This episode of Money 3.0 is all about DigiByte. DigiByte is a popular cryptocurrency in Abra. It’s design — everything from the way it was initially launched to how it is mined today — makes it extremely accessible.
The format for the show is a little bit different than normal because we combine two interviews into one episode. To kick things off, Abra’s Bill Barhydt interviews Digibyte founder Jared Tate. In the second half of the episode, Abra’s Daniel McGlynn interviews DigiByte advocate and organizer Josiah Spackman.
Listen to the show or find a full transcript of the episode below.
Bill Barhydt: Hey everybody. Bill Barhydt here. Welcome to another exciting episode of Abra’s Money 3.0. So, today we’re going to talk about DigiByte. So, with me here is Jared, the founder of DigiByte. Jared Tate, how are you today, my friend?
Jared Tate: Doing fantastic. Thanks for having me on, Bill.
Bill Barhydt: My pleasure. You have a very interesting community. It’s the only community that has basically taken my likeness and turned it into probably four different superhero characters, which is caused an unbelievable amount of embarrassment. So, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for that. And God knows what they’re going to come up with when we tell them we’ve enabled DigiByte deposits today, which is something that the community has been personally hounding me for months. And so, I’m really excited that, one, you get to have DigiByte deposits. And two, people get to stop asking me for DigiByte deposits.
Bill Barhydt: But seriously. I’m really excited that we’re going to be able to announce that we have both deposit and withdrawal support for native DigiByte now in the Abra app. So, all of you out there who are already DigiByte fans, please dig in. Now, what we’re going to do is let’s talk a little bit for the uninitiated people out there who don’t know a lot about DigiByte. Jared, I wonder if you could just really quickly summarize what’s unique about DigiByte versus the other cryptocurrencies that are out there, and why should people care.
Jared Tate: Yeah. So, DigiByte originally began in 2014. Although, we started work on it in 2013. But the unique thing about DigiByte, besides being almost six years old now, is it’s been completely community-driven since the beginning. So, there is no company. There is no foundation. Everything that’s done with DigiByte is actually completely volunteer-driven and completely open-sourced and decentralized. And that’s why we have such a fantastic, very enthusiastic community. They’re spread all over the world.
Jared Tate: Over the last almost six years now, DigiByte has made a series of innovations in the industry. Things like realtime difficulty adjustment, which has now been picked up by everyone from Ethereum to Bitcoin Cash to Zcash and numerous other blockchains. DigiByte was actually the first major all coin activated Segwit and we’ve continued to innovate and pioneer new things. Here, recently in 2019, we just carried around a hard fork to add a new mining algorithm.
Jared Tate: So, for those that aren’t familiar, DigiByte has five independent mining algorithms. This latest mining algorithm is called Odocrypt, which is named after the shapeshifter from Star Trek. It’s actually a mining algorithm that changes itself every 10 days, so it’s really not economical or possible to build ASICs for it. That’s actually allowed us to become even more decentralized. In fact, we just did a recent survey and audit comparing the last three months or a recent three month period of mining on the DigiByte blockchain. What we found is when we compared the same three-month window to Litecoin and Bitcoin, we found that Bitcoin only had 60 unique miners during that same period. Whereas Litecoin had 251. While at the same time, DigiByte had 1,295 and we credit a large part of that to the fact we have five mining algorithms and Odocrypt, which allows basically home-based hobbyist mining union.
Bill Barhydt: And if you dig into that, that’s fascinating. That’s something I hadn’t even thought of. Do you know if some of those are pools that need to basically separate their mining capabilities across each of the different capabilities you have, so that they show up as effectively different miners? Or is it genuinely physically separate entities that are mining?
Jared Tate: What we’re actually looking at here to get the metric is actual individual addresses from the coin base of a transaction. Because of the five different mining algorithms … for those that actually, the last time we talked, I think we talked about this little bit. One of the fascinating things because DigiByte has five independent mining algorithms, you can literally take all the Bitcoin mining power in the world, throw in a DigiByte, we would only get 20 percent of the blocks. So, what we’re effectively able to do is mitigate the impact that highly centralized ASIC mining has.
Jared Tate: For those that aren’t aware, that’s actually a huge problem that Bitcoin has right now. You have one worldwide manufacturer that’s the largest ASIC manufacturer. And it seems to me, from what I’ve seen, a lot of times they are splitting that mining power across different mining pools. But at the end of the day, those newly mined coins still come back typically to the same addresses over and over again because these mining pools and these different miners typically aren’t changing the addresses. And you can kind of tell what type of mining pool it is. There’s some technical ways you can see it, but it’s a very fascinating metric to look at.
Bill Barhydt: Really interesting. So, what else is new in the community? What’s getting you excited these days?
Jared Tate: Yeah. So, in 2014, when we started, DigiByte actually started with the headline. And for those that aren’t familiar, the genesis block is the first block in the blockchain. Our blockchain started with the headline “Target: a 110 million customer’s data stolen.” So, even from the beginning, we’ve felt that cybersecurity and security, in general, is really the most innovative thing about blockchain technology. I actually go into this. Actually tomorrow I’ll be releasing my book I’ve been working on almost for a year and a half now called “Blockchain 2035 The Digital DNA of Internet 3.0.” One of those chapters I have is blockchain is really the evolution of applied cryptography and some really advanced mathematical concepts that go all the way back to Claude Shannon. I feel like there’s a lot of very underutilized features.
