Vitalik Buterin, Lord of Ethereum

Temps de lecture : 7 minutes

Right next to Bitcoin in terms of popularity, Ethereum is battling furiously for the top spot. But one question remains: who’s the creator of Ethereum? Portrait of Vitalik Buterin, the Lord of Ethereum. 

Vitaly, the Russian heading to Canada

Vitaly Dmitriyevich (Виталы Дмитриевич in Cyrillic) was born on 31 January 1994 in the heart of the Moscow Oblast. More precisely in the town of Kolomna. He only lived the first six years of his life in the Great Bear (one of Russia’s many nicknames) before emigrating with his parents to Canada.

What’s so special about this little boy? He’s seemingly much more interested in maths than in video games, given that at the age of four he was writing Excel spreadsheets on a computer his parents gave him. He even wrote a detailed encyclopaedia on rabbits.

All biology and complexity.

The beginning of ‘Vitalik Buterin’.

His childhood and teenage years brought him a passion for computers as well as mathematics. He became interested in Bitcoin in 2011, the first cryptocurrency on the market that appears to be operating at a pace that holds up.

Creation of Ethereum

Vitalik Buterin is bored at university. He’s a computer genius, and he’s way above his classmates or even the syllabus. He plays World of Warcraft, and suddenly decides to leave his university studies.

To what end?

To create Ethereum, the cryptocurrency that would become Bitcoin’s rival a few years later. He even declares that the game will inspire him to create his virtual currency. Vitalik was not even 20 years old, and he would have to succeed or go back to school, which would cost him a small fortune.

But what triggers this sudden interest in creating his own currency? Vitalik feels betrayed, disappointed and saddened by World of Warcraft’s centralised services, which reset the initial power of his main.

He cries for a whole night and realises how centralised services can destroy a project.

Despite his admiration for Bitcoin’s fame, Vitalik finds a few flaws with it: despite its decentralised data system, he feels it deserves its own programming language. He says that a script is lacking for mobile- and web-optimised mining of Bitcoin tokens.

The Russian decided that he would give his all to surpass Bitcoin.

He launched Ethereum and fought hard for a decentralised internet. This, despite the miscommunication of his criticism of the queen of cryptocurrencies. Today, Ethereum (ETH) is estimated to be worth around €320 trillion, a handsome figure.

Are Vitalik Buterin and Vitaly Dmitriyevich two different people?

At least, many are wondering. Behind his computer genius, his philanthropy and his many charitable donations, Vitalik Buterin remains an eccentric. Is this a facade, or a persona that the multi-billionaire has created for himself in order to be more successful?

His obsession with immortality  

While Vitalik Buterin is hailed for his research into cryptocurrency, finance, economics and computing in general, his deep interest in the sciences is often overlooked.

Particularly in research into treatments for rejuvenation. Indeed, to quote him:

‘Their […] solutions to the diseases of ageing, one of the greatest problems facing humanity, is entirely consistent with my goal of having a positive impact on the lives of millions of people around the world.’ — Vitalik Buterin 

The creator of Ethereum has backed up his words with a $2.4 million donation to the SENS Research Foundation. A company that is working hard on life extension. As well as the transhumanist lengthening of Humanity.

In 2021, he repeated his words with a donation of 336 million dollars to the Methuselah Foundation, another company dedicated to human life and how to improve its longevity. On the currency side, Vitalik Buterin offered $1.14 billion to the crypto-fund in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic during 2021. However, the donation was reduced to $20 billion.

The cause? The payment in SHIBA coin, a cryptocurrency considered to be a meme. As a result, its price fell by half, which explains the reduced donation.

Vitalik Buterin, a man of opinion

And he’s not shy about shouting them out! Mr Buterin is not afraid of being sued or even reproached by his fans and haters alike. And with good reason: he doesn’t hesitate to speak out whenever he feels the need to do so.

But why is he so irritating?

A letter to Washington on crypto

Hurt and touched by the Washington ministers’ aversion to cryptocurrency, Vitalik Buterin hastened to write a letter to Washington itself, via his own Twitter page, prompting numerous reactions.

The crash… and the rebuilding?

The party, seized by the important people of Washington, would be due to the instability of the cryptocurrency and the fear of a consequent loss of these digital assets. Described as ‘unstable’, ‘volatile’ and even ‘stupid’ by some. While some tech experts are expressing their common request, which is to urge lawmakers to be wary of cryptocurrencies, in an open letter.

Not satisfied, they are asking lawmakers to strongly criticise crypto and blockchain. With the purpose of fighting the industry itself.

“We urge you to resist pressure from digital asset industry financiers, lobbyists, and boosters to create a regulatory safe haven for these risky, flawed, and unproven digital financial instruments”.

Despite the indirect nature of the response, Vitalik Buterin went ahead without further ado. He wrote that he was hurt by the lack of confidence and the closed-mindedness of others towards technological and financial progress.

And he has been doing so for the last 10-15 years.

“A big difference between the “new idealistic movement” scene 10-15 years ago vs today is that back then it felt possible to be on all the good-guy teams at the same time. Today, much more adversarial thinking and conflict. I’ve been trying to understand.. where to from here?”

Carrying the weight of the Crypto community

As a pillar of a community of thousands of followers, it would be foolish to overlook Vitalik Buterin’s influence and strength. This influence and strength is due in particular to his status as co-creator of Ethereum.

Buterin constantly tries to position himself as a mediator between good and evil, and to create a balance so that the two parties can reach some form of agreement.

