Ethereum: Bigger than the Internet? by@muse

Ethereum: Bigger than the Internet?

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Muse

I remember the first time I saw the World Wide Web.

It was 1994, I was in my first year at university.  I was sitting next to my best friend, Michael, in the computer lab, and he said to me, “Look, this is the internet. I can see the football scores in England.”

My reply:  “Why on earth would I care about the football scores in England?!”

What I didn’t immediately grasp, but Michael did, was that having simple instantaneous global digital communication had the potential to completely transform our world.

It wasn’t that he could already see Google and PayPal and YouTube, GPS devices and phones with video chat, but he saw that this world wide web of the internet held epic potential.

There is a new technology in infancy right now which I believe holds the potential to transform our lives as dramatically as the world wide web has done over the past 2 decades.

Ethereum (pronounced e-theory-um) is a technology that offers an easier, better way to do things like: legal contracts, trading, and governance.

It is built on an existing technology, called “blockchain”, which can be thought of as an absolutely secure, permanent, and unalterable ledger.  Ethereum adds to this secure foundation the concept of smart contracts, which are decentralised computer programs able to make transactions based on specific conditions being met.

Basically what it gives is record keeping and communication that can be absolutely 100% trusted and guaranteed to be true.  Which means things like money and trading and law and voting and governance can exist in a pure way that has never been possible before.  Pure in the sense that it is not possible to tamper with the results at all; the results require community consensus, they cannot be changed once determined, and everything is transparent (although it is still possible to work anonymous with this technology).

Consider legal contracts that are not open to contention.

Take for example a will; keeping the will in the Ethereum blockchain can remove any doubts about which is the final version of the will, as well as any confusion as to how it is to be interpreted.  A smart contract would execute immediately once an appropriate authority has verified the death.  It would transfer the ownership of title of assets and of wealth automatically based on the rules that are defined in the will.  The will would be executed by the smart contract itself, without a human executor required.

Another application is having a digital power of attorney.  Social or commercially based, communities can then band together by placing their legal authority to act on a specific issue into the hands of a chosen representative.  An example of this is getting together (digitally) a hundred thousand people who want to be able to own an electric car. Pooling their shared consumer wishes into a single legal instrument creates a real market that will not be ignored by car manufacturers.  In fact, the balance of power shifts to the consumer group who can now force manufacturers to compete for the bid to get this huge consumer contract. And the manufacturer can be guaranteed of sales, by the binding payment contract that can be executed automatically upon delivery, removing some risk from the process for them also.

This technology also has the potential to greatly increase awareness and political engagement in the population by empowering people.  Everyone can have the ability to directly control their civil and legal rights; they will have direct control over their legal persons.

We will see an internet that allows sharing of knowledge without being monitored by government agencies, and without bombardments of advertising.  The internet will be what it was once intended to be; providing the free ability for all mankind to share ideas and communicate with each other.  As well as allowing truly free and ethical global trade.

If these ideas sound a little grandiose, try to remember what your life was like before you were first introduced to the internet.  (Or if you have grown up with the internet all around you then ask your parents).  Many of the things that we take for granted today were near unimaginable even 10 years ago.  And that includes the social changes enabled by technological advances.  As monitored as our internet is, we are still able to communicate freely and have access to multiple news sources for free - this is something of immense social value in a time when almost all traditional media is controlled by a very small group and used almost exclusively for promoting political and financial agendas. Try to imagine what the world might be like if the only news source available to people was the Murdoch press.

In the past months, Ethereum has been responsible for the largest ever crowdfunding project, the creation of an organisation known as “The DAO”.  The DAO is a new kind of entity that is something like a combination of corporation and a co-op, but without any of the traditional management structures.  Those who have funded and joined The DOA have direct participation with their vote.

Exactly how successful this new entity will be, or what other new innovations will come out of the Ethereum block chain can at this time only be speculated.

I am certain that we will see big changes in our lives.

And that they will be more exciting than the football scores in England.

Apologies to English football fans.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This article was originally published by Kris Randall in June 2016, in the now forgotten and gone, Pastiche Magazine. I republish it now in response to Hacker Noon’s “Help Elon Musk Find Web3 and Make Money While You Do That” competition/campaign.


