Expectations v Reality: Vitalik Buterin on His Vision for Ethereum
Vitalik Buterin – co-founder of Ethereum – outlined some of his conflicting realizations and beliefs around cryptocurrency on Monday. He detailed the way that his idealistic vision for how Ethereum should grow – and what it should become – is failing to match reality.
Comparing Ethereum and Bitcoin
The programmer – who has never hesitated to criticize Bitcoin in the past – began his lengthy Twitter thread with a display of admiration for the primary crypto network. While Bitcoin successfully emphasizes “long term stability”, he believes Ethereum will require significant “active short term change” to be able to mimic that.
Compared to Ethereum, Bitcoin upgrades and changes far less frequently, and its community is extremely resistant to hard fork attempts. For example, Ethereum is preparing to shift its blockchain onto a proof of stake system, but Bitcoiners staunchly defend its legacy proof of work mechanism as superior.
Ethereum is also largely influenced by the Ethereum Foundation – a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and managing the network’s development. Vitalik showed appreciation for similar “live players” in his thread, yet also claims to prefer “fixed systems” that reduce reliance on individuals.
Furthermore, Ethereum’s base layer lacks the security to survive “truly extreme circumstances” as he would hope.
“Many key apps on Ethereum already rely on far more fragile security assumptions than anything we consider acceptable in Ethereum protocol design.”
The co-founder wouldn’t be the first to make note of these issues. Signal CEO Moxie Marlinspike released a lengthy blog post in January detailing how Ethereum’s app infrastructure has consolidated heavily around a handful of large institutions.
Ethereum’s Real World Applications
Despite the co-founder’s hopes, Vitalik recognized how Ethereum has yet to provide a more successful application than finance. In the original whitepaper, he envisioned Ethereum as a playground for decentralized consensus systems that could move beyond Bitcoin’s monetary / store of value role.
Instead, he begrudgingly admits that such financial “applications” – including the market for jpegs and NFTs – are what currently sustains the crypto economy.
Crypto’s adoption path is also one that, regretfully, calls on him to compromise some of his principles:
“”Contradiction between my desire to see more countries adopting radical policy experiments (eg. crypto countries!) and my realization that the governments most likely to go all the way on such things are more likely to be centralized and not friendly to diversity internally,” he tweeted.”
Last year, Vitalik showed disapproval for the Bitcoin community’s unfettered praise of El Salvador President Nayib Bukele, after he adopted Bitcoin as legal tender. The president has referred to himself as the “world’s coolest dictator,” and was criticized for seemingly enforcing the BItcoin law on an unwelcoming population.
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