Vitalik Buterin previews a future built on Ethereum

Permissionless: Ethereum co-founder urges attendees in Austin to keep an eye on the frontier of what’s possible with crypto tech


Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin | Screenshot from Buterin’s interview with Bankless’ David Hoffman at Permissionless II


Vitalik Buterin doesn’t want Ethereum to rest on its laurels, but to keep pressing forward with new ideas and approaches to old problems. 

Looking around at the app landscape today, Buterin sees chutes of the future sprouting, but even the newest of the new is “not imaginative enough,” he told the Permissionless audience in Austin, Texas, during an interview with David Hoffman.

DeFi “is cool,” NFTs are a new primitive but “an extension of something that has a history,” and using crypto for payments is good, but also familiar. These are “individual pieces that are designed to fit into an ecosystem that’s otherwise the same as before,” Buterin said.

What he’s excited about is decentralized social, repeatedly name-dropping Farcaster, a Twitter-like protocol built on the OP mainnet with a companion Warpcast mobile app that is currently in invite-only alpha release.

Along with Lens, developed by Aave-founder Stani Kulechov and running on Polygon’s proof-of-stake chain, Farcaster and similar social experiences are using crypto tools to compete with centralized platforms.

“Let’s see how far we can push things in that direction,” Buterin said. “But where I see the longer term future here is it really can plug into all of the other stuff that we’ve been doing as a space.”

Building Sybil-resistance for example, so that “the 894 likes are 894 people, and not 894 accounts that are all controlled by the Kremlin.”

Crypto-based solutions have the potential to be more decentralized, privacy-preserving and secure than the current Web2 landscape, according to Buterin, citing building blocks such as ENS, various proof-of-humanity ideas, and POAPs — or a next generation version using zero-knowledge technology that will be even better — and Gitcoin Passport, as examples.

“The big dream here is to like, really create an independent open tech stack,” Buterin said. Something to compete with the likes of Google and Twitter, without going down a closed, centralized system such as China’s tight integration of Wechat, Alipay and increasingly CBDC.

Buterin envisions a gradual on-ramping process for new Web3 users to create an Ethereum address, initially controlled by a familiar service like Gmail, but using account abstraction, giving people the ability to take ownership when they are ready to use more crypto-native approaches.

“Basically, give people the opportunity to slide down the decentralization ladder and then, at the end of it, really properly be in this totally independent stack that actually works together — all the different pieces inside it,” he said.

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