Vitalik at Eth London on Ethereum’s real applications and purpose

The @argentHQ team was lucky to hear Vitalik present at Ethereum London on Monday. We wanted to share the content from his slides. I'm afraid a couple are missing but we caught the majority and he was super insightful as always.

Vitalik on, "Blockchains: from dreams to reality. Real applications are coming…but why will they be useful?'

Slide 2/ What's the point? (As spoken by m̶o̶o̶n̶b̶o̶y̶s̶ enthusiasts)

  • Decentralisation
  • Censorship resistance
  • Openness
  • Inclusivity
  • Fairness

3/ The problems: Decentralisation

  • The ideological constituency of decentralisation as an end in itself is small.
  • What do we hope to get out of decentralisation?
  • Aren't consortium chains decentralised enough?

4/ The problems: Censorship resistance

  • Great…if you're a political dissident, in Venezuela, a gambler, weed enthusiast
  • But the clientele for strong censorship resistance is limited

5/ Don't discount censorship resistance though

  • Lots of people use BitTorrent etc
  • Censorship from corporates, not just governments, is an issue. E.g. crypto projects struggling to get bank accounts
  • Privacy is important too

8/ [on benefits] Permanence

  • A CryptoKitty is "yours"
  • Central issuer can't take it
  • If central issuer disappears, it's still yours – and tradeable
  • Central issuer also can't dilute them in a way that contradicts rules of system
  • N.B. Much still centralised for now

9/ Interoperability

If you make an ERC20 today, it's immediately:

  • Usable inside wallets
  • Tradeable on DEX
  • Trackable on @etherscan – Storeable in a multisig In future: – More smart contract use cases – Privacy solutions
  • 10/ Blockchains are to networked applications what 'open source' is to local applications

11/ Blockchains as add-on to cryptography


  • Hide info
  • Prove I made a message
  • Prove I made a message after another message


  • Prove *when* I made a message (upper bound)
  • Prove I did *not* make a message
  • Prove set of messages is entire set some made

12/ Blockchains strictly increase the extent to which you can assure people that you're not cheating them

Example use cases

  • Certificate revocation – e.g. verifying university degree; ID attestation validity
  • Key revocation
  • Mechanisms where censorship resistance/interference is clearly bad
    • Auctions
    • Polls

14/ Common knowledge

Claim: common knowledge important for coordination

Because of their relatively universally shared trust assumptions (econ, maths), blockchains can achieve common knowledge of trustworthiness of their guarantees way more easily than centralised systems

15/ What about consortium chains?

  • Putting a consortium together is socially expensive
  • Convincing outsiders that joining a consortium is a fair deal is socially expensive
  • Getting outsiders to trust your consortium is socially expensive (Sorry IBM/Walmart 😉

16/ Other compromises between centralisation & decentralisation exist

  • Plasma
  • Just Merkle trees w/ roots published on chain
  • Channels
  • Encrypted data on chain

17/ What do we need? Better UX


(Great discussion on the need to improve wallet UX. This is exactly what we're aiming for at @argentHQ and we look forward to Vitalik downloading the app 😉

Layer 1

  • Block time reduction
  • Free market changes

18/ Security

User contracts / keys

  • (We don't want to keep shilling Argent here but, well, we do solve this)

Smart contract code

20/ Scalability

  • 15 tx/sec is insufficient for most applications
  • Short term: channels/plasma/Merkle trees for everything
  • Long term: sharding (scalable data availability layer)

Thanks to Vitalik for a great evening!

Submitted December 05, 2018 at 10:53AM }
via reddit