The blockchain and cryptocurrency space cannot consider itself mature until the day its regulators are able to read and audit code, Ava Labs CEO and founder Emin Gün Sirer told attendees of the annual Cornell Blockchain conference.
“Regulators are nowhere near that stage now,” Gün Sirer said at the Friday event on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. “They are busy doing other funny tricks.”
Crypto, particularly in the U.S., is in the gunsights of regulators following the collapse of the FTX exchange and other calamities that befell the space in 2022. But even the most draconian of clampdowns will not crush crypto, said Gün Sirer, whose company developed the Avalanche (AVAX) layer-1 blockchain.
“Suppose we ban crypto altogether?” he said. “Generation Z is digital-first, and they will not allow this technology to go away. They have seen how amazing these new rails can be.”
Several areas, Gün Sirer said, need to improve in order to get the next billion users into crypto, such as scalability, ease of use and adaptability. However, when asked about the feasibility of the secret sharing technology known as zero-knowledge proofs (ZKP) to reach that scale, he was skeptical.
“This space is often waiting for the next shiny new thing, which I call ‘Godot’ solutions,” Gün Sirer said, in reference to Samuel Beckett’s absurdist play "Waiting for Godot," where the main protagonists are endlessly waiting for the arrival of something that never comes.
“If something doesn’t work today, there is usually a very good reason for that,” he said. “ZKPs are fantastic tech but for scalability they are completely unproven. I have friends who are working on this, and I wish them the best. But if it does work, the latency will always be greater, and I worry about the user experience.”
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, institutional digital assets exchange. Bullish group is majority owned by Block.one; both groups have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary, and an editorial committee, chaired by a former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is being formed to support journalistic integrity.