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Is Ripple Labs CTO Right About Blockchain Dystopia?

Justin OConnell
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:50 PM
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The largest corporations in the world are investing in blockchain technology, and longtime blockchain proponent Stefan Thomas warned about a potential future dystopia.

Ripple Labs FundingStefan Thomas, Chief Technology Officer at Ripple Labs, private and public ledger company, highlighted in an essay  titled “The Subtle Tyranny of Blockchain” what he views as shortcomings in the exploration of blockchain technology and his opinion that, in the very near future, a blockchain tyranny could befall the world. 

The blockchain industry, he writes, believes entire financial architecture at the global level is due for an upgrade, and technology like Bitcoin is going to pave the way for this. Thomas also discusses the Bitcoin block size debate and the impossibility of governance, a new topic that has become popular in the Bitcoin space recently. 

“Blockchains are a pain to work with,” writes Thomas. “Harmony and consensus are valuable. But harmony taken to the extreme becomes a detriment. In the Lego Movie utopia, ‘everything is awesome’ only on the surface. Behind the scenes, there is tremendous diversity and a rapidly changing world, which doesn’t match the established consensus.”

Thomas’ website is weusecoins.com  – “a single resource” where Bitcoin is “explained for the average non-technical user.” Thomas  YouTube video “What is Bitcoin?” – has more than 6.8 million views.

“The fact that one corner of the system can be updated and good ideas can eventually spread to the system as a whole has been essential for the Web’s ability to keep pace with technological innovation,” he writes.

“In a blockchain like ethereum, everyone has to think the same,” he warns. He plugs Ripple’s Interledger Protocol at the end, describing it as a more flexible and individualized way to send or receive payments. Because of this added choice, “crucially,” he said, “our thoughts can be — once again — our own.”

Featured image from Shutterstock.