Jared Tate: So, one of the things we’ve really been focused on here this last year is something we’re calling Digi-ID. The simple way to explain Digi-ID is you have your typical wallet. You have the private keys that are associated with your wallet where you store your DigiByte or your Bitcoin and your other cryptos. Those cryptographic keys, the public and private keys, can do a lot more than just sign send and receive transactions. You can actually use those private keys in another wallet that you create to, for instance, authenticate yourself to websites and effectively replace passwords. So, we roll that out and it’s actually getting a lot of traction. There’s a company in Europe actually called Anthem ID that’s actually getting a lot of traction and interest from governments. So, I think we’re going to have a lot more traction with that moving forward as a way to utilize some things in a blockchain that just often aren’t … they’re overlooked. So, that’s one area.
Jared Tate: Another area is we’ve actually introduced a secondary protocol on top of DigiByte called Digi Assets. It’s similar to what you’re seeing with ERC 20. It has a similar origin, but the difference is our approach is to leverage some of this cryptography that’s overlooked in the blockchain to potentially scale some of the secondary layer protocols for issuing other assets in a much more efficient manner than, for instance, what you’re seeing with Ethereum and the scalability problems they’re experiencing. Their solutions are effectively sharding the blockchain, which is splitting everything up. We’ve got that out there.
Jared Tate: We’ve actually got several use cases and projects that are being developed as DigiAssets. One of the ones that I’m excited about that I’m actually personally a part of is something we’re calling DigiPad, which is a launchpad for digital assets. The way I like to describe it is when people think of digital assets, they tend to think of just cryptocurrencies or maybe different tokens or stuff like that, but in reality, the digital asset could be a number of different things. If I want to be able to take my living will or my passport or my birth certificate, and store those in a secure digital environment and protect those as a digital asset. So, that’s one of the things we’re working on.
Bill Barhydt: Fascinating. So, maybe that’s the segue. I don’t know the details, but maybe it is. You mentioned, or heard a rumor I should say, you got a book coming out. Is that true?
Jared Tate: Yeah. So, the book’s called Blockchain 2035 The Digital DNA of Internet 3.0. the premise of the book is what would the world look like in the year 2035 and how will blockchain come to shape our every day lives by then. And it’s really a summation of the last eight years of experience I’ve had and the thousands of questions I’ve been asked. As far as I know, it’s the first book that’s ever going to be written by a blockchain founder, so I actually first outlined it I think in 2016 and I started working on it about 14 months ago. It’s about over 500 pages. I’ve actually condensed it a little bit.
Jared Tate: There are 18 pages and we really try to highlight into give people a broad perspective of what blockchain is from the ground up. The into and the segue of the book is why is blockchain matter? Why is it important? I give the example, everyone that’s listening in, if you just picture and imagine all the DNA in your body. You have DNA strands in your hair, you have DNA strands in your leg, your feet, all over. Well, what if all the DNA in your body was just located in your fingertip and you were, let’s say, chopping some limes for a cocktail or some vegetables, and you slipped and you cut your finger off. Well, you’d have a problem. Your body would slowly wither and die, and it just wouldn’t be good.
Jared Tate: Well, that’s kind of how we architect all of our data systems. We have all these centralized points of failure that get hacked, that get stolen, that get manipulated. And so, what blockchain really is is a paradigm shift in the way we handle data and in computer science that in a lot of ways mimics nature. And we go through some blockchain basics and terminology. And then, we go into, like I mentioned earlier, blockchain’s really the evolution of applied cryptography and mathematics. So, we go into the history of Claude Shannon and information theory. And we go through a lot of the key pioneers and what we call subsystems came from.
Jared Tate: So, the way we also compare it is if you think about blockchain like a car. You have brakes, you have an engine, you have air conditioning. You have all these subsystems. Well, just like that, you have these various subsystems in a blockchain. So, you’ve got the transaction validation. You’ve got the peer-to-peer networking. You have the consensus algorithm. All those different components came from different mathematical and cryptographic pioneers over the last 50 years. So, we go through and we talk about some of that.
Jared Tate: What I actually just found recently, we talk a lot about Dr. Ralph Merkle, who is actually the creator of the Merkle tree, which is the main data structure in a blockchain. And also the father of public and private key cryptography. I actually found after I’d written all this stuff about the nature example, he’d actually written a similar example. So, I was actually fascinated to get that reinforced.
Jared Tate: But yeah, we go through that. We talk about that in the book how blockchain can be the rails for artificial intelligence because one of the problems in AI is how do you trust your data feed and your data sources? We go in and we talk about the history of timekeeping, timekeeping in computer systems, timekeeping in celestial navigation in the 1600s. And how in a lot of ways, a blockchain is actually the first time humans have actually been able to keep accurate records in history that are undeniably provable. So, we talk about the future with quantum computing. We talk about probably one of the most interesting things is how blockchain is going to become a competition among nation-states.
