My talk with Vitalik Buterin

Yesterday, I had the honor and pleasure to talk to Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum. I made a long post on Reddit explaining how this came to be, plus an overview of the questions, and even a transcript. I’ll copy+paste that here. I’m happy with how things went, and so far, people on the internet have been very positive, which is nice.

Welcome to conversation three in the Ethereum Community Series, today with u/vbuterin[+4]! If you’re new to this, please check out earlier conversations with jtnichol and Ameen Soleimani.

Thank you all for the 150+ questions and I’m sorry if yours didn’t make the cut. (Please make sure to listen to the entire conversation, there’s a good chance your question actually did get answered. I would also recommend listeners or viewers to check Vitalik’s recent talk with Laura ShinInto the Ether, and his talks with Dimitri from Hidden Forces and Tyler from Conversations with Tyler.)

Please note that I grouped the questions into five categories: Intro, General, General Ethereum, Technical Ethereum, and Closing Questions. Please click the category to go to the YouTube-timestamp. Also, I tried to tag everyone that submitted questions but I might’ve lumped some together and thus might have tagged the wrong person, whoops!

I did my best to ask the questions more or less chronologically.

Intro (timestamp)

  • Can you share a little bit about the place where you’re sitting right now?
  • Who are you and what are your interests? What is your background?
  • What, if anything, did you study?
  • Who do you look up to, and if it’s nobody in particular, where do you go for advice?
  • Where can people learn more about you? (blog, youtube channel, twitter?)

General (timestamp)

  • You’re incredibly gracious on Twitter. How do you manage to stay calm in the face of trolling, ignorance, and tribalism? u/retericalnice guy[+9]
  • What do you think about the crypto-space as a whole? For me it seems that there are a lot of different bubbles with maximalists who want their own technology/coin not only to succeed but others also to fail. Do you share their opinion that one day there will be one superior coin/blockchain or is there enough space for different blockchains and technologies? u/spcialx[+1]
  • You and Glen Weyl say that the crypto community is a great testing ground for Radical Market ideas such as quadratic voting and Harberger taxes. Blockchain projects are in need of better rules, and the communities are generally more receptive to trying out radical changes and games. If these ideas are successful, how do you see them being transitioned from the blockchain space into the “real world?” Do you foresee incumbents of the current systems rejecting these ideas out of fear of losing their own power and property? How might a righteous idea overcome these rejections? u/blockduane[+3]
  • How long do you believe it’ll be before we have a unique human identity protocol with strong anonymity guarantees and what do you think is the most promising approach to this problem? u/DCinvestor[+15]
  • How is your relationship with Vlad changing and do you see him continuing to contribute to Ethereum long-term or moving in a different direction? u/lfc052505[+2], and u/etherbie[+3]
  • Vitalik, are you aware that you have 82,300 donuts!? And that Reddit recently announced they are supporting a community initiative, r/daonuts, to decentralise the donuts system. Do you think there is value in bringing Ethereum/web3 technologies back into web2 entities like Reddit? What would you like to see change with how Reddit communities operate? u/carlslarson[+5]
  • How do you manage being productive while having to attend talks and meetings all around the globe. as a person who trots the globe for work, i find it takes a lot of energy beyond the work to do, to be effective. curious on how your routine is. u/nhaneezy[+1]
  • Which country are you legally (for tax purposes) a resident of? u/Rabid_Tanukiethtrader discount tuscany[+1]

General Ethereum (timestamp)

