In-depth report on "New Yorker": Ethereum Enemies (middle)

Originally titled "The New Yorker", the original title is "The Prophets of Cryptocurrency Survey the Boom and Bust", with a slender brushstroke on the development of the benchmark economy of the encryption economy – Ethereum – A comprehensive review.

Different from the previous perspectives we focus on, the article focuses on the concept exploration and panoramic development. It does not stick to specific technical details, nor does it criticize morality. It is rare to give the readers the right to comment. Good text.

This article is compiled exclusively by Encrypted Valley and will be divided into three journals. This is the second one, so stay tuned for subsequent updates.

In view of this, Zamfir and Buterin have developed another method in Montreal called PoS. In this scenario, the holder of the token becomes the verifier, taking a small commission from each transaction. But in theory, the more tokens you hold, the greater your influence. Therefore, PoW supporters believe that PoS is in the hands of the rich. The wealth distribution mechanism is an unchanging problem.

In 2013, Buterin traveled to San Jose, USA to attend the BTC meeting. He recalled afterwards that he met like-minded people for the first time in his life and realized that the blockchain is worthy of his own commitment. The cryptographer Zooko Wilcox recalled the past when Buterin said to him: "This is the first thing I love. Fortunately, it loves me too."

Buterin has always kept the habit of writing blogs, charging 5 BTCs per article. He founded the famous "Bitcoin Magazine" with Romanian blockchain entrepreneur Mihai Alisie. Later, this publication became one of the oldest and most authoritative sources in the blockchain world.

Buterin is good at explaining things, especially for readers who already have a certain theoretical basis. However, when he attended the BTC meeting around the world, he began to think about the limitations of this technology, and wanted to expand the non-monetary use of the digital asset platform to design a full-featured Swiss Army Knife computing system.

He designed a once-in-a-lifetime version of a blockchain platform that has a wider range of uses and is compatible with more applications. The idea behind BTC – "World Computer" is about to come out.

In the mid-1990s, the cryptographer and early cryptic punk member Nick Szabo coined the term "smart contract." Twenty years later, the word laid the cornerstone of Ethereum.

A "smart contract" is a mechanism that sets and enforces the terms of an agreement without any intermediary (including a lawyer, notary, clerk, or arbitrator). The terms of the contract are triggered by the code, circumventing the misunderstanding of the legal language by a particular individual. They believe that the computer code is different from the "Han Rabbi Code" or the Federal Reserve's bill. It is more fair and universal and can eliminate (at least greatly reduce) the uncontrollability of subjective factors. This laid the foundation for later digital currency transactions, home sales, insurance payments and even online gambling.

Szabo prefers to refer to smart contracts as vending machines. You usually don't need someone to guarantee this machine. As he described: In the world of smart contracts, if a borrower does not pay off his car loan in time, his car will not be able to start. The contract terms are embedded in the code and built into the car system.

The reliability of the code will make it unnecessary for people to guess the minds of others. Under the current old economic system, we must spend money and spend a lot of time and resources in exchange for a little trust. The most typical example is title insurance. The entire industry exists to prove that the person who sells to your house is a reputable homeowner. Real estate and intellectual property are big businesses with considerable profits, but this is not the case for blockchain believers.

The code abolishes distasteful differences and communication costs. Buterin said, "The fundamental significance of the blockchain is: to improve the ability to cross a huge social divide, and to create a trust mechanism."

The other thing is about dignity: identity. Our identity and any data associated with it may pose a potential hazard. At present, our identity information is usually maintained by a centralized government system, with tax officials, motor vehicle management departments and police acting as “gatekeepers”, but through transaction history, browsing habits and unencrypted communications, we are unaware of In the case of being leaked out, it became a tool for fraud and money collection.

In the Google era, all aspects of our own are published on the Internet. At this level, the innovation of the blockchain lies in the “self-sovereign identity”: you can control and distribute information about yourself, and Ethernet maintains authentication.

In some of the wider spaces, the old intermediaries have little place to stand. The most obvious beneficiaries of trust machines are those who are deprived of citizenship and those who do not have bank accounts. This group has as many as one billion people and they cannot access any reliable financial system. In daily life, it is difficult to understand the practicality of such tools, because we generally rely on Citibank, Visa, Venmo and Western Union to handle transactions.

Under these powerful financial systems, the blockchain looks like a background fix, or an accounting system change that attracts geeks and believers, but the unfamiliar public is not interested in it.

In November 2013, Buterin wrote a white paper called “Cryptoland”, which proposed a new open source distributed computing platform. You can build a variety of smart contract applications and other tokens on this platform. He called it Ethereum. A new era has opened.