Jared Tate: Actually, I had a co-author. I should have mentioned that. His name is Andrew Knapp and he’s actually former FBI analyst. So, a lot of the geoeconomics, geopolitical stuff was written by him with my ideas blockchain perspective. So, it’s a very dynamic book. It goes through a lot of different areas. I guess, that’s how it ended up being over 500 pages.
Bill Barhydt: Fascinating. When you go out 15-20 years, you have to start to think about the singularity and what happens when you basically have this intersection of exponentially improving technologies like CPU performance, storage, you mentioned quantum computing. And all of these software technologies around cryptography and blockchain, et cetera, et cetera. I mean, how can one possibly have any opinion as to what will happen if we have a sentient computer system that can make decisions at a rate that’s doubling every 18 months? It’s pretty bold, right?
Jared Tate: Well, see, and this is one of the arguments in the book is in order to be able to successfully implement a lot of these systems, you need some way to keep these AIs in check and secure them. By running and configuring this to run on a blockchain, you could effectively do a number of things. You could, if it has to tie back into the chain, effectively put a kill switch in it. That’s one of the use cases. But there’s a lot of fascinating things that can get there.
Jared Tate: But I think after writing the book and going through it, the biggest question and the biggest unknown is definitely quantum computing. How that will shake out and affect because here recently … I think it was D-Wave just announced that they’d commercially sold the first 5000 Qbit quantum computer to a national laboratory. So, a lot of the theoretical calculations for cracking SHA-256, we’re roughly in that area. Now, obviously we go into the book, there are different types of quantum computing and different approaches to quantum computing. So, not all quantum computers are created equal. But to me, that’s the biggest gray area moving into the year 2035.
Bill Barhydt: Fascinating. So, are you going to do a book tour of some kind? Are you going to make the rounds in the conference circuit? What’s your plan?
Jared Tate: Yeah. Yeah. We’ll be doing a series of events throughout starting probably at the end of November and December, and then, into the spring. So, we haven’t really got a finalized list yet, but we would be doing that. We’ll actually be putting, by the time … For those of you listening to this right now, if you actually go to blockchain2035.com, there’d be a series of videos. We’re doing shorter videos. We’re putting them out on social media, talking about different concepts, different chapters in the book. What we’re really trying to do is to have the book in a way be like the industry guide. Obviously there’s some stuff about DigiByte in there, but 95% of the book is about the industry at large. It’s not just focused on DigiByte. It’s focused on … I think we’ve probably surveyed over 100 different projects and protocols.
Jared Tate: One of the distinct things that actually I think would be good to talk about is in the book we make the distinction between a blockchain protocol and a blockchain project. I think that’s something a lot of people get confused by. What we’re calling a blockchain protocol is a blockchain that has its own unique network that doesn’t rely on any other blockchain network or system…
Bill Barhydt: Effectively its own universe effectively.
Jared Tate: Effectively, yes. And so, when we split chapters nine and ten, we’re like we really need to clear up because so often you get people that will compare, for instance, Tether to even DigiByte or Bitcoin. When in reality Tether is issued on top of Bitcoin and is dependent upon the Bitcoin blockchain. There are lots of projects out there that people aren’t aware of that are actually relying on the underlying security of another blockchain protocol. So, we go through and we analyze. The main difference between most protocols is actually the consensus algorithm that they’re using and their approach to achieving consensus. So, we split that up for projects and we’re calling projects anything that’s built on another blockchain universe or even, for instance, we talk about Abra and what you guys do. So, we go through wallets, we go through exchanges, we go through gateways.
Jared Tate: There’s probably over one hundred different things that we go through. Just really trying to organize, categorize the industry and the applications moving forward. So, we’ve got a chapter dedicated to financial applications, commercial applications, government applications. We talk about voting systems on a blockchain, a whole number of things. So, it’s a very, very thorough book. I guess the idea originally is to take all the different things that I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of and just kind of put them in one area as a resource for people.
Bill Barhydt: That’s awesome. So, obviously … what’s the name of the book again before I move on?
Jared Tate: Blockchain 2035.
Bill Barhydt: Blockchain 2035 and you can go to blockchain2035.com. Is it an Amazon book? Is it an ebook? Is that how it works? Or is it a free download?
Jared Tate: Yeah. It’ll be on there, so you can find it on Amazon.
Bill Barhydt: Awesome. Well, it’s always fascinating to talk to. I’m always interested in what you’re working on. I find it, like I said, truly fascinating and I’m a big fan of the DigiByte community. I think we need more competition in these protocols that will move the entire space forward in terms of taking risks on new technologies and addressing some of the centralization problems. I also firmly believe that there is a scale of decentralization and more decentralization and more security are better, but we also basically need at the same time to think about performance, to make this stuff useful. So, in that regard, I have nothing but respect for what you do and for the whole community at large. So, thank you very much for your efforts.
Jared Tate: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for supporting DigiByte. Like I said, I know the community is very excited about Abra, so looking forward to what you guys are doing as well.
Bill Barhydt: Well, let’s wrap there. So, Jared Tate, thank you so much for joining again. We look forward to having you again in the future. We’d love to hear how things are going with the book. What’s your Twitter handle for people who want to follow you?
