the following is a conversation with vitalik buterin his second time on the podcast vitalik is the co-founder of ethereum and one of the most influential people in cryptocurrency and technology broadly defined quick mention of our sponsors athletic greens magic spoon indeed for sigmatic and better help check them out in the description to support this podcast as a side note let me say that ethereum bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies have been taking a wild ride of prices going up


and down in the past few months to me the prices were never as important as the ideas both technical and philosophical cryptocurrency has the potential to empower billions of people to participate in the global economy in a way that resists the manipulation by centralized power also with smart contracts layer 2 technologies data pools nfts and of course integration of artificial intelligence into the whole thing we have the opportunity to build tools and worlds that transform physical and digital life


as we know it hopefully minimizing the suffering in the world and maximizing the fun this is the lex friedman podcast and here is my conversation with vitalik buterin let's first talk about shiba ino if we can also known as sheba token code shib for contact shiba unu was created in august 2020 modeled off of doshcoin by the anonymous founder known as ryoshi on may 10th this year it had a market capitalization of over 13 billion


and uh maybe you can explain this but in a crazy move you were given half of shibs uh total supply you uh burned aka destroyed 90 of it that's worth 6.7 billion dollars and you donated 10 that's worth 1.2 billion at the time to an uh india covet 19 relief fund saying you don't want to be the locus of this much power this is uh fascinating why and how were you able to walk away from this much money and this much power so i i should probably start by


yeah giving some of the backstory around you know these coins and this concept of giving me coins uh so you know first of all you know shiba inu as you said is this kind of knockoff of dogecoin right and deutsche coin was this initial kind of fun coin that was created back i think around 2014 or so and it was just created by jackson palmer and like put it out as a joke for a couple of hours and a community formed around it and at the beginning people didn't take it very seriously i actually remember putting about 25 000 into doge sometime around 2016 and i


just remember uh just thinking to myself like okay how am i going to explain my to my mom that i just invested 25 000 into dog coins and like what even are dog coins like the only interesting thing about this coin is that there's you know a logo of a dog somewhere um but you know of course that ended up being one of the best investments i've ever made and it did really well and then at the end of 2020 elon musk of course you know started talking about dogecoin and the market cap just like shot up to


about 50 billion dollars actually and it shot up multiple times right like the first time it went up from about 0.8 cents to about like seven cents and this just happened all in one day and i remember um this was when i was still in singapore in the middle of uh kovid and you know i saw that the price just went up by a thousand percent and i was like oh my god my doge is worth like a lot and so i immediately called up some of my friends and told them to like drop everything in scramble and i just sold half the dosh and


i got 4.3 million dollars donated the proceeds to give directly and a few hours after i did this the price dropped back down from about seven cents to four cents right so i managed to sell the doge at the top and i remember just uh feeling like i was such an amazing trader but then of course you know the price went up from four cents then to seven and then 50 and just like doge becoming this big phenomenon where there's even a lot of people that have heard of those that have not heard of ethereum is just like something even i wasn't predicting right and so after that of course you know we have


doge and then people are thinking well you know if the leading dog token is worth 50 billion dollars then surely the second largest dog token deserves you know at least seven or eight billion right because i feel like that's the kind of what the mindset of these shiba people is um so that of course they did this other gimmick right where they gave me half the shiba token supply um they were actually not the first projects to do this uh so around the end of 2020 there was this weird project called teller it's like t-e-l-l-o-r i think they're a


chain-link competitor or something like this but i remember they just like dumped fifty thousand dollars worth of their token into my wallet and then they had their twitter arbi just like basically run around saying look look at vitalik's wallet vitalik holds towers he's one of us he's a supporter and as soon as i discovered this i just like publicly sold the tower tokens on you to swap and this created a bit of a twitter splat now the shiva people were more clever the shiva people instead of dumping to


that wallet they dumped to my cold wallet right so in a cryptocurrency right there's this concept of like cold wallets and hot wallets basically like the thing that actually owns euro money is like this 80 digit number called a private key right and a hot wallet is when that private key is just stored in memory on your computer on your phone really easy to access cold wallet means it's either on written down on a piece of paper or it's uh on a computer that's just never accessed the internet right so cold is very inconvenient but


cold is also much more secure right because even if that computer has some like viruses on it like it's it's like air gap that's not actually going to be able to upload it so this cold wallet and like all the money's out of the cold wallet so it's safe for me to talk about my setup now right but it was a laptop that was sitting in canada and i also had um two pieces of paper where i wrote down two numbers on those two pieces of paper one was with me one was in canada and if you add those two numbers together you get the private key so because of covid travel restrictions


and you know this is in this cold wallets in canada like it's very difficult for me to actually access it right and i'm not sure if they knew this maybe they just got lucky but basically they you know sent a lot of uh these dog tokens into this wallet where i it was very difficult for me to access it but then i saw these dot co tokens i saw more and more people talking about them and then at some point i realized i realized that like hey these things are worth billions of dollars and like you know there's lots of really


good things that you could do with that amount of money and it would actually be a waste to just like see it go so i made the decision that like i would actually power through and figure out how to like safely like basically get my private key um i actually had to call up my family tell them to read out their number off of their piece of paper i uh entered that into a fresh laptop that i bought from target then i put in my other number on my piece of paper added the two numbers together on the computer there's the key and at the same time like just scrambled


for two days setting up a new wallet for to where i could move my youth to safely like getting people to be multi-sig partners just like doing all sorts of like stuff that you know 10 years ago you would expect to just be part of a cyberpunk you know science fiction novel but you know now it's all real so you're doing this all by yourself i essentially most of it by myself so you have to keep it secret right and i needed my family to um actually like go and read the the number on their piece of paper


and then i am in my new multisig wallet like there's other people that are signatories um but you know i'm obviously not going to reveal any details beyond that about so i did this right and i actually managed to make get the private key make the first transaction that would just move all my ether to the multisig wallet so it's safe and then second transact put the private key on my main computer then started you know like going in and just selling some of the dark tokens and then just like giving them to these


different charities now at the time i actually did not even like have any idea of how much you would be able to get right because like on paper the dog tokens are seven billion dollars but like in reality it's a very liquid market you know are you going to crash it by yeah and after you sell 1 million worth you're going to crash it after 10 million are you might you actually be able to get like an entire 200 million i had no idea um so i definitely was just of the mindset like okay i mean i'll sell a bit maybe i get some eth and then you know


donated some yeast to give well donated some to other groups and then okay have some dog tokens like i don't have an easy ability to sell more myself but then i'll just like give them to these groups and like you know hopefully they'll do good things with them um it was actually um i actually donated at 20 and dumped 80 percent um yeah so the cove the coved um india group got one batch and then there's another group that got another batch and i don't want to say who they are because i think that


they want to announce themselves at some point sure yeah but it's uh you know you you can see the fact that these transactions were made on the blockchain um but it was uh just very intriguing interesting and unexpected and just an insanely crazy situation it's been a couple weeks first of all thank you for uh helping me uh hang up some curtains this is this is a first for the podcast and uh shows uh that you're truly a special person um to be willing to help but now a couple weeks later do you regret any aspect of that decision um


i'm sure there are some things that i probably could have done better like i i was actually i was actually talking to some of these charities and i was impressed by just how much money they managed to get out of selling some of these coins so i i probably could have done better by just like talking more with the traders and actually ensuring that you know that they can do a better job of maximizing the the value of uh of uh all of them but like you know it was a very stressful time and i did have to


act quickly like i yeah i did manage to you know make a lot of the donations before like a few a few days before the great crypto crash happened uh so it was and it's difficult to like obviously there's parallel universes in which i did better but at the same time there's also lots of parallel universes where because i hesitated more and tried to spend more time thinking i missed the opportunity uh so you know on that it's like a luck of the draw and i'm just you know happy that uh it was everything was able to turn out as well


as it did but psychologically you mentioned stress how hard was it uh it was stressful right i think well one of the really stressful parts was just the fact that i had to basically move all of my funds you know including the 325 000 ether from one cold wallet into another hot wallet or sorry into another multi-sig wallet um and you know maybe the multisig wallet had a bug in it maybe there's like some mistake i'll make in the middle that causes the the funds to get lost like you know that's that part was stressful and i i was definitely stressing out for two days


i'm you know triple checking the new wallet i even did a bit of an audit of the code myself i wrote my own javascript to adapt to make confirmations because gnosis safe didn't work with the status wallet well um so there was definite that whole thing was definitely a bit of a marathon um i was also a kind of definitely a bit worried about or uncertain i guess how the public and you know including the coin communities would perceive the whole thing um but i was actually impressed like i yeah for every poster that was saying


like no you know why yeah why did vitalik like rugby on ice he was simple his wallet was supposed to be a burn address you know there's like 10 people that are like oh you know i thought i was just in this because it's a it's a fun pyramid gambling thing but instead i ended up being part of this you know great public good thing for humanity and that's like even more amazing uh so the i the amount of that that i got was very impressive so you know all in all let me know i think


the dog people did great the dog people is there something you can extend to the bigger picture of it in the principles you apply to making this decision is there some principles philosophies that you apply also to uh the decisions you make around ethereum um um i think uh a big one for me is just this idea that crypto you know isn't just an opportunity to give people like slightly better ways to sit to save value and all these things like it's also an opportunity to like basically create these like new


digital institutions that could serve the public good in new ways and and that's something that i've been interested in for a long time i actually even have this article in bitcoin magazine back in 2014 where i basically suggested this idea that you know you would have coins that represent causes and like people would just like buy and accept those coins because they support those causes so i think it's called markets institutions and currencies a new form of social incentivization or something like that oh my god and i'm sure you can find it and throw


it in the links um yeah the so that was interesting to kind of see becoming real and like in general i mean i think you know public goods are very important and on the internet public goods are even more important right like every single lex friedman podcast is just on youtube and you know anyone can go and see it like there's no way for you to like you know sell it and so that some people can see it but other people can't see it like you know you could do that but then you'd obviously be you know reducing your impact so thank you for making the uh the amazing lex freeman podcast still


freely available well that's actually a tense thing is uh how do you do it in a way that's not uh controlled in a centralized fashion because actually youtube feels free and open but it nevertheless is one company making centralized decisions and the first time i realized youtube was not forever is when a lot of the joe rogan experience library was pulled from youtube as part of the spotify deal and he made me realize we need to uh it's like the realization that fiat money is centralized is uh realizing that you know they


this is not forever and you might want to come up with schemes to distribute it to uh decentralize the control of it in a way that audio for podcasters was just an rss feed exactly yeah and i think one of the kind of philosophical things that i hope to achieve is kind of decouple the concept of public goods which are incredibly important and are the lifeblood of modern civilization from the the idea that there nick is there can be one central organization that represents the public and like perfectly unders uh understands and can impose their idea of what is the


good right like it's when people talk about public goods it just often comes with this baggage of uh you know either centralization or conformism and i think like it doesn't have to right like uh often the most important public goods are the ones that are created by you know the crazy individual that's that disagree with everyone else so trying to make this kind of synthesis where you combine the values of decentralization and the values of open source but you're not naive about it and like


you know you realize um that for these things to be produced there needs to be a way for it to be sustainable there needs to be some way of supporting people who are working these projects but at the same time you want to avoid that turning into a vector of centralization like trying to sort of get all of the good things without the bad things to me that's a yeah a big part of sort of what my grand experiment in crypto is about and and like we are doing things in different kinds of things for this right like there's


the the git coin grants quadratic funding in the ethereum ecosystem um there's i mean obviously these uh dog coins that just happens like i guess accidentally um there's other projects um that like for example you know uniswap has um their uniswap dao that just has a huge amount of funding and like we haven't seen yet how that's going to be deployed but you know it could be potentially deployed to do lots of really good and amazing things do you see ethereum as essentially a mechanism


to uh fight for social causes um i definitely see ethereum as being a mechanism to fight for definitely some some specific things that are um that are social causes um like just you know the fact of creating an open financial system that anyone can participate in no matter where they are in the world that's a social cause i'm just you know giving people the ability to organize and create projects even if it's five people in five different countries i think that kind of inclusiveness i think that's a social cause


and it's a core a core crypto value um but then at the same time like the other important kind of part of the magic of ethereum that you have to balance that against is that it is also this open platform where ultimately you know the thing that go the things that are on ethereum is just the things that the community makes of it well you kind of briefly open the door so let's go there when it comes to uh government regulation of crypto uh what's the best case scenario what's the worst case scenario


in terms of uh you know as you've kind of mentioned ethereum challenges the the the power centers of the world and uh how do you see the interplay between govern governments and this new technology that resists centralized power best case and worst case the the best case is um that um you know blockchains continue to prosper and we figure out scalability is so that people can actually start doing things on block all you know all of the amazing use cases that people have been talking about instead of today where


a lot of the great stuff gets priced out because you know transaction fees are at five to ten dollars and then we see a lot of different um amazing applications happening on blockchains you know it could be like dao is creating new ways for people to inter interact and organize with each other new ways for artists to get funded and just all sorts of these amazing things and there's just enough public um public support and just enough people that see that you know look crypto is clearly


doing a lot of good things and and you know there are definitely areas where there's tensions but in those areas where there's tensions like there could be some kind of creative and interesting approaches that get figured out right like you know the concept of corporate taxes for example right like you know it does it that would disappear as a revenue stream if theoretically corporations just all get replaced by taos but i know like maybe there's some other creative way by which dao


like dao's themselves can kind of be co you know have some kind of encoded governance that ensures that they have at least some of us some kind of bias towards serving the global public good and you know maybe it does enough of the daos can do enough of that that people are happy with it and and you know there are going to be things that people are unhappy about there's always going to be the people that you know wants to surveil everyone but if on the the kind of effect of crypto from just empowering people is greater than that


and greater than that in a way that people can just easily see then you know that would be a good scenario right and we'll just like become incorpor kind of incorporated and accepted the same way as happened uh with the internet um but the work in the worst case scenario would of course be just like people like suddenly you know flipping and going into moral panic mode and just you know oh my god like this technology is used by like you know insert bad group of the day and then i don't think governments have the ability to


ban crypto to the extent of just complete like preventing blockchains from existing but they definitely have the ability to really marginalize it right like if you just ban all exchanges i can ban all links from the fiat ecosystem to crypto and you know you ban all kind of mainstream employers from accepting or paying in cryptocurrency then like you could you can successfully like turn it into a like you know a fairly kind of niche counterculture thing that has much less impact than otherwise would so it's


somewhere between the good scenario in the bad scenario i'm obviously hoping for the good well that's interesting also the tension between governments and uh companies like if you have a bunch of billionaires or a bunch of companies like tesla investing in bitcoin and then governments resisting that it's interesting who wins out in that worst case scenario and almost when companies and uh rich quote unquote respectable people embrace uh cryptocurrencies bitcoin ethereum so on even the dot coins uh it's


almost sends a signal to everybody else that this is this is a revolution that's here to stay on this one little tangent that you brought up this is almost an outdated idea but it's still with us which is cryptocurrencies are used for illegal activity for drugs for crime and so on is there some sense that worries you that if uh if cryptocurrency if ethereum runs the world then crime making money from crime will be easier there's always that possibility like at the same time i think if you look at you


know the world as a whole and like the way all the other technological trends are going like you know in-person surveillance is just going up every year right yeah like the if you commit a crime in you know meat space it's getting harder and harder to get away with it so like you know if he wants to do something and and this is something that's just like happening as a result of you know just better technology information and information transparency like


