Artificial Intelligence Podcast: Vitalik Buterin Show Notes

Vitalik Buterin talks about Bitcoin, money, blockchain and cryptocurrency concepts, Ethereum, Ethereum 2.0, future of cryptocurrency, governments, books, and more.

Vitalik Buterin (@VitalikButerin) is a Russian-Canadian programmer known as the co-founder of Ethereum and Bitcoin Magazine. He discovered Bitcoin in 2011 and started writing for the Bitcoin Weekly blog. He later co-founded Bitcoin Magazine which was then purchased by BTC Media. Vitalik released the Ethereum white paper in late 2013. He dropped out of college in 2014 after receiving the Thiel Fellowship for $100,000 and went to work full time on Ethereum.

Enjoy the takeaways of the conversation drafted concisely in this Artificial Intelligence Podcast Vitalik Buterin show notes.

Key Takeaways

  • Satoshi Nakamoto was the anonymous person who released the Bitcoin white paper along with the original source code. Satoshi Nakamoto interacted with the early community on forums and helped the project for a couple of years before disappearing.
  • The first bitcoin transaction happened between Satoshi Nakamoto and Hal Finney.
  • Money is a kind of a game where one move can reduce your points by a number and increase someone else’s points by the same number, says Vitalik Buterin.
  • Money is a big motivator for humans. It is closest to being the universal motivator.
  • Money equates to power. People spend money on things that showcase their social status. This is not a healthy way to think about it.
  • Public goods benefit all. The internet is an example of this.
  • The Tragedy of the Commons prevents people from contributing to public goods that will benefit a lot of people.
  • Vitalik proposes Quadratic Payments to counter the Tragedy of Commons.
  • In the words of Vitalik Buterin, here’s how Quadratic Payments work – “If n people each give a dollar, then the person gets n squared. So, each individual person’s contribution gets multiplied by n because you have n people.”
  • Bitcoin works on a proof-of-work consensus mechanism where many computers are connected to form a large network that will keep working even if some computers drop off or try to attack the network.
  • The Blockchain network can be compromised when 23.2-50 percent of all the computing power in the network is acting against it. The system can be broken if the total opposing computing power exceeds 50 percent.
  • It costs billions of dollars to acquire hardware to gain computing resources to break the Bitcoin system.
  • An ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) bitcoin miner is designed for the sole purpose of mining bitcoin.
  • Quantum Computers can mine way faster than classical computers.
  • If a classical computer tries n times before finding the number – a quantum computer only needs square root of n computations to find the number.
  • Software development and research were the main challenges faced in bringing Ethereum to life.
  • Ethereum 2.0 will be a collection of major upgrades.
  • The two big upgrades in Ethereum 2.0 – Proof-of-Stake (PoS) and Sharding.
  • Cryptocurrencies need to have more price stability to be considered as main currencies in the future, says Vitalik Buterin.
  • Diversity in cryptocurrencies is good but there should not be 40 different cryptocurrencies, according to Vitalik Buterin.
  • Vitalik Buterin will choose to live forever based on the fine print – yes, if living with meaning and doing interesting things; and no, if floating in empty space for years.

People Recommended to Follow

  1. Vitalik Buterin
  2. Danny Ryan
  3. Justin Drake
  4. Zooko Wilcox

Articles/Books Recommended

  1. Bitcoin white paper
  2. Ethereum white paper
  3. Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money by Nathaniel Popper
  4. Out of the Ether: The Amazing Story of Ethereum and the $55 Million Heist that Almost Destroyed It All by Matthew Leising
  5. Mastering Ethereum: Building Smart Contracts and DApps by Andreas M. Antonopoulos

Satoshi Nakamoto and Bitcoin

  • Satoshi Nakamoto released the Bitcoin white paper and the original source code.
  • Satoshi Nakamoto engaged with the early Bitcoin community on forums and helped in the project for a couple of years before disappearing.
  • The first Bitcoin transaction was between Satoshi Nakamoto and Hal Finney.
  • Hal Finney is widely rumored to be either Satoshi Nakamoto or to have known the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto.