Jared Tate: Yeah. It’s @jaredctate. And you can also follow @blockchain2035. So, we’re actually going to start a newsletter and a blog, and this book will be updated over time. We’ll revise it over the years, and we’ll keep adding and refining it.
Bill Barhydt: Fantastic.
DigiByte along with many other popular cryptocurrencies is now available for deposit and withdrawal from the Abra app. In the second part of this episode, we’re going to hear from Josiah Spackman. Josiah is based in New Zealand and he’s one of the people working to make DigiByte a powerful global and completely decentralized network.
Daniel McGlynn: We’re really excited to talk to you today about DigiByte and some of the community aspects of DigiByte. And some of the things that really kind of makes DigiByte unique. But I guess before jumping into that, I really just wanted to talk to you about maybe you can explain to us how you first got involved in crypto and how you first came to the DigiByte community.
Josiah Spackman: Right. Well, the title of the show, Money 3.0, I suppose is quite relevant given that I heard from a friend of mine that I could use my computer and use my graphics card to print money. And I thought back in the time of 2013 that was the greatest thing ever. I was so excited for that. I got involved. I actually ended up going out and buying a couple of graphics cards to mine Bitcoin. Unfortunately, that was right as the first FPGAs and ASICs were hitting the market, so that quickly turned to a bad idea, but I found Litecoin. And I saw it and I thought this is faster. It’s going to have a bigger maximum supply and I’m a clever guy. That seems like a good idea for global adoption. So, I started mining Litecoin for about a month.
Josiah Spackman: And then, I came across DigiByte. They’d just been doing some philanthropic work and had recently done their first protocol upgrade. Again the same sort of thing. Faster, bigger maximum supply — a whole bunch of other cool stuff. And I thought, “You know what? This seems like something that I could get behind.” So, obviously here we are today in late 2019. I took a little bit of a sabbatical from it a couple of years back, but have been back and involved ever since. Unfortunately, the whole printing money didn’t really quite work out too well for me, but I had a great time nonetheless.
Daniel McGlynn: Yeah. And so, kind of maybe paint a picture of your role with DigiByte today. What kinds of things are you working on with DigiByte and the DigiByte community? And maybe it makes sense too for our listeners to kind of back up a little bit and just explain how the DigiByte community works first. And then, we can talk about some of the projects you’re working on.
Josiah Spackman: Yeah. Sure. It’s probably a good idea if we do go back and look at how the DigiByte community works first because that would explain why I have been given the title of Chief Fun Officer. So, the DigiByte community isn’t a formal hierarchical company in the traditional sense where you have a CEO sitting at the top, and everybody else reports to him and things. It’s a very new way of operating. Not that there’s anything wrong obviously with having a company and having people who are, say, for example, project leads or a CEO. But this is obviously a very different way of doing things with the DigiByte blockchain. Being a permissionless project basically means that there is no permission required. It is implied.
Josiah Spackman: So, oftentimes we get people who will come to us and we’ll ask, “Hey, I’d like to build on top of the DigiByte blockchain for my project, for my company. Who do I need to see about getting permission?” The simple answer is you don’t need to see anybody at all. Anybody can do that. The permission is implied and as such the same thing goes when you are starting up the YouTube channel. Again, the permission is implied. Or talking with Abra on their Money 3.0 podcast. The permission is implied that you can speak on behalf of DigiByte. So, that’s really quite cool having it. And I suppose this is a real mind shift for a lot of people compared to what they’re used to traditionally.
Josiah Spackman: So, then they come over to this kind of a thing, it’s very different, and it’s quite exciting to have that freedom and that liberation. So, yeah. In that kind of a vein, I am everything from technical support in our support channels. I write integration guides. I do daily YouTube updates to keep people informed of what’s going on with DigiByte, all of the progress that we’ve made over the last 24 hours and things. And all of that kind of thing all together kind of I suppose sums up my role. There’s no individual single title.
Daniel McGlynn: And so, maybe we could talk about what the DigiByte community … because we keep saying the DigiByte community, but what does that look like? So, it’s global. Do you have any information in terms of the number of people that are active and developing on DigiByte, or otherwise just …
Josiah Spackman: Yeah, it’s kind of hard, I suppose, with that kind of a metric, especially when you start looking at the number of nodes and things. People will come to us and say, “How many nodes are on the DigiByte network?” And that’s a really difficult question to answer because that would imply that there is a central entity that everybody checks into. But if you have that kind of central entity, that’s also a point of failure, like a point of weakness that could be used to attack the network, so as such we have no definitive answer on exactly how many people there are on it. How many people there are utilizing it and things like that. And I think that’s actually cool from a privacy perspective, as well as a redundancy and a security perspective. So, there’s definitely benefits and definitely downsides to that, but we do have a very broad community.
Josiah Spackman: For example, we know that on just one of our platforms, we have over 300,000 following us on just one individual platform. If you couple in things like Twitter for example where there’s a 150,000 followers there, you start to get a bit of an idea of the size of the community. The distribution though is what really impresses me the most, especially when we do things like we find out that the most common place to purchase DigiByte with fiat is actually in Turkey. So we’ve got this really interesting kind of thing going on I suppose where DigiByte is taking off quite broadly, especially in greater Europe area. For a lot of people obviously being in America or myself in New Zealand, it’s kind of eye-opening to think of just how broadly we are actually using DigiByte. If we are from New Zealand, Australia, America, throughout Europe, and even in other developing nations. For example, in Venezuela where we have done some previous charitable work there. So, it’s really exciting stuff and it’s definitely mindblowing to see just how distributed the network is and how many people are using it from all over the world.
