2018 Ethereum Technology Conference in Beijing – Vitalik Buterin on Casper and blockchain beyond hype

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2018 Ethereum Technology Conference

June 3rd 2018, Beijing. At the 2018 Ethereum Technology Conference in Beijing China, Vitalik Buterin talked about how Ethereum can scale to be able to cope with real-life business use cases. In this article I would like to reflect on his talk and provide me commentary on what that means for the future of Blockchain use cases.

2018 Ethereum Technology Conference in Beijing –  the main takeaways

In a nutshell Buterin stressed the following 4 points

1) State of the Casper update for Ethereum.

Casper is one of the most promising approaches to move from energy-hungry Proof of Work POW to energy-light Proof of Stake PoS and to solve the scalability problem of Ethereum. It will allow applications that require several thousands transactions per second to run on the public Ethereum blockchain. In his talk in Beijing Buterin said that the specification for Casper is in the last phase of completion and thinks it can be finished within one or two months. This means that by August it should be clear how PoS will conceptually work in Ethereum. Then the hard part starts – taking this specification, implementing and making it work.

2018 Ethereum Technology Conference

2018 Ethereum Technology Conference – Vitalik Buterin explaining the details of the Casper update to the Ethereum blockchain

2) Implementation of Casper will take a year.

According to his talk, around 3 different teams have already started with an implementation of Casper. Being asked for the timeline, Buterin estimates that this important upgrade will need at least 1 year until it can be deployed into mainnet. Combining that with the effort to finish the specification we can expect that Casper will arrive in later Summer 2019.

3) BlockchainBeyondHype – Buterin bullish on finance and gaming use cases.

Regarding applications of the blockchain as the new computing infrastructure, Buterin sees two major industries that will find a use case soon: The financial industry and gaming. When thinking about it, this comes with no surprise, as both the products in the financial industry and in gaming have one thing in common: the products are pure digital. In the end, your account balance at your bank are digits in a database that are stored in your bank’s IT infrastructure, somewhere in the accounts module of the Bank’s core banking system. Same with gaming – most of the in-game items that gamers gather are pure digital. While it will take some time until we see real use-cases in other industries, the financial industry and gaming will be early in their adoption of blockchain technology. Besides, Buterin is bullish in the use case of blockchain in supply chain settings. For this, see my article on tracking diamonds as De Beers Sa is implementing right now.

4) The Ethereum founder is carfully managing expectations.

With blockchain at its peak hype, there is a lot of confusion about what is possible and what is simply not possible on the blockchain today. We will see more significant applications only once blockchain technology makes the next technological step change that allows for a order-of-magnitude improvement of TPS (transactions per seconds). Caspar being one of these solutions.

It is important to separate hype from reality. There are still a lot of fundamental technical hurdles to be solved, scaling the base technology is only one of them. Another one is the user-experience. For the promise of distributed Apps to become a reality, user experience needs to improve to make it possible to enable non-tech nerds to participate in the blockchain economy. One such problems is private key management. How often did you click “restore my password” on the platforms you use today? Well, there is no such think with DApps so far – you need to manage your private key by yourself and nobody will help to to recover it.

2018 Ethereum Technology Conference

2018 Ethereum Technology Conference – Vitalik Buterin answering questions from the Beijing audience

2018 Conference on Ethereum Technology – Vitalik Buterin answering questions from the audienceAfter visiting the 2018 Ethereum Technology Conference it is is clear that the good news is that all of these problems are solvable. With the underlying technology being complex in its nature, it is important that corporate leaders need to start working on use-cases now. With the Caspar update beeing one year away, how fast can you scale from pilot to production system?

About the author

Dr. Thomas Reinbacher is former computer scientist and McKinsey management consultant and works as independent adviser in Munich and Beijing. If you want to work with me on the blockchain use case autonomous driving,  please find my contact data on on http://dr-reinbacher.com

Disclaimer: This analysis on the 2018 Ethereum Technology Conference is  provided without warranty or any claim for completeness. All opinions expressed are my own. All information on the 2018 Ethereum Technology Conference is given strictly on a non-reliance basis and under the exclusion of any responsibility or liability, in particular with regard to loss or damages and/or administrative and regulatory sanctions.