Why EOS will destroy everything else
Simply by seeing 2018 is not 2009.
What’s happening with “blockchain” right now has already happened in computing. Is similar to what happened with A.I. R&D in the 1980’s. Namely, the widespread development of tech whose massive level of sophistication (which implies higher costs) is irrelevant for the market. That cheapening is a thing that happens to all commercial industries as they mature across decades of competition. But, in “blockchain,” a decade fits in a year or two.
Bitcoin was the product of the cypherpunks. These are, essentially, the “only the paranoid survive” crowd, the “the government is watching” crowd. It would be only natural they would come up with a solution to the double-spending problem that involves an open peer-to-peer network of anonymous nodes. They tuned it for maximum resilience against a concerted attack from the global money cartel and the governments they exert massive control over.
( Remember when the creator(s) of Bitcoin hid under the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym, and when Wikileaks wanted to use Bitcoin for donations, Nakamoto freaked out, stating that it was “too early” and that the network could have been killed by a massive surge in usage (and also in attention from the powers-that-be) so early in its development? That mentality would have never thought something like EOS would be sufficient to run an anarchic money system — not even after the success of Bitcoin. )
Besides its prohibitive costs of operation, borne out of the need to spread a global ledger across ten thousand consumer-grade anonymous nodes, the Bitcoin protocol worked. With its global bandwidth of 3 transactions per second, not only it worked as a demo, as a proof that anarchic money exists and is possible to build, but it gathered a global cult following that, at its peak, valued the Bitcoin network at about $340,000,000,000.
People have then slowly walked back from the paranoia of the cypherpunk mentality. Bitcoin’s security requirements are maximal, e.g. requiring every transaction to be broadcast to and processed by every single node, so several projects have started by questioning that excessive level of security, hoping to find attack vectors they can afford to discard in order to reap some performance gains.
In early 2018, the main word is now “scale.” The vast majority of blockchain projects are competing for the transactions-per-second crown, while offering other perks like e.g. secure user identification (NEO). And several of the scaling proposals are, in my opinion, needlessly complex, because they cargo-cult insist on the cypherpunk requirement of a sprawling peer-to-peer network of nodes — in many cases, still regular home broadband nodes.
Projects like EOS and Lisk come from a different angle: they assume there will be very few full nodes in a blockchain network, and these will be “super-peers.” EOS, in particular, realizes that there is no need to hold back at all, and states: we will have 20 highly-stable, highly-public (known), highly-funded companies worldwide, organized as a token ring overlay network, and they will take quick three-second turns each being the leader and having its massive clusters issuing blocks to the other super-peers. It will have a bandwidth that’s only limited to what computers and networks can do.
EOS, like Bitcoin, works. But EOS is massively cheaper. However, EOS would probably not have “worked,” as a social phenomenon, if it was Satoshi Nakamoto’s project. The cypherpunk paranoia story was effective in uprooting the psychological domination of the current State-based, cartel money system, because first it validated its massive power (which is reified — considered real, concrete, unassailable — in most people’s minds all around the globe), and then it offered a bunch of technically unnecessary but psychologically compelling reasons for why it was going to defeat that powerful global monopoly on money creation and operation.
If EOS came first, maybe the EOS site operators — the block producers — could have been legally persecuted. No one would have really known who they were or what they were trying to achieve. But now? Now “crypto” — Internet-based, computer-based anarchic money creation and operation — is a thing, and the persecution and destruction of any such network is now impractical, in case it was not always impractical, which is also a possibility.
The power of the global money cartel system — the Euro, the Dollar, etc. all these “different” currencies which are not different at all but local branches of the same debt-based global currency, controlled by a handful of “banking” corporations — is purely psychological. Like any religion, it is powerful only to the extent people think its dominance is unassailable. Before Bitcoin, it was unthinkable that someone could “create money” — that sounds criminal… like… smoking a plant! After Bitcoin, that power is significantly crippled. Now people all around the globe know that the idea that there can only be “one money” is a complete farce. The Religion is shown to be non-total, because now people know that there are many Religions to choose from and that, in fact, people are free to worship the token of their choosing and the State should not at all interfere, nor be able to violently impose their own token and persecute and torture those who don’t agree with it.
The One True Money story no longer works. Attempting to persecute operators of money networks will not stick — not all around the globe, across States, all at once, which is what is required to destroy something like EOS. We can, should and must create different moneys. In 2018, we have sufficiently advanced a worldview of monetary diversity. That is what has changed between 2009 and 2018. That is what Bitcoin has accomplished.
The overzealous and tilted craft, and thus the ballooning costs of the “golden age” phase of an industry all arise from that process of social story development that is inherent in any kind of industry. Early social preoccupations are fulfilled, then dropped for later, more optimized preoccupations. Some american cars from the 1950’s were gorgeous and sturdy, but had no seat belts. The kind of craft seen in the golden age of movies and video-games (depth) has given way to other kinds of craft (instant gratification), etc.
And thus, as we see that the religion of Debt Money and its devil are all invented, we realize it has no power over us. The power that myths have over a society depend on accepting that myth as at least partially real. We have all seen way too many spy movies. Thus, if we want a new digital money, we can merely set up a decent amount of social replication world-wide, across a significant number of State jurisdictions (and let’s not forget to add back-up replicas, just in case!), and let each replica be a business, thus optimizing to the actual architecture of the computer network known as “Internet,” which is optimized for the client-server, producer-consumer distinction, and also to the actual architecture of human society, where businesses concentrate a few specialists that maintain services for users who don’t really have to know much about how it works.
There’s more to the design of EOS that I like, such as the governance features, the social safety net (recover the funds you misplaced by calling a friend), and the transparent inflation mechanism used to replace the unusable ritual of calculating transaction fees (though tiny, invisible fees will still be needed as a spam-prevention measure, I believe). But the main thing about EOS is the realization that you can’t really do much better in terms of cost reduction and increased bandwidth and latency than using specialized hardware and Grid Computing (the cousin of “cloud” that isn’t foggy). I’m not sure what Lisk and other similar projects with 20 to 100 block producers are planning to do, but EOS has, to me, the largest, most public commitment to performance and the strongest display of dropping the cargo-cult of Bitcoin design paranoia — which had its usefulness in 2009, but no longer in 2018.
In short, we have three types of blockchain networks in operation or in development:
- EOS-like systems: maximum performance, minimum cost;
- Ethereum-like systems: work as social insurance for the EOS-like systems, supplies extra security for those niche applications that need it more than low latency and high bandwidth;
- Bitcoin-like systems: museum artifacts.
The Ethereum-like and EOS-like systems are not really in competition, in the sense that we don’t want one to destroy the other. We need both systems. However, “EOS” (really, EOS-like systems) will “destroy” everything else because they will capture most of the market, the same way all the smaller e-mail services vanished, and everyone uses either Gmail now or some e-mail dinosaur product that their employers have pushed on them. Why use something slow, expensive and complicated to operate, when the user can have something fast, cheap and simple — something that’s actually more secure, because the actual weak link in security is not “the evil government and the hackers” but the user or, to be precise, the user not having a clue about what they are doing?
Finally, I’m not sure the EOS project specifically will be able to deliver. EOS is run by humans, and humans are fallible. But I do believe that a consortium blockchain works incomparably better than a “pure peer-to-peer” blockchain when we have a directly democratic (or the anarcho-capitalist approximation of that, by way of money-based voting) control of who exactly belongs in that consortium.
EOS is also the best-funded software project in history. They literally have billions to develop their product.