Daniel McGlynn: And when you’re communicating with other DigiByte users and talking to the community, do you have a sense of how people are using it or what’s the dominant use case? Is there a dominant use case or are people using it for all kinds of things?
Josiah Spackman: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the primary one that everybody thinks about when they think of blockchain is they think of Bitcoin and they think of money. And so, money is definitely a big part. Exchanging value from one side of the globe to the other. For example, I have a friend who is in Russia and in order to send money to him rather than going through an alternative provider that people would traditionally use, for banking, for example, it’s a lot easier for him for me to just send him DigiByte. And the great part is as soon as we hit send, it’s basically there, and you get the confirmation on the blockchain pretty much straight away. So, there’s no worrying about is it going to actually go through, is it going to time out. It’s just it’s there and he loves it. So, we see a lot of that kind of thing.
Josiah Spackman: It was one of the main reasons why we did that charity work like I mentioned in Venezuela was because of that speed and the low fees around it. So, when we’re giving DigiBytes to these children in an impoverished school, they’re able to then use that to learn about cryptocurrency, to learn about blockchain and a whole lot of other things in a really fast manner without it costing them anything, without it eating away all of their DigiByte through transaction fees.
Josiah Spackman: So, that was quite interesting for us, but I suppose the main other way that we’re using this a lot right now would be through digital assets on top of the blockchain. So, that’s something that’s really started to take off in the last couple of months. And we’re seeing a whole ton of amazing different use cases and scenarios that are popping up in that kind of vein. But one of the other more common ways now that we’re seeing in the last couple of months crop up is definitely with our DigiAssets. And using these digital assets on top of the blockchain to do everything from shares in the company to advertising and a whole lot of more interesting ways. Like, everything from, say, for example, a movie ticket through to an airline ticket through to a season pass to a … what do you call them? A musical event. So, we’re using these digital assets and they’re starting to crop up everywhere. It’s great to see them and some of the ways that they are providing for people in terms of a global funding method for business and entrepreneurs is also really exciting as well.
Daniel McGlynn: So, why would people … using the asset model, why would people do that? What’s the advantage of having an asset on the DigiByte blockchain versus just having it be a traditional asset?
Josiah Spackman: Yeah. I mean that’s a great question. In fact, for us one of the reasons that comes to mind immediately is a shrimp and crab farm that’s being operated out of the Philippines. And so, for them to grow and bring their company to the next level, and to take on additional staff and to purchase more land, they need enough income they weren’t able to get locally through a traditional kind of a loan method. However, they put enough of a business case together and they presented it to the DigiByte community and basically said, “This is what we want to do. This is how we want to grow. These are our thoughts. Who’s up for helping fund this?”
Josiah Spackman: And the idea being that with these DigiAssets what they’ll do is based on the profits that they’ll make every quarter, they will then send those funds to the holders of that DigiAssets. So, let’s say I have two of these assets and you have 10 of them. What they would do is if they made a certain number of DigiByte, they’ll split that. So, I’ll get the percentage of it, so one-fifth, and you’ll get the remaining four-fifths. And so, that will show up in your DigiByte wallet that’s holding that DigiAsset every quarter as they pay it out. So, really cool kind of funding method there for growing a business and building both in the traditional world as well as in the business world at the same time. I think it’s absolutely fantastic.
Daniel McGlynn: Yeah. That’s really interesting. From some of the reading I’ve done and looking at DigiByte, it seems like security is kind of a major component of some of the things that people are building with DigiByte. Do you see that in the community as a theme or something that people are interested in?
Josiah Spackman: Yeah. For sure. Absolutely. And especially with our Digi-ID authentication protocol, is very much become a core kind of pillar I suppose for DigiByte, the whole idea of security. In fact, in the genesis block when Jared Tate was originally creating the blockchain he put in there that it was a Target data stolen from millions and millions of users. Now, the reason that he put in there was wanting to instill a focus on cybersecurity.
Josiah Spackman: Yeah, I’m pretty pleased to say, I guess, we’re now six years down the line as of January. And that will be still a very core, main focus for us. Not just in the way the blockchain is being utilized with things like Digi-ID for secure login and authentication, but also in the actual way that we’ve gone and grown and split our proof of work from just being a single algorithm, to being multi-algorithm. Our multi-shield proof of work difficulty adjustment, the way that we’re now specifically choosing to focus on certain ASICs, certain FPGAs. And we’re bringing back GPU mining as well. So, all of this together, the focus definitely is on security for sure.
Daniel McGlynn: And you mentioned your own background. You got interested in cryptocurrencies first figuring out how to mine them and interact with them. And it sounds like DigiByte is going through the effort of making sure that people interested in participating in the DigiByte network will be able to access it from multiple different mining methods. Could you just talk about that a little bit?