Money

  • Money is a kind of a game where one move can reduce your points by a number and increase someone else’s points by the same number, says Vitalik Buterin.
  • Money is not backed by anything valuable.
  • The 21st Century has a lot of important things not backed by anything valuable.
  • Money is a big motivator for humans and is the closest to a universal motivator.
  • Money equates to power. People spend money on things that showcase their social status. This is not a healthy way to think about it.

Quadratic Payments

  • Public goods benefit people at large. The internet is an example of this.
  • Private goods only benefit private entities.
  • The Tragedy of the Commons prevents people from contributing to public goods that will benefit a lot of people.
  • Vitalik Buterin proposes Quadratic Payments as a solution to counter this.
  • In the words of Vitalik Buterin, here’s how Quadratic Payments work – “If n people each give a dollar, then the person gets n squared. So, each individual person’s contribution gets multiplied by n because you have n people.”

Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Concepts

Vitalik Buterin talks about the blockchain and cryptocurrency concepts.

Proof of Work (PoW)

  • Bitcoin works on the proof-of-work consensus mechanism where various computers are connected to form a large computer that will keep working even if a few computers in the network drop off or try to actively break the network.
  • In the case of Bitcoin, only one particular program runs in these computers and that is the Bitcoin currency system.
  • The proof-of-work concept was originally proposed to combat email spam.
  • By controlling between 23.2-50 percent of the computing power in the system, the system can start to get compromised.
  • The network can be completely compromised if over 50 percent of the computing power acts against it.
  • It will cost billions of dollars to acquire specialized hardware to gain the computing power to break the Bitcoin system.

ASICs and Quantum Computing

  • An ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) bitcoin miner is designed for the sole purpose of mining bitcoin.
  • ASICs have specialized circuits with millions and billions of hash evaluators for evaluating the hashes over and over again.
  • Shor’s Algorithm and Grover’s Algorithm from Quantum Computing has applications in Cryptography.
  • Quantum Computers can revolutionize mining as they will be way faster than classical computers.
  • If there is a number that satisfies some property and a classical computer tries ‘n’ times before finding the number, a quantum computer only needs to do ‘square root of n’ computations to arrive at the number.
  • It is a possibility that the overhead for quantum computers becomes greater than their speed.

Ethereum and Ethereum 2.o

  • Vitalik Buterin moved away from playing World of Warcraft (WOW) due to the centralized authority controlling it.
  • After writing for the Bitcoin Weekly blog, he became the co-founder of the Bitcoin Magazine.
  • Ethereum white paper was released in late 2013.
  • Ethereum intends to create a smart contract and decentralized application platform to allow people to create any kind of decentralized application on top of a blockchain.
  • Software development and research were the main challenges in bringing Ethereum to life.
  • Ethereum 2.0 comes with a collection of major upgrades.
  • The two big upgrades in Ethereum 2.0 are Proof-of-Stake (PoS) and Sharding.
  • Casper FFG is the consensus algorithm used in Proof-of-Stake.
  • Proof-of-Stake proposes to solve the huge energy consumption problem of the Proof-of-Work (PoW) by giving validation authority to nodes with higher stakes.

Future of Cryptocurrency

  • Cryptocurrencies need to have more price stability to be considered as main currencies in the future.
  • Vitalik Buterin found some ministers to be old school and some new school in their take on cryptocurrencies when he traveled to Russia to attend the 2017 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
  • Diversity is good for cryptocurrencies. But, there should not be 40 different cryptocurrencies, says Vitalik Buterin.

Other Notes

  • The idea that money didn’t emerge out of a database if enough people believe in it fascinates Vitalik.
  • Vitalik Buterin is worried about the existential threat due to AI.
  • If given an option to live forever, Vitalik would check the fine print before taking it. He will take it if it means doing meaningful and interesting things in life. He will not take it if it means floating in the empty space for years.

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp

RELATED POSTS