In recent years, as “Bitcoin”, “Ethereum”, and “blockchain” became common sounds in the global vernacular, a number of innovation-friendly corporations and forward-thinking startups have sought to implement this nascent innovation into their businesses. However, while many firms seem good-willed with their blockchain ambitions, some skeptics believe that these corporations could mean ill, or, at the very least, are leveraging 2017’s Bitcoin boom for questionable gains.
Ethereum, Blockchain Sometimes Used To Create “Marketing Hype”
Since Ethereum’s rise to prominence in 2017, innovators across the world have tinkered with the “world computer” in a bid to build ground-breaking applications, which may one day catalyze the worldwide adoption of crypto assets. Although valiant strides have been made towards this goal, by none other than diehard Ethereum developers, not swayed by the appeal of the corporate nickel and dime, others have jumped on the blockchain bandwagon to only catch the trend.
Vitalik Buterin, a co-founder of the Ethereum Project, recently spoke with Quartz’s Matthew De Silva, with the two discussing all things blockchain tech in a candid interview at Prague’s Devcon4.
Discussing the proposed use of blockchain in intriguing applications, like the UN’s World Food Programme, Canadian-Russian coder Buterin explained that “sometimes, it’s [just] for marketing hype.” This is, of course, referencing the unbridled blockchain hype experienced in 2017, which saw traditionalistic firms, like Long Island Ice Tea, make a ‘transition’ to the decentralized realm to turn a quick profit.
On the other hand, the somewhat enigmatic crypto savant explained:
“Sometimes it’s just people who are genuinely excited about blockchains and want the thing they’re personally excited about and their job to align more with each other, which is a totally legitimate, human thing to want to do.”
But, returning to the alternate side of the equation, the Ethereum co-founder noted that some purposed blockchain implementation efforts, which may be deemed foolhardy by skeptics, can lead to “a lot of wasted time.”
Touching on a specific case, Buterin drew attention to IBM’s blockchain efforts, which have been bolstered greatly, even amid 2018’s unfortunate market rut.
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He explained that private blockchains, such as IBM and Maersk’s supply chain management test network, are missing the point of decentralization entirely, adding that such corporations should only be using publicly-accessible networks. And although he went on to briefly laud the application of this technology in the food industry, Buterin, echoing his previous points, added that IBM’s efforts to put lettuce on blockchains may be fundamentally wrong.
Blockchain Tech Is Still Valuable
Despite Buterin’s slightly disheartening comments regarding blockchain adoption and use, many decentralists, anarcho-capitalists, and zealot libertarians still imbue this decade-old technology with hope.
Edward Snowden, for one, recently claimed that while public Proof of Work blockchains are nearing antiquation, the unique format of this newfangled data structure solves a pertinent issue — trust, or more specifically, the overabundance of trust in certain systems.
Prior to 2008’s Great Recession, consumers blindly threw capital at centralized banks, presumably due to the fact that they trusted these institutions. But, as the crash began, sending millions into a state of financial disrepair and ruin, it became palpable that trusting centralized entities with data and money was a risky business. And hence, as alluded to by Snowden, the creation of Bitcoin, the world’s first bonafide blockchain network.
And now, as widely acknowledged by many cryptocurrency proponents, Bitcoin has held its value as a decentralized, censorship-resistant, borderless, and anti-inflationary universal payment network that can also act as a store of value.
Buterin also commented on blockchain technology’s immense value in payment ecosystems, by simply stating that “cryptocurrencies are making international payments easier.” So arguably, international payments are still blockchain’s killer use case. At least for now, that is.
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