Welcome To The Web3 Writing Contest

I remember the first time I saw the World Wide Web.

It was 1994, I was in my first year at university.  I was sitting next to my best friend, Michael, in the computer lab, and he said to me, “Look, this is the internet. I can see the football scores in England.”

My reply:  “Why on earth would I care about the football scores in England?!”

What I didn’t immediately grasp, but Michael did, was that having simple instantaneous global digital communication had the potential to completely transform our world.

It wasn’t that he could already see Google and PayPal and YouTube, GPS devices and phones with video chat, but he saw that this world wide web of the internet held epic potential.

There is a new technology in infancy right now which I believe holds the potential to transform our lives as dramatically as the world wide web has done over the past 2 decades.

Ethereum (pronounced e-theory-um) is a technology that offers an easier, better way to do things like: legal contracts, trading, and governance.

It is built on an existing technology, called “blockchain”, which can be thought of as an absolutely secure, permanent, and unalterable ledger.  Ethereum adds to this secure foundation the concept of smart contracts, which are decentralised computer programs able to make transactions based on specific conditions being met.

Basically what it gives is record keeping and communication that can be absolutely 100% trusted and guaranteed to be true.  Which means things like money and trading and law and voting and governance can exist in a pure way that has never been possible before.  Pure in the sense that it is not possible to tamper with the results at all; the results require community consensus, they cannot be changed once determined, and everything is transparent (although it is still possible to work anonymous with this technology).

Consider legal contracts that are not open to contention.

Take for example a will; keeping the will in the Ethereum blockchain can remove any doubts about which is the final version of the will, as well as any confusion as to how it is to be interpreted.  A smart contract would execute immediately once an appropriate authority has verified the death.  It would transfer the ownership of title of assets and of wealth automatically based on the rules that are defined in the will.  The will would be executed by the smart contract itself, without a human executor required.

Another application is having a digital power of attorney.  Social or commercially based, communities can then band together by placing their legal authority to act on a specific issue into the hands of a chosen representative.  An example of this is getting together (digitally) a hundred thousand people who want to be able to own an electric car. Pooling their shared consumer wishes into a single legal instrument creates a real market that will not be ignored by car manufacturers.  In fact, the balance of power shifts to the consumer group who can now force manufacturers to compete for the bid to get this huge consumer contract. And the manufacturer can be guaranteed of sales, by the binding payment contract that can be executed automatically upon delivery, removing some risk from the process for them also.

This technology also has the potential to greatly increase awareness and political engagement in the population by empowering people.  Everyone can have the ability to directly control their civil and legal rights; they will have direct control over their legal persons.

We will see an internet that allows sharing of knowledge without being monitored by government agencies, and without bombardments of advertising.  The internet will be what it was once intended to be; providing the free ability for all mankind to share ideas and communicate with each other.  As well as allowing truly free and ethical global trade.

If these ideas sound a little grandiose, try to remember what your life was like before you were first introduced to the internet.  (Or if you have grown up with the internet all around you then ask your parents).  Many of the things that we take for granted today were near unimaginable even 10 years ago.  And that includes the social changes enabled by technological advances.  As monitored as our internet is, we are still able to communicate freely and have access to multiple news sources for free - this is something of immense social value in a time when almost all traditional media is controlled by a very small group and used almost exclusively for promoting political and financial agendas. Try to imagine what the world might be like if the only news source available to people was the Murdoch press.

In the past months, Ethereum has been responsible for the largest ever crowdfunding project, the creation of an organisation known as “The DAO”.  The DAO is a new kind of entity that is something like a combination of corporation and a co-op, but without any of the traditional management structures.  Those who have funded and joined The DOA have direct participation with their vote.

Exactly how successful this new entity will be, or what other new innovations will come out of the Ethereum block chain can at this time only be speculated.

I am certain that we will see big changes in our lives.

And that they will be more exciting than the football scores in England.

Apologies to English football fans.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This article was originally published by Kris Randall in June 2016, in the now forgotten and gone, Pastiche Magazine. I republish it now in response to Hacker Noon’s “Help Elon Musk Find Web3 and Make Money While You Do That” competition/campaign.

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