  • Over a year ago you suggested that prices had outpaced development, but I’m curious if your opinion has changed given current prices and the latest developments. u/olddaddywarbucks
  • Almost 18 months after the ICO euphoria, which, in your opinion are the successful examples of dapps, utility tokens, and so, as it comes to real adoption. u/martinkarolev[+1], and u/chazschimdt
  • Do you have a vision for what comes after Eth 2.0? Does Ethereum become a a very reliable and somewhat stagnant base layer, with most of the innovation happening on L2? Or do you expect that the base layer should continue to evolve in dramatic fashion to keep up with the latest technology? u/DCinvestor[+15]u/spacepiratemoptimist[+2] too (kind of, on the robustness of L1 iirc)
  • I think it’s fair to say an initial shared vision/gameplan involved the EF funding development of a technology trifecta (blockchain, swarm, whisper) + a browser to use it all. Has that plan been lost and if so is that a good outcome? u/carlslarson[+5]
    > (Similar question) At the moment everyone is talking about Ethereum 2.0. Is Ethereum’s grand vision still enabling web3 and how has this vision developed over time? How far are the “other” web3 components that are being developed and when would you consider Ethereum to be “complete”? /u/smidge[+2](your question was definitely answered in the convo, as part of DCInvestor’s question iirc)
  • How do you feel about the progress OmiseGO has made with their MoreViable Plasma release? u/ZipZapBeepBoop
  • Recently someone did some in-depth investigation into Ethereum holdings and your personal wealth. In my mind, that’s really nobody’s business but yours. So my question is how do we protect identities on the Ethereum? What is the current status of privacy mechanisms like zksnarks? When can we expect to see more accessible privacy options? u/0661[+2]
  • There is a lot of talk about the “failures” of Ethereum governance from some in the community, but what do you see as the primary advantages of Ethereum’s somewhat unique governance structure, and what role can/should the broader community of non-devs play in this structure? u/DCinvestor[+15]
  • As we begin to possibly enter a more robust multi-chain world, what do you believe is the unique value proposition of Ethereum, in comparison to the value propositions articulated by many competing chains (often focused upon scalability, interoperability, on-chain governance, etc.)? u/dcinvestor[+15], also tagging u/spcialx[+1]
  • I know I have heard you mention implementing a supply cap and the benefits of doing so; I think many people really want to see one because to most people, finite supply triggers a value mechanism in our brains. Do you think a supply cap will be implemented? and if so when? and what number? u/Wendys_4_Tendies[+1]

Technical Ethereum (timestamp)

  • Re beacon chain. You’ve been thinking about on chain randomness for a long time, from Randao around 2016 to now VDF (verifiable delay functions) and threshold signatures etc etc. Besides protocol security, how else do you think having cheaply available provable randomness on the web will change the world? What will the world do differently with this randomness in the future? /u/ckd001[+1]
  • Do you think STARK proofs will eventually become small enough to use in place of SNARKs in schemes such as roll-up? Do you eventually forsee transaction aggregation using STARKs at L1 of the protocol rather than L2? u/consideritwon[+1]
  • With the switch over to PoS and the need for stakers to maintain uptime will the security requirements be a barrier to entry for an average user who wishes to stake? u/consideritwon[+1]
  • What’s your biggest concern for the transition into PoS? u/eddyg987
  • In an ideal world, what are 3 things that could happen that would allow Serenity Phase 2 to be deployed quicker? As a follow-up question is there anything members of the wider community can do to make these things more likely to happen? u/blockchainunchained[+6]

Closing questions (timestamps)

  • What books strongly shaped your worldview? u/Automne888
  • Outside crypto, what fascinates you? u/Etereve[+1] (it got asked, u/jtnichol[+31]!) > “What do you daydream about doing (in the abstract or concretely) aside and apart from crypto?” u/retericalnice guy[+9]
  • How much do you actually work a week? u/spcialx[+1]
  • What do you do to relax when you’re not working and do you have a favourite T-shirt? > And where do you get your T-shirt’s?!?! u/shammyfeen[+1]
  • Where do you see yourself (yourself, not Ethereum) in 10 years time? Do you ever think about early retirement? u/moontrainpassenger

Things mentioned

For those of you on Twitter, feel free to retweet this or share in your own words.

“Keep being a great community.” 
– u/vbuterin