a lot of it's hard to prevent even if you really tried um so i the world where like things go dark to such an ex you know as the the one the police hawks sometimes like to say um to such an extent that like you know oh my god the criminals are committing crimes with impunity and we can't see anything like that just seems unlikely um but you know on the other hand like the world uh where there just you know is no privacy for example or um the world where there just like is no no ability to uh kind of act


outside of the the confines of you know mainstream institutions like it's uh some that's something that's more realistic and that seems like something that uh could lead to a lot of kind of a lot of scary things right and like even from a government's point of view right like i think governments over the last few years a lot of them they're very worried about sovereignty you know they're worried about like if their um country is economies and you know social environments they're just completely dependent on basically foreign tech


companies controlled by foreign governments like you know governments are not on team government right that's like you know the indian government is on you know team india you know the russian government is on team russia and so forth right so like you know they don't want the us to be able to like have this big backdoor into everything uh so i mean i do think that a balance is needed but at the same time i uh do and think um i guess i i definitely like worry more about the messiah the possibility that


just like without things like crypto uh kind of acting outside of institutions becomes too impossible and i don't even necessarily mean outside of governments even just you know outside of corporations like becomes too impossible and there's just like terrible things that come as a result um and if things going in the other direction like it obviously is a a risk but you know at the same time i think in the long term like a crypto can potentially even like offer defenses as much as attacks against that sort of thing


yeah many throughout history many of the most destructive things came from centralized institutions versus sort of from the people operating in the shadows and you know i've been talking to a bunch of psychedelics folks that people doing researchers like greg doblin in johns hopkins there's a lot of exciting research on psychedelics and one thing you could say about operating at the edge of legality it could actually accelerate the adoption of particular things like whether it's marijuana or psychedelics they can help people out it almost


accelerates the policy it forces the policy to catch up to where the people stand right so there's a positive way of doing things that are in the gray area of legality and creating a market that allows people to to uh in a safe way be able to participate in this gray area yeah i mean the other thing to keep in mind of course is that the the set of like the kinds of things that just like payment processors as companies try to restrict people you from is much larger than the set of things that's illegal right


right like part of that is because they want to be super conservative and like the more layers you have the more they're like kids conservative because they're scared of what what the layer below them will do to them sometimes they have their own you know moral opinions of various kinds you know they go after lots of people right like they make life really hard for you know like sex workers for example and like you know psychedelics as you mentioned there's uh like a lot of activity even including stuff that is


totally legal that just you know there's this like you know shadow like paypal credit card governments or whatever you want to call it and no no that makes it just hard to participate in this stuff so i think like reducing the number of intermediaries is definitely normally a good thing all right let's talk about one of the most exciting uh technologies like technically philosophically like socially financially in every way which is ethereum 2.0 there's a million things to talk about but at the


step one is probably a good thing to do which is can you briefly summarize your vision how ethereum 2.0 will make ethereum more scalable secure and sustainable sure so i think recently we've actually been kind of de-emphasizing the eth 2.0 branding i guess so the reason behind that was that originally we envisioned something more like a big grand event where you know all the good things would happen at the same time and it would be a new blockchain and it would be a new protocol and people would have to take a lot of


effort to migrate over but later we've slowly changed the roadmap over to something that's much more incremental right so you know proof of stake happens kind of over time and then sharding gets added over time and all these features get added over time and so the experience for just a regular ethereum user still feels very seamless right it's like maybe a little bit more complex than the hard forks that we've already done but from a user's point of view but like not by that much right uh so like the big two things that are happening


right these are what used to be considered the two flagship features of use 2.0 and now they're just you know the flagship features of the you know the next uh evolution of ethereum yeah as uh proof of stake and sharding right so proof of stake is a consensus algorithm it's the or it's not just mechanism i should say um it's the difference is that like an algorithm is something that you run by yourself a mechanism is like it involves interactions between people and it could even include


incentives and all of that uh so the consensus mechanism uh so by which nodes in the network agree on you know which blocks came in which transactions came in in what order uh make sure that once a block gets accepted it can't get reverted and all of these things that we expect from a blockchain um so existing blockchains you know including bitcoin including the ethereum of today and including a lot of them they use proof of work right uh so the reason why we need proof of anything is be it is because like they serve this


function that i call kind of economic civil resistance so that's obviously you know a big word for especially if you've never heard of sybil's before but like the basic idea is right that you have a network and you have lots of computers that agree on like which block to accept and sometimes you get you know two blocks that get published at the same time and you just have to agree on an order so there has to be some kind of voting game yeah but then the question is well in this voting game you know who get who gets a vote who gets to participate now the pro you can't say one person one


vote right the reason why you cannot say one person one vote is because you need some kind of like authority or some kind of mechanism to say you know who the the humans are like and if you don't have that then a bad guy could just come in with a virtual machine or with a computer that has on it 10 billion virtual machines that have 10 billion you know virtual nodes and then just like say look i'm 99 of the network i should control everything uh so to prevent this what proof of work and proof of stake both do is they basically say well the weight of


your vote like how much influence your votes have in the consensus is proportional to like what quantity of economic resources you bring in so in the case of proof of work you prove what economic resources you have because your economic resources are computers and you prove that you have them by just running them 24 7 using these hash algorithms right so this does solve the problem right because in order to attack the network you have to come in with more computers and more money invested into computers and electricity


than the rest of the network puts together and that's extremely expensive in proof-of-stake instead of relying on people with computers that are just constantly cranking out hashes 24 7 you as you're like a unit of economic resources you just use like holdings of coins inside the system right so all of these blockchains they have some kind of coin in them bitcoin has bitcoin ethereum has ether um you know they all have a coin so why not just use that as the economic the economic resource that you're using to like measure participation um so that's like the quarry


distinction between proof of work and proof of stake um i like proof of stake and i've liked proof of stake for many years basically because like it just requires much less ongoing resource consumption right like with proof-of-work um you know you have to like actually go and buy these physical computers and these days um you know yeah they have specialized hardware asics um application specific integrated circuits you have to go produce them you have to go buy them and unless you have millions of dollars you know you have to buy them from one of these other people who


creates them and those other people often end up taking a huge cut of the profits themselves uh and then you know you have to plug them in you have to just burn all of this electricity that's just um running 24 7. so it consumes a huge amount of energy right and it gets not just energy it also you know just to create the hardware right like people focus a lot on energy but like actually about half the cost of proof of work mining is the cost of the hardware um so hardware is a very big deal too um


and you know you need this like these this really big and powerful with very specialized hardware another kind that fills up these big warehouses so proof of stake you don't you don't really need that much electricity you just need just a little bit to run right to run a regular computer um you can run proof-of-stake validators on computers that you already have um so it's just much less resource intensive and like this is good for a few reasons right like one is you know the kind of environmental rationale that you know you're not breaking the


environment um the second is that you're not taking away electricity and like other resources from other people i mean like right now there's i think just today i saw a story about like iran wanting to shut down some bitcoin mining because it was just grabbing up so much electricity that it was you know outbidding the nearby towns and they just didn't have enough um and then there was like chia that was the one that's doing proof of like hard disk mining basically it's just like grabbing up so many hard disks


there's a there's a shortage right so that's the second reason and then the third more selfish reason is that because participating in consensus does not require so much energy expenditure you don't need to pay people as much to participate right so like bitcoin and ethereum they both issue somewhere around four percent of the total supply every year right now to miners so ethereum is about 4.7 million ether and the current supply is about 115 million but with proof of stake like we expect it'll be somewhere between 500 000 and one and one million per year


um so so that means you know this the supply doesn't have to you know increase so quickly um so one of the pros that uh that people sort of argue for the proof of work is that uh it is secure because it's much more difficult to sort of as you've highlighted is difficult to participate is there um is what are your thoughts about the security of the proof-of-stake mechanism is is there ways to make it secure so i think proof of stake is very secure uh because in order to be able to attack the system you need to have like


basically as much stake as the rest of the network right so that means like right now for example we have five million each staking so you have to come up with five million each and then join the network and then the the other so five million ethers a lot right it's like um how much is it now like 15 billion dollars so that's actually more than i i believe the cost of attacking the bitcoin network and then the second thing is that recovering from attacks is much easier in proof-of-stake than proof-of-work right because in proof-of-stake you have like first of


all we have for many kinds of attacks that you do against this network we have this concept of like automatic slashing right which basically means that in order to like revert a finalized block so if there's one block that's like accepted by the network and you try to convince the network to kind of revert that block and accept a different block in order to make that kind of attack you basically have to have your validator like a big portion of your validators signed to conflicting messages


and this is something that like once these messages are on the network you can go and prove like look these people did it and so we have this feature in the protocol called slashing where you basically take all these people who provably misbehaved and you burn their coins right and you don't burn anyone else's coins now there are other cases like for example if instead of reverting blocks the attack just tries to censor everyone right then what you do everyone who got censored would just like basically create the minority chain um and then the community would


basically have to do a soft fork right they would just have to say like look this chain is clearly attacking us this chain is the one not attacking us and so we're going to join this chain and then what happens is that on that new chain the attackers also lose a lot of coins right yeah so the difference between proof of stake and proof of work is that in a proof-of-stake system like you can identify specific participants and you can say you know these and like this isn't like you know a human going in and saying i don't like you i don't like you i don't like you


this is like automated right you can so the slashing process is automated yes is there ways it can go wrong so that's a painful process where the coins are burned um it is painful yes i think uh i mean the one big unknown of course is like if an attack actually happens and like if an attack happens that requires the community to actually choose one of these minority forks then like what would the the community actually successfully coordinating on this look like right like it's like you know we can talk about it


and we can you know write like science fiction novels about it but like until it's happened you don't really know the details of like what it looks like and how difficult it is what are the channels of communication for the community if you can enlighten me a little bit like what you know uh in many ways in the political realm twitter is often used as a way to kind of have these emerging phenomena of large groups of people coming to a consensus right about a particular idea and then there's battle for consensus what's uh in the ethereum community how do people


what are the sources of natural language based communication that have an emergent belief structure that you would say or is it all through money is it all through trading that the communication happens there's definitely talking as well um i mean like we have to agree on protocol changes somehow right like there's twitter there's reddit there's um github there's uh all of the various ethereum forums ethereum magicians ethereum research there's just in-person communication then there's just kind of like the hidden web of everyone talking to


everyone on telegram um or signal uh so it's like some of everything right but i think like the thing to emphasize around like can you actually come to consensus on you know whether or not to fork the chain because the attacker is censoring some everyone just for example is like you everyone who's running a node is going to see almost the same thing right like they're going to be off by a few seconds and like maybe they'll be off by a few they'll disagree by a few minutes but like if it's a serious attack you know


people are gonna know right it's not like one of those things where you know oh it we're trying to agree on like i don't know did epstein kill himself or like some you know read the political facts for like in reality no one knows a single thing about what's actually going on and they're all speculating like it is much more visible right so we do have that but you know at the same time i'm happy to admit that like these are fairly untested mechanisms but like at the same time they're also untested mechanisms and proof of work


right and like in proof of work it's even harder because in proof of work you don't have the ability to like identify and say like you know i'm going to these miners attacked and so we're not going to let these my um these miners in these miners do not attack so we're going to keep them in like you have to pretty much you know either take out none of the miners or you do a fork that changes the proof of work algorithm which takes out all of the miners right so the the economics of like recovering from attacks and proof of work at least


to me actually do seem more unfavorable but you know i'm sure the proof of work people you talk to will give a very different and contradictory opinions and that's totally fine and amazing some people describe mev minor extractable value as an existential risk to ethereum what is mev how important is it to solve an mvv if it's important what ideas do you have sure how about after this one we'll also talk about sharding because that's amazing and it's part of the return back to sharding and


which is no no return to the big picture of the scaling problem as you mentioned i love this conversation you know depth first search instead of brett first so uh basically okay ebbyv minor extractable value um it is not different in proof of work and proof of stake right so like if you want to call it you know block proposal extractable value like it sounds a lot sexy but you know we can call it bpef instead of math who cares um but so this is a problem in both proof of work and proof of stake yes so the basic idea is that if you have the ability to choose


which transactions go into a block and in what order then you have the ability to like take advantage of that position for economic gain in a lot more ways than just collecting transaction fees right like for example there's decentralized exchanges on chain like uniswap and like let's say the price of eth versus usdc was 2700 the previous block but then there was a bit of a market drop and now it's 26.80 where you can go on unit swap and you can just like gobble up the entire part of um you know the automated order book


that's like between 2700 and 26.80 right and that's and then at the same time you like run a bot and uh you know you buy some yeast back at 26.80 and you've just like made about 10 dollars of profit right so or well 10 dollars times you know whatever the depth is right so and so there's lots of um little things like that there's also things um that involve like front running other people's transactions so one example of this would be that if someone sends a transaction that says buy me five eth for um


whatever price that you can get um then but with a maximum of let's say yeah uh 15 000 then you can go and like you can send each put a transaction right in front of that transaction and you can like buy up that east first and then you resell it to him at you know fifteen thousand dollars minus one yeah so there's then you get to make a little bit of money though exactly so there's a lot of these different like arbitrage front running back running these different tricks that allow block proposers to to get some percentage on top like overhead exactly and the


reason why this is um a challenge is because um it's like first of all it's some it sometimes degrades user experience because users get you know less favorable uh trades but there are sometimes ways to like mitigate that for applications sometimes it's not that bad but like the bigger risk that i think some people consider more existential is that there's just much more economies of scale in figuring out how to extract all this revenue i mean because if you're just collecting transaction fees there aren't really economies of scale


there aren't really benefits to centralizing right because it's a very simple formula you just like grab up the transactions that pay you the most but with mev you know you ha there's all these sophisticated algorithms and if you have lots of money then you can hire really smart people to make amazing algorithms and then you can use the other half of your money to get a lot of mining power a lot of stake and you get a lot of opportunities to use your even better algorithms so there's this risk that like as a result of this mining is basically or or even validating proof of stake is going to


centralize um so i think the ecosystems best reply to this sort of risk and it's the direction where projects like flashbots are going already is if you can't eliminate the centralization then you try to firewall it right and the way that you fire wallet is you basically say we're going to try to deliberately create a marketplace where people can just do the complicated work of creating what are called bundles like bundles of transactions that like are very profitable right and then at the other side of the market you just


have like block proposes reminders that are just dumb nodes and they go and ask the what are called searchers the bundle creators and they just ask like hey like how much can you give me if i put in your bundle and then they just take the highest offer right so you sort of separate out the task and you know you have the easy part and then you have the hard part and you have like this special class of actor called a searcher that does the hard part and then the easy part the people doing the easy part which is just miners and validators they kind of


just talk to all the different people doing the searching and they just you know accept the highest bidder right so and this is also just like interesting uh an interesting example of like economic design philosophy right like sometimes you can't just like make centralization go away sometimes it's inevitable but you know at least you can try to kind of contain it you can direct it or you know you can even sort of firewall it away from you know core consensus the parts that really do need to be decentralized so but you don't see it as an existential risk it's just incredible


it's a bit of a problem that it has to be constantly dealt with it's a i mean it's a risk like there's obviously a risk that you know there it it's a very severe problem and that even this flashbots approach has some fatal flaw or whatever um but i'm definitely like we're definitely approaching it with the mindset of you know this is a problem and like yes we do have to do some work to solve it but we're doing it and uh so far it's being solved okay let's talk about the other really really fascinating part of uh the future of ethereum let's not call it ethereum 2.0


