“After a few years of Ethereum, it is obvious that something is missing.” Wood said in an interview in Unfinished Live.
Five years after the launch of Ethereum, Gavin Wood still firmly believes that blockchain technology has the power to change the world. “Blockchain is one of very, very few decentralized technologies, and I really can’t name more technologies.” He said in a conversation with reporter Manoush Zomorodi in Unfinished Live.
But he admitted that he didn’t do it right the first time. “After several years of Ethereum, it is obvious that something is missing.” Gavin said, “It needs clear governance.”
Gavin is also the founder of the Web3 Foundation, and he is now working on a new project called Polkadot, which connects different blockchains together. Each chain can freely design its own governance mechanism. “So maybe it’s voting, maybe people who have locked their tokens in the system for a long time have gained a greater say,” he said. “We can create these very flexible governance mechanisms in various ways.”
Gavin stated that Polkadot has also solved one of the biggest problems mentioned by critics of blockchain and cryptocurrencies: their negative impact on the environment. “We make sure that we use a super effective way to reach consensus. We don’t waste real-world resources, but only occupy virtual resources.”
The following is a condensed version of PolkaWorld’s interview with Gavin
Manoush Zomorodi: You were not in the blockchain industry at the beginning, but something happened ten years ago, and it changed the world of technology for all of us. Can you talk about the time you met a person named Vitalik?
Gavin Wood : Wow, this has been a while. I think it was eight years ago, early 2013. I am reading an article. This article describes this thing on the Internet, which is a bit weird, called Silk Road (Silk Road). This is something they can’t do because there is something called Bitcoin, a currency used on this website. This makes me think why they can’t do anything about it? This is the first time I know that technology is used to do things that human structure cannot do.
So I studied Bitcoin, and I actually met the person mentioned in the article, the person named Amir Taaki. At that time he lived in a shed. That was the first time I went to a squat, so it was a learning experience in itself. He introduced me to a few people. I met Vitalik through one of the introductions. He was studying Bitcoin at the time. He wanted to know how to extend Bitcoin to be more versatile and take on some different functions, not just as one. Kind of currency. So Vitalik finally published this concept paper at the time. Although it has a certain degree of technicality, some parts of it are not well defined or will not really go through. Yes, through this mutual friend, I told Vitalik, “If you want, I’m very happy to make this happen.”
Manoush Zomorodi: It is usually difficult to explain to others what blockchain is. How do you explain to others how the blockchain works? How can we explain it in a simple and easy-to-understand way?
Gavin Wood : Many developers have developed many blockchains. They can easily understand the technical details, but these may not be useful to ordinary users. We can understand it in another way. Blockchain technology can be regarded as a digital service without a service provider. When we use Facebook, Google search or anything else, we are actually using an organization owned by individuals, usually it is run by the CEO, a group of shareholders make decisions, we visit their services, and they provide us with these service. In any case, it always has this intermediate service provider involved, and these intermediate service providers have absolute control. So if we think of the Internet as a big country, this country is actually ruled by a group of dictators, each of them has their own territory, almost feudalism.
The reality is that we need to go beyond this very feudal system because, as we have discovered in the past, it is not the most suitable for innovation. It is not the best for people’s lives, or even a little useless.
Manoush Zomorodi: Tell us why Polkadot was created? And what do you think of Polkadot being used in new and different ways?
Gavin Wood : Polkadot appeared to fundamentally iterate what I built before. We did build Ethereum, but it will not become the final blockchain. It is great to design a prototype, and it is great to deliver an MVP as quickly as possible. But after several years of Ethereum, it is obvious that something is missing.
The more obvious thing is-governance. We need to have clear governance to form a consensus between the people and stakeholders who use it, but what we have not really made with the blockchain is to explore the decisions, explore the decisions made by the blockchain outside of its direct application . One of the decisions is how the blockchain should develop its technology and how it should be upgraded to fix certain bugs. These are things you can’t program into the blockchain on the first day, they make decisions when you need them. So this is what we built in Polkadot from the beginning.
