Blockchain, Bitcoin, Ethereum
Global consensus... or on the path to Skynet? 😈
8 April 2016
These are the slides of my talk from the 10th Computer Science (student) Meetup held on the Hargita Mountains. It used
Vinay Gupta: Programmable Blockchains in Context
inspirational material. This slide deck is a translation of the original Hungarian version.
Ethereum Core Developer
Act I – 1970 IBM
Birth of modern computing
The world of big iron
- Rooms full of spinning tape drives
- Army of sharply dressed operators
- The genesis of digital data storage
Gigantic corporations paid exorbitant amounts to store their most valuable data.
Birth of a distorted reality... whaaat? 😕
Forcing reality into spreadsheets
- Origins of relational data model and SQL
- Knowledge management and semantic web
- Doesn't fit into a spreadsheet? Then it ain't real!
Half a century's painful legacy...
- Paper form to fill? Table of a database!
- Facebook, WhatsApp, Tinder? Databases!
- Fiber cable breaks. ISP: Did you try rebooting?
Act II – 1990 Tim Berners-Lee
Birth of the web – The network is the computer ~Sun Microsystems
Organic formation of computer networks
- Universities, companies, people; self-organizing
- Emergence of protocols: Telnet, E-mail, HTTP
- Intermittent to permanent connectivity
Invention of the Internet of Things
- Ever smaller, cheaper and smarter components
- Pervasive presence (eg. smart lightbulbs)
Where worlds collide 💥
database vs. network
Databases working together
- Seamless flow of data between entities
- Representing solely users' interests
- Orchestrated via their laptops
Our machines? Expensive paper simulators...
- Databases follow the images of their creators
- Connectivity boils down to filling out forms
- Collaboration is costly and bureaucratic
Let's connect the databases! (uhm, no...)
Link'em up and they'll just work™
- Our own database? Absolute truth
- Other's database? Statement of opinion
- Data flow is reduced to speculation and trust
Unusable long-term instability
- Tiny changes may result in unforseen consequences
- Interpretations from institutional assumptions
- Exponentially increasing failure possibilities
Let's centralize our collaborations! (oh my...)
Orchestration by a trusted third party
- Single standard, spoken by everybody
- Self-consciously co-created natural monopoly
- Neutral intermediary ⇒ financial and political monster
Delegating our social-, professional and financial interactions. But infrastructure too!
Protocols, protocols, protocols...
Collaboration above personal interests
- Globally accepted, available to all, decentralized
- BGP, DHCP, DNS, FTP, IMAP, HTTP, NTP, POP, SMTP, TLS/SSL
Stagnation for 3 decades! Skype, Slack, WhatsApp?
- Monopoly attempts and walled gardens
- At the whim of investors and shareholders
- Light in the tunnel: BitTorrent and Wikipedia (±)
Act III – 2008 Blockchain
Bitcoin – 7 billion dollar "accident" – Central Bank of the Internet
Academic experiment for global consensus
- Peer-to-peer database, eventual convergence
- No trust is required between participants
- Higher yield by support then attack (!)
Why financial application? Understandable, acceptable
- Global ledger of who has how much money
- Only the owner can ever access the funds
Soul of Bitcoin – Blockchain technology
To infinity... and beyond!
Block time stability – Gold mining!? ლ(ಠ_ಠ ლ)
Wizard ⇔ Node | Potion ⇔ Transaction | Chest ⇔ Block | Mining ⇔ Hashing | Gold decoration ⇔ 00..0 hash prefix | Uniqueness ⇔ Adds previous hash
From a gamer's perspective 😋
- Wizards cook up potions, but no room for storage
- They order chests, but are afraid of monopolies
- Multiple chests may cause too much arguing
Need a solution to prevent multiple chests from emerging...
- Golden chest! 😆 Gold mining is hard, highly luck dependent 😈
- Unique orders! 😆 Half completed chests cannot be reused later 😈
Bitcoin clones, colored coins
Bitcoin became an enormous success
- Countless blatant copies popped up
- Significantly many modified protocols
- Useful, but untrustable: plain too small
Billion dollar question: Could they be merged into a single network?
- Generic, application independent data storage (can't be that hard)
- All logic – future included – encompassing network protocol (uhm... hmm...)
2015 Ethereum – Turing complete network
Ethereum – network is the database – network is the computer
Worlds first and only global computer
- Perfect machine: doesn't fault, doesn't stop
- Universally available: from anywhere, to anyone
- Cannot be subverted: influence- and censorship-proof
But what can it actually do?! 😅
- Unbreakable agreements between unknown parties
- Collaborations unstoppable by uninvolved third parties
Example – Crowdfunding
Gathering funds from complete strangers
- Announce crowdsale with fixed deadline
- If enough donations get sent, we keep it
- If not, everyone gets their money back
Tiny programmed contract (this one ⇒)
- No intermediary to collect fees
- Conform only to local laws
- Guaranteed outcome
Limitations and current development – Web 3.0
Global throughput not high enough (20-25 tps)
- At prototype level x10-x100, research level x10000 speedup (Casper)
Too expensive for massive data storage
- Global filesystem at pre-alpha level in development (Swarm)
No real time interaction (15s latency)
- Working but disabled global dark messaging (Whisper)
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