On Tuesday (May 17), Ethereum ($ETH) and Cardano ($ADA) Co-Founder Charles Hoskinson made an interesting tongue-in-cheek comment.
The original Ethereum white paper (titled: “Ethereum White Paper: A next-generation smart contract and decentralized application platform”) was written by Russian-Canadian programmer Vitaly Dmitriyevich Buterin (better known as “Vitalik Buterin”), and published on his blog in December 2013. Ethereum got announced by Vitalik on 27 January 2014 on Day 2 of the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami, Florida.
Around six months later (on 7 June 2014), Ethereum’s eight co-founders―Vitalik Buterin, Anthony Di Iorio, Charles Hoskinson, Mihai Alisie, Amir Chetrit, Joseph Lubin, Gavin Wood, and Jeffrey Wilke―met in a rented house in Zug, Switzerland (a town that has been given the nickname “Crypto Valley”).
Although there was some disagreement between the co-founders, eventually the decision over the governance process, eventually the group decided to let Buterin make the decision. Ethereum wanted Ethereum Foundation to be a non-profit entity, and so he asked two people that disagreed — Hoskinson and another co-founder — to leave. The following year, Hoskinsson and Jeremy Wood founded IOHK (now called IOG), “one of the world’s pre-eminent blockchain infrastructure research and engineering companies.” IOG does the research and development for the Cardano protocol.
In June 2021, Buterin talked about Cardano during a conversation with MIT AI Researcher Lex Fridman.
The Russian-Canadian programmer’s comments about Cardano were made during episode #188 of the “Lex Fridman Podcast“. Buterin acknowledged that there were “interesting ideas” coming out of work being done on rival smart contract platform Cardano.
As reported by The Daily Hodl, Buterin said:
“There’s definitely interesting ideas in there. I do think Cardano takes a bit of a different approach than Ethereum in that they really emphasize having these big academic proofs for everything, whereas Ethereum tends to be more okay with heuristic arguments. In part because [Ethereum is] just trying to do more faster. But there are definitely very interesting things that come out of IOHK Research.“
Despite lauding IOHK’s ideas, Buterin took issue with Cardano’s approach to protocol software development:
“I’m actually the sort of person who thinks deep rigor is overrated. The reason why I think deep rigor is overrated is because I think like in terms of like why protocols fail. I think the number of failures that are outside the model is bigger and more important than the failures that are inside the model… And then the other thing is that a lot of the academic approach ends up basically optimizing for other people inside of the academic system. And it doesn’t really optimize for like curious outsiders.“
On 22 February 2022, was asked during a “Surprise AMA” that was streamed live on his YouTube channel if there were any ways in which Ethereum is better than Cardano.
Hoskinson replied with a two-part answer.
In the first part of his reply, Hoskinson talked about what he liked about Ethereum, the Ethereum ecosystem, and Vitalik Buterin’s leadership:
“Well, Ethereum in its current instantiation is a subset of Cardano. When sidechains come, everything Ethereum is, Cardano is. They’re combined together. It’s like the real numbers to the integers: there’s a lot more of them and they do a lot more things, but the integers are contained within the real numbers.
“Okay, so from a technological viewpoint, layer one, I’m not so worried about it. The layer two ecosystem is fascinating. Rollups, in particular, there’s a lot of magic there, and I admire that greatly, and I think we can do better as an ecosystem, and there’s $150,000 of funding from Catalyst to chase that.
“There are some ventures that are chasing that, and we are researching roll-ups for the Hydra tail protocol in particular. So, I think a lot can be done be above and beyond what we’re doing, and the Ethereum space is doing interesting things there, and they’re really impressive things that are happening.
“There is an interesting thing about community building, you know, if you’re intellectually honest. Ethereum has a humongous community. I personally sometimes have some issues with that community above and beyond their distaste for me. I think there’s a lot of elitism and arrogance in it and samrminess in it, and it’s the ‘man bun syndrome’.
“Yes, that’s a personal taste and preference, but it’s undeniable the pervasiveness of Ethereum. It’s undeniable that those people are also quite effective. There is a problem-solving mindset that exists within Ethereum that is seldom seen in the rest of the cryptocurrency space, where people don’t just bitch and complain about things or go to some sort of ideological religion.
“They actually try to solve stuff, and I think it’s a testimony to good leadership from Vitalik. He’s a very solutions-oriented person, and he’s a very execution-oriented person. Well, there’s depth and philosophy there. There’s always an engineering mindset of ‘build it, build it, build it, build it’. And there’s a persistence there that is quite impressive, and I admire that.
“And at times, I think it, we could be as an ecosystem a bit too academic, whereas the other extreme, the pendulum goes all the way over. And they’re very engineering-focused, academic second, although we’re both kind of meeting in the middle as projects.
“I think the other thing that Etheruem has done very well — they’ve been a very effective communicator as an ecosystem about blockchain utility that’s non-monetary. Before Ethereum, the name of the game was Bitcoin, altcoin token, token somehow connected to finance and not a lot of diversity. And then, there was ideas about extending financial capabilities, Colored coins, Mastercoin…
“But Ethereum came around, and suddenly you have NFTs, and suddenly we have all these other things — oracles and video games, and all kinds of weird experience like metaverse stuff. It’s pretty cool, and Ethereum was the first mover in that, and there’s still a lot of strength and momentum in that community about dreaming big. You know, building big, doing things a little differently, and there’s an amazing renewal year after year that is enduring, and a culture that doesn’t take itself so seriously… There’s a culture there for better for worse, and it’s very different from the Cardano…“
In the second part of his reply, though, Hoskinson talked about what he disliked about the Ethereum “movement”, namely its “arrogance” and lack of interest in learning about successes and failures of other major crypto projects such as Cardano, Solana, and IOTA:
“The Achilles heel of the Ethereum movement, though, is their inability as a movement in my view to understand where they have blind spots, or cognitive, biases, or unfair thoughts… Not a lot of people, rank and file in Ethereum land, will acknowledge that Cardano has done legitimately interesting things…
“There’s so much magic in what we’ve done, so much careful thought, so many thousands of conversations, so many thousands of meetings, and countless hours writing code and doing science and building things that go into who we are, what we’ve done, and that’s all in the open for everybody in the space — for better or for worse — to utilize.
“You can’t with a project that has committed so much work to paper just offhand dismiss it because of your personal distaste for the founder and the fact that an entire ecosystem, in some way, has succumbed to that, that doesn’t vote very well for their future because that’s ultimately to their detriment.
“If you’re smart, you learn from other people’s mistakes. You learn from where other people have not done things well or done things well. Competitive analysis intelligence really helps you out. You see this in great engineering. Bio-mimicry is a great example of that. For any structure, any design, anything you look at, you always ask ‘did nature already do it?’ because if it did, I have a starting point… Who am I to argue with millions of years of evolution?“
Some ‘Open Contradictions’ in Buterin’s Thinking
Earlier today, Buterin posted an interesting thread on Twitter:
Here are a few examples of these contradictions:
Hoskinson sent out the following tonge-in-cheek tweet in reply to Buterin’s thread:
“It’s not to late to come to Cardano….”
To make sure you receive a FREE newsletter every Friday that features highlights from that week’s most popular stories, click here.
The views and opinions expressed by the author, or any people mentioned in this article, are for informational purposes only, and they do not constitute financial, investment, or other advice. Investing in or trading cryptoassets comes with a risk of financial loss.