Manoush Zomorodi: So you mean, when you talk about fixing bugs, you can write code and say, “If there are bugs, this is the plan.”
Gavin Wood : Yes, we can write code. Because it is very difficult to define a bug before it occurs. But what we can do is we can say that if enough people think this is a “disaster”, according to our governance standards, maybe it is voting, or maybe it is to lock their tokens in the system for a long time, and get greater People with the right to speak, we have a variety of ways to create these very flexible governance institutions. But we need to take this into consideration, we need to build it from the beginning. This is not something you can transform, because if you can’t make the decision to upgrade to governance at the beginning, then you can’t transform it.
Manoush Zomorodi: Can you talk about some examples, as you said, prototyping is great. So how do you use any blockchain you participate in to actually do things? Can you provide us with some real life examples?
Gavin Wood : Of course. One of our early projects was to cooperate with an agency of the United Nations to deploy a food stamp program for those who have been victims of the various global turmoil we have seen. In this case, the refugees in the Jordanian camp use the blockchain technology we have established. We can really help, and combined with some optical identification methods, we can provide food for the refugees, those who really need ultra-low-cost, ultra-low-profit methods People who get food.
Manoush Zomorodi: Is that using mobile technology? Like a cell phone?
Gavin Wood : It’s a QR code. In addition to mobile phones, there are some optical recognitions, like retina.
Manoush Zomorodi: Iris scan?
Gavin Wood : Iris scan, yes, besides that, there is also blockchain.
Manoush Zomorodi: In fact, many people are skeptical about current technological solutions, thinking that most of them are just for obtaining a large amount of funds. How do you face these critics?
Gavin Wood : Broadly speaking, technology makes the world a better place for people to live. People usually don’t die of preventable diseases in their 30s. But what is certain is that technology often ends up being the center of power, right? Technology has emerged because those in power want to further consolidate their power. So they pay for technology development. Look at Facebook, it pays for the innovation of artificial intelligence in order to sell more ads in this direction and make more money. But if this artificial intelligence causes greater divergence in society, and academic research proves this, this is a very unfortunate side effect of technological development, and I think it needs to be revised occasionally.
Generally speaking, without technical disputes, there will be no systemic or structural power disputes. So you need to create a way to spread this power, and blockchain, one of the very few of these technologies, can be decentralized.
This is a very strange thing, but I think the world has reached a place where power is highly concentrated, which I call a trust structure. Basically, the operation of institutions and companies is based on widespread trust. They believe that their behavior is in line with the preferences of customers and consumers, but this is not the case. There are too many such trust structures in society, and we finally get tired of using them. Snowden’s enlightenment and the 2008 banking crisis led me to propose the concept of Web 3 in mid-2014 .
One of my goals for Polkadot is to completely eliminate the need for mainstream adopters to use cryptographic tokens . This is a huge difference between the smart contract model introduced by Polkadot and Ethereum. Ethereum fees must be paid by users, which means users need to hold ETH, which means they must have an Ether wallet. It’s like asking you to pay part of Google’s electricity bill when you use a search tool. This simply doesn’t work in reality. So I think it is difficult for a smart contract platform like Ethereum to achieve true mainstream adoption, with an adoption rate of billions of users.
This is not only because of scalability issues, but also because users must hold Ether. They must hold this cryptocurrency. Therefore, for Polkadot, apps buy a lot of transactions for users, just like Facebook, Google, and Twitter. When users use their services, these apps do the same thing without these users having to pay for any type of proxy. You don’t even need to touch the concept of cryptocurrency.
Polkadot also solves one of the biggest problems mentioned by critics of blockchain and cryptocurrencies: their negative impact on the environment. “We make sure that Polkadot uses a super effective way to reach consensus. We don’t waste real-world resources, just take up virtual resources.”