but the future of ethereum that also may require a hard fork i don't know you can correct me on this is well broadly ideas for scaling yes and more specifically sort of uh layer two or uh layer one and two intersection ideas of how to achieve scaling and at the core of that is the idea of sharding so first what is sharding okay uh so there's two major paradigms for scaling blockchains right as you said layer one and layer two and layer one basically means make the blockchain itself like capable


of processing more transactions by having you know some mechanism by which you can do that despite the fact that there's a limit to the capacity of each participant in the blockchain and then layer two says well we're gonna keep the blockchain as is but we're gonna create clever protocols that sit on top of the blockchain that still use the blockchain and then still kind of inherit things like the security guarantees of a blockchain but at the same time a lot of things are done off-chain and so you get more scalability that way um so in ethereum the most popular paradigm


failure too is rollups and the most popular paradigm for one is sharding so one way to achieve layer one scaling is to increase the block size yes hence the block size wars quote unquote and uh you actually tweeted something about uh people are saying that vitalik changed his mind about the in it he went from being a small i went from being big to small big small of them and uh but you said i've been a medium blocker all along so maybe you can also comment on on where on the very basic aspect before you even


get the sharding of where you stand on this block size debate sure so the way that i think about the trade-off is i think about it as a trade-off between making it easy to write to the blockchain and making it easy to read the blockchain right so when i say read i just mean you know have a node and actually verify it and make sure that it's correct and all of those things and then by right i mean send transactions so like i think for decentralization it's important for both of these tasks to be accessible


and i think that they're like about equally important right if you have a chain that's too expensive to read then everyone will just trust a few people to like read for them and then those people can change the rules without anyone else's permission but if on the other hand it becomes really expensive to write then everyone will move on to basically second layer systems that are incredibly centralized and like that takes away from you know decentralization and self-sovereignty as well so this has been my viewpoints like pretty much the whole time right it's that like


you know you need this balance and going in one direction or the other direction is very unhealthy in the bitcoin case um basically what happens was that bitcoin originally like at the very beginning it didn't really have a block size it just had an accidental block size of 32 meg or a block size limit of 32 megabytes because that just happens to be the limit of the peer-to-peer messages um but that's interesting i didn't even know that part yeah but then um satoshi back in 2010 was worried that even 32 megabyte blocks would be too hard to process so he


uh put the limit down to one megabyte and you know i think the i put you mean sneaked in there yeah just like made an update to the bitcoin software that made blocks bigger than one i think it's a million bytes um invalid and i think the impression that most people had at the time is that you know this is just a temporary safety measure and over time you know though as we become more confident in the software that limit would be and like raised some uh somewhat um but ba then of when the actual usage of the


blockchain started going up and then it started going up first to 100 kilobytes per block then to 250 kilobytes per block then to 500 kilobytes per block um you know they're started kind of coming out of the woodworks this opinion that like no that limit should just not be increased and and you know then there are all of these attempts at compromising right um you know first there's like a proposal for 20 megabyte blocks then there was the 248 proposal which is um a bit ironic because the 248 proposal started off being like a small block negotiating position


but then when the big black people came back and said like hey where are we are we gonna do this they're like oh no no no we don't want them we don't want the block size increases anymore uh so you know there were these two different positions right the small blockers i think they valued one megabyte blocks for two reasons one is that they just like really really believe in the importance of being able to read the chain but two is that a lot of them really believe in in maintaining this norm of never hard forking right right so the difference between a


hard fork and a soft fork is basically that in a soft fork um blocks that were any block that's valid under the new rules was still valid under the old rules so if you have a client that verifies according to the old rules then you'll still be able to accept the chain that follows the new rules whereas with a hard fork like you have to update your code in order to stay on the chain and look they have this belief that you know soft forks are kind of either less coercive than hard forks which by the way i completely disagree with


um i actually think soft forks are more coercive because like basically they force everyone who disagrees to sort of go along by default um but or they have this um opinion that um there's like it's more difficult to abuse soft forks to do really mean things like or that like completely violate people's expectations like increasing the supply which is again there i think there is some truth to that um so because of you know these reasons they just say we're only going to do soft forks and we don't we wants to just not do any hard forks and


they eventually discovered this idea called segregated witness that allows for like a very tiny block size increase to like the equivalent of about two megabytes um with a soft fork it's it's just a really like weird and devious trick like basically what they do is they take the signatures of transactions and then they put them outside of the block and then they add an extra rule that says that like every for a block to be valid the blog has to come with a separate like basically extension block that contains all of the


transaction signatures right so you know when you measure it according to the old rules like you know hey it adds up to less than a million but actually there's this extension block that the old protocol doesn't even know about so it's a hack that that seemed to work to do in a small way extend exactly but so you know small block side was like happy with these very low levels of block size and the big block side wanted to expand to you know at the very least go to four megabytes then you know maybe go maybe eight twenty there are there's disagreements within there as well


um i definitely was uh favoring the big side um the whole way through as you can probably tell um but even though so the argument against the big is that uh it uh makes things more centralized yes because fewer people can run and know that verifies the chain and also because any of these things would require a hard fork and you know hard forks or inherently risky do you think there's truth to that um i'm pro hard fork i think hard forks are actually like in a yeah you know political economic


sense they're better than soft forks well let's okay okay i think it's a beautiful principle as stated that soft forks may be more coarse coercive than hard forks this this is not just about cryptocurrency this is about politics and life that's fascinating so you're okay with hard forks in fact you think hard forks is the right way to make changes because then everybody's forced to make a decision right do you accept this change or not as opposed to ideas being sneaked in behind the door and you're and the


decisions forced on you exactly yeah okay so but you know hard fork some people say this is when they talk about sort of ethereum is there's some aspect to a hard fork where you're trying to upgrade a what is it airplane while it's flying and uh i think softworks are also upgrading an airplane while it's flying but it's just smaller upgrades that's like there's some truth to that like there's definitely um there's definitely a bit more risk of like a split as a result of a hard fork then as a result of a soft


fork um and this split is highly undesirable right well it depends like if it's a split because of a bug then that's horrible if it's a split as a result of political differences then i think like a split is better than you know one side being forced to basically just like suck it up and accept the majority position even if it really hates it well there's also political connections throughout the history of the united states it's like sometimes groups of people that strongly disagree with each other should be forced to work it out


even if they even when a split seems like an easy thing in the short term it depends and i think like well for blockchains in particular the costs of people being able to like peacefully do their go off and do their own thing or much lower right like you know okay if you have a country and you have two groups then like often enough like fighting out the new rules requires you know a civil war it requires everyone to move and so forth but no no on a blockchain like you know the costs are lower and so so if you were to look at the way things worked out with the block size wars


and there was a split what is the bitcoin cash and bitcoin yeah um would you like you looking putting on your historian hat you mentioned offline you like dan carlin so if dan carlin went to do an episode on the on the block size wars uh do you think uh it could have turned out better or do you um are you okay with the way it turned out i'm definitely disappointed with what happened with the block with the the big block side um i think the source of my


disappointment is that like one of the things that you notice when just looking at like this political disagreements generally especially when you have environments where you know they're authoritarian or like single party dominated and then there's some opposition party and the opposition often has like very legitimate grievances but at the same time the thing you notice is that often enough the opposition just sucks right like it just doesn't have you know political capacity it doesn't have like the ability to


come up with policy because its entire culture is like designed around resisting much more and then it's designed around like you know actually debating serious policy trade-offs and i i worry or i guess not so much worry because it's already happened i uh unfortunately think that bitcoin cash ended up being a victim of this right like um first no there was a split with bitcoin cash and then of course craig wright came in and you know craig wright was uh this basically scammer who just keeps on pretending that he is satoshi nakamoto the inventor of uh bitcoin hey craig


wright's legal team do you hear me yes i still think your client is a scammer so sue me this is definitely gonna be depth first search because i gotta ask you about craigslist because these people have been contacting me and i'm trying to figure out like what is up with this human being so for people who don't know there's somebody who is let's start there's satoshi nakamoto who is the creator of bitcoin is anonymous and actually most really big people in the cryptocurrency space do not like like yourself and others do not dare claim that they are even for


fun satoshi nakamoto in fact if satoshi nakamoto is still alive and is like if say you were satisfied it seems like the thing he would do is probably or she is uh trying to remain anonymous on the flip side of that there's a guy named craig wright who continually keeps claiming that he is in fact satoshi nakamoto and keeps suing a lot of people so uh on on him if we could just linger on him what do you make of this character uh what what are we supposed to make of this character should he be ignored is there any


possible truth to his claims um what do you make of him the the analogy that's at the side at the top of my head will get a bit political but um that's fine you've had michael ballas um so um i guess i view craig wright as being kind of like a donald trump figure yes and that like he's not very intellectual um but i think he gets a big audience because he says he he says things that like play to the resentments that people have and he says things that uh people wants to hear right like in the in the wake of this block size war no the big blockers did feel very


disenchanted like they felt that you know bitcoin always had this vision that we were supposed to just keep increasing the block size and bitcoin is pewter pure cash it says so in the white paper and then this gr this elitist clique of core devs just like came in and said you know no no we're going to impose this totally different vision and if you ever want your scalability you'll have to wait for us to create this this totally unproven fancy technology called the lightning network that works on your completely different principles


and you know they were very angry at this and i mean i think like i think a lot of that anger is justified um but at the same time you know when people are in that mental state like it's very easy for you to just kind of like latch on and if you find someone who expresses anger at the same things that you're angry at and also like it seems like someone who's strong and seems like someone who you know might be good to rally around it's very easy to just like get behind that but that extra part about where he satoshi


i think that's um he could have done it without that but that i mean that just it's a marketing strategy like it sort of gives him more salience like there's other big block personalities right but what's the difference between with greg wright he's not just a big a big block personality he's potentially satoshi um and he did say all the big block things right like he talked about how oh the concept of a fee market is fundamentally like economically wrong and it should be it should be a free market and you should be able to have walks as big as you want like he repeated all the


talking points and so a lot of people were kind of sucked into that right and so he unfortunately was able to basically dominate a big part of the bitcoin cash community for a long time and then eventually if of course um you know more and more people started to catch on um he would just say technical things that are completely wrong right like one example of this that i remember is that he mixed up the concept of 256 bits and 2 to the power of 256 bits right um so you know the difference is it's like the difference between you


know 80 and the concept of 80 digit numbers right um and because of this like he made this made this argument that said that bitcoin that bitcoin's elliptic curve is friendly to cryptographic pairings like you don't have to understand what that is but if you want to know i have articles on both at um but basically he made this like technical argument that really hedged on this point and then when people when people pressed him on it's like yes what no no like what look exactly the the height is like what two and two


to the 256 bits that's uh a very uh a very tiny amount of information no no no 2256 bits is more than the amount of information in the universe and like yeah you know equivocated and kind of like preyed on people's inability to and you know understands that mathematical nuance and i called him out and eventually i even called him out in person at this conference and soul like i just stood up and asked the you know hey you know conference organizer why are you letting this fraud speak at this conference


and i remember even some big blockers at the time getting angry at me um but you know eventually they i did get rid of him and then craig well basically craig wright um was forced to split off because the rest of the community refused to accept some network change that he wanted and so then there was the bch and bsv and then in the bitcoin cash community there was this drama of are they going to add a developer fund where they redirect 12 and a half percent of the revenue from the miners to the devs and according to the libertarian not aggression principle is this technically


theft um like his um understanding of the technical depths of cryptocurrency was lacking in a way that you uh satoshi nakamoto certainly would not yes exactly but the point is that even after craig wright got expunged the bitcoin cash community kept having these disagreements right and now after this uh development funds dispute there's there's a further split between bitcoin cash and abc um so you know the the the brand check three continues to extend right so so in that way it's disappointing to see those kinds of splitting there was never a result it is i would


have definitely like wanted to see more of a kind of like v principled coin with a like tries to be bitcoin but but you know follows consistent big block values but yeah i know maybe i should just like stop expecting projects that i have no involvement and to uh care at all about what my values are and you know like maybe ethereum just like is is never i think you have a powerful voice and you can inspire other projects to do to to to live up to their best possible cells okay so that's the level


that's the layer one uh approach the other layer one within the ethereum is the idea of sharding yes what the heck is sharding okay what does the future of shining look like right so to summarize that big long tangent that we just uh once it's a beautiful tangent button it's tangent and i think like crypto is just uh one of the most underrated aspects of crypto is i think how you can like analyze the you know the sociology and the politics and the anthropology and yeah and i'm sure dan carl would have fun exploring the space at some point


but like the core trade-off right is that if you scale blockchains the dumb way just by increasing the parameters then eventually you just make it harder and harder to participate as a node and you end up with a system where there's like 20 computers running the whole thing and it's just very centralized um so shorting basically says well instead of just increasing the parameters what we're going to do is we're going to change the blockchain architecture in such a way that each individual node in the blockchain only needs to store


a small portion of the data and only needs to process a small portion of the transactions so you can think about it as being like inspired by bitsword right like on bittorrent there's no such thing as a bittorrent full node that has every movie right you know the work is like split up among a huge number of computers and like that makes sense that's uh you know the only sane way to scale a system like that um and if they actually tried making a version bit of bits or that required full nodes that store every movie then you know it


would have like zero censorship resistance and it would just like you know be dead in an instant uh so the challenge with taking that model and applying it to blockchains right is that blockchains aren't just about like spreading data around they're about agreeing on exactly what data was spread around and ensuring that everything that you agree on actually is correct and so you have this paradox where let's say you want to have a system that supports 10 000 transactions a second but each computer in the network can only personally verify


