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Vitalik Buterin


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On Silos

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One of the criticisms that many people have made about the current direction of the cryptocurrency space is the increasing amount of fragmentation that we are seeing. What was earlier perhaps a more tightly bound community centered around developing the common infrastructure of Bitcoin is now increasingly a collection of “silos”, discrete projects all working on their own separate things. There are a number of developers and researchers who are either working for Ethereum or working on ideas as volunteers and happen to spend lots of time interacting with the Ethereum community, and this set of people has coalesced into a group dedicated to building out our particular vision. Another quasi-decentralized collective, Bitshares, has set their hearts on their own vision, combining their particular combination of DPOS, market-pegged assets and vision of blockchain as decentralized autonomous corporation as a way of reaching their political goals of free-market libertarianism and a contract free society. Blockstream, the company behind “sidechains”, has likewise attracted their own group of people and their own set of visions and agendas – and likewise for Truthcoin, Maidsafe, NXT, and many others.

One argument, often raised by Bitcoin maximalists and sidechains proponents, is that this fragmentation is harmful to the cryptocurrency ecosystem – instead of all going our own separate ways and competing for users, we should all be working together and cooperating under Bitcoin’s common banner. As Fabian Brian Crane summarizes:

One recent event that has further inflamed the discussion is the publication of the sidechains proposal. The idea of sidechains is to allow the trustless innovation of altcoins while offering them the same monetary base, liquidity and mining power of the Bitcoin network.
For the proponents, this represents a crucial effort to rally the cryptocurrency ecosystem behind its most successful project and to build on the infrastructure and ecosystem already in place, instead of dispersing efforts in a hundred different directions.

Even to those who disagree with Bitcoin maximalism, this seems like a rather reasonable point, and even if the cryptocurrency community should not all stand together under the banner of “Bitcoin” one may argue that we need to all stand together somehow, working to build a more unified ecosystem. If Bitcoin is not powerful enough to be a viable backbone for life, the crypto universe and everything, then why not build a better and more scalable decentralized computer instead and build everything on that? Hypercubes certainly seem powerful enough to be worth being a maximalist over, if you’re the sort of person to whom one-X-to-rule-them-all proposals are intuitively appealing, and the members of Bitshares, Blockstream and other “silos” are often quite eager to believe the same thing about their own particular solutions, whether they are based on merged-mining, DPOS plus BitAssets or whatever else.

So why not? If there truly is one consensus mechanism that is best, why should we not have a large merger between the various projects, come up with the best kind of decentralized computer to push forward as a basis for the crypto-economy, and move forward together under one unified system? In some respects, this seems noble; “fragmentation” certainly has undesirable properties, and it is natural to see “working together” as a good thing. In reality, however, while more cooperation is certainly useful, and this blog post will later describe how and why, desires for extreme consolidation or winner-take-all are to a large degree exactly wrong – not only is fragmentation not all that bad, but rather it’s inevitable, and arguably the only way that this space can reasonably prosper.

Agree to Disagree

Why has fragmentation been happening, and why should we continue to let it happen? To the first question, and also simultaneously to the second, the answer is simple: we fragment because we disagree. Particularly, consider some of the following claims, all of which I believe in, but which are in many cases a substantial departure from the philosophies of many other people and projects:

  • I do not think that weak subjectivity is all that much of a problem. However, much higher degrees of subjectivity and intrinsic reliance on extra-protocol social consensus I am still not comfortable with.
  • I consider Bitcoin’s $600 million/year wasted electricity on proof of work to be an utter environmental and economic tragedy.
  • I believe ASICs are a serious problem, and that as a result of them Bitcoin has become qualitatively less secure over the past two years.
  • I consider Bitcoin (or any other fixed-supply currency) to be too incorrigibly volatile to ever be a stable unit of account, and believe that the best route to cryptocurrency price stability is by experimenting with intelligently designed flexible monetary policies (ie. NOT “the market” or “the Bitcoin central bank“). However, I am not interested in bringing cryptocurrency monetary policy under any kind of centralized control.
  • I have a substantially more anti-institutional/libertarian/anarchistic mindset than some people, but substantially less so than others (and am incidentally not an Austrian economist). In general, I believe there is value to both sides of the fence, and believe strongly in being diplomatic and working together to make the world a better place.
  • I am not in favor of there being one-currency-to-rule-them-all, in the crypto-economy or anywhere.
  • I think token sales are an awesome tool for decentralized protocol monetization, and that everyone attacking the concept outright is doing a disservice to society by threatening to take away a beautiful thing. However, I do agree that the model as implemented by us and other groups so far has its flaws and we should be actively experimenting with different models that try to align incentives better
  • I believe futarchy is promising enough to be worth trying, particularly in a blockchain governance context.
  • I consider economics and game theory to be a key part of cryptoeconomic protocol analysis, and consider the primary academic deficit of the cryptocurrency community to be not ignorance of advanced computer science, but rather economics and philosophy. We should reach out to http://lesswrong.com/ more.
  • I see one of the primary reasons why people will adopt decentralized technologies (blockchains, whisper, DHTs) in practice to be the simple fact that software developers are lazy, and do not wish to deal with the complexities of maintaining a centralized website.
  • I consider the blockchain-as-decentralized-autonomous-corporation metaphor to be useful, but limited. Particularly, I believe that we as cryptocurrency developers should be taking advantage of this perhaps brief period in which cryptocurrency is still an idealist-controlled industry to design institutions that maximize utilitarian social welfare metrics, not profit (no, they are not equivalent, primarily because of these).

There are probably very few people who agree with me on every single one of the items above. And it is not just myself that has my own peculiar opinions. As another example, consider the fact that the CTO of OpenTransactions, Chris Odom, says things like this:

What is needed is to replace trusted entities with systems of cryptographic proof. Any entity that you see in the Bitcoin community that you have to trust is going to go away, it’s going to cease to exist … Satoshi’s dream was to eliminate [trusted] entities entirely, either eliminate the risk entirely or distribute the risk in a way that it’s practically eliminated.

Meanwile, certain others feel the need to say things like this:

Put differently, commercially viable reduced-trust networks do not need to protect the world from platform operators. They will need to protect platform operators from the world for the benefit of the platform’s users.

Of course, if you see the primary benefit of cryptocurrency as being regulation avoidance then that second quote also makes sense, but in a way completely different from the way its original author intended – but that once again only serves to show just how differently people think. Some people see cryptocurrency as a capitalist revolution, others see it as an egalitarian revolution, and others see everything in between. Some see human consensus as a very fragile and corruptible thing and cryptocurrency as a beacon of light that can replace it with hard math; others see cryptocurrency consensus as being only an extension of human consensus, made more efficient with technology. Some consider the best way to achieve cryptoassets with dollar parity to be dual-coin financial derivative schemes; others see the simpler approach as being to use blockchains to represent claims on real-world assets instead (and still others think that Bitcoin will eventually be more stable than the dollar all on its own). Some think that scalability is best done by “scaling up“; others believe the ultimately superior option is “scaling out“.

Of course, many of these issues are inherently political, and some involve public goods; in those cases, live and let live is not always a viable solution. If a particular platform enables negative externalities, or threatens to push society into a suboptimal equilibrium, then you cannot “opt out” simply by using your platform instead. There, some kind of network-effect-driven or even in extreme cases 51%-attack-driven censure may be necessary. In some cases, the differences are related to private goods, and are primarily simply a matter of empirical beliefs. If I believe that SchellingDollar is the best scheme for price stability, and others prefer Seignorage Shares or NuBits then after a few years or decades one model will prove to work better, replace its competition, and that will be that.

In other cases, however, the differences will be resolved in a different way: it will turn out that the properties of some systems are better suited for some applications, and other systems better suited for other applications, and everything will naturally specialize into those use cases where it works best. As a number of commentators have pointed out, for decentralized consensus applications in the mainstream financial world, banks will likely not be willing to accept a network managed by anonymous nodes; in this case, something like Ripple will be more useful. But for Silk Road 4.0, the exact opposite approach is the only way to go – and for everything in between it’s a cost-benefit analysis all the way. If users want networks specialized to performing specific functions highly efficiently, then networks will exist for that, and if users want a general purpose network with a high network effect between on-chain applications then that will exist as well. As David Johnston points out, blockchains are like programming languages: they each have their own particular properties, and few developers religiously adhere to one language exclusively – rather, we use each one in the specific cases for which it is best suited.