Josiah Spackman: Yeah. Absolutely. So, I presume now for the listeners who are maybe in their car or they’re at the gym and they’re listening in, you’ve got a computer you’re recording this on or a laptop, right?
Daniel McGlynn: Yup.
Josiah Spackman: Inside of that computer, you’re going to a graphics card. Now, in order for you to participate in the security of the network and begin mining, all you need to do is download and run some software. There’s basically no signup process or anything along those lines. There’s no having to go to an exchange and swap out Bitcoin for example. So, in order for you to begin participating and to get involved with the network, GPU mining is actually a really quick and simple way to get people interested and distribute the network as well for that security because you have a computer …
Josiah Spackman: And I’ve got a computer that I’m recording this on. It’s got a graphics card in it. I’m even further contributing to the decentralization by mining from this, whereas if you have the likes of ASICs, they are traditionally in a large farm and a data center. So, for people who are not familiar with that, think of basically like a really, really great, big, tall warehouse with just racks and racks and racks of these small little devices. That centralizes the mining a lot and that then becomes a point of weakness. So, that’s one of the reasons why GPU mining is something that we are looking to bring back because it helps to onboard people nice and easily, it contributes to the decentralization of the network with a broader number of participants contributing to the mining, and as such that then contributes to the security. So, that’s a win-win-win situation there.
Daniel McGlynn: Yeah. I think it’s interesting too as a point of entry, I guess. People can come with their GPUs and start mining, but then, as they become more sophisticated, other sophisticated miners can also participate in securing the network and keeping DigiByte running. So, that’s kind of an interesting model. It’d be cool to just watch that over time unfold and see what that looks like.
Josiah Spackman: Yeah. Well, I mean, I guess the great thing is that we’ve been multi-algorithm now for several years. And so, what we saw is the progression over time with certain algorithms that change from being GPU mined into being ASIC minable. Now, we’re bringing back GPU mining because it is a nice way to easily onboard people. People will probably hear like me “Hey, you can go along and you can convert the energy that you’re basically purchasing from your power company. Your graphics card can then run some computations, some math, and contribute to the security network. And you will be rewarded. And given back DigiByte.” So, it’s a really simple way to get people on board and interested in using the network more so than any kind of ASIC would, but at the same time we’re also still mindful that ASICs provide a ton of security. So, having our multi-algorithm approach where we can use all of the above is absolutely fantastic and I think really sits DigiByte apart.
Daniel McGlynn: So, I guess I’m really just curious about the DigiByte community. From our vantage point here at Abra, we hear from the DigiByte community all the time and we’re kind of aware that there’s this very engaged global community working on DigiByte, but what’s super interesting to me is there’s no formal corporate structure. It’s not people are paid to do marketing activities or paid to do all this outreach. It’s just happening very organically on this very distributed, decentralized network. So, I’m kind of just curious. Could you tell us more about how the actual community works? Where are people coming from and how do they get involved in projects? Just how does that all work?
Josiah Spackman: Right. So, it’s definitely a very grassroots movement and I think the fact that there was never any kind of ICO and the fact that people only have skin in the game based on what they’ve actually put in really helps us. I mean, it’s a blessing and a curse at the same time because let’s be honest. Fantastic to be able to have a slush fund that we can then use to throw at a whole bunch of people and make certain things happen, like developing certain applications or protocol improvements and things like that. But we simply don’t. There’s no big pre-mine, there’s no founder’s reward, there’s no block rewards that are going off to a certain entity or company. It is 100 percent grassroots.
Josiah Spackman: And so, it’s really interesting because that also levels the playing field. It’s not something that a lot of people who’ve joined and become part of the cryptocurrency movement in the last few years have really seen because a lot of people suddenly see ICOs and they see these big projects that have billions and billions of dollars in the bank account. And so, this is where I suppose where the curse side of it comes in because it would be nice, as I mentioned, to be able to do that. But as a result, we have this passionate community who simply believes in it because they can see the advantage of the technology, the advantage of doing things the right way, and not, I suppose, just throwing money at the wall and seeing what sticks sort of thing. It’s hard, but personally I think this is the best way of doing things.
Josiah Spackman: It excites me because we get that from the community as well. The community comes to us from all over the world. Like, all over the world. They will find us through Facebook. They will find us through Twitter. They will find us on Reddit. They will come across us just by doing Google searches. And they’ll join and they’ll get involved and they’ll see that grassroots movement and they’ll see that, “Hey, look. They are on exactly the same page and exactly the same standing as the founder of the project.”
Josiah Spackman: So, one of the interesting things actually that not a lot of people know is the recent upgrade to Odocrypt was done mostly without the founder’s involvement. So, Jared Tate who created it is still actively involved to this day and he still commits code, but the actual Odocrypt upgrade that we did for our network replacing one of our algorithms, he was basically just kind of off the side doing other things. And he just said, “Hey, look, you guys go and do this and make it work. It’s part of the whole idea of decentralization is that we don’t have to go to any individual for permission.”
Josiah Spackman: So, yeah, we did. We went off and several of us went through the whole process and got it going and got it working and got it on Testnet and got it pushed live. It’s amazing to see how somebody who is the founder and somebody who is new to this space are both on that same kind of standing, on that same level. It’s very liberating. It’s incredible difference from a lot of other projects out there. I think the fact that Abra sees that kind of thing is fantastic. I love it. It excites me.