100 transactions a second so how can each computer get a guarantee about the other 900 without actually going and verifying them themselves yep and it turns out that there are some um like a bundle of different tricks that can do that right so like one of them is uh just random sampling so the idea behind random sampling is like let's say for simplicity this is a proof of stake chain and you have 10 000 validators validators like you know the stakers and like for simplicity we'll assume they all have


the same number of coins right if someone has more coins we'll just kind of split them up and pretends they're tense takers then you you you do like some random shuffling and you basically say these random hundred validators are assigned to validate this block these random hundred validators are assigned to validate this block these random hundred validators are assigned to validate this block and so each individual computer only gets assigned to validate like a small piece but then the way that the information about like what's evaluated gets passed


around right is that when these hundred participants validate a block they all sign a message basically saying like yes we agree that this block is valid and then like they combine that signature into one and then they broadcast that signature and then everyone else instead of verifying the blocks directly just verifies that signature right and so if i see the signature i'm not directly convinced that that block is valid but what i am convinced of is that out of this committee of or this


randomly selected group of 100 validators let's say at least 70 of them agree that this block is valid and so if i trust that you know the majority of these participants are all honest then because it's all randomly selected you know the attacker can't just like force themselves into one committee and and so you know the attacker is going to be even at least evenly spread out too and so if you know the entire set of validators is mostly honest every committee is going to be mostly honest and so like bad blocks are not going to go through right so that's like


one simple form of sharding there's also other more clever things that you can do so for example there's this concept of zk snarks right now called as your knowledge proofs so this is the idea that you can make a cryptographic proof that says i verified or i ran some complex computation on this piece of data and i got this answer and so if you make these kinds of proofs then like if you see a zika snark that says some block is valid then you're convinced that that block is valid and even if you know everyone in that committee is evil like they have no way


of making a a valid proof for a bad block right like because the proof itself like it is a proof that you did the computation where that proof is much easier to verify than just running the computation yourself and you know the there's once again you know super awesome mathematical cryptographic magic behind making zk snarks work um so it gives you a little bit of a leg up over the 51 honest exact assumption so it's a little hack that improves upon the random


sampling thing exactly and like there's other hacks right like there is another hack called data availability sampling that allows you to make sure that the data in the blocks was actually published but like basically like if you stack a couple of these tricks on top of each other you can create a system where like i as an individual participant can be convinced that everything that's going on in this distributed blockchain thing is correct without actually personally checking more than like a percent of it so that's charting that's starting but


but the as i understand maybe correct me on this is uh in the space of ethereum the the sharding happens on some fixed number like th the split is on some fixed number i think it's 64. is the currently sort of proposed number so um how does that help scaling is it just to fix constant scaling by 64 and is that a way to achieve those crazy the crazy amount of scaling that seems to be required to use cryptocurrency for uh for purchasing so doing like competing with


credit cards and visa and so on right so first i think like the 64 can be hard forked up over time um so we have uh set it so that like there's theoretically space in the data structure for 1024 shards it's just that 64 of them are turned on um like there are challenges with having more shards because like you have to have logic that just like checks and manages all of those shards and if there's too many of them then that becomes too expensive um but you know even still you can improve quite a bit


and then the other thing that we're doing is if what we're getting maximum scalability by combining roll-ups and sharding right so this might be a good time to talk about roll-ups what are roll-ups okay and now we're moving into layer two ideas yes so the idea behind a roll-up is basically that so instead of um just publishing transactions directly on chain and having everyone you know do all of the checking of those transactions and what you do is you create a system where


users send their transactions to some part like central party called an aggregator and like well theoretically you can have a system where like the aggregator switches around or anyone can be an aggregator so you know it's still like permissionless to send things um then what the aggregator does is they strip out all of the transaction data that like is not relevant to helping people update the state so when i say the state this is like this is a very important kind of technical term for blockchains i mean like


account balances code um like things that are like memory internal memory of smart contracts like basically everything the blockchain actually has to keep track of and remember right so you just put in you take all these transactions strip out all the data that's not relevant to telling people how to update the state and then you take the data that's needed to update the state and then you like really compress it right so like for example if we say you know i vitalik have an account that's 0x eight blah blah blah blah and


it's 20 bytes well instead we can say well i have an account that is number one eight seven four two two four in the tree right and that goes down from 20 bytes to just like an index and a position which is three bytes right so you use all sorts of these fancy compression tracks then you basically just instead of publishing all these transactions you publish this like tiny compressed blob right so the amount of data that goes on chain goes down by maybe about a factor of ten right and then the second thing is that


you don't do the computation on chin instead you do the computation off-chain and there's one of two ways to do this right one is called a zk roll up which is you just provide a zika snark that basically says hey look i did this computation and uh and i have this proof that here's the here's the you know some hash of the result and it's correct and then you stick it on chain and everyone verifies this one proof instead of verifying all these transactions and then the other approach is called an optimistic roll-up which is basically


made of the scheme where like first someone says like hey this is what i think the result of the of applying these transactions is and then someone else can say i disagree the result is different and only if two people disagree do you actually do it on like do you actually just like publish all of the data and run the whole that whole blog on chain so if there's disagreements then you just like run everything on chain and whoever was wrong like loses a lot of money right so disagreements are very rare and they're very expensive and in a ck roll up you don't even rely


on this like challenging game at all you just rely on a proof so you know the core principle is basically that instead of lots of transactions and all the trends that everyone verifies every transaction it is you take the transactions you strip strip them down and compress them as much as possible then stick that on the blockchain you do need to stick something on the blockchain just so that everyone everyone else can like keep keep up to date with the states so they know you know what all the contracts are what all the balances are and all of this but


it's a very small amount of data and then you use some one of these other off-chain games you know could be this optimistic game could be a zk-snark to just prove that somebody out there did the compensation and the result is correct right so you're pushing like 90 of the work off chain and then you know well 90 of the data ends 99 of the computation option and then you still have 10 of the data and 1 of the computation on chin and so you know your scalability goes up by a factor of about a hundred so these systems are already alive for for some applications right so there's


something called loopering which is just a zk roll up for payments right so you can have you know assets inside of us inside of the loopering system and you can go around and transfer them but uh what you um and you get like much lower transaction fees right like instead of five dollars you'd have to pay like less than five cents um but the only problem is that this only supports a couple of applications right now like making one that supports anything that you can do on ethereum just takes a bit more work but


that's being done as well right so like within a few months i'm expecting you know fully ethereum um capable um roll ups to um be available as well so then so roll ups just summarizing you know do most of the work off chain put only a little bit on chain factor of 100 scaling sharding another factor of 100 scaling 100 times 100 factor of 10 000 you know hundreds of thousands of transactions a second and like you know there's your scalability okay so you choose scalability you can do a large number of transactions very quickly and uh the cost of doing those transactions much lower


you wrote that uh in the long term zka roll-ups are going to win in terms of layer 2 technology specifically you wrote in general my own view is that the in the short term optimistic roll ups as you were saying are likely to win out of general purpose evm computation and zk roll ups are likely to win out for simple payments uh exchange in other application specific use cases just as you were saying but in the medium to long term zk roll ups will win out in all use cases as zk snark technology improves why do you think uh zk roll ups are


going to win the big picture battle over layer 2 technologies so i think zk roll ups like once you accept that the technology works are just like conceptually simpler and they have nicer properties the reason is that they do not have this concept of a challenge game right like as i mentioned in an optimistic roll-up the way that you ensure that the results are correct is that you let one person submit and like they just submit with no proof they just say here's what i think the result is and then if someone else disagrees they


make their own submission and then if you have two disagreeing submissions then you actually publish it on chain and you see who's right but for this to work like you need to actually wait for someone to disagree right so like for example if i have an asset inside of an optimistic roll-up and i wants to withdraw it then i actually have to wait a week to withdraw it because like if the uh a block that contains my withdrawal turns out to be invalid then there needs to be space for someone to disagree with it right whereas with a ck roll up like you don't need time for disagreement because


you just have a proof right as soon as the block is submitted there's a proof and you know it's correct so disagreements especially in the long term or sparse uh then uh then then you don't want to do the optimistic the the game theoretic thing you know you want to do the zk stock right the z case stuff is just like you can in a ck roll up you can withdraw immediately um you don't have to like worry about the economics of proving as much there's just like fewer issues um the reason why ck roll-ups are not winning


everywhere today is because you know zeke's darks is still a crazy new technology right like this is something that 10 years ago you know it existed only in theory and there was none in practice um then you know eight years ago people were just getting excited about it in bitcoin conferences for the first time um like four years starting four years ago or three and a half years ago even that was the first time you were able to make any zika snark based anything on ethereum and then people started making them and zk technology has only really become


efficient enough to do a lot of things within the past maybe one and a half years so it's it's new technology it's crazy technology it's admittedly scary technology if you want to learn more i also have an article about this on it's actually really really good most of your writing uh it's it goes it's technical but it's accessible i highly highly recommend to check out vitalik's articles and blogs whatever whatever you call them yeah it's brilliant summary of the work actually uh ethereum documentation


period is really good i think that's somewhat crowdsourced that documentation is really really accessible and brilliant uh but let me ask about sort of other approaches to layer two like side chains so the one popular one is polygon what are your thoughts about polygon which is a layer two network is it positive is it negative for ethereum is it both does it have a future which is its own chain but it's using a theory it's like based on ethereum essentially or maybe you can describe what it is um


so i think there is a really big and important difference in security models between roll-ups and side-chains which is basically that roll-ups inherit from the security of ethereum right so like if i have coins inside of bloopering or optimism or arbitrarium um or zk sync um then even if everyone else in the world who is participating in these ecosystems so like hates me and though and wants to steal my money i can still personally make sure that you know no matter what happens i get them i get my money out it might be a bit expensive for me to get my money out and i have to do


transactions like on the main chain but i'll be able to do it whereas in polygon which is a side chain and so instead of being secured by ethereum it's also in part secured by its own um a proof of state consensus with its own token so if 70 of the whole or even 51 of the holders of polygon tokens wanted to take my money in polygon they can right so that's the pro and like to be fair like there aren't even like the the supply i don't think is even that widely distributed right so like potentially


you could you could this idea 51 of the token holders coming together and stealing everything like it's it's not impossible right uh where does the scaling of polygon come from like why is it able to process much more transactions than the ethereum main chain what's the idea there i think in part like i imagine i'm not sure exactly what its capacity level is but like i imagine it has a higher capacity because it's a bit more willing to take centralization trade-offs and then another thing is that like if


the ethereum ecosystem like even if it did not do that right if you think about an ethereum ecosystem hypothetically scaling with side chains then you know you would have 100 copies of polygon and you know they would each have their own tokens they would each have their own chins and so even if each one of those chains was only as scalable as ethereum you know you know you could still like the total sum of them would still be 100 times more than ethereum okay um the now the thing that i want to say in polygons favor just to be very fair to them like i i i really you know


i i definitely really you know respect the work that they're doing so you know start with the um a bit with that word of uh not criticism caution right like it's um that they made this kind of deliberate trade-off for very pragmatic reasons which is that the ethereum ecosystem needs to scale now and there are applications that want to do something now and you know if there aren't ethereum friendly options for them then like they're not going to just wait peacefully and do nothing for 12 months you know they're going to go to you know either binance smart chain or


you know one of some other system or potentially something that just has totally no alignment with ethereum values whatsoever um but whereas you know with paul with polygon like the best thing that you can say in polygons favor and against optimism is that you know optimism is not live and polygonal is life right like it just takes more work to create a system that has these extra roll-ups uh security features and so polygon just said we're gonna be the system that makes the pragmatic


tradeoff we're gonna go you know functionality first and then you know we can talk about adding back the security later so i've talked to them and like in principle i think they're very you know open to the idea of like adding more more security and at least becoming more uh becoming a roll up or at least you know adding a polygon chain let's say roll up at some point in the future which is definitely something i think they yeah you know absolutely should follow through one


but like the fact that like they exist now and so you know applications can kind of bootstrap now on a chain that you know even though it's security isn't perfect at least it exists and people can go use it um and then over time you know the chain matures as the applications mature like units i think of a very reasonable strategy and i'm definitely really happy that they're part of the ecosystem yeah it's kind of interesting the history of cryptocurrency has this um tension of really good ideas that are hard to implement so they take


longer to implement and ideas that are not as good but are faster to implement this is like the story of like you have like javascript that basically took over the world because it was quick to implement within 10 days and then like later kept fixing itself i i don't know what to make of that sort of from an engineering perspective i'm more and more becoming comfortable and accepting the fact that our whole world will run a technology that's not as good as it could have been just because the crappy solution is faster to implement and it sticks


what do you make of that tension i think the compromise that we've been taking within ethereum is like when we have to take the crappy solution we look for crappy solutions that are forward compatible with becoming good over time right like when you build the the quick and dirty thing like you you would still already have ideas in your head about you know what the the more complete thing with all the security features added on would look like right even if it requires a hard fork um yes like even so you know like for


example we're sharding right like well yeah i think it's likely that the first version of chardonnay that comes out like is not going to have you know zk snarks and data availability sampling for example but we know what these technologies are we feel like we you know have wrapped our heads around them and so we know how to build a system where we can put all the pieces in place so that it becomes very easy to bolt those components on in the future uh so like if you do things that way right then at the beginning you can have your


system that has the functionality but say has less security or like less sustainability or less of something else but then over time like it's designed in such a way that it has this easy on on-ramp to adding those things right and if you don't think explicitly about like being future compatible then you do often end up with a a quick and dirty solution that backs you into a corner and then there are definitely cases where like i think the ethereum ecosystem has suffered from that and we have had to like expand pretty significant effort on for example removing features that we


didn't realize that we actually can't sustain like one big example is just increasing the yeah the gas costs so like making some operations more expensive when they uh because they should be expensive because they actually take a lot of time in the process and um so that's you know making a thing some things more expensive kind of like taking some functionality away um so if you can like be cognizant of where you're likely going into the future and if you don't know like even be cognizant of both the most likely paths that you'll take in the future


and coming like thinking about your road map and coming up with a road map where you know that like if you wants to do either of those things then you have a clean path toward it that's probably the best kind of practical way to get the best of both worlds that we have okay let's talk about this uh wonderful process of merging okay so there's the main net which is the ethereum 1.0 chain or the ch what should we say the chain that uses proof of work as a consensus mechanism and then there is uh what is it called


the the beacon chain that uses the uh the proof of stake mechanism and i believe the beacon has been deployed successfully is is working so that was in december 2020 there's a bunch of questions around that that's fascinating as well but i think the most fascinating question is um it's about merging those two when do the two chains one that's proof of work one that's proof of stake merge and what are the most difficult parts of this process right so i guess you've said right the way that we if i


set up this proof of stake transition is that at first the proof of stake chain just launches on its own right and this is the thing that happened in december and the proof of stake chain has been running for close to six months uh now um i mean by the time people watch this it might actually be six months um and but it isn't actually coming to consensus on anything except for itself right so the idea behind that is to just give the proof of stake chain time to mature time for people to build the ecosystem around it time to make sure


that there aren't any bugs um and just like prove to the community that you know proof of stake actually is real and it's and a full transition is realistic because you know the thing that you're transitioning to already exists and already works and then at some point in the future you have this event called the merge where you basically take the activity that's being done inside of the proof of work chain and you actually move it over into the proof of stake chain so you get rid of the proof of work side completely uh so the way that the merge


will work is um and it's definitely gone through a few different iterations like the the earlier versions of this actually required more work for users and more work for clients it was much more like oh there's this new chain there's this old chain and then everyone has to like migrate from the old chain to the new chain and then at some point we'll forget about the old chin the new version is designed to be much more seamless for users right so basically what actually happens is that the old chain basically becomes embedded


inside the new chain right so at starting from the merge transition block every proof of stake chain block is going to contain a block of the what what we consider now to what we consider to be the ethereum chain today but we'll call it the execution chain and then at the same time to create one of these blocks you're not going to need proof of work anymore right so basically at the same time you would both get rid of the proof of work requirements for one of these blocks to be valid but instead you require these blocks to be embedded inside of the proof of stake blocks right so


you basically have like a chain inside a chain and this is you know from an architecture perspective it's you know you might think it's a little bit sub-optimal but it actually has some nice properties and makes it easier to kind of think about the consensus and think about the what we call the execution layer like transactions and contracts kind of separately and upgrade them separately um and it also just means that the upgrade process is extremely seamless right because from the point of view of a client


that's following the chain you basically have to up update nothing right you're still following the same chain and follows the same rules except instead of checking proof of work you'll switch to checking that these blocks are embedded inside of blocks of the proof statute so there'll be this merge block that will mark this transition and over time i guess the the new chain will contain the full record of all the transactions that's ever happened on the previous chain on the old chain so like maybe i'm asking a dumb question here but


in in this process is the new chain going to have all the information of the past transactions the new chain is not going to hold information from what happened in the ethereum chain before the merge right so like ethereum clients of the um that um people are going to use like around the time of the merchants soon after the merge they're probably just going to sync you know like and check the proof of work chain up to the merge and then they're going to check the proof of stake chain but at some point in the future i think people


