Recently in an interview, Vitalik Buterin the co-founder of Ethereum revealed that he had been approached by google to be hired as an intern. Apparently, some machine learning Algorithm had been responsible for singling out Buterin due to his portfolio which he mentioned showed off high scores in an International Olympiad. Buterin teasingly assured that he did not intend to join google at an intern’s salary.
I hope we all realize that this was a joke. Some random HR person from Google emailed me, most likely because some machine learning algorithm analyzed my GitHub and saw that I had some high score in the international Olympiad. Apparently, I fit the blueprints as a great candidate to hire at an intern salary. Vitalik Buterin
This interview was conducted in San Francisco at a small private event hosted by a student run organization Blockchain at Berkeley. Vitalik shared his opinion about where the blockchain industry and ETH is headed. When asked about how the Casper protocol was coming along, Buterin told that Casper protocol which is long overdue is in its final development stages. Not long ago, there was concern about Ethereum sliding into ice age. Buterin claimed that, the Casper protocol, which is supposed to deal with this situation, is underway and shall be deployed in no time. Buterin said,
I think that there has been a lot of frameworks for state channels coming out recently. The Casper protocol is getting much closer to being finalized at this point. It’s just pending review on academic analysis.
Ever since the creation of blockchain, its application have been rendered to be endless. Although, people are double minded about cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology has attracted a number of businesses as well as investors. Buterin exclaimed that the hype of Blockchain is far more greater than its utility right now. Technologists have long ways to go to produce a blockchain platform that is a 100% free from all sorts of tampering. Even though right now the technology is deemed to be immutable, multiple cases of fraud are being brought to attention every day. He said,
The amount of sustainable usage of blockchain is very low. Although it exists, there are a lot of people giving value to cryptocurrencies, yet the amount of useful stuff happening is still much lower than the $200 billion market cap makes it seem. The main challenge for the industry as I see it is basically understanding how to bridge that gap and get to point where there is $200 billion in some sense of actual final value being generated.
The concern of security of every individual’s privacy also came up. For users, when it comes to utilizing any service on any network, their privacy carries utmost important. The Distributed Ledger technology that is aimed to be indisputable and shielded is not in fact to date, what it claims to be. The technology is in its infancy and requires a lot of work in order to be unrivaled. Buterin said that efforts are being made to minimize all the vulnerabilities of the system and they are progressing towards attaining a truly decentralized system. The Ethereum co founder told,
Currently, there are no good ways to use blockchain while preserving privacy. There have been good efforts to solve this using Zcash for example, along with research on top of Ethereum. However, there is still a way to go in terms of preserving privacy on the blockchain.
Buterin also commented on how much of the potential of the blockchain technology remains untouched. Blockchains are being used to issue myriads of cryptocurrencies and tokens, whereas there are relatively fewer startups that aim to solve real world problems using blockchain. He highlighted how he wanted there to be wider acceptance of cryptocurrencies so he will actually be able to use it. Buterin said,
I want to be able to walk into a convenience store, get a card, pay $5 and get $5, minus some small fee of like Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ether, etc and start using it. Allowing people to use small amounts of cryptocurrency is valuable within crypto, and also particularly for use cases of blockchains that go beyond cryptocurrency. Even non-financial blockchain use cases still require transaction fees. If we can get this friction down with one trip to the convenience store, it would be simple to start using cryptocurrency.
The emersion of scams and frauds surrounding cryptocurrencies has made the government of countries paranoid about cryptocurrencies and their use for nefarious purposes such as money laundering. Many of them have out rightly shunned the use of crypto and charge hefty fines to the convicts. Buterin believes that continuance of this attitude towards cryptocurrencies of governments will never make the dream of a decentralized internet a reality. Government should provide regulatory framework to regulate the use of these cryptocurrencies. Additionally, the economically downtrodden countries can benefit from the cryptocurrencies a great deal. Buterin added,
One simple use case would be to design national ID cards to sign digital signatures. Another more far-fetched example would be state-issued cryptocurrencies. This would be an interesting way for small counties to put themselves on the map and provide some economic power in the world economy. Also, on the regulatory side, cryptocurrency exchanges, project fundraising, etc. need to have crypto-friendly regulations. Most importantly, encouraging a strong academic ecosystem is also needed for governments looking to pass regulations.
Briefly, cryptocurrencies are just one of the applications of Blockchain technology. It holds far more value to it than it what is credited to it. However, in the current situation its hype surpasses its utility because not a lot of people truly understand its power.