Vitalik Buterin is inventor and co-creator of Ethereum, described as a “decentralised mining network and software development platform rolled into one” that facilitates the creation of new cryptocurrencies and programs that share a single blockchain.
Bitcoin guzzles about as much electricity annually as all of Nigeria. Ethereum gulps electrons too, as do most other cryptocurrencies. As bad as that sounds, though, there's reason to believe a solution may be at hand.
Cryptocurrency miners do much more than unlock new coins. In the process, they check the blockchain to make sure people aren't spending coins fraudulently, and they add new lists of transactions — the blocks — to the chain. It's the second step, meant to secure the blockchain from attacks, that guzzles electricity.
Eventually, all miners must transform each list of most recent transactions into a digital signature that can serve as proof that the information is true. The miners can do this, using a cryptographic tool that takes any input and spits out a string of seemingly random characters. But Bitcoin's creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, made this part particularly difficult.
He set up a competition, the object of which is to be the first to determine a very specific signature based on three inputs: the signature of the preceding block, the list of new transactions, and a random third number. Since miners don't know the third number, they must generate digital signatures repeatedly until one guesses correctly. This expends an immense amount of energy, signaling to the rest of the network that a miner's accounting can be trusted.
But while this particular method of reaching agreement — known as "proof of work" — is the most established, it isn't the only one. A growing number of technologists are exploring different avenues, and some smaller cryptocurrencies already employ alternative means.
The one in the best position to supplant proof of work is called "proof of stake." Whereas proof of work rewards participants for spending computational resources, blockchains that use proof of stake would select validators based in part on the size of their respective monetary deposits — their stake. This would be massively more energy efficient, but the concept is still unproven at a large scale and has a number of kinks that need working out.
Still, if all goes as planned, Ethereum will transition to proof of stake relatively soon, perhaps as early as the end of this year. That would be hugely impressive, given that its creator Vitalik Buterin has called devising an effective consensus algorithm "one of the hardest problems in cryptocurrency development."
Vitalik Buterin was born in 1994 in Kolomna, Russia to Dmitry Buterin, a computer scientist and Maia Buterin, a business analyst. He lived in the area until the age of 6 when his parents migrated to Canada. Vitalik learned about Bitcoin from his father and in 2013, at the age of 19, he published a white paper proposing Ethereum.
He attended the University of Waterloo but dropped out in 2014, when he received the Thiel Fellowship in the amount of $100,000, and went to work on Ethereum full-time. The Thiel Fellowship was created in 2010 by Peter Thiel, co-founder of Paypal and a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group. It annually awards $100,000 to 20 people under the age of 20 in order to spur them to drop out of college and create their own ventures.
About the Ethereum Project, Vitalik has said: "I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to work in such an interesting and interdisciplinary area of industry, where I have the chance to interact with cryptographers, mathematicians and economists prominent in their fields, to help build software and tools that already affect tens of thousands of people around the world, and to work on advanced problems in computer science, economics and philosophy every week."
As a developer, Buterin has contributed to a number of other open source software projects like Kryptokit, Pybitcointools, Multisig.info, and Btckeysplit. He also contributed to DarkWallet by Cody Wilson, Bitcoin Python libraries, and the cryptocurrency marketplace site Egora.
More information: In Change We Trust – Bitcoin & Blockchain https://youtu.be/l5sa-Wdvy9o
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Proof of Work vs Proof of Stake - Simplified Explanation https://youtu.be/SiKnWBPkQ4I
Vitalik Buterin - The Mastermind Behind Ethereum https://youtu.be/KCQP02LHjGY
Decentralizing Everything with Ethereum's Vitalik Buterin https://youtu.be/WSN5BaCzsbo
Vitalik Buterin | The Advantages of Decentralization https://youtu.be/yO0fRwVxbSs
Lecture 7: Ethereum & Smart Contracts: Enabling a Decentralized Future https://youtu.be/K3gG8MRYhyk
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