will just stop bothering checking the proof of work before the merge got it so that old history information is not important for the future or like if you're operating actively on the on the new chain that history is not important to you it's not impo let's see so it's not strictly important for um app for just like in any like smart contract or just like applications that run on the blockchain it can be important to users and it can be important for some applications but we're basically saying that like maintaining and serving that


is not going to be simultaneously the responsibility of every ethereum node if you want that information there can be separate protocols for backing it up and like these other protocols actually exist right like there's something called the graph which is doing some history retrieval potentially you can just take that entire chain and stick it on bit torrent like there's lots of ways to like archive it and create kind of customized search protocols for it so what's your sense why so there's a python 2 in python 3 and it took 4 ever for people to switch what's your


sense why this merge has been taking longer than perhaps was expected i think the biggest reason is just you know we've been underestimating the technical complexity there's a lot of technical complexity in making a successful proof of stake chain there's a lot of technical complexity in actually figuring out the transition process there's so that's bigger than social complexity so it's uh the technical complexity you would say is the bigger reason for the any delays than the social complexity i i actually think so i and i


i think we've been very fortunate to not have too much social complexity around the merge so not much drama no um i think the the biggest part of the reason is just because we have been talking about proof of stake in charting as being part of the road map since um almost the very beginning of the project right like the very first proof-of-stake blog post does from january 2014 which was you know um two months after the project started and like maybe even a day after the announcement um so you know it was proof of stake was not something that we uh kind of put on


any on anybody by surprise and then when the dow fork happened and you know the people on the edc side split off i think it also just happens that a lot of the people that were not willing to stomach the dow fork and then join the etc side they were the more bitcoiny types and the more bitcoiny types do also tends to like like proof of work more and so like that also sort of ended up you know sort of like purifying the communities on both sides i guess so ethereum classic is not switching to proof of stake and


you know they're happy with their setup and by the time that uh you know it came through the beacon chain launching ends and now i think the community is there's very strongly in favor of the proof of stake switch but let me ask the question that no engineer wants to hear which is uh the question of timeline when do you think the merge will happen do you have a sense it might happen this year dear sense it might be pushed towards next year 2022 um or uh or even beyond um i think early 2022 was like the most


realistic there's i think there's definitely still like an optimistic case of it happening this year but like the realistic thing to count on is definitely the early part of very early part of next year is there specific things that stand out to you that are like do they'll make you feel good about progress if you see it happening um so the thing that we had last month is that we had this online hackathon called rayonism where basically a bunch of uh the different uh client developers that


are going to be part of the transition like hacks together some test nets of the post-merge ethereum chain so these were only test nets of what would happen after the merge they were not test nets of the transition itself so the thing that people are working on now actually is the transition um so having a full specification of both the transition and post transition i mean we have specifications now but like in a realistic way though probably needs to have a couple of changes and have things that continue to be ironed out and then have a yet test net that does


both the transition and the post transition and then like once you have a test network then you just have to do a lot of testing and audit it um and then you know do some runs on not just a specialized test network but on say an existing test network like a rob center rinkeby that ethereum people already significantly use and if it works then you can deploy the transition on mainnet just as a quick comment because this is fascinating in august of last year there was this uh medalla i believe it's pronounced madasha it's a


south american subway station i forget where but spell with two l's yeah yeah because that's you know that's how spanish works right like the two else have uh dasha yeah okay cool anyway but i read about it in uh middle of august august 14th there was an incident on that test net um what how does this process work like what do you learn from those kinds of incidents when stuff goes wrong in the test process um i think uh that incidence was that there was a consensus failure of some


kindness i remember um basically just different clients interpreting things in different ways and then one of them getting kicked off the network and then it ended up taking a while to actually like get everyone to get back online like a big part of the reason why it took weeks to resolve right is because it's on a test network like the coins are valueless and so there's not really this big push of any kind for people to actually you know going down with a new client so they can start participating again and so you know it definitely took a


while until the chain started finalizing again um but and then also like there was i think another round of just not finalizing in october as i remember um that i mean there were definitely things that we learned like there were a lot of things especially that client developers just learned about like optimization and how to build their clients in a way that they can process things efficiently um there's a lot that we learned from just like seeing the full life cycle of what happens when more than a third of the validators go


offline and then finalization stops and then that kind of weird unusual state of the chain continues for a while and then eventually everyone who is not participating just gets enough of their stake like we don't use the word swash we use the word weak for this but like basically also burned um until you know the people who are participating go back up to two thirds and then the chain goes back to finalizing so just seeing all of those edge cases play out live i think actually helped a lot and probably helped to really contribute to


making us feel better about midnight i mean there's also an incident just recently in april 24th of 2021 where uh this was on beacon i guess there was a bug discovered in the software client prism that prevented roughly 70 percent of validators on the network from producing blocks i mean maybe you can comment on what happened but broadly like the big picture what kind of stuff are you worried about in terms of problems that might arise we're talking about small bugs i were talking about


like emergent social unexpected social bugs you know what are the things that worry about the future of ethereum that you want to make sure you construct mechanisms that prevent those things from happening so one of the lucky things there was that this particular bug only prevented proposals of blocks it did not prevent attestations right so at the stations is just a mechanism for voting on blocks and it's the attestations that are actually responsible for the chain finalizing so like coming to this more permanent agreement on blocks right


so the chain was actually quite stable all the way through um the i think the thing that we generally learned from these experience experiences is just how valuable it is to have the some multi-client network right so this is one of these areas where i think ethereum distinguishes itself from like bitcoin for example right that in ethereum we don't have one single client that that everyone um just runs right there's multiple implementations of the protocol and these multiple implementations they're they all


process and verify the blocks that each other can you know verify right so they all speak the same language now sometimes when there's a bug they disagree right and when two clients disagree because of a bug we call this a consensus failure and consensus failures are pretty serious right and when you have um clients monoculture like bitcoin does then like it's more rare to have consensus failures do you still have them actually bitcoin had a consensus failure between two different versions of the same client back in 2013


um but they're less likely to happen but the interesting thing is that the multi-client architecture has actually i think saved ethereum much more than it's heard it so even in this most recent incidents right like prism was not producing blocks but all the other clients were still producing blocks um there's four others right yes it's a prism nimbus teku and the white house um and then also ethereum back in 2016 had this fun event that we call the shanghai dos attacks uh they're called that because uh


the attacks started like right on the first day of a of our annual conference at defcon that happens to be in shanghai that year so what happened like basically was that someone came up with a way to create blocks that were very slow for one clients to process but not the other client so at that time there were basically two ethereum clients there were they were called geth and parity um right now i think the top three ones are gath nethermind and baso um but what happened as a result of us having two clients is that the attacker was


just not able to come up with blocks that both clients were like uh completely failing at processing and so like a lot of the miners and a lot of network participants they just kept on switching between the two implementations depending on which one worked and that actually really helped the the chain i kind of survived through that month of attacks as the attacker just like kept on hammering at our system and identifying all of the weaknesses and just like forcing our clients to do this you know


rapid sprint of just like optimizing the hell out of everything and make sure there aren't any of those uh dust blocks or uh and dust bugs remaining um so that was another example and then like as a counterpoint as a counter example so like something that also shows the point from the other side um bitcoin had this bug in 2010 right the balance overflow bug basically someone created a transaction that had two outputs and those outputs had were both of a few billion bitcoin so like about two to the power


of 63 satoshis and then if you add those numbers together you you go above to the power of 64. and of course you know computers like once you go above to the power of 64 you wrap around and so the bitcoin nodes thought that there was enough money to pay for the transaction because it was asking for let's say like a billion satoshis or something but actually it was asking for to the power of 64 plus a billion and so you know the attacker just managed to create like billions of bitcoin out of thin air and this was not only discovered and fixed


after something like 12 hours um but you know if there had been like if bitcoin had been a multiple implementation system then what would have almost certainly happened is like one of the clients would have bugged out but the other clients would have probably you know actually had a check for that right and so there would have been a consensus failure but at least that would have um like alerted everyone that there is a problem very quickly and it also would have given everyone just like obvious social


permission to go and you know pick which whichever one of the chains is correct and solve the problem um so like that's i think a big learning that we've had from multiple of our experiences in the ethereum ecosystem just like validating this multi-client model you know to be fair it's a model that we get criticized for a lot right like bitcoin people talk about you know the risk of consensus failures that this creates um vc types are like well you know isn't it expensive and wasteful to funds three software teams where you could just be


making you know one quote focused effort you know they love the word focused and like you know ethereum is not that but it's amazing despite not being that yeah um the basically yes so that was interesting and and then you know there have definitely been other learnings as well just from like seeing the chain live and you know seeing what actually is the staking experience like what are the actual incentives for all the different participants um so i definitely feel like we're gaining a lot from this sort of one year of uh


trial running the chain before we actually make all of ethereum depend on it let me ask uh perhaps a strange question but uh you know proponents of bitcoin will say uh things like bitcoin fixes everything so why do we need ethereum uh versus like bitcoin plus lightning network for scalability uh and then using bitcoin for with this proof of work for security so in this kind of um it is perhaps sort of a strange question but it's a high-level question why do we need another technology yes there's a bunch of nice features but


like doesn't bitcoin fix everything already so and the thing that always attracted me about bitcoin is you know these values of you know decentralization creating these open provisional systems that anyone can participate in and that aren't just going to flop over and die if whoever created them gets bored and like no that are resistance to like whoever runs them breaking the rules and all of these things right and i think that pretty strongly that these principles are


like really valid in importance to much more things than just money right like bitcoin is uh the blockchain for money and ethereum is uh built from the start as a general purpose blockchain right it's you know there is ether the asset on ethereum but then you can also make you know decentralized financial things what we call d5 today um you know you can make like ens the decentralized domain name system um you can put make prediction markets on it you can make totally non-financial systems that just like keep track of


whether or not some certificate was signed or whether or not some like cryptographic key got revoked there's this big long list of like just interesting things that you could use about blockchains to do right like basically they are sort of the missing piece that um where without them the kinds of things that a decentralized computer network can do is very limited and once you have them you know a lot of those limitations end up going away uh and so ethereum was like always from the beginning about that right it's about


like hey this isn't just money this is there's so much more that you could do if you could just go ahead and make any infrastructure or you know digital institution or dao or whatever you want to call it where you the kind of the base layer of the logic is just executed in this open and transparent way where everyone can see what's going on or you know if you like your zero knowledge proofs at least everyone can see proofs that prove to you that what's going on follows the rules um and you don't need to like just constantly keep trusting


centralized actors and hence the smart contracts exactly as being a sort of a core technology as part of ethereum yes exactly smart contracts the computer programs that are running on ethereum they are like the core of what makes ethereum general purpose yeah um so i think like i do think that you know there's a lot more that wrong with the world than just money right like i'm not one of these people who thinks that you know if you get rid of fiat currency and you replace it with cryptocurrency then suddenly wars are going to go away right because


like first of all um you know like senoraj revenue is only a small portion of government revenue right it's like what five ten percent something like that second of all like if you are the sort of um this is one of the things i don't even get about their philosophy like let's say you're the sort of person who is a like an extreme and very distrusting libertarian and you think that these governments are terrible right like we we know today that governments find a combination of you know things like welfare and things like you know the military that


you know goes and like bombs people in afghanistan right and the so the question you have to ask is like okay you um with your new um you know magic newfangled cyber currency that takes over the world take away the government's ability to have seniors revenue and so you reduce the government's revenue by 10 if the government is that evil which portion of its um expenses is it going to take that 10 from is it gonna stop the bombing people in afghanistan or is it going to cut welfare if you think it's the first you have a


very optimistic view of the government right so that's i guess my perspective on like why the whole um you know we're going to save the world and create and uh create peace by like denying governments the right to stealth taxation kind of perspective doesn't really make much sense for me and i do think that there is real value that comes from a decentralized and open currency like just the fact that there is a financial infrastructure that anyone in the world can you know go ahead and use right like


it's and that's something that can easily be a big boon for people right there's a lot of places where the uh currency and is much less stable than the dollar and you know these people like they don't like well if they use bitcoin their only option is to get big ones right which you know are also pretty volatile um if they use ethereum then you know they can get ether but then they can also get stable coins right and you might think that you know oh you're not being ideologically pure now you're giving them stable coins


which are mirroring dollars and obviously dollars are going to collapse too but the reality is that delvers are vastly more stable than the venezuelan bolivar so like there are really like meaningful and beneficial things that you can give to people by create having a global and open financial system but i think if you want to actually do that like you have to have much more than just a currency right and then if you want to go beyond financial things then you know you have to


obviously have much more than a currency and then you know you also have to actually actually take scalability seriously because the non-financial applications like nobody's going to pay five dollars a transaction for them can we return to dogs sure no no no no no no no no the other one's categorically forbidden get categorical is there any cryptocurrency based on cats actually i i think there are like was there was cat coin there was neon coin for some reason they just didn't catch on as much as the dog coins did okay so let's talk


about dogecoin and elon musk elon said that quote ideally doge speeds up block time 10x increases block size 10x and drops fee 100x then it wins hands down end quote you said in the blog post partially responding to that that there are subtle technical reasons why this is not possible to this elon said that you quote fear the doge uh so let's talk about this what are the technical uh hurdles for dogecoin that prevent it from becoming one of the primary cryptocurrencies of the world and do you


in fact fear the doge i definitely feel obligated to correct the record i definitely do not fear the dosh okay no i love the dosh um i actually visited the doge in japan a few years back it's uh she's an amazing dog he's still alive wait the original doge yeah oh wow um so you know we accept doge every every year for our annual def con conferences um so and i definitely you know don't think ethereum is opposed to dot coins i mean


like i kind of wants to feel like you know ethereum is at least a little bit in spirit itself a dog coin and then you know as i'm as i mentioned you know i love doge i bought i bought a bunch of doughs i still hold some a bunch of dosh the on the scalability question like the challenge basically is like the limits uh scalability as a and the trade-offs with centralization right like if you just increase the parameters without doing anything else then it just becomes more and more difficult for people to validate the chain and uh just becomes more likely that the chain


becomes centralized and becomes vulnerable to all kinds of capture so does it need like some of the layer two technologies that we've been talking about um i mean i personally think that you know if doge wants to somehow bridge to ethereum and then people can trade doge thousands of times a second inside of loopering then you know that would be amazing i mean if they want to just like take zika roll up style technology and just have thousands of transactions a second on their own chain then that's um you know that would be a great outcome as well so what is there ways for


ethereum and uh dogecoin to work together so okay so there's a power behind a person like elon musk pushing the development of a cryptocurrency is there ways to leverage that power and that momentum to improve ethereum to improve some of the sort of uh cryptocurrencies that are already technologically advanced and pushing forward that kind of technology i i definitely think there is room for you know that uh there's that meme of doge like taking over that's the door i've seen it is there a way to ride that


uh that storm that wave of the doge has taken over i think if we could have a secure doshu ethereum bridge then you know that would be amazing and then when ethereum gets its scalability any scalability thing that works for ethereum assets you would be able to also like trade wrapped doors with extremely low transaction fees and very high speed as well is there uh is there precedence for building secure bridges between cryptocurrencies is that i mean how difficult is this kind of task that's it's definitely something that's in its infancy infancy


