Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has a lot to say about blockchain, as well as believing IBM is “missing the point.”
In this age of political correctness, it’s refreshing when someone actually speaks their mind. Vitalik Buterin has no problem expressing his opinions, such as calling out Craig Wright. Quartz spoke to Buterin at Devcon, the Ethereum developer conference, where he expressed quite a few views on the current and future state of blockchain technology.
Vitalik Buterin Throws Some Shade at IBM
One interesting facet of the interview was how some entities were using Ethereum and blockchain to generate hype for projects that could more easily be done through alternative means, such as a database. Buterin thinks such projects can be undertaken just for marketing hype, but he also says that even if the project is done in earnest, deciding to use blockchain instead of other alternatives can lead to a “lot of wasted time.”
He notes one particular project he considers a waste of time is IBM’s blockchain. He says:
I don’t understand this [IBM’s corporate blockchain] deeply, but the detail that jumped out at me is they’re saying “Hey, we own all the IP and this is basically our platform and you’re getting on it.” And like, that’s… totally not the point….
It’s no secret that Buterin is not a fan of centralization. It was just a few months ago where he publicly said that centralized exchanges should “burn in hell.”
However, he does go on to say that IBM’s food blockchain might have some benefit. He notes:
The potential value of tracking food on a blockchain is that you’d get QR codes stamped on the [food] at every step [along] the way, and you as a consumer can scan the code and get confirmation about “here is where the stuff came from.” Like I can check if it complies with my own moral values or standards for quality and so forth.
There’s definitely something there, but whether or not any of the actors there are doing it remotely correctly, I’m much less sure.
Good Use Cases for Blockchain
Vitalik Buterin also expressed his view that not every industry would benefit from blockchain technology. He does say that a few particular industries are the most viable when it comes to blockchain technology. (These industries should come as no surprise.) Buterin says:
Cryptocurrencies and making international payments easier. All of the other ideas—whether we’re talking about products or the self-sovereign identity stuff—that’s clearly something that still needs much more time to be worked out before we can see [whether it] makes sense at scale.
Going beyond money, I think the value is that you create a token and you immediately have access to wallets, multi-signature wallets, decentralized exchanges, and just using it as collateral—all of this infrastructure that you wouldn’t have access to if you just created a currency and tried launching it off your own server.
I feel like actual utilities in the space are going to start getting closer to things that are more purely digital.
Currently, Buterin’s favorite non-financial application of blockchain technology is authenticating university degrees. He loves the idea of having your educational degree digitally signed on the blockchain. He notes the additional benefit of if a college revokes your degree, that information will also be stored on the blockchain and accessible to all.
What do you think of Buterin’s comments? Let us know in the comments below.
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