His record as a mediator includes the recent failure of Terra. Vitalik had no hesitation in jumping in with both feet by strongly criticising the StableCoin team, who use an algorithm to retain a certain value. Buterin criticised them as ‘propaganda’.

Unhappy, this time he criticises the owners of Bored Ape Yachts. Suggesting that one day they should fund public assets instead of NFTs.

Doctorow, the traitor?

In a Twitter thread, Vitalik Buterin expressed his disappointment, sadness and annoyance at Cory Doctorow, who is considered to be a strong ally of crypto-enthusiasts. Surprised by Cory’s involvement in the letter to Washington.

Ironic, since Doctorow offered a speech during the Ethereum developers’ conference in 2018. A speech named ‘decentralised, democratised or die.’

In the letter, the crypto-critics reach more of the community than hoped, reaching the wrong audience: Buterin openly expresses his sadness at people calling cryptocurrency ‘an economic system that will never satisfy the entire consumer base as the foundation of a broad-based economic system.’

He added that the internal conflicts between members of the community also hurt him.

However, Vitalik Buterin is not the only defender of the crypto: the letter to Washington also provoked a reaction from Bradley Rettler, a Wyoming philosophy professor and author of a book on Bitcoin.

Vitalik Buterin and the war in Ukraine

Expressly against the war in Ukraine, Vitaly didn’t stop there and decided to express his opinion against the ordinary citizens of the Russian Federation. Born in the very heart of the Russian Federation and raised in Canada, Vitalik didn’t hesitate for a second to pick up his phone to communicate his distaste towards the situation.

When the Netherlands announced that it had cut off the means for Russians to obtain visas in order to move to the country. Buterin said:

“Please be careful. 22 years ago, one of the Russians getting a Western visa was me, along with my family. This gave my dad a chance to start a great business and gave me a chance to grow up without the influence of zombie ideology. We should not throw such possibilities away.”

Even though the whole of Europe now seems to be following the Netherlands’ lead, much to Vitalik Buterin’s disappointment. Thinking that denying the Russians their visa request would be counter-productive.

Gilles Beschoor Plug’s surprise, and Buterin’s dismay

Gilles Beschoor Plug, the Dutch ambassador in Russia, deplored the visa ban, swearing that the decision had been taken by the Dutch Embassy before he could even consult them. Gilles described the decision as ‘difficult and very regrettable’. He also explained that the Dutch visas were still valid before the expiry date: a few days at most before having to return to their native country.

Buterin’s tweet response

And it’s provoking all kinds of reactions. A good balance between a lot of support and some annoyance, it has to be said that the military conflict in Ukraine has caused the Twitter sphere to catch fire. For several days, even weeks.

Many users decried the persecution of Russian citizens. Innocent in the confrontation, stirring up the sympathy of some, the wrath of others.

On the other side of the mirror, other Twittos claim that most citizens are, in fact, pro-government and more precisely pro-Russian. This has led to conflict between those who claim that ordinary Russians are against the war.

On the other side, the Russophobes use the excuse that Russians are all deep nationalists and absolutely in favour of the war in Ukraine. One of the responses to Buterin’s tweet, by a user named Matīss Priedīts, is particularly shocking due to its content.

‘What to do with those that draw Z letters in Europe and enjoy shouting “na Berlin”?’

A tweet that elicited a response from Buterin himself, a response that was polite to say the least. Since he responds simply by saying ‘that people should worry about making sure their children hear other perspectives.’

Ethereum’s neutrality in this conflict

A neutrality officially announced by Vitalik himself. During the month of February. However, he makes no secret of the fact that he has donated ETC 1,500 (around €4.7 billion according to his current cryptographer) in support of Ukraine.

This information was revealed in particular by Unchain Network, which describes itself as ‘a charity project towards Ukraine made by blockchain activists aiming to send humanitarian aid.’

While Vitalik Buterin assures the neutrality of his digital asset, he sides against Vladimir Putin’s policies. He is highly critical of Putin’s reasoning regarding the course of political events. Specifically, what Vladimir Putin describes as ‘an intervention to demilitarise and denazify Ukraine’.

He fearlessly wrote that it was a crime against both nations. Considered brotherly by many. He also predicts disastrous consequences for the crypto-economy and that he only wishes for ‘security for all alike, even though I know there will be none.’

He concludes by saying that he finds himself genuinely upset by events.

Vitalik Buterin never hesitates to take a side and react accordingly on his social networks, which he uses as his main means of communication with his followers or even to react to the news.

He expressly shows his likes and dislikes, and is very responsive in making donations to causes he feels are right. He doesn’t think twice about sanctioning or authorising the use of his cryptocurrency, which he describes as the economic and financial future of humanity.

Disconnected from reality?

Vitaly’s eccentric ideas don’t stop there. The computer expert believes that synthetic wombs could be the solution to…

Male-female pay disparities.

He appears on the Times newspaper poster expressing his concerns about cryptocurrency. More specifically, the stigma attached to it, and the closed-mindedness of the public.

Vitaly has little appreciation for the concept of NFT, which he sees only as ‘redhibitory’ and an exhibition of other people’s wealth. Among other things, he describes the famous monkey collection as an ‘ugly monkey’.

The computer scientist adds another layer by saying that he doesn’t think the usefulness of cryptocurrencies lies in the concept of NFT.

How to keep up with Vitalik Buterin’s work  

If you’re interested in Vitaly’s work, you can visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

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