Daniel McGlynn: Yeah. I think that kind of spirit, I guess, of the permissionless participation and just the overall distributed nature of DigiByte is really, in my mind, what makes it kind of a unique project. And also, adheres to a lot of why people are attracted to cryptocurrencies in the first place. Just this idea of …
Josiah Spackman: A new way of doing things with cryptocurrency.
Daniel McGlynn: Yeah. It’s kind of an alternative, but it’s an alternative that you can participate with other people all sort of incentivized and working towards the same goal, but across the whole planet. I think that’s really cool.
Daniel McGlynn: So, I’m also really curious about how people can come to cryptocurrencies maybe without being developers or have a deep background in computer science or programming. Do you see people come to DigiByte without that technical background but they’re really passionate and interested about just achieving some of these goals of alternative economic structures and ways to send payments around the world in a way that’s cost-effective and fast? Do you see that kind of thing happening?
Josiah Spackman: Yeah. It’s funny as well based on the way you’re phrasing it. It almost makes me feel like the image of DigiByte is that they are tons of developers and people are constantly building on it. I mean, yeah, that’s very much the reality. There are companies that are out there that are building on top of DigiByte that we don’t even know about, but we can see certain things happening on the blockchain. In fact, a quick little story. A friend of mine actually came to me a little while ago that I know in real life. He goes to my church and he basically says to me, “Hey, so I wanted to ask you a quick question about DigiByte?” I was like, “Oh cool. Hey, look, that’s … I know.” And he says, “I just wanted to ask you about this.” And I said, “That’s an interesting question. Why are you asking about that?” He said, “Oh look, we’ve been running stuff on top of DigiByte now for the last six months.” And I was like, “Hey, that’s really cool.” I mean I didn’t know.
Josiah Spackman: I would have loved to be able to tell people and tell the community, but at the same time this kind of fits in with the whole there is no central point of authority. There’s no asking for permission. And so, very much with the developers versus people that are coming that don’t have that kind of computer science background of things, sure. We do have developers who are working on things like the applications, who are working on maintaining the website, who are working on building the core protocol and things like that. But they are definitely the minority. They’re only a small handful compared to our vast and broad and incredibly passionate community of hundreds of thousands if not millions … I mean that’s the thing. We only know about those hundreds of thousands because they have specifically chosen to subscribe to certain social media platforms and things. You don’t have to and there’s nothing forcing somebody to do that, and so, we know that it is even broader than that.
Josiah Spackman: So, yeah. Most of the community comes along and in fact the definite vast majority, like 99 percent of them I would argue, come along without any kind of formal training in programming or anything along those lines. So, I would encourage if they’re listening to this and you’re not a developer, you’re not a programmer. That’s totally okay. If you’re looking to contribute to DigiByte, do whatever it is that you do best. You do that. So, if you’re really good at sales and marketing. Maybe you’re the kind of person who’d like to go into a company and say, “Hey, look, would you be interested in taking DigiByte as a means of payment?” Or maybe you’re not that way inclined. Maybe you’re a little bit more shy. Maybe instead you’d rather just talk with your friends and family about it.
Josiah Spackman: Look, the thing is people don’t actually have to do anything at all. You can simply just use the network and if you don’t want to do anything over and above that, again, that’s totally cool. We’re a permissionless project and you do whatever it is that you do best. And if that’s just using the network, hey look, great, I’m so, so pleased that people are getting value out of it and that excites me. I love that. I think that’s fantastic.
Daniel McGlynn: Is there a main place … So, let’s say I’m listening to this episode and I’m excited and I want to get involved in this community. Is there one place that people start out or get involved in that distributed community? Or is it — as you’re mentioning — you can come at it from all different angles and eventually people just find their fit and find where the things they want to work on?
Josiah Spackman: Yeah, exactly. If there is something that you want to participate in … to be honest the most common places where we end up meeting with people is both on Twitter and also on Telegram. We’ve got a large community that is congregated on Telegram. I also know though that there is a large and thriving community on Discord. I’m not actually part of that role myself, but I know it’s there and I know that a lot of people who use Discord, and they’re happy, and they’re communicating, and they’re developing stuff. Same on Facebook. There is actually quite a growing community on Facebook and Instagram and even on Snapchat. People follow certain accounts to stay up to date. So, whatever works best for you.
Josiah Spackman: I think it’s probably one of the main themes that I see coming through with DigiByte lately is the choice and the option for people to do whatever it is that is going to be best for them rather than what they’ve been told to use. So, if you want to use Telegram. You want to jump on and say hi, that’s absolutely fantastic and we’re there, and hey look, we’ll have a great chat and we’d love to help you out in any way that we can. But if you’re on Discord, that’s cool, join the Discord community. If you’re on Reddit, join the Reddit community.
Daniel McGlynn: Great. And so, what’s on your horizon for DigiByte? What are the projects that maybe you yourself are really interested in that are coming down the pipe or that you feel like the community sentiment is just really excited about, that the next DigiByte project? What does that look like?