there definitely have been some cross-chain interaction things that have been done before um so one the earliest is probably the concept of merge mining right when a chain just makes its entire proof-of-work algorithm dependent on the proof-of-work algorithm of another chain and so i think famous doshcoin actually merged mines the litecoin which is i think in retrospect it's not looking like a very good choice because now deutsche coin is bigger than litecoin um but um you know if there's potentially some way for


dogecoin to merge mine within ethereum proof of stake ins of some kinds then like that could be an interesting alternative um if so that's one type of like chain interaction as far as like bridges like one chain reading another chain early in ethereum's history there was this project called btc relay it's a smart contract on ethereum that just verifies bitcoin blocks i think people stopped really caring about and maintaining it because there just weren't enough applications that were actually interested in using it at the time and


the transaction fees got too high to actually maintain it so i i think if we want to make a btc relay 2.0 and that becomes cheaper because you know it uses snarks or something like that then you probably could but and maybe now is the time when you actually like can do that sort of one-way verification but the one challenge though is that if he wants to have a bridge that allows you to move assets between chins then you don't just need one-way verification you need two-way verification


right and ethereum can verify anything because ethereum smart contracts can just run arbitrary code but if you want bitcoin to be able to do things based on what happens in ethereum lands then like bitcoin would have to basically well they can do everything with soft forks because like you know that that's their religion but no they'll they'll do it that way and if doge wants to make a fork where that allow allows for like two-way transferability with the ethereum then you know they could i mean i i think that would


be a lovely collaboration to make if there's interest i think there might actually even be some multi-sig funds that have some um some funding it's just a bounty for someone to make a bridge between the two yeah could you maybe try to psychoanalyze elon musk for a brief second so what are your thoughts about tesla and elon musk's journey through the cryptocurrency world so first with bitcoin and then with doshcoin so acquiring a large acquiring holding a large amount of bitcoin and i believe at least considering the


acquiring and holding a large amount of doshcoin positives negatives what do you think the future for tesla and spacex in the cryptocurrency space looks like do you think they'll consider ethereum um i'm i'm sure that if you know that they stay in the the cryptocurrency ecosystem at all then they have to at some point yeah you know bitcoin number one dogecoin number i mean you know come on it deserves to be number three and then or number two and then ethereum can be whatever that uh whatever that other number is um but um the if ethereum only becomes a dot


coin somehow maybe change the logo to incorporate a dog of some sort almost like doors like uh sneaking behind oh that would be that would be fascinating before the emerge happened and i think like elon you definitely i think you would make a mistake if you were to kind of ascribe too much like sophisticated malevolent ins or or any intel like deep intentionality to the whole process i think like he's just a human being and he likes dogs just like i like dogs yeah right


that is i think that is literally the reasoning behind the whole dose dogecoin thing there is some aspect to which i mean the guy helped launch a car into space right like you could you could ask like what is the purpose of that i think the purpose of that is uh fun there i think he truly is more and more especially lately embodying the whole idea that the most the most entertaining outcome is the most likely and he's fully embracing the most entertaining outcome and in many ways dogecoin is the most


entertaining cryptocurrency as cryptocurrency becomes more and more impactful in the world people are getting more and more serious about it and so he's selecting the cryptocurrency that is the most the least serious and the most fun and there's something to that uh like coupling fun with uh technological sophistication um and somehow figuring out a way to do that absolutely you do that well you know i i i want the world to be fun i think the world being fun is great okay let me ask about a couple other technologies if it's okay


sure what are your thoughts about chain link and hybrid smart contracts that utilize off-chain external data sources and i think it's definitely necessary for smart contracts so that you do a lot of things to use off chain data of some kind right like if you want to have a stable coin you need a price oracle so you know what price you're targeting um if he wants to have some fancy you know crop insurance gadget like i always you know i think ether risk has been doing a lot of uh good work with that in i think it was either kenya or sri lanka or both like they're they're making a


lot of good progress and some in some of those places like you need some kind of oracle to tell you you know did it actually rain in this particular area um if he wants to have like assets that mirror other financial assets you need an oracle if you want to have a prediction market you need an oracle and so projects that provide oracles are definitely really important and there are definitely different kinds of use cases like augur is more about you know events and the auger oracle is designed like i


think differently from chain link right like chain link emphasizes the whole you know like we have a fast automated thing that just like gives you data quickly um whereas auger is more you know we don't give a crap about speed um and look we don't need to give a crap about speed because if you want to get your money out on a prediction market that where in reality it's resolved you can probably just sell your coins for 99 cents anyway um so i mean i i think i mean the chain link is definitely like


taking a yeah good and the important part of the oracle design space and i'm definitely happy that there is like that project taking the task on and at the same time i do think that you know their their frog army on twitter can get a bit intense sometimes but like frog army is there is there a way to incorporate sort of oracle network type of ideas into ethereum i personally would prefer the ethereum base layer like stay away from trying to provide too much functionality because i think once you have the ethereum base


layer making a claim about like say the us dollar to ethereum price like and at some sense you're basically saying that like ethereum as a base platform starts making what could be geopolitical statements right right like for example you know imagine if there was some you know civil war in the us split up and you had two currencies that both claims to be the us dollar well you know ethereum would would have to pick one for the sake of everyone who's already using that oracle so you know does that mean that the blockchain would be


like taking a position in this big megapolitical debate so i think like for the just those kinds of reasons i would personally like prefer um ethereum itself to be more of this sort of pure platform that just analyzes the transactions and just mathematically using uh deterministic consensus rules and then if you need the oracles that can be all your tears i think ethereum benefits from not trying to do everything at layer one and having this like very robust way or two ecosystem where you have all these projects doing interesting things


yeah focus on the basic technology avoid the politics gotcha let me ask a bit of a human question charles hoskinson someone you've worked with in the early days of ethereum there appears to my outsider view to have been a bit of a falling out is there a positive inspiring human story to be told about why you two parted ways i kind of wants to let the various books about ethereum speak for themselves um but you know you know if i feel like you know since that time i think you know charles has clearly progressed and then he


matured in a lot of ways and i mean people who follow charles closely have definitely told me that you know like 2021 charles is very different from 2014 charles and i'm sure 2021 vitalik is much different from 2014 metallic as well i'm kind of interested how the 2030 and 2040 vitalik and charles look like as well oh interesting like the progression of the humans is this going to be one of those things where like everyone comes full circle and then 2030 vitalik and charles are best friends


yeah i mean not necessarily best friends but some kind of uh um are able to reminisce in ways that is um that puts some of the tension of the past behind i think such things are possible um i think you know people definitely absolutely have a right to and uh and they should strive to just constantly change and reinvent themselves um is there something you could say about your thoughts about the cardano project that charles hoskinson leads they've worked on some interesting ideas that


mirror some of the ideas in ethereum proof of stake working on smart contracts and all those kinds of things is there something again positive inspiring that you could say are they a competitor is it complementary technology it's uh and there's definitely interesting ideas in there i mean i do think cardano takes a bit of a different approach than ethereum and that you know they really emphasize having these big academic proofs for everything whereas ethereum tends to be more okay with heuristic arguments and in part because


it's just trying to do more faster um but you know there's definitely very interesting things that come out of you know iohk research and so is there can you comment on that kind of idea i as sort of uh having a foot in research enjoy charles's kind of emphasis on papers and like deep academic rigor is there what's the role of deep research rigor in the world of cryptocurrency interesting i'm actually the sort of person who thinks deep rigor is overrated um the reason why i think deep rigor is overrated is because i think like


the the in terms of like why protocols fail i think the number of failures or that are outside the model is even more important is like bigger and more important than the failures that are inside the model right so if you take selfish mining for example like the the that original discovery from 2013 that showed how um bitcoin does like even if it has a 50 uh fault tolerance assuming everyone's honest it only has a yeah you know zero to 33 percent fault tolerance depending on your network


model if you assume uh rational actors and like to me that wasn't that was a great example of like an outside the model failure right because traditional consensus research just up until or before the blockchain days did not think about like incentivization much right like there was a little bit of thought about incentivization there's like a couple of papers on the byzantine altruist rational model but it wasn't that deep it was mostly operating under the assumption that you know this we're going to make


consensus between 15 participants and these are institutions and if something goes wrong then you know if it was we can figure out whether or not it was deliberate offline and if they did something evil we consume them whereas in the crypto world you can't do that right and so like that whole discovery basically arose just because like you know the model of uh traditional uh consensus research just like didn't cover those possibilities and then like once you go out of the model those other issues do exist


right um so but then at the same time like there definitely are um protocols that turn out to be insecu that do have failures inside the model like this reminds me of at the time when i think i found a bug in a proposed uh consensus implementation from either bitshares or eos this happened around the end of 2017. um so that was definitely inside the model because like they had a very clear idea of what they were trying to achieve they had a very clear description and like there's a very clear


mathematical um argument for why the description doesn't lead to what they're trying to achieve but ultimately what you're trying to achieve can never be fully like described in formal language right like i think this is the big discovery of you know the ai safety people for example right like just having a a specification of what you want is an insanely hard problem and like the more powerful the optimizer that you're giving the instructions to the more you have to be careful and and so you know i think there are kind of these two sides and then the other thing is that


a lot like a lot of the academic approach ends up like basically optimizing for other people inside of the academic system and it doesn't really optimize for like curious outsiders whereas like i personally met like totally optimized for curious outsiders or at least i feel like i strive to so i guess like that's my case for why i like tends to behave in ways that you know occasionally traditional academic types criticize as being reckless um but i you know on the other hand you know there's i mean there's definitely real benefits


that come from like just taking us a rigorous approach especially when you know you know what the thing that ex like you know what the specification is of what you're trying to get and like you're trying to kind of improve your way or provide protocols that actually provide that like you know exactly what you're looking for i feel like realistically you probably wants to do both kinds of analysis and like sometimes even want to do both kinds of analysis and stages right like you have


you want to do more quick and dirty things and even want public feedback on the quick and dirty stuff and then later on you formalize it more and then you get more feedback um like in general i guess i feel like the norms of research in the future like the internet has just changed so much there's no way that it's not going and you know it's it's even changed like collaboration structures and like the patterns in which we work with each other there's no way that the correct structure for club collaborative research is the same


as what it was 15 years ago but like what combination of these existing components and of new ideas it is like that's something that's you know totally legitimate to kind of fight it out and i think it's great that there's different ecosystems that have different attitudes to things like you know i think you know there's a big possibility that you know things that the ethereum ways that the ethereum ecosystem approaches some problems is totally wrong and if there's other ecosystems or different principles and they can do well that's something that we can learn from in the spirit of the depth


first search can you comment on ai safety and some people are really worried about the existential risks of artificial intelligence is there something you could say that's uh hopeful about how we avoid in the same kind of line of uh reasoning about creating formal models versus kind of looking outside the model into what the real world actually is like is there some lessons from that we can take and map onto the ai safety world where the potentials of the technology whether it's in autonomous uh weapon systems or just the paperclip


problem uh that we can avoid ai destroying the world so my impression is actually that like this is more of a kind of faraway impression and it could be wrong that it might even be that one of the challenges that ai is not formal enough like because ai does is very like practitioner oriented right like it's all about like hey i found a couple of hacks and look i ran them and look you know they seem to improve classification accuracy from you know 0.684 to 0.773 uh so a lot of the time like there just


isn't actual science behind like why this hack works and why this uh other hack doesn't work you just sort of like trial and error your way into it um but and i could see how that approach works but at the same time like that approach is not good for legibility for example it's not good for like understanding what the heck is actually going on like how these kinds of systems conceivably might fail like there's even you know a debate on like can you take gpt3 like things and just scale them up and their intelligence will continue to


improve or is there just like some types of reasoning that they're fundamentally bad at and like yeah they're not gonna get good at it no matter how much you like scale this exact same approach and add more hardware to it so having like thinking about what's going on more explicitly i mean my understanding is that a big part of a ai safety research is trying to do that sort of stuff right and formalize yeah formalize try to improve just ai legibility like trying to understand you know if the ai makes some classification so we


can actually see like what happens and what's going on in the middle right whereas with crypto or with traditional cryptography you know it's like very much not well okay i mean i shouldn't quite say that it's traditional cryptography is this interesting mix of being very formal and being very informal because it's very formal with given these security assumptions prove that the protocol works under these security assumptions the places where it's very informal is like well how do we even know that there


isn't an efficient algorithm for factoring numbers yeah we kind of tried it for 40 years and then you know so far no one's found anything better than the gen general number field sieve and like okay fine we'll just assume it's fine you know how do we know you can't i'm gonna find uh the the discrete log between two elliptic curve points like no did it a couple of decades no one's found anything faster than like baby step giant step stuff uh so that's and like there's there's a there's definitely uh


ways in which that approach really makes sense right because at least you can concentrate your analysis on a small number of building blocks and like you know you do have some intuitive reasoning about those building blocks but like at least there's a small number of building blocks and lots of people are looking at them and then everything else just sort of gets formally built on top and you actually can like mathematically reduce the security of big thanks to building blocks right like you can have mathematical proofs that say


you know if you make a zk snark of a yes statement when in reality that statement is false then you can use that to like extract information out of elliptic curves that you know it completely breaks the problem or something like that uh so so zika is an example where formalism is is beneficial absolutely yeah and so maybe you can have the same kind of stuff in the ai safety within within ai systems that you can get get a hold of some kind of aspect of the systems that you can control right provably


and then in blockchains and cryptocurrency i think the one area where consensus like mechanisms is still more an art than a science is that these aren't just like technological systems they're crypto economic systems right and they make assumptions about people and which assumptions you can make about people is not something that you can prove with math right the even just the basic 51 percent exact people are honest can you trust the 51 percent um if you can't trust the 51 can you trust the other 49


to be able to coordinate on like making their own fork what will happen to coin prices like how do people as human beings react to these events like there's all of these assumptions yeah but you know at the same time look if you can write down the assumptions then you can like do formal things with them i almost forgot to ask you about one of the most exciting aspects of ethereum i mean it's non-technical i think it's a it's a societal it's social which is nfts so what do you think what do you think about the explosion of


nfts in the recent months especially in the art world and beyond and what does the future look like so this is maybe the social impact on the world on on the individual creators of all kinds like is that something you've actually expected to see and ft's having this kind of impact and beyond what do you think will happen in the uh in the digital space with nfts in virtual reality and gaming all those kinds of things i was definitely surprised by like nfts in particular like i even actually i think might be on


record somewhere on some tech conference panel like they were asking you know um it was one of those overrated or underrated sections and asked about nfts and i thought and i said like hey i think nfts are overrated yeah and you know in retrospect that turned out to be quite wrong i might think like i guess i just personally can't really relate to this concept of like spending a lot of money on a thing like there's nothing you know there's no queer kind of understanding of why that thing would uh


maintain its value right um uniqueness of a thing having value right exactly like that's like i definitely am like cannot really understand you know the psychology behind like buying you know paying two hundred thousand dollars for original art painting i'd be like you know if i had a mansion just like give me photocopies of everything you can hang three photocopies of the the mona lisa section well i would even have the mona lisa i think i'd probably just like have some nyan cats or something that's one thing where mathematics or


theoretical computer science cannot formalize why the heck nfts are valuable exactly but the thing that uh that makes me very happy about the space now that it has happened is that i mean this gets back to the conversation that we had at the beginning right like i'm interested in this concept of decentralized public goods funding right like i want things that are good and valuable to as much as possible also be things that can't you know economically sustain the people who produce them right because if you don't have that


