Ethereum Developer Explores the Dark Side of Bitcoin-Inspired Technology

In 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto—whoever he or she really is—used a new invention, called the blockchain, to run currency maintenance and payment software over a decentralized, global computer network. What we got was Bitcoin, an unstoppable digital currency. We now know that a blockchain, in its generalized form, can also be used to run any other kind of software imaginable. Once deployed on a blockchain, programs run automatically, they are accessible to anyone with an Internet connection, and they are nearly impervious to governmental controls. Which is to say, they are essentially autonomous. If the word Skynet just floated through your mind, then you’re starting to get the picture. (See “The Future of the Web Looks A Lot Like Bitcoin”. And watch this explainer of how the blockchain works.)

Ethereum is one of the projects bringing this technology to the masses. It provides a user-friendly platform for deploying software onto a blockchain network. Vlad Zamfir has been working on refining the protocols that will ensure that the Ethereum network can be scaled up. Most of the people developing similar systems speak with unqualified exhilaration about blockchain technology’s disruptive ­potential: They

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