“I found this name when I was browsing the list of elements of science fiction on Wikipedia,” he said at the time. “Ether refers to an imaginary intangible medium that can penetrate into the universe and allow light to spread.”

He had thought that an experienced cryptographer would have to approve his white paper. As a result, every person who has read is impressed by his elegant writing and ambition.

Some of the early believers were Toronto's Bitcoiners, who met through informal gatherings and Skype group chats. One of them recalled, "This is a fixed call from a group of serious people."

The North American BTC Conference held in Miami in January 2014 laid the foundation for the creation of Ethereum. These "serious people" decided to rent a beach house.

After a week or so, they had a more comprehensive understanding of Ethereum and called it Buterin's "airborne computer." This group of people is the co-founder of the early Ethereum. These include Gavin Wood (British programmer, later as Ether's CTO); Charles Hoskinson (Colorado programmer, briefly served as project CEO), and Anthony Di Iorio (Canadian, project leader).

Di Iorio invited the 49-year-old Toronto BTC believer Joseph Lubin to attend the meeting. Lubin sniffed out the significance of this meeting and invited journalist Morgen Peck to witness.

The online publication "Backchannel" published a story captured by Peck, with a photo of her temporary snapping shot one morning. In the photo, Buterin works in front of his laptop and everyone else is asleep.

Peck explained: "The pipe on the table is not Buterin."

Buterin unveiled the Ethereum project for the first time at the BTC conference in Miami. At the age of 19, he dropped out of the computer science major at the University of Waterloo and devoted all his time to the development of the Ethereum project.

“We realized at the time that this project would be a blockbuster,” Hoskinson recalls.

Each founder takes on a different role. Lubin, who has Wall Street experience, is the CEO. Lubin told me: "These are our own stupid titles, and the title doesn't make any sense in this bizarre open source project." Buterin called himself a C-3PO.

Lubin thinks he is an adult in this room, that is, a guardian. Wood, who eventually collided with him, said: "Lubin wants to be the same mentor as the Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, but unfortunately became the Dark Warrior Darth Vader."

After a few months of work, the founders proposed a set of vocabulary and conceptual frameworks that could define ethereum in popular terms and avoid subsequent legal disputes.

When the idea of ​​selling new digital assets to the public for project financing emerged, Lubin and Hoskinson realized that this could be a risky business.

Lubin said: "If we want to raise tens of millions of dollars from the BTC upstart, it is necessary to talk to lawyers about how to avoid risks. We may be identified as selling illegal securities to Americans." This is a "symbolic" practice. , but may involve serious legal consequences.

"In the process, we basically defined what Ethereum and Ether are," Lubin said. “I realized that we have an excellent opportunity to explain the concept of Ethereum to the world and let them accept the ideas we created. And it seems to have worked. That is, we seem to have created reality.”

Language is consciousness. They define "ether" as an "encrypted fuel" that people use to run programs and store data on Ethereum systems. At a conference in New York, Wood called Ethereum a "world-centric computer," like the mainframe of the 1960s, where everyone could use it everywhere.

The founder decided to call Ethereum "World Computer" and discussed the best way to operate. Should it be a profitable entity supported by token financing? Or is it similar to the VC behind Ripple? Or should it be a non-profit foundation with independent supervision?

The eight founders gave different insights. Some people tend to be profitable, while others are the opposite. “Things started to get really bad!” Hoskinson recalls.

Wood told me, "At the time, Vitalik was seen as a golden chicken, treated by other people in a materialized way, like aliens sent from Mars to save the planet. I am extremely disgusted with this approach. ”

Lubin also admitted that "there have been a lot of farce, and things have become very complicated." In short, developers including Wood are cautious about the motives and ways of doing business with these businessmen; on the contrary, these businessmen feel that developers are not enough. Pragmatic, but also lack the desire to make big money.

In the end, the founders unanimously handed over the decision to Buterin. Buterin said: "I am undoubtedly the most respected and trustworthy person, even surpassing their mutual trust. This is really a sad thing."

He also said that he "appears to be the most harmless of this group of people." "Vitalik is very simple, not deeply involved." Dmitry Buterin told me. "He has to go through the experience to understand the sinister heart."

Six months after the Miami conference, the entire team gathered in a house in the Swiss state of Zug. Zug was once a tax haven for hedge funds and is now known as Crypto Valley.

This is the first time all the founders have gathered under the same roof. Buterin stayed alone in the yard for a while, then he walked over and told Hoskinson and another founder, "You are out."

He then announced that Ethereum will continue to operate as a non-profit foundation. Wood said: "That was a bad time, and Vitalik was forced to make this choice and was helpless."

