Blockchain is hard enough to understand and talk about, let alone build. But in a surprise announcement, the creator of the proof of stake (PoS) consensus algorithm, Sunny King, says the sector needs to make it easier for anyone, even those from non-technical backgrounds, to create their own distributed ledgers.
King, who has been out of the public eye for a couple of years now, said yesterday he had become interested in making blockchain easier to use. The technology has the potential to disrupt key areas of society, but he believes it is still too unwieldy and expensive to use practically.
Inaccessibility, he says, prevents blockchain from currently achieving mainstream adoption.
He said: “Blockchain has typically been optimised for its availability and redundancy, but not for ease of use, scalability or cost-efficiency. As a result, it’s often seen as difficult and exceptional, something that’s costly to create and expand.
“But you shouldn’t have to be an expert in technology to create a blockchain. If we can build efficient and stable blockchains that are inexpensive to create and operate, they can be used to host decentralised databases and applications which in turn can drive all manner of businesses and societal functions.”
King developed PoS as an alternative means of achieving consensus to Proof-of-Work (PoW). Simply put, the creator of a new block is selected, usually – but not always – based on the number of tokens they hold. Rather than relying on energy-intensive mining rigs, King considered PoS to be a far more practical way to scale blockchain networks without compromising security or immutability.
Peercoin (PPC), developed by King in 2012, was the first cryptocurrency to use the new consensus algorithm. Other, larger, networks have followed suit. EOS uses an adapted version of PoS – known as delegated Proof of Stake (or dPoS) – where the network’s 21 largest token holders, the block producers, essentially carries out the same function. The Caspar update, currently slated for release in 2020, will transition Ethereum (ETH) from PoW to PoS.
The world of blockchain engineering is lucrative. Few people know how to build blockchains and those that do, come up with a high price tag A study carried in October found that those who can build distributed ledgers were earning 11-30% premiums on their salary. Being a blockchain engineer was one of the highest paid specialized roles in 2018, according to recruitment company Hired.
Ease of use enhances blockchain utility
King believes blockchain’s real potential is being hampered by its inaccessibility; PoS goes some way to addressing this, but more needs to be done. Although disparities between consensus algorithms excite and spark debates within the sector, it does little to promote blockchain as a viable alternative to centralized databases.
And if no one uses it, what’s the point in it all?
The author is invested in digital assets, including ETH which is mentioned in this article.