When New Tech and Dated Policies Collide a Conversation with Vitalik Buterin


Cryptocurrencies continue to make headlines as their value and global accessibility grows — but blockchain, the underlying technology that powers these cryptocurrencies, has generated a great deal of skepticism too. CIGI Senior Fellow Julie Maupin sits down with Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, to raise the curtain on this complex platform and its governance implications. Their discussion covers a wide range of subjects: Buterin’s introduction to cryptocurrencies; the creation of Ethereum; how hardware — big and small — plays a role in future development and adoption; and Ethereum’s imminent transition from the “proof of work” model to “proof of stake.” Maupin and Buterin’s discussion moves toward questions of cryptocurrency governance. Who gets a say in changes to the protocol? What domestic and international legal implications do cryptocurrencies present? And, what accessibility hurdles are ahead for cryptocurrencies? In the final segment, Maupin and Buterin discuss the role founders play in the promotion and direction of emerging technologies. Given the “cult of Vitalik” that has taken shape in the Ethereum community, Maupin asks how the platform’s roadmap would be altered without Buterin at the helm. CIGI’s work in the blockchain space this past year has demonstrated our ability to connect with many of the stakeholders vital to the discussion around and development of cryptocurrencies. This interview with Julie Maupin and Vitalik Buterin was conducted during the ETHWaterloo hackathon, a 3-day event at the CIGI campus with over 400 hackers in attendance.