"That was one of the few blockbusters I threw into the management of Ethereum." Buterin told me. “I strongly feel that Ethereum is destined to become an open source project for the world, and placing profitable entities at the center may make it too central.”

The remaining founders founded the non-profit Ethereum Foundation, based in Zug, to fund project development. This is because Ethereum itself has no foundation and is as important as the ether in traditional corporate terms.

Driven by conflicts and interests, the founders of Ethereum decentralized their power.

"We are all blown away by the wind." Hoskinson told me. In the end, he founded an encryption company called IOHK and a blockchain project called Cardano. "I now run a company with 160 employees, and it is also a billionaire. At this moment, I don't miss my six-month time at Ethereum."

What would a world rebuilt by a smart contract look like? Imagine the following scenario: The office building, which should have gathered bankers, lawyers, and accountants, is now empty, and the devastating Caribbean islands are the homes of encrypted Utopia, and the open-air barns on the prairies are filled with mining machines…

In May, I attended the Ethereal Summit at a former industrial glass factory in Maspeth, Queens, New York. The location of the meeting was profound: the new order was established in the abandoned factory building.

Dining cars, craft beer, and Zen-filled meditation tents at the event also make people enjoy it. Perhaps this is the lifestyle of the blockchain. The two washrooms stood side by side and were initially unisex, but by the afternoon of the first day, the participants consciously abide by the principle of gender distinction without the authoritative urging.

On the central stage, celebrities and evangelists have a variety of terminology, but in other corners, you can see a variety of displays. Among them was a speech by a supply chain startup called Viant, who used blockchains to track fish stocks and trace them from the “bait to the plate” track. The video shows a yellowfin tuna caught in the waters of Fiji on April 10 and was made into sashimi one month later. Due to the existence of the blockchain, the production process of sashimi has become undisputed and trustworthy. Participants flocked and wanted to get a free sashimi.

There was also a panel discussion between the founders of Civil, with the theme of “How to use the blockchain to reshape the journalism under the double challenge of the impact of the Internet and the sluggish advertising model”.

Outside the small brick house, there is a project presentation of Cellarius, founder Igor Lilic introduced, Cellarius is a crowdsourcing story that happened in 2084, after a super artificial intelligence was activated, full of sci-fi meaning, but at the same time, it is also an artist and A community built by partners, a technology platform built by developers.

"This is just a hypothesis right now," Lilic said. “Our long-term goal is to find a new intellectual property economic model.” Is this a valuable goal? I don't understand how it relates to distributed books or consensus algorithms, maybe only God knows.

The organizer of the summit was ConsenSys, a company founded in Brooklyn after Lubin left Ethereum in 2014.

ConsenSys is an incubator for new businesses and projects that may run on the Ethereum blockchain in the future. ConsenSys is the most well-known developer and promoter of the Ethereum community.

DApps is a distributed application that is the commercial basis for property rights, identity management, document verification, commodity trading, and legal agreements. Lubin said this is the prototype of a new distributed economic infrastructure.

ConsenSys is headquartered in a graffiti-filled industrial space in Bushwick. This site is intended to challenge the atmosphere of traditional companies, almost ostentatious expression: recognition of digital assets anarchism. But at the same time, it also has a hint of restraint, because ConsenSys has to connect with traditional businesses and the government, seeking their help to build a private blockchain.

A friend who worked with them said: "They have billions of dollars in assets. Why do they do this? Why not buy a big office in Manhattan like other companies?"

The company currently has more than 1,000 employees worldwide. Lubin said that they have hired a lot of people from IBM. A community member said: "They are so rich, so the strategy that comes to mind is to take all the assets out and see which projects will succeed." But as of now, it seems that I have not seen much return. They can cite dozens of projects at different stages of development, but none have become a killer application.

It is said that Lubin is the largest holder of ETH and is estimated to be worth more than $1 billion. Of course, some people made a bad guess, saying that he founded ConsenSys to increase the value of ETH.

When I asked him if it was real-time, he scoffed. "If it is true, this is a bad strategy!" he said. “For example, if I want to build a company in a non-existent ecosystem, I can increase the value of ETH.” He went on to say: “The early entry into the encryption circle was due to philosophical ideas, political and economic reasons, and Their personal wealth has nothing to do with it."

ConsenSys immediately issued a rule prohibiting employees from talking about the price of tokens. After a sharp depreciation between ETH and other tokens overnight, I went to Bushwick to see Lubin. I asked him about the market diving. He said, "Who cares?" Obviously, the billionaires in the encryption circle don't care.

