“People are worrying that they’re going to
lose you, Andreas, to the altcoin sphere.”
“Peter says, “Recently I’ve seen more and more
people, especially on Twitter, commenting on…
whether you will remain faithful to Bitcoin.”
“In certain ways, I empathise. You certainly
have never been in this for the money.”
“That’s what I truly and thoroughly believe.”
“It makes me wonder why you would spend so
much time on Ethereum and even write a book
about how to ‘master’ Ethereum.”
“I’ve always looked up to you as a person with
a deep technical understanding, not only about
Bitcoin but distributed systems in general.”
“Looking at Ethereum from various angles,
it just makes my heart bleed.”
“It’s saddening and goes against so many ideologies
you’ve been proclaiming and teaching over the years.”
“I guess the question is, why?”
“Not for the money, not for the fame, and
undoubtedly not for the technology. So why?”
Peter, undoubtedly it is the technology.
I’m sorry to disappoint you but the reason
I’m interested in Ethereum is because…
I’m interested in the application of blockchain
technology to consensus networks
that resolve the state of smart contracts.
I’m interested in programmable blockchains.
I’m interested in blockchains that use a virtual
machine to resolve the state of smart contracts,
so as to expand the possibilities and make
programming blockchains much more flexible.
Don’t be under any illusion that what I’m
doing in writing ‘Mastering Ethereum’ is about
why you should invest in the particular chain launched
by Vitalik Buterin and many others back in 2014.
I’m writing a book about blockchains that
use smart contracts within virtual machines.
The book I’m writing may be called ‘Mastering
Ethereum’, but it also applies to Ethereum Classic,
Rootstock, Lisq, EOS, and a variety of other virtual
machine, smart contract-based blockchains.
I am fascinated by this technology, not because
it provides better answers than Bitcoin,
but because it provides different answers than Bitcoin.
These technologies, as a whole, are about changing
the trade-offs between security and flexibility.
Bitcoin is by far the blockchain that is the most secure,
decentralised, and provides a robust monetary system.
That’s not the purpose of Ethereum.
It doesn’t compete with Bitcoin at that.
The purpose of [Ethereum] is to take
that trade-off and shift it to the other side…
where it is more flexible, in order to do a much
broader range of programmable smart contracts.
These programmable smart contracts are not
going to be as secure as Bitcoin’s.
That’s a given, that’s how the trade-off works.
They’re not going to be as scalable as Bitcoin,
because scalability is much more difficult
to achieve when you’re dealing with all of this state.
They’re not going to provide the
robust monetary guarantees of Bitcoin.
Again, because that is not the
trade-off that was aimed for.
That doesn’t mean this technology is useful or useless.
That is for the market to decide.
Whether you want to write applications and smart
contracts, DApps, and things like that, is up to you.
Does it mean that this technology is interesting? Absolutely.
Whether you agree with these trade-offs or not,
they do open a whole new realm of technology
research, experimentation, and innovation.
Right now, most of that research, experimentation,
and innovation is being used to make shitcoins
by the truckload.
That is not good. But that’s not the technology.
The technology has opened the door.
The fact that a whole bunch of idiots have
tried to rush through that door to make shitcoins
has nothing to do with the underlying technology.
Before Ethereum, people were making
shitcoins using Bitcoin’s [code].
Don’t fool yourself! There will always be people
who are unscrupulous and want to make shitcoins.
I’m interested in technology and I’m open to reading
and learning about all [kinds of] different technologies.
Even if I don’t agree with their governance models,
the choices they’ve made about how to fork,
how to fix problems and bugs.
Even if I don’t agree with the level of centralisation
or decentralisation they have.
They’re not alone in this space. They’re competing
against a variety of other technologies.
The technology of using virtual machines, consensus
algorithms, and blockchains to run smart contracts
— that technology exists independently from
Vitalik Buterin’s Ethereum, any current implementation
and whether that succeeds, fails,
has a high price or a low price.
It is independent of whether these things
compete or don’t compete against Bitcoin.
In my opinion, they don’t.
That technology is interesting. There’s a real
technology there and I’m interested in it.
If you think that I’m going to be “faithful”
to Bitcoin by limiting my intellectual curiosity,
by refusing to read or learn about technologies
that may (in some people’s minds)
threaten the “supremacy” of the one-true doctrine…
That’s not science, that’s religion, and I don’t do religion.
That’s a litmus test, a loyalty test,
a purity test, and I don’t do any of that.
I’m going to remain intellectually curious.
If ideas threaten you, then you need to learn
more about [those ideas], not stop learning.
This is not a faith-based system, at least I hope it is not.
I’m not interested in faith-based systems.
Does that mean I’m no longer interested in Bitcoin?
Absolutely not. I’m absolutely interested in Bitcoin.
I’m also interested in Ethereum.
I’m interested in half a dozen other chains, layers,
protocols, all swirling around this amazing [space].
We are so focused on setting up the circular firing
squads and litmus tests, we’ve forgotten the real enemy.
The real enemy is not the not-quite-decentralised
system just across the road which other people
use cryptocurrency technologies to build.
The real enemy is totalitarianism, fascism, corrupt
crony capitalism, and destructive banking systems
that are absolutely centralised, share none of our values,
and are causing enormous damage to the world.
Stop worrying about whether Ethereum is
or isn’t going to compete against Bitcoin.
This entire cryptocurrency space is growing.
If you don’t like Ethereum, that’s fine!
I don’t have a problem with that. Don’t use it.
It’s an open market and nobody is forcing you to use it.
The reason I am writing a book about this
technology is first and foremost because
I want to learn all the intricate details of how a virtual
machine, a blockchain, and a consensus algorithm
can be used to execute smart contracts.
Not because I’m interested in one implementation, but
in all of the possible implementations of that idea.
They provide a very broad and rich
domain for experimentation.
You can do that with a variety of
monetary and governance policies,
in centralised or decentralised networks.
You can do it across the board.
That’s why I’m writing ‘Mastering Ethereum.’
I’m still very much interested, invested,
and working on Bitcoin and other open blockchains.
I will continue to work on open blockchains every day.
I will continue to be curious, interested, and playful
with technologies so that I can learn as much as I can.
If that makes me “disloyal,” that’s okay. I don’t mind.