Josiah Spackman: Oh, that’s a really good question. The immediate future is going to be the likes of the upgrade for the network to use the …GPU mining algorithm. That’s underway as we speak, so that’s super cool, so excited for that. Bringing back GPU mining both so that we can use it in a way to easily onboard people, allowing people to contribute personally to the security of the network, but also as a way to further decentralize the network and to increase the security. Again, we come back to, like we talked at the very beginning, security is a core focus for us. And I think that’s really quite cool.
Josiah Spackman: But the other main things that are coming up. So, if we were to look forward a little bit into, say, 2020 for example. We’re doing great things with DigiAssets. Right now we’re working on ways that we can incorporate video into it. We’re working on ways that we can incorporate private and authenticated access through DigiAssets. So, for example, if there was a comic for example that you had the DigiAsset for. You would have to authenticate it with your DigiAsset and prove that you own it, before getting restricted access to this private area that allows you to see this comic, for example.
Josiah Spackman: Later on as well in 2021 the things that we’re actually looking at quite seriously is quantum resistance in terms of what parts of the blockchain needs to be upgraded to achieve that kind of quantum resistance.
Daniel McGlynn: Yeah. I think that’s another really interesting application for DigiByte that we haven’t really touched on, but something that I feel like is a growing interest in the crypto community more broadly is just this idea of digital ownership.
Josiah Spackman: Yeah. So, what we’ve got with our Digi-ID is basically just a really pretty front end for public-private key cryptography, just like you have with your sending and receiving of DigiByte or Bitcoin. But instead of using it to authenticate that you have access to these certain addresses, we’re now doing it to allow users to pseudo anonymously log into our website. And I say pseudo anonymously because each website or each application gets a newly generated address based on your private keys. So, you cannot ever have … Say, for example, when you go to a website right now, you’ll sign in with [email protected]. If you go to another website, again you’ll reuse that same username.
Josiah Spackman: And we see things like we see websites getting hacked, and people’s usernames and people’s passwords getting put out into the internet. And even advertising profiles being built across multiple websites simply based on the fact you used that same username. Because Digi-ID is pseudo-anonymous because it uses a randomly generated address for each website, people can’t build that kind of an advertising profile around you. It’s anonymous. Unless you specifically give each individual service that information about you, they simply don’t have it. All that they have is a random string of letters and numbers that identifies you. And so, if you put a name to it then that’s great, but there are a number of websites we’re seeing that don’t require any kind of a name or anything at all to start to use them with Digi-ID on the DigiByte blockchain. So, that’s really quite cool to see that kind of security and the privacy aspect as well as being taken very seriously.
Daniel McGlynn: Yeah. That is interesting. That’s something that I think I’m going to just keep an eye on personally over the next several years is how the way we use the internet will change because of these technologies. I think change for the better especially in terms of just digital ownership and keeping control of your identity across the whole internet, I guess. It will be interesting.
Josiah Spackman: Yeah, for sure. And that privacy aspect is definitely something that is come to the forefront especially over the last year or two as we started seeing things like the whole Cambridge Analytica scandal and all of that kind of thing. If people have unique profiles for each website, but it’s seamlessly done from their … All they do is they scan a QR code and they’re logged in. There’s nothing else they’ve got to do. It’s super, super simple, but incredibly private. And arguably more secure than a username, a password, and a timed one-time password on top of that. Like… indication. It’s more secure than that. And you can do it. It’s faster and it’s easier. This is like a win-win situation for everybody involved. It’s fantastic, so I’m so excited for the future where we no longer have to use usernames and passwords anymore.
Daniel McGlynn: Right. That’ll be an interesting thing. It’s like when that intersection happens of it’s a better experience, and then, it’s also more secure, and more private. So, that’ll be great once we get to that point.
Josiah Spackman: Once we get to that, but again, it’s a generational mind shift. So, what we’re seeing is obviously the likes of people who have come and they’ve only just gotten used to the internet over the last 5-15 years. And they’re used to using usernames and passwords. Again, this is now another shift, so we do have that battle on our hands where this sort of thing could take another decade or two to truly catch on and truly get into every corner of the internet where people finally understand, “You know what? Usernames and passwords suck. I don’t use them. Instead, we’ve got this better way of doing things that’s faster and it’s easier. And you can do it all from your DigiByte app on your mobile phone.” Yeah, that’s a great reason to have the DigiByte app.
Daniel McGlynn: Yeah. Great. Well, I think we can wrap it up there. I just wanted to say thank you again for coming to the Abra Money 3.0 show and talking to us a little bit more about the DigiByte community and how it all operates. I know as an outsider of the DigiByte community, it’s just always been something that’s fascinating to me, especially as I hear from different parts of the community all over the world. But nonetheless, unified in this vision. So, it’s really cool to see that. So, thanks again for joining us.
Josiah Spackman: Yeah, thank you so much for having me on your show. It’s been an absolute honor and a pleasure. If people want to find out more, the best thing that they can do is go and just search for DigiByte.
Thanks again for listening to the Abra Money 3.0 show. We hope you like this episode as much as we did. If so, please subscribe to this show wherever you get your podcast and download the Abra app wherever you get your apps. Thanks again.
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