Conversations with Tyler #45 Vitalik Buterin on Cryptoeconomics and Markets in Everything

  • How did you teach yourself about economics: A combination of things. Reading what various economists on the internet say. Reading papers. Going to conferences. If I want to understand deeper I would read books. [Probably the same way you could learn anything.]

  • What is Cryptoeconomics? Cryptoeconomics is basically taking economics with those particular constraints and then adding together insights from fields that are fairly close to the cryptocurrency space — particularly cryptography, information theory, math, and distributed systems, including all of the research around consensus algorithms, hash functions, signatures, zero-knowledge proofs, and what we know about all of those primitives. Basically we’re trying to figure out, given these constraints and given these building blocks, what kind of systems and what kind of mechanisms can we design to achieve the properties that we want? And under what kinds of assumptions do those properties hold?

  • How Vitalik thinks about a blockchain: I thought that the general idea that a blockchain is one of the few tools that allows you to credibly commit to not turning into a monopolistic jerk is actually a really interesting insight.

  • How would you explain what a blockchain is to a person from 40 years ago?One of the analogies I keep going back to is this idea of a world computer. The idea is that a blockchain, as a whole, functions like a computer. It has a hard drive, and on that hard drive, it stores what all the accounts are.

  • Since cryptocurrency is global Vitalik needed to learn new languages: While building Ethereum Vitalik taught himself French, German and some Chinese.

  • He used podcasts and flashcard apps to build a foundation to learn new languages: Once you get to an intermediate level as long as you put yourself in environments where you continue to practice you get better and better. You can then improve it further by watching movies.

  • How Vitalik thinks about cryptocurrency: I see cryptocurrency as a grand experiment of what happens if you create a financial system that is fully frictionless. As simple as logging into a website.

  • Vitalik thinks traditional advertising is definitely overrated: But advertising in terms of the broader category of trying to influence how people in the public think in order to benefit your product is underrated. I think we’re going to see lots of innovation [both good and bad] over the next decades

  • What do you think the geography of technology innovation will look like 20 to 30 years from now? As the technology to communicate remotely improves the premium for being inside of a [tech] center is going to reduce overtime. . . It will be more geographically distributed.

  • Full podcast here.