During the Cardano Blockchain Singapore Meetup held on 19th July, Charles Hoskinson, the Co-Founder and CEO of the blockchain firm IOHK shared his personal views on blockchain and cryptocurrencies as an industry. He also recalled the self-witnessed evolution of cryptocurrencies from empty conferences to a professionalized industry of dense income.
Hoskinson began by speaking about IOHK, explaining that it is a science and engineering company. It focuses on defining vital mechanisms such as consensus protocol, cryptography, incentive compatible systems and privacy. On a pragmatic front, IOHK also looks into laws and policies, and what the regulators and governments interpret of these systems. The CEO exclaimed:
“What does it mean to own a Bitcoin? Is it custody of a private key or is there something more to that?”
The leader further commented on the engineering front of IOHK. He said:
“On the engineering side of it, we actually build cryptocurrencies. Probably, there is a lot of money in it but there aren’t a lot of good engineers.”
Back in 2011, Hoskinson had his first cryptocurrency meet up in Denver, Colorado. He revealed that only two people registered including himself, wherein he showed up alone.
In the initial days of cryptocurrencies, there were limited options in the space. Charles told the audience:
“You could mine, you could try to buy bitcoin. Back then you’d buy it on spreadsheets or on really shady exchanges or really shady people that’d meet you in the parking lot.”
He continued to recite the evolution of the cryptocurrency industry from being strange and closely-knit to a professionalized one with billions of dollars of capital. Despite the fact, one could not do much with cryptocurrencies; not even something as simple as transacting $100 to get a lawn mowed.
The example goes on, leading the audience into the topic of contingent settlement transaction. The service seeker would need to check ‘if’ the lawn has been mowed and therefore, assign a person to do that. This is basically a contract. Charles cited this as a proxy-problem to explain the concept of coding a commercial relationship.
Speaking about his days building Ethereum with Vitalik Buterin and others to solve problems like these, he said:
“…and we built Ethereum. It was kind of our first attempt to try to solve that problem, how to get to the process of writing commercial relationships down in code.”
Furthermore, Charles introduced the issues related to interoperability and scalability in the blockchain industry. He also mentioned the cryptocurrency forks such as Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum Classic and explained that these forks are borne out of governance problems and disagreements within the space. Another unsolved issue in the space was ‘who would pay’ for these systems.
The crypto-expert then debunked all the self-raised questions in one word – decentralization. Charles stated:
“Currently, the world be like if you build something you’re liable to pay for it. But in the crypto world, oh no it’s decentralized – no one’s liable, no one’s gonna pay for it.”
The talk shifted to a more philosophical light, wherein Charles spoke on the global economic system and how it is a ‘social fiction’ written by someone else and accepted by us. He explained a possible transition of our socio-economic state, saying:
“All the things we have in life are social fictions, they’re constructions that we agreed to believe in out of necessity… What cryptocurrencies are doing is they’re pulling the curtain that the wizard’s hiding behind the curtain and telling us that we’re now able to write our own fiction.”
Lastly, to bring this transformation, many questions are yet to be answered in the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Charles believes the field to be intellectually rich and mentions permission and permissionless ledgers, nomenclature, building consensus protocols, defining privacy, among others as some of the locked doors towards development.