What is Ethereum?
Ethereum is a decentralized platform for applications that run exactly as programmed without any chance of fraud, censorship or third-party interference.
In order to understand Ethereum, one needs to understand the Internet. Everything that is called “personal information” – our usernames, passwords, accounts numbers, dates of birth, are stored on servers, owned by some company. Every time you create an account, your personal data gets stored on a server, controlled by a company which is responsible to store and protect this information. Amazon would be one example. Outsourcing information storage has many advantages such as cost savings, high uptime, high redundancy and high security.
This convenient setup also has vulnerabilities. A hacker or government officials can gain access to your information without your knowledge or consent – meaning they can steal, leak, use or alter any information stored on affected severs.
But with this convenience, there is also vulnerability. As we’ve learned, a hacker or a government can gain unwelcome access to your files without your knowledge, by influencing or attacking a third-party service – meaning they can steal, leak or change important information.
Some pioneers, like Brian Behlendorf, the founder of the Apache Web Server, state that centralized design has been an original flaw of the Internet. The opinion of decentralized Internet backed up the splintered movement which, in turn, had called for new instruments like blockchain technology and Ethereum.
The ‘World Computer’
Ethereum has a goal to become a “World Computer” that would decentralize the existing model of clients and servers. Instead, Ethereum suggests using a network of so-called “nods”, (cells of the world computer), that would be run by volunteers. Ethereum is supposed to offer same functionality to any user around the world, and expects them to compete for offering services.
For example, almost every app on AppStore or Google Exchange, relies heavily on some entity to store personal data like credit card information, order history etc. Servers, where such information is stored, in many cases are controlled by third party companies.
The mere selection of apps is controlled by Apple or Google who approve and thus decide which apps would be available for their users.
Ethereum by design would ensure that control of the data would remain with the service provider and that the choice of applications would not be artificially limited. The idea of Ethereum is that data belongs to it’s user or creator and nobody else can have access to it, make changes, limit availability or delete it. Its creators want to combine control that people used to have over their information with the speed and convenience of digital age. Every time a user stores, enters, deletes or edits information, every place on the network where such information is stored (nod) would change accordingly.
Critics of Ethereum argue that while an idea of blockchain platform sounds appealing, it’s unclear if the authors of the “popular” apps would have enough resources to manage them without outsourcing and how secure and convenient the apps will be.