Room for Cooperation

However, as was mentioned earlier, this does not mean that we should simply go our own way and try to ignore – or worse, actively sabotage, each other. Even if all of our projects are necessarily specializing toward different goals, there is nevertheless a substantial opportunity for much less duplication of effort, and more cooperation. This is true on multiple levels. First, let us look at a model of the cryptocurrency ecosystem – or, perhaps, a vision of what it might look like in 1-5 years time:

Ethereum has its own presence on pretty much every level:

  • Consensus: Ethereum blockchain, data-availablility Schelling-vote (maybe for Ethereum 2.0)
  • Economics: ether, an independent token, as well as research into stablecoin proposals
  • Blockchain services: name registry
  • Off-chain services: Whisper (messaging), web of trust (in progress)
  • Interop: BTC-to-ether bridge (in progress)
  • Browsers: Mist

Now, consider a few other projects that are trying to build holistic ecosystems of some kind. Bitshares has at the least:

  • Consensus: DPOS
  • Economics: BTSX and BitAssets
  • Blockchain services: BTS decentralized exchange
  • Browsers: Bitshares client (though not quite a browser in the same concept)

Maidsafe has:

  • Consensus: SAFE network
  • Economics: Safecoin
  • Off-chain services: Distributed hash table, Maidsafe Drive

BitTorrent has announced their plans for Maelstrom, a project intended to serve a rather similar function to Mist, albeit showcasing their own (not blockchain-based) technology. Cryptocurrency projects generally all build a blockchain, a currency and a client of their own, although forking a single client is common for the less innovative cases. Name registration and identity management systems are now a dime a dozen. And, of course, just about every project realizes that it has a need for some kind of reputation and web of trust.

Now, let us paint a picture of an alternative world. Instead of having a collection of cleanly disjoint vertically integrated ecosystems, with each one building its own components for everything, imagine a world where Mist could be used to access Ethereum, Bitshares, Maidsafe or any other major decentralized infrastructure network, with new decentralized networks being installable much like the plugins for Flash and Java inside of Chrome and Firefox. Imagine that the reputation data in the web of trust for Ethereum could be reused in other projects as well. Imagine StorJ running inside of Maelstrom as a dapp, using Maidsafe for a file storage backend, and using the Ethereum blockchain to maintain the contracts that incentivize continued storage and downloading. Imagine identities being automatically transferrable across any crypto-networks, as long as they use the same underlying cryptographic algorithms (eg. ECDSA + SHA3).

The key insight here is this: although some of the layers in the ecosystem are inextricably linked – for example, a single dapp will often correspond to a single specific service on the Ethereum blockchain – in many cases the layers can easily be designed to be much more modular, allowing each product on each layer to compete separately on its own merits. Browsers are perhaps the most separable component; most reasonably holistic lower level blockchain service sets have similar needs in terms of what applications can run on them, and so it makes sense for each browser to support each platform. Off-chain services are also a target for abstraction; any decentralized application, regardless of what blockchain technology it uses, should be free to use Whisper, Swarm, IPFS or any other service that developers come up with. On-chain services, like data provision, can theoretically be built so as to interact with multiple chains.

Additionally, there are plenty of opportunities to collaborate on fundamental research and development. Discussion on proof of work, proof of stake, stable currency systems and scalability, as well as other hard problems of cryptoeconomics can easily be substantially more open, so that the various projects can benefit from and be more aware of each other’s developments. Basic algorithms and best practices related to networking layers, cryptographic algorithm implementations and other low-level components can, and should, be shared. Interoperability technologies should be developed to facilitate easy exchange and interaction between services and decentralized entities on one platform and another. The Cryptocurrency Research Group is one initiative that we plan to initially support, with the hope that it will grow to flourish independently of ourselves, with the goal of promoting this kind of cooperation. Other formal and informal institutions can doubtlessly help support the process.

