Bitcoin has been all over the news lately, and rightly so. The digital “coin” was worth $1000 a year ago, and peaked at nearly $20,000 last month – an increase of 2000% in one year! And yet it’s lost almost half that value in the last two weeks. What is Bitcoin, anyway? Should you invest in it? How would you even do that if you wanted to?

I’ve invited Berkley security researcher Nick Weaver back to the program to answer these questions and many more! Nick’s an enlightened and entertaining guest, and he pulls no punches. And trust me, Nick has some very strong opinions on cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and the crazy market dynamics surrounding them!

Nick Weaver received a B.A. in Astrophysics and Computer Science in 1995, and his Ph.D. in Computer Science in 2003 from the University of California at Berkeley. Although his dissertation was on novel FPGA architectures, he also was highly interested in Computer Security, including postulating the possibility of very fast computer worms in 2001. In 2003, he joined the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI), first as a postdoc and then as a staff researcher. His primary research focus is on network security, notably worms, botnets, and other internet-scale attacks, and network measurement. Other areas have included both hardware acceleration and software parallelization of network intrusion detection, defenses for DNS resolvers, and tools for detecting ISP-introduced manipulations of a user’s network connection.

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Carey Parker began programming computers in middle school when personal computers were just starting to become popular. For years, these twin interests percolated until he attended Purdue University and he learned you could get paid to do this stuff – it was called Electrical Engineering! After obtaining a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in EE, Carey wrote software for multiple companies, large and small. In recent years, particularly after the Edward Snowden revelations in 2013, he became deeply concerned about computer security and privacy. In 2014, he combined his passion for computers, cybersecurity and fantasy novels with the long-time desire to write the book: Firewalls Don’t Stop Dragons.