Stefan Thomas, who introduced millions of people to bitcoin, has had a change of heart.
Blockchain, the ledger software that makes the digital currency possible, is too rigid to gain wide adoption, he wrote in an essay titled “The Subtle Tyranny of Blockchain.” The technology’s backers think it can revolutionize a wide range of industries including finance, international trade and health care. But tweaking the software — as will inevitably be necessary as pioneers bring it to new areas — requires consensus from a huge collection of software developers and so-called miners who make up the bitcoin network.
“Blockchains are a pain to work with,” wrote Thomas, the chief technology officer of Ripple Labs. “Harmony and consensus are valuable,” he added. “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.” His essay includes a picture of the authoritarian President Business from “The Lego Movie.”
It’s a stark departure