Hopefully, in the future we will see many more projects existing in a much more modular fashion, living on only one or two layers of the cryptocurrency ecosystem and providing a common interface allowing any mechanism on any other layer to work with them. If the cryptocurrency space goes far enough, then even Firefox and Chrome may end up adapting themselves to process decentralized application protocols as well. A journey toward such an ecosystem is not something that needs to be rushed immediately; at this point, we have quite little idea of what kinds of blockchain-driven services people will be using in the first place, making it hard to determine exactly what kind of interoperability would actually be useful. However, things slowly but surely are taking their first few steps in that direction; Eris’s Decerver, their own “browser” into the decentralized world, supports access to Bitcoin, Ethereum, their own Thelonious blockchains as well as an IPFS content hosting network.

There is room for many projects that are currently in the crypto 2.0 space to succeed, and so having a winner-take-all mentality at this point is completely unnecessary and harmful. All that we need to do right now to set off the journey on a better road is to live with the assumption that we are all building our own platforms, tuned to our own particular set of preferences and parameters, but at the end of the day a plurality of networks will succeed and we will need to live with that reality, so might as well start preparing for it now.

Happy new year, and looking forward to an exciting 2015 007 Anno Satoshii.

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Vitalik Buterin

https://ethereum.org

Comments
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Author Preston J Byrne

Posted at 7:01 am December 31, 2014.

“Certain others?” We’re not that scary, are we? 😉

Don’t agree with all of it, but nonetheless great post, Vitalik.

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    Author Vitalik Buterin

    Posted at 2:58 pm December 31, 2014.

    > “Certain others?” We’re not Voldemort levels of scary over at Eris Industries, are we? 😉

    Heh, I think that was me being indecisive between “Chris Odom” and “Preston Byrne” and “some” and “others” and ending up with a weird hybrid option 🙂

    Looking forward to seeing more updates (and you guys should also really try to make thelonious follow along upgrades to ethereum, especially since you don’t want to pay $350k for your own security audits 🙂 )

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      Author Preston J Byrne

      Posted at 4:39 pm December 31, 2014.

      Ha! And thank you – we’ve got some interesting things in the pipe and look forward to announcing them. As to Thelonious/Doug, they’re designed to work very differently from Eth so we’ll be taking them down their own path (so thank you for the offer, but we will have to pass!).

      Looking forward to catching up after the holidays/happy new year.

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        Author Ethan

        Posted at 4:58 am January 2, 2015.

        Ahem. I believe what Preston means to say is: “Yes, thank you Vitalik and Ethereum team for building such outstanding tech, and we will definitely be integrating upstream PoC8 and Alpha version upgrades into thelonious and look forward to being active participants in the security audit (as we already have been, ie. disclosing two critical vulnerabilities in Nov).”

        Awesome blog post. Exciting times.

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Author Donald McIntyre

Posted at 8:46 am December 31, 2014.

Great article Viatlik, when you say “we fragment because we disagree” don’t you think it’s a normal economic competitive drive causing this fragmentation rather than a philosophical discussion?

Or maybe these are the same thing?

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    Author Vitalik Buterin

    Posted at 3:12 pm December 31, 2014.

    Some of both. I do think sidechains have limited viability precisely because of their inability to monetize currency expansion, and so appcoins will continue to be successful for that reason, but then there’s also a reason why the projects are all different projects instead of merging and taking over DPOS delegate positions.

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Author Nexus 9

Posted at 1:54 pm December 31, 2014.

Brilliant insights as usual. I have very deep respect for what this community is doing. All these projects will converge on a singular consensus-driven infrastructure. This is necessary and absolutely inescapable given current trends and the state of the world at this stage in our history. The only thing that will rally the support of the entire global community is the prospect of creating an incorruptible decentralized technological civilization with its own unique form of world citizenship. This is not something reasonable people will disagree about, this is something we can all agree to and celebrate. If we all coordinate our efforts toward this common end we will positively shift the balance of power on this planet for ages to come. The balance of power must shift for us to make progress as a species.

