Ethereum Q&A: Smart contract platforms

Q: “Which do you think is a superior platform for smart contracts?
Bitcoin with side chains like Rootstock?
Ethereum or one of the self-proclaimed 3G or third-generation blockchains?”
I mean the problem is you can’t really compare these things,
and the reason you can’t compare them is because one exists and the other two are mostly road map or test software at the moment.
So, Ethereum exists, and you can like it, you can hate it,
but you can actually express an opinion as to how good it is for smart contracts
and what kind of problems it has and how those problems are being addressed by the developers and community in Ethereum.
I think they’ve done okay so far, some big mistakes some great successes, and the platform is gradually and slowly maturing.
Rootstock, I’m interested in seeing how that goes, until you have drive chains, Ridge Stock is a more centralized, federated model
and we have to bootstrap some kind of
consensus algorithm that’s a bit more decentralized, and it’s still in the very early stages of testing. So, promising,
interesting, different, but not yet. And the third generation
blockchains are suffering from the fact that
most of them are not able to differentiate sufficiently with the first generation blockchains
or second generation blockchains and
so they’re babies with big ambitions.
When they grow up we’ll see and judge according to scale. Do it at scale first. If you’re not doing it at scale,
you can’t draw any conclusions. So first you have to put a very big pot of money on the table and say,
‘Hey, I’m gonna secure this with a smart contract, let’s see what happens.’
And sometimes what happens is millions of dollars get stole or locked into a contract accidentally,
but that’s how you learn
That’s how you find those bugs.
So, right now the superior platform for smart contracts is really…
the only platform that’s kind of doing smart contracts at scale which is Ethereum, and whether it’s superior or not
that’s a whole other discussion.
Q: “What makes Ethereum interesting to you?
What would you say to someone who thinks it’s nothing more than an educational example of how not to do smart contracts?”
So when I say Ethereum, I think i’m speaking a bit more broadly than…
the ETH token and blockchain, I’m talking more about an virtual machine-based,
Turing-complete, programmable blockchain that allows you to run smart contracts which would encompass things like classic
Rootstock and possibly Lisk and a few others. I find them all interesting.
I think the idea of a general-purpose programmable blockchain where you can run programs as…
I hate the term smart contracts, I’ll say, but it well you can run programs that are triggered by transactions and track the state,
it’s a difficult idea to execute on. It’s gonna to take a long time to mature the security.
Along the line there are going to be a lot of
mistakes and missteps and burnt money and crashes and security vulnerabilities,
but I think in the long run something useful can emerge from that.
There are some scaling issues,
there are some security issues, but I think we’ll see the maturity getting to the point where you can do interesting things
interesting things that take
the security flexibility trade-offs the Bitcoin has made
slightly into the flexibility side.
With, with still being able to maintain enough security to do some very interesting things that you cannot do
with Bitcoin. There are things that you can’t do with with Bitcoin
And they’re, you know doing those securely is very very difficult,
and we’ve seen that again and again with Ethereum. So Ethereum can’t do what Bitcoin does
but I’ve talked about these trade-offs before and in fact no Turing-complete,
virtual machine-based,
blockchain can do what Bitcoin does. Having a script language that is very simple and
not Turing-complete and
very robust I think is a very important differentiator, and it has certain very useful applications.
So, I find Ethereum interesting also as a platform for testing
software engineering in the blockchain space on a much much more rapid basis than Bitcoin.
Bitcoin, because of its nature has a robust reserve currency and
very very secure decentralized payment platform
has to be conservative and as a result it has to move slowly and it can’t take risks, like there is no way
that we could do proof of stake as an experiment on Bitcoin and they’re about to do it on Ethereum.
I’m very interested in seeing how that experiment plays out in it if it’s successful it will open the door for a lot more interesting
consensus algorithms and hybrid systems and
interactions between block chains, and there are great developments in the state of the arts and the science. So all of those things make
Ethereum interesting. I’m interested because it can move faster. I’m interested because it explores a much broader set of applications
I’m interested because,
despite its missteps, It’s actually taught us a lot of very useful lessons. We’re learning a lot of how it governance as well.
And there are some very tricky questions about ‘When do you fork?’ ‘When do you not fork?’ ‘Who do you bailout?’
‘Who do you not bailout?’ ‘How important is
immutability?’ All of these things are being experimented on because of Ethereum. I also like the fact that
having other robust blockchains with
strong valuations, liquidity and lots of transactions aside from Bitcoin
makes the space healthier for everyone.
When when Bitcoin’s having a bad time it gives some people somewhere to diversify into that’s not fiat.
I mean if I wanted to take my money out of
Bitcoin, I’m not saying that’s something I want to do,
but at the moment I might have two choices I could diversify into dollars, I could div… or three choices,
I could diversify into gold, and now I could also diversify into some of the other
blockchains out there that are doing interesting things.
It’s it’s up to every person to evaluate what’s interesting to them.
Next question, Matt says, “Other than the scaling problem, what is the most challenging obstacle for Ethereum and Bitcoin moving forward?”
Oh, that’s that’s a great question.
You know, I’ve said,
I think repeatedly, that to me the biggest problem is privacy and the reason privacy is a very big problem is
that if we don’t have strong enough anonymity and privacy the most obvious
attack against these systems when they get to a size where they start threatening
the existing monetary…
monetary control system, the
big interests of banks and things like that, is that in countries where the rule of law is pretty weak
they’re going to pass laws where they’re going to punish you after the fact for things you do with digital currencies.
Ex post facto laws, vague laws, laws that are
that create enormous prosecutorial discretion so they can make examples of some people,
laws where you don’t know if what you’re doing is is correct or not,
but the penalties are extremely harsh. Things like that, and all of those depend on the ability to
find you and create consequences after you’ve done a transaction for that
transaction. Right?
So privacy
I think is really important. Privacy allows us to
diffuse some of the legal attacks that are likely to come in the long term and create a more robust Network
I think that obstacle is more important than
scaling and it needs to be solved in the base layer because it can’t be solved from the second layer.

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