then either the public goods just don't get produced at all or people make like centralized versions that have some of the properties and try to be substitutes but actually just like concentrate control in a very small group right and you know both of those things are not very nice uh so the nice thing about nfts would be well if you're an artist and you can just mint nfts and this is a source of revenue it's like great that's another stream of revenue for you know creative work that often does still get get underfunded and that's amazing


okay let me ask you a weird question we talk about craig wright a little bit but a lot of people write to me one of two emails one email uh is uh calling any coin outside of bitcoin a uh a scam and then the other email is saying my my favorite coin is the best coin it's going to save the world whatever that coin is uh and so i sit back and i look at i have no idea i i trust i tried to figure out like the humans that i trust in this space just but basic human qualities but do you think


some coins are scams uh do you think some coins maybe another way to ask it are scammier than other coins how are people that are looking outside of the space where there's all these cryptocurrencies supposed to figure out what is a scam and not or how to use the right kind of language when talking about them because there's the harshness of the language from the bitcoin maximalist that doesn't just say everything is a scam including ethereum uh but they use terms like coin


that says it's not only a scam it's like a waste of time i mean every word you can use they say that that's very harsh and then some people are just apply the word scam a lit much much more conservatively and just refer to coins that legitimately are trying to scam people out of their money as scams so what do we do with this word scam should it ever be applied to coins and uh is it a a binary thing or is it the gray area hmm it's i think it's definitely a gray area like there's definitely things that are really in actual scams


like i mean bit connects would be one example of uh something that's away on the scam spectrum did you see their 2017 promotional video by the way big connect yeah hey what's up what's up what's up piconic this is it was this three minute 48 second video that was just of this guy making this totally crazy rant and it was at some conference in vietnam where they were of course like trying to convince a whole bunch of people to buy this coin and they had this claims about how it would go to go up in value


yeah that was definitely like the peak of these pure completely scammy coins and you know that was definitely really terrible and i actually i feel like we have less despite cryptocurrency as a whole being bigger we actually have quite a bit less of that now but then of course you know there's this bit this spectrum of things that are not completely scams um and then things that are not scams and that are technically totally fine projects but where the their community is just incredibly sketchy


and then all the way to you know things that are where the community is nice but maybe the project is just fundamentally incapable of achieving what it's trying to do or in the community doesn't realize and then you know a really good project right so like if you want to go a step like well if that's 100 scam then like you know what would i call like say 80 scam well like bitcoin sv is one example this is a craig wright's fork of bitcoin like theoretically it's a blockchain right it's a fork of bitcoin


it has some you know 500 12 megabyte blocks if you really wanted to you could use the blockchain you know it's uh it satisfies the property is that you know you can send transactions onto it you can probably um you know use it as as a backup to store your files if you really wanted to just because it has it has so much space you know it might fail but like it's the but at the same time like you know as they basically said like craig wright is a scammer and like half the you know community is just totally bad


insane so the humans the humans of a particular cryptocurrency is what makes for a scam and not like the humans at the top that have a voice right guiding the community yeah like i think you know in the case of bsv like the humans they yeah make just completely wrong and just obviously wrong claims about like what bsv is capable of accomplishing and like what it concealed we could accomplish and like there's just a lot of aspects of it that make it feel like a money grab so that's one example and then you know you gotta go a bit


further and then you know you have like the trons of the world and like you know that's a platform you know you can use it you can do you can do stuff on it but at the same time like you know they did plagiarize the ipfs white paper and then you know they had so the scammy qualities yeah see the thing that throws me off a lot this makes it very difficult for me is that most coins but the ones that make me feel like are scammy have a large community of people that are super positive about it like and they'll write to me


now that said sort of on the flip side of that bitcoin people are also very positive there's some sense and the the reason i was having like squinty eyes looking at bitcoin for quite a while is like why is everyone so positive i was getting total cult vibes like like the ideas are not grounded in truth but are grounded in an obsession of like when you can artificially conjure up a truth which is why i was a little bit like worried about bitcoin i think i've learned a lot since then to where like


um i i learned to separate the community from the ideas and i think bitcoin is a revolutionary idea on on many fronts but still a community that's like dogmatically excited about something whatever that is makes me skeptical maybe it's just like my upbringing but when everybody's really excited about something it makes me um it makes me skeptical and it make but it also makes me difficult to decide what is this cam or not because some of the most exciting ideas in this world have a community of people who are excited about it right because it's um


i don't know i think space exploration is super exciting and uh and there's people i know a lot of them that are exceptionally excited about space exploration does that mean it's a scam no no uh so i don't know what to do with that and so mostly i just try to stay away i suppose but it's it's unfortunate because i'm sure there's a lot of exciting technologies in that space i mean like in the case of bitcoin like i would definitely not call bitcoin as cam right right i would not i would i would also not call litecoin a scam


there's people who call litecoin scam because they just like say oh look you know it has no fundamental use case and the concept of being silver to bitcoin bitcoin's gold is just like stupid and you know it's a bit like millie bitcoin is the silver to bitcoin's gold um but the at the same time like if you have these people who are just you know they do seem to earnestly believe this and uh like they are trying to just like make like one be a litecoin as as best as they can then like that's to me that's enough for it to not be a


scam yeah um that's and then so yeah i think the the biggest gray area is definitely between like projects that are earnest and but you know they have just all sorts of these like different combinations of flawed qualities to them yeah yeah i mean the the ones that legitimately is a scam is when the key people that are at the head of the project are intentionally lying and i think as long as their the intent is to try to do good in the world even if the your actual implementation of that is


flawed i think that's not a scam it could be flawed ideas it could be wrong ideas but it's not a scam i'm learning to navigate this space yeah it's definitely a very challenging space to navigate i mean you know it's uh in some ways a reflection of the world at large yeah and as we've said maybe offline that the fact that money is evolved makes it a little bit more complicated that um you know lives can be ruined by um by by the choice of technologies that are taking on so it makes it more real more painful more


like elevated the impact of this like imagine like mac versus pc wars if everyone who bought a macbook had 10 apple shares inside of it and everyone who had a pc had 10 microsoft shares inside of it and then you had you know the the elites who bought their macs back in 1983 and that they spent 500 dead and now they have 40 million dollars and they just think that they're these gurus who understands the future of finance and geopolitics and they make theories about why you know apple is the one that's going to bring


freedom to the world and uh window is like you know secretly allied with the access of evil oh that's brilliant so yes this is so brilliant so i think the right way to think about this is we map the some of the cryptocurrency battles into the space of like emacs versus vim or apple versus pc if there was some stock that came along with each each implementation of the you know uh each pc each mac that's fascinating this is 100 correct 100 correct because then that really energizes the armies of people debating over this in a way that


something without money does not okay let me ask you about something really fascinating that you are also excited about which is longevity anti-aging you have donated money to the sense foundation so you have an interest in this whole space of lifespan research what's your vision here or what do you hope to see in anti-aging and longevity research i think i hope to see the concept of what of us seeing your parents and grandparents die just slowly disappear from the public consciousness as an experience that happens over the course of uh half a century the same way that getting lost in


a city slowly disappeared over the public consciousness over the last 50 now that we have smartphones the thing you have from nick bostrom the essay uh pinned in your twitter is argues that essentially that you know death is almost unethical like the fact that we don't do something about this thing that um this in the essays is a dragon that keeps like murdering everybody around us including our parents and grandparents is uh like the fact that we don't try to do something aggressively about that dragon


is uh doesn't make any sense um so you think this is a battle worth fighting a battle for immortality or at least longevity i'd say absolutely and i'd say it's a battle where we're really have started over the last five years in particular to see the first cracks of uh no humanities and me starting to make things that look like they'll turn into victories do you uh do you think humans can eventually live forever and maybe as a side comment to that what technology do you think will enable that is a genetic modification is it cloning is it uploading your mind


define forever like are we talking a thousand years a million 10 to the 14 10 to the 45 well let's start as i tweeted today eventually everything uh the universe will be filled with supermassive black holes so that that forever maybe like backtracking to work we'll have we'll have 10 the 16 years to figure it out yes uh yeah maybe travel between um between the multiverse between the different universes the multiverse i mean but forever meaning like you know uh millennia um um i guess i definitely think that we can


get there i definitely think that it's the sort of thing that's going to take an insanely huge amount of work and i definitely think it's the sort of thing where you know once we figure out the first crop of problems and like people start living to 150 we'll just realize that there's like 10 other problems that kill you half a slowly and will have to do more work but you know the good news is that this this is you know aubry's longevity escape velocity argument that if you get everyone to lift 250 now then you know you have half a century to fix all those other problems as well so yeah


i'm optimistic for that reason i think um it you definitely do not want to underestimate uh human ingenuity especially over the long term but just to look at what happens to computers between you know the eniac in 1950 and where we are in 2020 right like that's a span of 70 years um so like you know both of us i think with uh you know even just present-day technology and we have at least 70 more years to left so just like imagine what kind of sea change will happen in biomedicine during that time and the other thing


that made me optimistic is that i actually think covet has been this kind of event that's really a kind of pushed um biomedicine and especially like activist approaches to biomedicine really into the public consciousness right like it basically it's put people into this mindset that you know wait but like you know it's not just like you know the bits and tweets that are going to save the world you know the bio is actually like super important and huge and um you know ultimately what's uh ending the ending covid basically you know is that


the vaccines and the vaccines have just been you know amazing and uh if you can take that energy and start and also like this uh i think philosophical attitude that i've noticed like i think the way that i would describe the philosophical attitude here this is going more depth first is that i think the way that i kind of interpret part of what i would call late 20th century ideology is that there is this mentality that you know nature is good and disruptions from nature are bad and generally you want to


minimize disruptions from nature and like this exists everywhere in the political spectrum right so there's nature as in literal nature and my view is that like the right wing version of that is market sas nature right um markets as nature yeah like you know they the way that that like that kind of philosophy talks about you know markets and like the goal of not interfering with them like you know it's it is very kind of like nature styled and then of course you know the the conservative one which is like traditional culture that existed before the activists


started controlling everything as also being a kind of nature um but the 21st century attitude and like really covet you know has flipped a lot of minds because with kovid what's happened is that well no like it's not nature is not safe right the default is like you know untold and misery and suffering and tens of millions of people dying the only way out for us is through like basically um human ingenuity and that frame of mind is one that's like much more friendly to one uh the this other um change of minds that i want to see which is like basically treating aging


as an engineering problem right like the default is all 7.8 billion human beings that are currently on this earth are going to die and they're going to live their last decade of life in a debilitating pain and the only way to stop that is human ingenuity and you know we don't we don't have that solution yet but you know if we work hard we will and more and more people on the biology side computational biology are basically converting the mess of the the human biology into an engineering problem


and once that conversion is happening looking at the the genetical the proteins all those kinds of things once that conversion happens you can now apply the tools that we know how to solve engineering problems to solving it that way and then there's also the other version which is you know why do we romanticize this meat vehicle that ultimately is just the thing that carries the brain maybe we can more and more convert ourselves into the digital realm this is where like neural link yeah i have the brain computer interfaces and


then achieve immortality in the space of information in the digital space versus the biology space that stuff's interesting too i agree again i think you know we we have enough resources and we should just try all the parallel tracks you know it's great that we have people just trying to make our bodies work it's great that we have people trying to upload like or improve brain scanning it's also great that we have just like people improving cryonics so like we could just like you know go to sleep in the freezer and um eventually


hopefully sometime in the future you know healthy is going to be able to wake up um all of this uh um you know you know anyone who gets chronically frozen today will be able to wake up but you know that's all that's a bad right that's the last resort and then the other interesting thing about um the like extreme uploading approach right is um like we're excited about space and one of the points that uh a lot of science or like hard science fiction types make is that you know if you want to explore space that's a lot easier if you're not


a human right like one example of this is that you know in the context of humans we're talking about like oh we're going to be able to go to the moon oh we're going to be able to go to mars but there's this project called starshot i believe right that's basically trying to send spacecraft to mini spacecrafts to alpha centauri and they literally believe that they're going to be able to get spacecraft over to alpha centauri like four light years away by like the 2060s no i mean by traveling


close to the speed of light yeah exactly like so based the way it works is you know you have these light sails like you basically take the as a spacecraft and you shine a laser at it and the laser is insanely strong and quickly accelerated at 100 g's no i think it was 10 000 gs um until it gets to 20 the speed of light and then you know it goes on your merry way right so if you wants to be in um like personally explore the alpha centauri system within like two centuries or once or one century


then you know being a robot is like by far the most practical way to do it because there's no way that a human being can survive 10 000 years so it's it's definitely interesting long term but at the same time like there's definitely a lot of like psychological hang-ups and a lot of like deep philosophy that we'll just have to grapple with well i think to get there i think what it hangs on the topic of whether we can convert consciousness into an engineering problem so like is consciousness tied to our biology because the moment we can


convert consciousness into a digital form then we can send it with that light sale to office centauri until then a robot is not carrying anything except maybe some basic knowledge like wikipedia it's not carrying the flame of human consciousness i have high hopes for converting consciousness into engineering problem in fact i think it's not as difficult as people think i'm i agree with that i'm definitely in the camp that consciousness is a property of the algorithm and not a property of brain structure


um the other fun like the kinds of philosophical things we'd have to grab with grapple with is like once you upload yourself like you can hit control c you know like it would be wouldn't be lovely to have like 10 copies of fellow experience like we could just interview everyone so this is i mean this is i i have to ask this question it's a difficult one which i don't think he'll be wonderful first of all um sure so in the following way and this has to do with immortality as well there's something about scarcity that creates


value or um there's a bunch of philosophers victor franco bernard williams ernest becker they argue that death or the scarcity of life creates meaning and the reason we life is beautiful the reason so many moments of experience of of love or delicious food all those things are made delicious because they're finite because they end and because we don't have that many of them and there's a kind of worry that if we extend the human lifespan if we achieve immortality or if we god


forbid clone me multiple times then you lose the richness of what it means to have this life to have this experience does that worry you at all do you think there's some aspect to which death does in fact give meaning to life i guess like the one historical parallel and like this might be a bit unfair is that you know there have been philosophers that said that have said things like you know war gives like meaning to human collectives and


the struggle for supremacy between you know nations and races as this like big driver of progress that like that ensures that ever that everyone strives to be their best and um you know of course uh this viewpoint got into the head of a crazy austrian guy and 20 years later his soldiers were shooting at my grandparents um so you know these days we don't really have that but yet life still feels meaningful there's we've still found other ways to uh or them like they're still uh striving for technological progress


there's still um you know uh striving for self-improvement in general and it turns out that you know you don't actually need to have existential conflicts in order to in order to have that now maybe you need conflict but we have other kinds of conflicts right look we have you know competition between businesses competition between political ideologies competition between projects and so you know these are like whatever what whatever the psychological needs are like they're just our substitutes for it so i guess like yeah so if we uh


i'm trying to say i i feel like once we start living to to the age of uh 200 then like i'm just intuitively expecting that we'll see some like substitutes emerge in the same way yeah that will will create conflicts of other sorts that lead to less human suffering than wars do like we'll just start playing diablo four five six and because you die in video games so maybe we'll get some of the inkling of scarcity through the activities we partake in as opposed to our own body dying i mean i feel shitty when i uh like you


can i remember in diablo three you can play in hardcore mode where if you die in the game your character is dead maybe you will get the the richness of like what that we currently get from life by having like little artificial versions of ourselves that die interestingly enough as i've just like personally spent more time in this world i've started realizing that you know there is a concept of like real fight finiteness that still like exists and it might even still be a thing that provides meaning that doesn't


