The affable wunderkind and chief scientist of the Ethereum Foundation talks living to infinity, general friendliness, his dad, and quantum computing. Doge, Cheshire cats, and unicorns are cool; proof-of-work, not so much.
On the first day of Devcon3, ETHNews met with Vitalik Buterin, the 23-year-old creator of Ethereum. Clad in a bright green Doge t-shirt and rocking dark capris, Buterin offered insights into his personal interests, his leadership style, and the cryptocurrency bubble. He frequently speaks in binary hyperboles (“definitely” appears to be one of his favorite words), and in true programmer fashion, Buterin often analyzes circumstances using if/then statements.
This interview is condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
After exchanging pleasantries, we launched into the conversation.
M: What would you say is the culture of Ethereum?
V: With the community as big as it is, there are definitely lots of cultures of Ethereum. The number one thing I like is the general friendliness. People are interested in technological progress – and not just “oh, is this thing a soft fork or a hard fork?” and weird political stuff. There’s openness to good ideas from all different sides and an understanding that this is a technological work in progress. I also think there’s an emphasis on having a global community and trying to be as inclusive as we can in different ways.
M: Are there regions of the world that are underrepresented?
V: If you look at the Ether nodes map, then it’s obvious that it’s basically South America, Africa, and the Middle East [that are excluded]. I definitely think that a lot of interesting experiments can happen. It’s just that right now, they aren’t economic centers and so you’re not going to have 50 big projects pop up.
M: Would you be interested in having people from those regions join the development team?
M: What are you teaching yourself right now?
V: I’m trying to learn how zk-STARKS work. It’s like, just when you learn how zk-SNARKS work, then there’s a whole new and even more complex thing out there. Though, to my surprise, it’s actually less complex than SNARKS.
I’m also trying to stay up to date with life extension research. I think it’s a very important problem, and quite possibly the most important problem in the world. I’m extremely puzzled as to why more people don’t think the same way.
My simple argument is, imagine we live to 80. And imagine, let’s say, there was some particular continent where people lived to 40. And some people in that continent wanted to live to 80 instead of 40 – but other people said “No, no, no! Why do you care about this? Forty years is totally a fine and long life. Why are you trying to surpass humanity and become god?”
This continent actually exists and it’s called Africa, and in reality, if anyone tries to claim that increasing their life expectancy from 40 to 80 is not a good thing, we would laugh at them. I think there’s the exact same argument from 80 to 160, and 160 to 320, and even higher, pretty much all the way up to infinity.