In his new piece on Medium, Ripple CTO Stefan Thomas has explained why he thinks blockchain is a complex technology when compared with the Interledger Protocol.
In his recent post, he said:
Blockchains are a pain to work with. Everyone who has done it knows what I’m talking about. The fact that blockchain has been largely ignored by major tech companies and embraced by the financial industry is partly because that industry has a relatively high tolerance for arcane and complex systems.
There are many reasons why the Web won in the end, but I believe its stateless architecture was critical to its success. Both Xanadu and the web are decentralized, but the web was much simpler. All it required was a minimal protocol and simple data format. No interaction was needed between websites, which meant that they could evolve independently from each other, and rather than waiting for the Xanadu creators to add a feature, many features that users cared about could be created just by changing a website or a client.
He also advised against replacing centralized functions with blockchains but rather avoid their centralization altogether. As systems of central state – (the computer science term for everyone’s memory), he said the need to maintain shared state is at the root of the difficulty in updating blockchains. The shared state adds tremendous complexity which has a big impact on developers.
Relating it to the Ethereum’s fork in the wake of the DAO hacks and the growing frustration in the cryptocurrency community, he said Interledger is not like in a blockchain in which everyone has to think the same.
Rather, the Interledger Protocol allows its user to choose a ledger that has the consensus mechanism, the currency, the performance characteristics and the level of anonymity as wished and still seamlessly transact with someone who has made different choices in each of these categories.
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