Ethan Buchman on the Necessity for Friction in Networks

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Podcast via


"In today’s episode, I interview Ethan Buchman. This is the first episode that I’ve recorded for this inaugural run of episodes, focused on Blockchain with the Planetary Regeneration Podcast. I couldn’t be more grateful to have Ethan Buchman, the co-founder of the Tendermint and co-creator of Tendermint Byzantine Fault Tolerant Proof-of-Stake Consensus Mechanism, and the larger vision of the Internet of Blockchains."

Contextual Citation

""It’s all about weak links, weak coupling. We see this everywhere in ecological systems. In the human systems, we’ve built in the global financial system and the social network systems. It’s all strong links, all the way through. It’s this hyper-connectivity. You get a small disturbance. Russians make a small little Facebook group — boom — you’ve got Donald Trump in the White House. A small little shake in a bank in New York — boom — global financial crisis. I think that really calls into question the accepted wisdom that the network effect is this purely monotonic phenomenon in terms of utility and connecting everyone, and so on. Liquidity and unfettered liquidity are all strictly positive things. I think there’s really non-linear dynamics to these things that have been ignored, and that maybe we are on the cusp of starting to understand to take seriously. What does that mean for engineering? I don’t really begin to know yet, but I know that it seems to mean something like having a strategically placed friction. Places where the liquidity maybe isn’t as available as you want it to be or where the things can’t flow as smoothly as you want them to. That friction is actually necessary for the sustainability of the system. " (