ETHEREUM AS A PLATFORM HAS MANY THINGS THAT ARE UNIQUE ABOUT IT : VITALIK BUTERIN
Vitalik Buterin is inventor of Ethereum, a world’s first ever Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT ) platform where anyone can write smart contracts on Blockchain, and creator of the virtual currency “ether”, the second most popular crypto currency after Bitcoin and with current market value of over $2 billion. Vitalik was in New Delhi to launch India’s first ever Blockchain Summit on 6 Dec 2016 hosted by Europe India Conclave. Conference Chairperson Arifa Khan interviewed Vitalik, Peter Thiel Scholar and featured in Fortune 40 under 40 2016.
Arifa Khan : What is Ethereum’s vision for the next 20 years? Which markets will be important for you? Why?
Vitalik Buterin: From an adoption standpoint, I think that we are going to see applications emerge across many markets. We are seeing interest in both financial and non-financial areas (identity verification, supply chain tracking, IoT, virtual game assets, etc). Our goal as a platform is to be as general-purpose as possible, and I don’t expect any single category to be “the killer app”
Arifa Khan: DLT is a relatively new industry, and a whole range of new players will emerge. Ethereum has a first mover advantage, but what is your strategy to stay relevant a few decades later?
Vitalik Buterin: I would say that Ethereum as a platform has many things that are unique about it, some of which are still planned for the future. This includes:
A focus on being as general-purpose as possible
An interest in using rigorous game-theoretic analysis to design secure and efficient consensus protocols
A strategy for scaling the blockchain based on “sharding”
Arifa Khan: Do you think Bitcoin will be the most prominent cryptocurrency in 10-20 years from now? Which other currency features do you think are missing? Is any one attempting to fill those gaps, like Zcash?
Vitalik Buterin: I think it’s important to view blockchains as being not just cryptocurrencies, but rather platforms; in Ethereum, for example, I consider the role of ether as being to facilitate the Ethereum platform, whereas in Bitcoin the platform is there to facilitate the currency. There are definitely many tradeoffs that platforms can take, as it’s obvious at this point that one platform cannot be everything for everyone. Some important dimensions include:
Political tradeoffs: who controls it? What is the process for changing the protocol? How hard is it to change?
Technical strategy: slow and steady, or fast and risky?
Scalability strategy: there are a number of known impossibility results (eg. Amdahl’s law) that say that you can’t scale *everything*, and so scaling necessarily has some tradeoffs. What is a platform willing to sacrifice in order to scale?
Arifa Khan: You were the inventor of the first use case of DLT outside of Bitcoin. What are some unexplored use cases of bitcoin that no one has tried yet.
Vitalik Buterin: I personally am interested in the intersection of blockchains (including both cryptocurrency and blockchain use cases other than cryptocurrency) and social media; I think that area is underdeveloped. See here for a few ideas that I’ve had: https://blog.ethereum. org/2015/11/24/applications- of-security-deposits-and- prediction-markets-you-might- not-have-thought-about/
Arifa Khan: What role can Governments and regulators play in the crypto economy? How do you view their part currently. What should they do ?
Vitalik Buterin: I think that before a Government regulator does something for the space, it is important for them to talk to the people in their country who are already doing things, and ask them what are the actual problems that they have that Governments could solve. For example, one problem that many people have is getting bank accounts. Governments have in many places started to create sandbox programs, but quite often the startups are not so much scared of the Governments themselves; they are scared that they will not be able to get a bank account. Some proactive Government action with the right information could solve problems like these.
Fostering links between academia and startups is also important.
Vitalik Buterin believes India has a major role to play in the global Blockchain revolution, and will be in Mumbai this summer to kick off Ethereum India Summit during Blockchain India Week – 13-20 May 2017, a week of Hackathons, workshops, industry forums hosted by Blockchain Storm. He will build and motivate Ethereum developer community across India , encourage research efforts, and will give away “Vitalik Buterin prize for Blockchain excellence” for the best application/ research effort sponsored by Zero Field Labs