Atheneum Blog

Atheneum Team - Interviews

A Chat With Atheneum’s CTO [Part 2]

In Part 1 of my chat with Atheneum’s Chief Technology Officer, Christopher Black, we discussed the early days of the project and where he sees the project going.  Today’s article will focus on one of his most passionate subjects in crypto – Governance. When it came to formulating the Atheneum Blockchain, there were many things to consider but one of the biggest decisions would be the governance model.

“You want the ones making decisions invested in the project…”

Christopher Black on
Masternode Governance

Cryptocurrencies as a whole have many unique features and solve a variety of problems.  The majority of crypto purists would argue that the most important feature of a digital asset is decentralization.  Bitcoin uses mining, XRP uses its “Consensus Model”, but Christopher played a key role in deciding Atheneum’s adoption of the DALO, a Masternode-centric governance model.

For those that do not already know what a Masternode is, here are the very basics.  A wallet is a node with limited function for sending and receiving coins and tracking the ledger. “Master”-nodes are simply nodes that perform more functions like validating transactions, providing network consensus and security, and voting.  While validating transactions, consensus and security are all done automatically, voting is a crucial function of Masternode operators that must be performed by an individual. A network of voting Masternode operators ensures that decisions are democratic and in the best interest of the network as a whole.

Christopher Black, CTO | Atheneum

With that in mind I asked Christopher several questions about the technical side of Atheneum.

Why was Masternode governance decided on rather than some other model for Atheneum?

“You want the ones making decisions invested in the project. By running a Masternode, you are willingly locking up 10,000 $AEM as well as paying for infrastructure that helps the stability of the network – you’re not just flipping the coins on an exchange. Those are the kinds of invested people we want making decisions in our
(the community’s) platform.”

Masternodes only exist on Proof of Stake (PoS) blockchains and PoS chains have the unique attribute that holders of the coin are rewarded based on how much of the coin they have.  As Christopher mentions, this concept is reinforced further in Masternode ownership. The concept is that individuals with the most “skin in the game” are also the individuals with the most to lose if the network performs poorly.  So it’s only natural for Masternode operators to act in the best interest of the network. This idea lends itself well to another important attribute of any good blockchain: having a “trustless” nature. We’ll explore this more in upcoming articles but let’s just say trustless simply means that when you interact with a network you know what to expect because you can fully understand the rules.  Atheneum exemplifies this characteristic quite well.

All of this talk about Masternodes was making me want to ask the question, “people will pay thousands of dollars for a Bitcoin mining rig and they could still lose money PLUS! they have no say in what happens on the network. Why doesn’t everyone just open a bunch of Masternodes instead?!”  I realized this question would come off as sounding too “fan-boy” of Atheneum, so I collected myself and simply asked:

Why should someone consider operating a Masternode on the Atheneum network?

“Accessible Education has largely been left by the wayside in most countries around the world – even in Canada with our “free” education. If you want to be a part of a movement that helps change the future of Accessible Education as well as help decide and shape the direction of the project while getting rewards in the form of $AEM then this project is definitely for you.”

His response was much more visionary than I expected.  I expected him to either go the blockchain geek route and talk about decentralization and network security or to go the investor route and talk about earning a 12% annual passive income from Masternode rewards that could surpass any index fund in the stock market.  But he chose to talk about what building Atheneum means for the future of education. Education is something that is in dire need of correction. The problem today is that both public and private institutions are fat with bloated budgets that only serve to increase costs and subsequently diminish the quality of education.  

Christopher is CTO with a clear mission to build a platform that gives individuals choice, accessibility and affordability in education.  I have the pleasure of working with Christopher on a daily basis and his passion comes through in his work. Atheneum is fortunate to have a CTO that shares the vision and, in fact, is one of the chief flag-bearers of the cause.

As our chat wound down I just had to ask Christopher one more question about his plans for the future of the Atheneum wallet:

What kinds of functionality do you plan to add to the wallet in the future?

“Those will definitely change over time – some will be added and others removed but for now:

  • In-wallet governance portal
  • In-wallet marketplace
  • fiat-AEM mobile and web functionality.”

Christopher is an impressive individual with a vast understanding of the blockchain space.  He is well read in many other projects and keeps his finger on the pulse of the industry. He is able to quickly diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of other blockchains and use-cases.  You can be assured that as new innovations come into the space, he will be able analyze them and integrate them into Atheneum if they are able to further the mission that he is so clearly passionate about.  He has an incredible work ethic that results in him going to bed late and waking up early but he inspires his team through that ethic and his technical brilliance. The future of Atheneum and education is bright.

Author, Brian E. De Mint
Atheneum | Chief Marketing Officer

Would you like to learn more about Atheneum? Check out the Whitepaper:

Did you like hearing from the CTO? Check out an interview with our CEO Marshall Clark on YouTube:

Would you like to set up an Atheneum Masternode? Here are some third party resources:

Hash Hosting:

If you missed Part 1 of our chat with the CTO, check it out here: