Vitalik Buterin, the creator of Ethereum, recently sat down with Tyler Cowen to discuss cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. Here are some choice quotes:
"On a blockchain, you can ultimately build anything that you can build on top of a computer. From a computer science theoretical point of view, in terms of what it provides, you can think about it as being a computer.
But what it provides on top of that is these extra trust guarantees: the guarantee that the computer will run in the way that you expect it to run, and that a few people can’t make that guarantee fail by going out of business, getting hacked, dying, having their company go bankrupt, deciding to be evil one day, deciding they have some monopolistic interest to start acting differently one day, and all of those different issues."
On quantum computing:
"Quantum computing will make a lot of cryptography that’s used in modern times just not work any more. Digital signature algorithms won’t work any more. Public key encryption won’t work any more. Zero-knowledge proof SNARKs won’t work any more.
The good news is that for everything that doesn’t work any more, people have already come up with replacements for them over a decade ago. You have hash-based signatures, you have STARKs for zero-knowledge proofs, you have fancy elliptic curve isogeny-based public key encryption. So I think it will force a transition, but ultimately, we do know how to adapt.
The cryptocurrencies that will suffer the most are just the ones whose governance is the most stalled and dysfunctional and won’t be able to figure anything out in time."