Of course, this can only come to fruition if we build up critical mass with society at large. What the people of this earth want and desperately need at this point is an extremely trustworthy and disinterested group of supporters who will back their collective interests with these emerging technologies. This group would then use their influence to campaign for a collaborative model connecting these projects together in a persuasive package. This can only become truly persuasive if it employs an unconditional basic income for its citizens. It also needs to enable the general public to create their own decentralized communications, law, production, finance, and governance. This is a human rights issue, not a point for internet trolls and corrupt individuals to disagree about. If those conditions are satisfied everything will go viral extremely quickly, and the entire world will become engaged, leading to profound collective intellingence and spontaneous self-organization.

If we all invest ourselves with value, we will shift the perception of value. It’s time to embrace our revolutionary spirit.

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    Author Dave Harrison

    Posted at 2:01 pm December 31, 2014.

    … by going long Goldman Sachs.

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      Author bitWhisky

      Posted at 4:28 pm December 31, 2014.

      …in bed

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        Author Nexus 9

        Posted at 5:40 pm December 31, 2014.

        Everyone mocked bitcoin in the early days too. Strange how things turned out, huh. The funny bit is how no one is making the connection between decentralization and wealth equality. Fact is these technologies are quickly rendering the world banking system and governments obsolete. It won’t be long before people start freaking that we have no centralized enforcer to save us from the next wave of techno-monopolists. All you greedy investors with your fantasies of making a fortune off magic internet money are in for a big surprise.

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          Author spinassassin

          Posted at 6:06 am January 2, 2015.

          You’ve got all the answers I see. What happens if people don’t want to live in your vision? Will you force them for their own good? Sounds familiar. A utopia where “greedy” investors (those are the people who risk their own wealth in hopes of a reward and are the ones bankrolling this revolution) get screwed. Go on and make them sorry. I’m not the police. I won’t stop you. See how far you get when nobody trusts you. Will you blame those “greedy” investors for watering some other garden when things start drying up? The reason BTC works is because it makes good an exactly what it is supposed to do: transfer wealth securely and voluntarily. Create something value for yourself and for others. That is how you make the world better. I’m all for you learning these lessons the hard way. Its freedom baby. Just try to actually learn from it instead of spiraling deeper and more pathetic each time.

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          Author Nexus 9

          Posted at 1:43 pm January 2, 2015.

          This isn’t ‘my’ vision, this is the ongoing logical conclusion to present developments. It has nothing to do with me as an individual. It has nothing to do with violence or totalitarian dystopias. Don’t distort what I’ve said with narrow, emotionally-charged, ideological accusations. Stop raging over something you can’t control. If you supported freedom, like you seem to be claiming you do, you wouldn’t be disagreeing with me. Truth is, absolute voluntarism is a contradiction. On the one hand you want everyone to decide things for themselves, and on the other you don’t want anyone infringing your liberties. Tell me something, who will enforce your principle on others? Because it is a principle, no different than mine. Who will protect you from those who don’t share your ideal? Clearly, if I can get more freedom for myself by forcing you into a situation that robs you of your time and precious energy, then all the better for me. Why should I care about what you want?

          In a civilized system we need to arrive at consensus, which is why we need a way of deciding our own means of communication, law, production, economics, and self-governance. We’re finally approaching a point where we’re going to be able to do that in a legitimate way. I want to be able to choose my community as much as you do. I don’t want to be forced to live in a society with absurd levels of inequality and injustice. Hence, I’m electing we form a decentralized digital system of collective governance. That doesn’t imply it will be the only system. Problem is, if there are hundreds if not thousands of these systems to choose from, each with their own constitutions, organizations, and rules of interaction, how do we cooperate and avoid conflict with each other? How do we do anything of any significance together without falling into radically insulated communities? That’s right, either we go to war or we arrive at an agreement. That’s the only way to establish universal principles between different social systems. It’s inescapable, just like logic and truth are inescapable.

