Vitalik Buterin on Ethereum

Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Bitcoin Magazine and founder of Ethereum, answered to questions in an “Ask me anything” session on Zapchain.

Assuring that the long awaited first phase of Ethereum is “coming very very soon”, the 20 years old developer explained that “one of the misconceptions about ethereum is that it’s a currency and the whole point is to speculate on it just like any other ****coin. That’s not true; the ‘currency’ is just there for plumbing. Ethereum is really meant as much more of a general-purpose decentralized application platform, containing a full suite of tools (decentralized messaging, blockchain, distributed hash table) for building ‘dapps’ in.”

“I describe Ethereum to lay audiences as ‘a magic decentralized computer that is guaranteed to do what you program it to do, with very low downtime risks or third-party trust required,” he added. And when asked about the relation between Bitcoin and Ethereum, he noted that “Bitcoin works decently well as digital gold,” and added that the two protocols are not really in competing with each other: “I see us as being in a somewhat different space from Bitcoin. Bitcoin focuses specifically on the digital money/payments niche; we are at the core a highly abstracted platform for any kind of decentralized applications.”

He also gave details about the forthcoming developments that should be released this year (“The Ethereum client, Mist, is a fully featured ‘browser’ for decentralized web applications; you can use decentralized applications (‘dapps’) from inside of Mist just like you can interact with websites in a regular browser. The plan is also to integrate a decentralized private message-passing network, ‘Whisper’, a distributed hash table for content storage, ‘Swarm’,”), concluding that Ethereum will essentially form a “complete suite of tools for building what might be called ‘the web without servers’.”

Buterin emphasized the need for decentralization with a few examples, including identification. “I think that the current regime of having to ‘sign in with Google/Twitter/Facebook’ to everything is simply insane, and have even made the point that if this continues 10 years from now it may be harder to change identity providers than it is to change countries,” he wrote.

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