Ethereum
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Episode 49
Featuring Vitalik Buterin & Vlad Zamfir
In 2013, Vitalik Buterin described an ambitious technology that offered a new vision of the future — one that would give us new ways of governing interactions among nations, organizations, and individuals. But challenges remain on the path towards widespread adoption. Here, Buterin and Vlad Zamfir discuss the future roadmap for Ethereum.

If contracts are the foundation of modern civilization, then our record systems are the infrastructure that keep this foundation from falling apart. These features allow our society to establish and verify identities; give value to goods and services; create and enforce laws; govern interactions between individuals, organizations, and nations — in short, they secure our social, economic, and political policies and allow us to maintain the social order.

 

But there is a problem with these systems, and they are beginning to buckle and crack.

 

The information age vastly accelerated the pace of society, allowing individuals to dramatically expand their circles of influence. People can now exchange goods and services (or even enter into contracts) with strangers on the other side of the globe instantaneously. Government agencies and international organizations can maximize processes by storing and retrieving information online. However, these processes are fraught with challenges.

 

Without the presence of intermediaries, digital transactions have thus far been impossible to verify or enforce. Mediators and middlemen provide accountability on the one hand, in return for higher centralization on the other. This centralization creates opportunities for companies like Facebook and Google to make billions of dollars mining and selling our data. It also presents lucrative opportunities for malicious actors looking to capitalize on our insecure digital infrastructure. The digital records kept by banks and government institutions are frequently the subject of cyber attacks, putting this same data at risk.

 

As the first decentralized digital currency, bitcoin promised to solve some of these issues; however, bitcoin's use cases have remained limited to a very narrow set of financial transactions. In response, Vitalik Buterin created Ethereum. In his 2012 white paper,  Vitalik outlined an ambitious vision of the future — one that would endeavor to solve the problems associated with our contracts, transactions, and records by creating a new, decentralized layer for data processing and computation on which society could run.

 

Whereas Bitcoin’s aim was to erect a platform for unmediated digital payments, the goal of Ethereum’s blockchain-based architecture is to entirely dismantle traditional power structures and methods of control. It attempts this by allowing decentralization to saturate all levels of society through the use of an open, distributed ledger that records transactions between parties in a more trusted way way.

 

In Ethereum blockchain, contracts are embedded within digital code, which are stored in transparent, shared databases. In theory, it makes intermediaries like bankers and lawyers unnecessary and allows individuals to transact freely. Ethereum increase access, transparency, and accountability, without relying on third-parties to secure the ledger.

 

Ethereum blockchain has opened the door to a new type of economy, yet challenges remain — specifically, challenges to scale.

 

The most prominent of these scaling challenges has been transaction throughput. Currently, the Ethereum network can process no more than fifteen transactions per second (TPS). This is major barrier to widespread adoption and it has prevented the blockchain from being able to support the type of network traffic that would result from the popular use of any decentralized application (dApp). In response, Vitalik, Vlad, and other key members of the Ethereum have put forward a roadmap for scaling the Ethereum network.

 

From sharding to Plasma to Casper, in this week’s episode, host Demetri Kofinas is joined by Vlad Zamfir, one of is the world’s leading Ethereum researchers, and Vitalik Buterin to discuss the future of Ethereum, the problems it faces on the path to widespread adoption, and the solutions that promise to carry us into a decentralized digital age.  

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Vitalik Buterin is the creator of Ethereum. He first discovered blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies through Bitcoin in 2011, and was immediately excited by the technology and its potential. He cofounded Bitcoin Magazine in September 2011, and after two and a half years looking at what the existing blockchain technology and applications had to offer, wrote the Ethereum white paper in November 2013. He now leads Ethereum's research team, working on future versions of the Ethereum protocol.

 

Vlad Zamfir is a researcher known in the Ethereum blockchain community for his work on blockchain-based consensus protocols, especially on proof-of-stake (Casper), and sharding. He also does research and education in other related areas, such as cryptoeconomics and blockchain governance.

 

@VitalikButerin

@VladZamfir

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