For many people who participated in the "Empty Summit", there was an evangelical fanaticism in the scene. It just disguised as a new form of technical utopianism to distinguish it from the myths of Silicon Valley and Elon Musk.

Aya Miyaguchi, director of the Ethereum Foundation, said to me: "We want to change the world and have a sincere faith in it."

The first time I saw Lubin was in the summer of 2017. At the time, he was eating tortillas at Williamsburg with his CMO Amanda Gutterman.

Gutterman said: "We call Lubin white purpheus." (Editor's Note: Refers to the role of prophet and mentor in the Matrix of the Matrix, played by Laurence Fishburne)

In his eyes, Lubin summoned a parallel reality in which ordinary people can also create miracles.

Like Buterin, he refused to be portrayed as a charismatic person in commercial promotion, but it seems that the world believes in this.

In the art work of fans, Buterin is often portrayed as Jesus who drives Lamborghini. If Buterin is the blockchain version of the Messiah, then Lubin is his saint Paul, giving Buterin unlimited help, whether it is evangelism or dealing with secular affairs.

In fact, Lubin is a believer in Ethereum, but he is also an advocate of enterprise applications, advocating the creation of practical business applications on the private chain to accelerate the elimination of the traditional world.

“Lubin has been criticized for trying to push Ethereum to enterprise applications,” said Emin Gun Sirer, a professor of computer science at Cornell University who worked with Ethereum. "There is two sides to this problem. One is to cater to the fringe of the counter-mainstream culture, and the other is that someone must pay for these developers. That is to say, to achieve this cause, two types of people are needed: encryption punk and investors wearing suits."

Lubin shaved his head and the Toronto accent was pure. In a panel discussion at the Ethereal conference, "The Daily Show" comedian Ronny Chieng evaluated Lubin's fashion tastes (washed jeans with a loose T-shirt) and ridiculed him with a blank expression.

He said: "If you have a rich facial expression, you will get more investors' favor. Also, you will only explain everything with professional words that have just been created for less than two years."

Lubin grew up in Toronto, his father was a dentist, and his mother was a real estate agent before he retired. He graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. His only hobby is playing squash.

His college roommates include: hedge fund investor Mike Novogratz (represented in 2017 as a representative of the Wall Street encryption boom) and wrestler Richard Tavoso (known as Fudge, who has a book that records who owes money to the dormitory board) Wait.

Thirty years later, as Lubin and Novogratz entered the top of the blockchain industry, Fudge's books became a common joke between friends.

After graduating from college, Lubin worked on artificial intelligence and worked hard to become a professional squash player. His research interests include helping robots build nervous systems and vision systems.

When he was young, he got married, gave birth to a son, and then divorced. He then worked on programming for a few years and worked for Goldman Sachs and the Identrus Bank consortium on Wall Street for a while. "That was where I learned cryptography. These days let me know how to write software using cryptography," he said. Later, he developed a foreign exchange and securities trading program, and also created a fund, which was very successful.

Despite this, after several financial turmoil (especially the global financial order in 2008), the fascination with science fiction and punk culture began to ferment in the early years, which gave him a "end of the world". For example, he believes that the "9.11" incident is an internal political conspiracy of the United States. To this end, he had considered buying land in Peru or Ecuador. He explained: “This is out of fear or want, or it is an expectation of a financial system collapse.”

But in the end, he did not act, but began planning to build a vertical farm in Brooklyn. Before he understood his thoughts, he and a model and actor from Jamaica became male and female friends, and moved to the capital of Jamaica to live in Kingston to help her start her musical career.

They bought a house, built a recording studio, recorded some songs, and made some videos. He said: "Then things start to get complicated and the story is over. Then, the Ethereum happened."

In 2011, he saw Nakamoto's white paper on Slashdot and began to study BTC and blockchain agreements. It is Buterin's white paper that has changed his life. “Vitalik Buterin's white paper is the best version I have ever read,” Lubin said.

During his New Year's Day in 2014, he met Buterin at a party in Toronto. I asked Lubin how it felt. "We just discussed the blockchain," he shrugged.

When Lubin talked about what he saw in human history, for the first time, he had the opportunity to create a financial system without the involvement of traditional pastor classes, runes readers and bookkeepers, old priests, etc. The eyes began to shine. But he also admitted, "You definitely need the 'priest' to build these systems." The "priest" in his mouth refers to the top programmer, the developer.

William Shatner called the digital asset "the currency of the snobbery of the Internet." This means that in some ways, we will replace the previous one with a "priest." (To be continued)

Nick Paumgarten author;; DUANNI YI translation;   Edited by Sonny Sun ;

Source: Encrypted Valley

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