          If you aren’t threatened by consensus, you must find the whole idea of an unconditional basic income controversial. Is that your problem? If so, you’re free to go live in your Anarcho-capitalist / Libertarian wonderland. I won’t stop you, promise. As most people see it, social security is part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Well, those very same rights are now being threatened in the current system (inequality, automation, ecological collapse, distributive justice, etc). A decent UBI is simply the logical extension of that right. There are thousands of legitimate arguments and no shortage of strong evidence supporting this as a foundational principle. Over 25 countries are actively experimenting with its implementation. I’m not going to educate you about something you can easily find out for yourself. Do some reading, maybe. Some form of UBI is inevitable. We require a principle in place to secure a decent standard of living for everyone. The question at this point isn’t whether it should happen, but when and in what way will it happen.

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          Author spinassassin

          Posted at 2:19 pm January 2, 2015.

          Actually I read some of your other posts to figure out more about who you are. You’re right I’m libertarian but not anarchist. All I care about is that you aren’t aren’t going to bother me. You seem pretty sure of your ideas so please try them. After you try them don’t lie to yourself about what went wrong. Let us know if you really find the secret door and nothing but joy pours out. I’m highly skeptical that you’ve figured out life the universe and everything. Its all been done before with different words and labels.

          This stuff we found here feels new. Not new exactly but an order of magnitude greater than what came before. Currency was a huge and positive innovation for mankind and now we are on the brink of a whole other level. Run with it. I don’t care.

          Should I call you greedy for trying to benefit the ideas we are experimenting with? No. That’s what I take issue with. You needlessly malign people you don’t know anything about. Good people who help make good things happen from the results good efforts they expended in the past. That is what an investor is.

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Author William Mougayar

Posted at 2:23 pm December 31, 2014.

I agree that we should celebrate the current diversity of work that exists around cryptography related developments. It is a sign of the triumph of innovation. We are certainly far from perfect solutions, but if we don’t push the envelope in many different directions, we won’t have exhausted the limits of what’s possible.

That said, I do believe in the viability and usefulness of multiple blockchains, and have yet to see a really strong case for a singular alignment. In my opinion, the underlying economics of the Bitcoin currency itself are fragile until they are supported more strongly by value-added transactions, instead of just currency related movements. The field for cryptography-led software development is an enabler of solutions and a means to an end, not the end itself. Let’s not forget that and keep focusing on the end-user outcomes, and not just the internal debates about the different ways to get there. I’ve proposed that in more details here: startupmanagement.org/2014/12/30/blockchain-apps-moving-from-the-jungle-to-the-zoo/

One thing I know. The market will win with users and usage, not just technologies, but it is too early to call out the winners and those that tried to win. There are no losers, because there are lessons we gain from each attempts to innovate.

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Author Dave Harrison

Posted at 4:32 pm December 31, 2014.

When considering the up/out dichotomy (addition) to growth, don’t overlook Virilio’s oblique (multiplication).

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Author Gerry Hussein

Posted at 7:57 pm December 31, 2014.

Excellent article Vitalik. Your best yet IMO and sets the context for all your other work quite coherently.

Am aligned with all of your main arguments however I believe greater “subjectivity” is a longer term trend with network technology (wider as well as deeper relationships between even more nodes) and hence inevitable in the longer run… being aligned with at least the possibility of this will make it easier.

As far as the cryptocurrency space is concerned, I see it as the most promising next step in the evolution of the digital network – if it means the current set of highly centralised nodes are weakened with more power distributed to the edges than it will have succeeded.

There will be a new set of “winners” and “losers” in the newer paradigm…. and yet I hold out the the hope that life (meaning) will improve for the vast majority.

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Author Joshua Pritikin

Posted at 8:07 pm December 31, 2014.

This is not exactly on topic, but the mention of Austrian economics reminded me of http://youtu.be/GTQnarzmTOc (which jovially exhibits dualistic thinking) and an alternate to the two main economic theories, http://www.cesj.org/learn/just-third-way/

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Author Joseph Lubin

Posted at 4:43 am January 1, 2015.

Nice, almost poetic, overview missive to usher out an amazing 2014, V.

I see this fragmentation as a perfectly natural species-level strategy for exploring the solution space, driven by a variety of requirements and incentives. The tension of competition and collaboration will prevail for as long as there are a variety of requirements and incentives. It is a natural dynamic to infight, and jockey for internal position, when there are no external enemies present, yet rally around the cause when we are all challenged. I think this extended community does that reasonably well and I look forward to more collabing and competing in the next year and for many years after. I wish you all an excellent and prosperous 007 AS.

