every year. In June 2022, Stornetta and I were featured speakers at “Imagination in Action Web3 Summit @ MIT.” In November 2022, I will be attending the Singapore Fintech Festival as a keynote speaker.
Kadena is a unique scalable layer-1 Proof of Work (PoW) blockchain platform, and Pact is a very impressive and proprietary smart contract language that comes with it. Kadena was founded by Stuart Popejoy and William Martino, whom I’ve known for several years now.
I first met Stuart at a Bitcoin meetup in New York back in 2017, where he struck me as the most knowledgeable person in the room. In addition, he also had the same first name as me which, of course, meant that I simply had to introduce myself to him.
I spent some time with Stuart in early 2018 at Kadena’s office by the Gowanus Canal; I met Will around the same time. But a formal relationship began several months later, when I became an advisor for Kadena.
As I mentioned previously, I’m very impressed with Kadena’s smart contract language and Stuart and Will’s principled approach to developing it. Chainweb is a differentiating factor as well. It’s a highly scalable braided blockchain architecture that can seamlessly scale from 10 to 20 chains. Stuart published an article in April 2022 on Medium about the future of multichain and how builders can scale their applications, which I found insightful and profound.
I’m very pleased that Kadena continuously onboards talented members of its team. For example, John Wiegley, who joined Kadena in the summer of 2022, is a visionary and a leader in his field. John’s work on Emacs is exciting to nerds like me.
I’m also excited and impressed by Kadena’s scalability and capacity. Last summer, during Kadena’s Fireside chat with Stuart, Stuart mentioned that “the capacity of [Kadena’s] network is such that today we could settle the entire stock market on Kadena each day without a sweat.” This is quite a feat.
I believe the future of Kadena lies with its smart contract language, Pact. Blockchain enthusiasts wax eloquently about all the things smart contracts can do for DeFi, NFTs, and DAOs; however, many smart contracts contain bugs that introduce devastating vulnerabilities and consequences, as we’ve seen in a large number of cases. From large financial institutions to many other applications, safety is paramount. Pact smart contracts address these safety concerns, and this is one of the main reasons why I believe in the success of this company.
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