require anyone to actually die like for example like how many people from middle school or even high school or yours like do you still talk to regularly i'm happy to be close friends with like four or five of them okay well like in my case the answer is zero for middle school and two for high school you're right right it dropped exactly it dropped right and so like there's a lot of these just like relationships that end up being very finite um a person changes their i feel like a person changes enough of their worldview


after 25 years wasn't there even a study about this something like a person and themselves 25 years later about as different as like two different people or something like this um so you know like i mean just like you can have conflict without bloodshed i think um you know you can you can have finiteness and even you know the the necessary sorrows of uh finiteness that give meaning without like literally any anyone having to end their life and hopefully if we do extend our life we'll figure out ways to extend


the period of time where there's newer neuroplasticity yes to where we could change our world views continually throughout that time so have some of these different phases of life uh i thought it would be fun to hear you speak a little russian [Music] do you think there's uh so for people who don't speak russian that uh vitalik said that there is um that there is something to the spirit of the people that are russian that are working in the cryptocurrency world that uh is a


little bit different and it and it's something that uh that connects to some kind of aspect of your own self some kind of roots there it it it's it's kind of interesting do you think that there's um does it make you sad that there's these two different worlds that are uh sort of in part disconnected by language and i'm sure the same could be the case with china and other parts of the world or the language slows the transmission of the beauty of the culture


in a certain kind of way where you can't truly collaborate like you can all speak english you're collaborating on maybe a technical level but you're not collaborating on the level of like some deep human connection do you see that being able to speak both languages there's definitely benefits i think to be able to like speak multiple languages and like once you can right like you it you discover that like even your mindset changes while you're in speaking in one language versus the other like people have told me this like when i speak russian i sound more like i


guess like to the point in pragmatic when i speak chinese i sound more cute when i speak english i'm something else um i guess there's definitely like a richness that you're missing if you're only like in one of these language bubbles but you know i guess the arguments on the other side would be that you know if everyone spoke the same language then like there would just be one bubble right this is the challenge i think like there are actually benefits to having cultural diversity and you definitely


don't want the entire world to be too conformist yeah and well one of the interesting things about crypto is that it's just a culture that actually like manages to like somehow you know have its uniqueness and brazil and even preserve its independence from all of all of these surrounding countries despite being embedded in all of them so it uh spans outside the geographical boundaries and language in some ways does as well and then in the way these cultures these bubbles are created i mean they


overlap in interesting ways it's almost like a hierarchy and the same is the case with the crypto world there's uh you know there's communities associated with these cryptocurrencies there's communities within those communities and it's yeah i mean i think like you know it's definitely sad whenever these groups are are fighting each other um and like it's definitely good for them to like if people can cooperate more um but you know at the same time like just having like groups of people that have you know different kinds of life experiences like


there's definitely something benefit from that so let me ask one last question i don't think i asked you last time the ridiculous question about the meaning of life uh you know dostoevsky said beauty will save the world some people believe money is a big part of happiness and you've turned first of all you've made a lot of money you turned away a lot of money he turned away a lot of power so you're a fascinating person to ask what do you think is meaning to life the thing that i've realized with money


as i uh have experienced both having a little of it and i'm having a lot of it is that um the benefit of like you can get the most out of um money if you think of it not as something that like lets you do and have more things but as something that lets you worry about fewer things right like you know if you have you know if the your savings are just you know non-zero at all then you don't have to worry as much about losing your job and you know if you feel like you're you have a job that just like really


conflicts with your values then like if you have even six months saved up that just makes it easier for you to say bye-bye i'm going to do something else if you have more money then you can [Music] you know not worry about like even what you're doing the am needing to be profitable at all um once you get more money then like you can you know choose transportation options and food options that just like have less hassle in your life and allow you to be lazier uh so if you like


this aspect of just like reducing troubles and like opening up room for um other things i think is a big part of it like if you just if you instead think of money as being like this positive or this thing that like gives you stuff and you try to derive meaning from the stuff i think that's uh much more likely to be like a road to like basically squandering that opportunity so yeah and i guess my philosophy is on that is definitely more subtractive than added over there


but once you have enough money that you don't have to worry about the money you're burdened with another question which is of meaning and do you think there's meaning to it all or it seems like your own life you're trying to build cool stuff that alleviates some level of suffering in the world well i mean one way to think about it is like think of think back to like how you thought about life when you were in school right well in school this is interesting to think about right because


in a lot of ways like it's just totally outside of bounds of you know the kinds of systems that are like social systems that we live in as um as adults or maybe not like maybe things like academia are intended to replicate parts of school like first of all school is very totalitarian right like you know you have to follow the teacher the the teacher's instructions the bulk of your schedule is like forced to be in particular areas and you know you can control um and they're real for you from you know leaving the grounds during this period this period of time um you know assign a


lot of homework but at the same time also you know school is a bit of a bit of a post-scarcity utopia in that you just don't have to worry about getting resources for yourself and you know we've both like lived through 12 years of that right so you know like what does that say about us and i think like in one thing of aspect obviously is that in it does like there's definitely like an easiness to living life if all of your decisions are made for you and one of the challenges of


adulthood i guess is moving to this uh world where like all your choices are much more self-directed and you just have to like learn to live and deal with that um yeah dealing with the burden of freedom in some sense actually interesting and because uh i in some ways i feel like even my first like five years of doing ethereum things uh yeah my life was not even all that self-directed because for a lot of it was just you know responding to obligations right like someone said oh you know come to speak at this event


in korea okay you know come to speak of this thing in taiwan okay um oh like we need up for ethereum to launch we need um you know this particular piece to be done and tested okay work on that right we know we need some uh um a proof of stake algorithm work on that and the last year of uh coved life um like basically i was like holed up in singapore for much of it right and it gave me a lot more alone time you know i had much less travel and that was definitely a very new and interesting experience for me would you characterize it by sadness melancholy hope uh


dreaming like innovative period like how would you characterize that alone time sum of all five um definitely some self-discovery um i definitely did like take this uh make this very deliberate decision that like okay i have this time and i'm going to like actually make something meaningful out of it um so like one example of the things i did is i just like actually started really listening to our um audiobooks and podcasts much more like just this year i basically kind of discovered that the podcast space is real for the first time i guess like before that you know there would be


things that i would get interviewed for but yeah i was not really kind of like mentally incorporated i did not mentally incorporate this um idea that like podcasts are a thing that you can go listen to and this year i did okay you know my friend uh um carl lafourche one of the the optimism people uh recommended hardcore history to me and so i went ahead and just listens to all the hardcore histories uh but then after that like yeah listen to like 10 lux speedmans and then a bunch of others


says and after that i also got into um audiobooks um oh i listened to the entire um the rise and fall of the third reich the whole thing 45 hours that that was fascinating so what else did you ask about because dana's gonna love hearing this i'm gonna tell you do you have uh do you have a period of history whether it's dan or in general that you draw for your own life like kind of thinking about the world about human nature that you go to is it world war ii is it uh wrath of the cons the injengus is it some other more ancient history


is it world war one is there something that kind of echoes with you in the voice of dan or or anyone else that you connect to i feel like the 1930s and 40s are fascinating because they force you to like really grapple with uh the question of like you know where does evil come from right like the sort of mental puzzle that i've always had in my head is like on the one hand um you know things like the holocaust happened but on the other hand if you just go and like have a coffee with with uh people then like a hundred times out of a hundred everyone just seems so


nice yeah yeah so yeah exactly yeah like how do you kind of reconcile the macro in the micro there right and that's the sort of thing that's very difficult if you don't have um a lot of i guess the right kind of personal experience like especially if your personal experience starts off being sheltered like it was for me right like i you know this i know the stereotype is that the nerds get bullied in school but like actually for me in my school experience was just being


treated with kindness by everyone yeah and so that definitely made it harder to understand things i remember actually being pretty blindsided when i started ethereum and then within six months there started being fights over like who would get more shares if ethereum turned out to be a company and then i suggested we should just make it be a non-profit and somehow that ended up upsetting people um so so the fascinating thing for me is that like i've been you know obviously reading and listening to the


history and then at the same time just like observing things happening in the crypto space and so one of my interesting um like mental intuitions that i've gotten is that i think like most evil doesn't come out of greed it comes out of fear and like one example of this in ethereum lands right is um like i think the part of ethereum history where i thought that the ethereum community was at its lowest and even when i personally was at my lowest and if you go back to the dow fork in 2016 right


so you know the dow hack happens and then we made this controversial decision to change the ethereum protocol uh and we um you know then there was that ethereum classic split and as soon as that ethereum classic split um happened you know there was like a lot of anger everywhere and there started there started especially being anger when the price of etc started like taking up right so this was the time when ether started off being 13 dollars and then ethereum classic started at zero but then


suddenly there was this one day when like eath dropped to 12.5 etc went up to 0.5 and then they dropped more and people were saying things like um you know oh this whole thing ethereum classic is just as like a psyop by you know the bitcoin community and just the wealthy bitcoiners trying to destroy ethereum and like in the back of my mind i knew that that wasn't entirely true like there were definitely were bitcoiners but at the same time like i think blaming political like internal disa or blaming disagreements on foreign


interference right like this is the sort of thing that you know like countries governments do all the time like it's a very convenient excuse right because it allows you to just like blame these things that are happening on the foreigners and avoid like actually grappling with the facts that like well no actually you have people in your very own community who just disagree with you and have a different belief and i think you know i feel like the ethereum community like during that time did not do a very good job of grappling


with that and i feel like like i during that time did not do a very good job of grappling with that and so there was a lot of like blaming the bitcoiners there were also even a lot of people calling for us to use trademark one like basically sue exchanges and like try to prevent them from listing ethereum classic and like to me that was very unethical right like this uh using like basically using the government as a weapon to uh try to attack the other cryptocurrency and like destroy


it as like goes completely against them you know the ideals of freedom and you know like things that at least in theory were supposed to stand for um but you know like in that particular time like basically what was happening was that you know the etc price was rising and at the same time the th price was dropping in lockstep and it really and there are a lot of bitcoin people basically saying this is the end of ethereum and i think a lot of people really were afraid that ethereum would be just like completely destroyed as a result of this


and so like that's where the anger came from exactly that's yeah exactly it came from the fear and like that's what i like allowed people to rationalize like in abandonment of principles that i think they would not have um accepted in other circumstances and i i definitely like to to some extent played along with this myself right and i do definitely regret that to some extent uh well and i i definitely regret like the the excesses completely um but so that and then obviously you know bitcoin block size war similar sort of stuff happened uh


so like that that insight was interesting um because like it does mentally make a lot of sense right like when you're actually afraid that you know unless you act in some way that you know your entire world is going to collapse like it's much easier to just rationalize you know forgetting your principles and doing whatever you have to to just save the specific thing that you care about it feels like the right thing to do the the brave thing to do is in the face of fear to still have compassion to still have


love as opposed to hate so the the darkest moments the the toughest moments of human history are those where fear is everywhere and despite that like the way to get out of that is uh is through love not giving into the fear and again that's the lesson that you draw from all those moments of history yeah well i i like you have in terms of those coffee and the kindness that people have it does seem that everybody has the capacity for evil and everybody has the capacity for love


and you just have to create mechanisms and incentives that uh prioritize the latter over the former vitalik you're one of the most interesting people i've gotten a chance to talk to um thank you so much for talking i i hope we get a chance to talk again i hope but i can at least be at some small part this would be awesome on a podcast with you and dan carlin that would be an awesome conversation uh like thank you so much for doing so much incredible technical innovation that inspires the computer scientists uh the economist


inspires the world and what technology can do and now with longevity i do hope we live a a very long time and play diablo to make that long time fun thank you so much for talking today thank you to alex this was great thanks for listening to this conversation with vitalik buterin and thank you to athletic greens magic spoon indeed four sigmatic and better help check them out in the description to support this podcast and now let me leave you with some words from nelson mandela when a man is denied the right to live

Key Themes, Chapters & Summary

Key Themes

  • Cryptocurrency Empowerment and Global Impact

  • Vitalik's SHIB Token Decision and Ethical Considerations

  • Dogecoin's Market Surge and Influences

  • Ethereum 2.0 Development and Features

  • Proof of Stake vs. Proof of Work

  • Security and Slashing in Proof of Stake

  • Minor Extractable Value (MEV) in Ethereum

  • Sharding and Scalability in Ethereum 2.0

  • Government Regulations and Cryptocurrency

  • Bitcoin Block Size Debate and Forks

  • Craig Wright Controversy

  • Political Dynamics in Bitcoin Cash Community

  • Future and Scalability Challenges of Ethereum


  • Introduction: Vitalik Buterin and the Cryptocurrency Landscape

  • The SHIB Token Saga: Ethics and Power

  • Dogecoin's Unexpected Rise

  • Unpacking Ethereum 2.0: Incremental Development

  • The Debate: Proof of Stake vs. Proof of Work

  • Enhancing Security with Proof of Stake

  • Addressing Minor Extractable Value in Ethereum

  • Sharding: The Path to Scalability

  • Cryptocurrency and Government Regulation

  • Perspectives on the Bitcoin Block Size Controversy

  • The Craig Wright Controversy: Implications and Opinions

  • Internal Politics of the Bitcoin Cash Community

  • The Future of Ethereum: Challenges and Innovations


In this comprehensive and detailed conversation between Lex Fridman and Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, a wide range of topics concerning Ethereum 2.0, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain technology are discussed.

Vitalik delves into the potential of cryptocurrencies in empowering billions globally, highlighting the role of smart contracts, layer 2 technologies, NFTs, and the integration of artificial intelligence. He reflects on his decision to burn and donate a significant portion of SHIB tokens, emphasizing the ethical and power dynamics involved in such a large-scale financial act.

The interview shifts to Vitalik's early investment in Dogecoin, noting its unexpected surge in value, partly influenced by Elon Musk. Vitalik's narrative reveals the unpredictability and volatile nature of cryptocurrency markets.

Discussing Ethereum 2.0, Vitalik explains the shift towards a more incremental development approach, focusing on two main features: proof of stake and sharding. He advocates for proof of stake over proof of work due to its lower environmental impact, cost efficiency, and increased security. Vitalik elaborates on the security aspects of proof of stake, including its resistance to attacks and the concept of "slashing" for validators who misbehave.

The conversation also covers minor extractable value (MEV), discussing its implications for Ethereum's decentralization and potential solutions to mitigate its impact. Vitalik then provides insights into sharding, a key component of Ethereum 2.0, explaining its role in enhancing scalability by distributing the load across multiple validators.

Additionally, the interview touches on government regulations of cryptocurrencies, exploring best and worst-case scenarios in terms of government and corporate interactions with blockchain technologies.

Vitalik also reflects on his stance in the Bitcoin block size debate, advocating for a balanced approach between scalability and decentralization. He shares his views on hard forks versus soft forks, considering the former to be more transparent and less coercive.

The discussion also briefly touches on Craig Wright, a controversial figure claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin's creator. Vitalik expresses skepticism towards Wright's claims and discusses the political dynamics within the Bitcoin Cash community post-split.

In conclusion, Vitalik and Lex discuss the future of Ethereum, focusing on its scalability challenges and the innovative approaches being explored to address them, emphasizing the importance of a balanced and sustainable development strategy for the blockchain ecosystem.