Virgil Griffith biography: 13 things about cryptocurrency expert born in Birmingham, Alabama


Virgil Griffith is a white man born in Birmingham, Alabama, United States. He is also known as Romanpoet.

A programmer and an internet and software researcher, Griffith published papers on artificial life and integrated information theory. He created WikiScanner, an indexing tool for Wikipedia.

Griffith is also a cryptocurrency expert who worked extensively on the Ethereum cryptocurrency platform.

While Griffith is a resident of Singapore, he is still a U.S. citizen. Here are 13 more things about him:

Virgil Griffith (©Lulu Lorien)
Virgil Griffith (©Lulu Lorien)
  1. From 1999 to 2001, he worked for Hecklers Entertainment in Birmingham as a PHP and Palm Pilot developer. (a)
  2. In 2002, he enrolled at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer and cognitive science. From February 2003 to June 2004, he worked for the university as a network administrator. In 2004, he dropped out after being sued by Blackboard, Inc. (a)
  3. From June 2004 to May 2007, he worked for Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, USA as a research associate. (a)
  4. From 2007 to 2014, he attended the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California, USA where he earned his Ph.D. in computation and neural systems. (a)
  5. From 2008 to 2012, he worked for Adruptive in San Francisco, California as the chief technology officer. (a)
  6. In 2009, he was an intern at Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. (a)
  7. In 2013, he was a visiting fellow at the Center for Collective Intelligence of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge. From January 2014 to February 2014, he was a fellow at Insight Data Science in Palo Alto, California. From March 2014 to November 2014, he worked for Toroken in San Francisco as a technical product manager. (a)
  8. From March 2015 to February 2016, he was a research fellow at the National University of Singapore on Lower Kent Ridge Road in Singapore. In August 2015, he joined Backbone Telecommunications in Singapore as the chief technology officer. In October 2016, he joined Ethereum in Singapore as a research scientist. From October 2016 to March 2017, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology Center in Singapore. (a)
  9. In 2018, he started formulating plans as to provide services to individuals in North Korea, also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), by developing and funding cryptocurrency infrastructure there, including to mine cryptocurrency. He knew that the Asian country use these services to evade and avoid U.S. sanctions and to fund its nuclear weapons program and other illicit activities. (b)
  10. In April 2019, he traveled to North Korea to attend and present at the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference, also known as DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference. On November 28, 2019, he was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California and charged with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by providing services to North Korea including technical advice on using cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to evade sanctions. (b)(c)
  11. On September 27, 2021, he pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel to conspiring to violate the IEEPA by providing services to North Korea including technical advice on using cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to evade sanctions. (b) 
  12. He was 38 years old when he pleaded guilty on September 27, 2021 to conspiring to violate the IEEPA. (b)
  13. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Castel at 11:00 a.m. on January 18, 2022. (b)


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