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Author Jason Weden

Posted at 7:22 am January 1, 2015.

It is still very early days. I think striving for interoperability is premature at this point. If we do so, we risk spending time and energy on interoperating pieces that might not be deemed important or useful. Instead, everyone should try to get to critical mass with their use cases & corresponding toolsets however tightly intertwined they are. Once we have this learning experience down, we can figure out where the best points are for intersection. Think you kinda said this.

Also, you speak of a more “vertical interoperability” with respect to the tech stack/tools/protocols. But we already have “horizontal interoperability” where each ecosystem’s altcoin can be exchanged for the other’s so we can opt in and out of different otherwise incompatible ecosystems as needed. However, it might make sense to work on the UX for this “horizontal interoperability” (e.g. multi-coin wallets with seamless exchange interaction).

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Author Ankur

Posted at 9:16 pm January 1, 2015.

Newbie from India here. I’m afraid I might sound absolutely dumb but I think cryptocurrency price volatility can be best countered by monetary policy dictated not by a centralized authority (like in fiat money case) but by a consensus network incentivized by altruism prime. We can create an anonymous community of people taking monetary decisions based on supply/demand ratio.

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Author Donald McIntyre

Posted at 10:40 pm January 1, 2015.

…the primary academic deficit of the cryptocurrency community to be not ignorance of advanced computer science, but rather economics and philosophy…

Vitalik, could you please write here a list of basic papers, wiki articles, and other links you would recommend as basic knowledge to be updated so as to follow the debate more functionally by anyone who wishes to participate?

As a non-technical participant I try to be updated and read many works and papers, but sometimes new concepts and definitions come by (like Futarchy) and it catches me by surprise.

If you agree, and if you write the list here, I can post it on Reddit, or it would be even better if you wrote a post on this blog like “The Ultimate List Of Papers And Articles To Understand The New Blockchain World”… 😉

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Author bitsharesTV

Posted at 11:47 pm January 1, 2015.

Great Article Vitalik. I would love to get yourself and Dan Larimer on a Google Hangout to discuss the best ways for BitShares and Ethereum to help each other. If that sounds interesting please reach out to me.

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Author Kris Stinson

Posted at 7:02 am January 3, 2015.

What about Open Transactions?

I’m not a programmer, but I thought Open Transactions is a platform that could unite the various crypto tech together since their platform is currency agnostic (from what I understand).

I’d love to hear some thoughts on Open Transactions from the Ethereum developers and the Bitshares developers too.

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Author Solid Snake

Posted at 5:52 pm January 5, 2015.

Writes Jeff Herbener:

Here is the debate stimulated by Bryan Caplan’s article:
First, Caplan:
http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/whyaust.htm
Next, Guido Huelsmann
http://mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae2_4_1.pdf
Then, Walter Block:
http://mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae2_4_2.pdf
Caplan’s response:
http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/pdfs/probabilitycommonsense.pdf
And Hans Hoppe:
http://mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae8_4_6.pdf

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Author Benjamin Wright

Posted at 6:29 pm January 5, 2015.

Vitalik: Your article inspired me. It teaches that the crypto 2.0 ecosystem is richer and is spawning more projects than I realized. In support of this ecosystem, I published stock legal terms that could help new projects cope with legal risk. http://hack-igations.blogspot.com/2015/01/decentralization.html –Ben

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Author Lootz

Posted at 7:34 pm January 7, 2015.

http://www.SuperNET.org is also a project worth following as they have accomplished more then any of the mentioned side projects above

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Author Brandon Collins

Posted at 8:40 pm January 7, 2015.

Time to look up the SuperNET Vitalik.

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Author AlexPetrenko

Posted at 3:49 am January 14, 2015.

Apart from the fact that the article is very good I appreciate the big number of links – made my night full of exciting stuff to read)

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Author jody frenzel

Posted at 11:55 pm May 27, 2016.

Wow… what a great post! Thanks for the info, you made it easy to understand. BTW, if anyone needs to merge PDF/PNG files online, I found a service here http://goo.gl/qUvDM9.

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