Verifiable truth is one of the main reasons why distributed ledger technologies (DLT) like blockchain are so important – especially in today's charged and polarized news climate.
In the not-too-distant future, consumers of news media will likely be able to immediately distinguish between real and fake news via a community of reviewers who scan article facts and certify whether a story is based in reality or if it is suggestive, leading, or just plain fake. Knowing the "objectivity" rating of a given article, as provided by mass consensus, would certainly be a step in the right direction, and there are a few Ethereum-based projects working on destroying fake news.
Until the day arrives when verifiable truth is available, people will have to continue to rely on their better judgment when reading headlines. Recently, Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin demonstrated just how easily people are misled by sensational news stories – even when their common sense suggests otherwise.
On April first, Buterin displayed – to those who didn't already know – his fondness for mischief and humor. First, by announcing the Ethereum Foundation's launch of a stablecoin called World Trade Francs (WTF), and second by creating Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 960 for a hardcap.
The World Trade Francs is a fictional "stablecoin" invented by Buterin, most likely to poke fun at the idea of creating a cryptocurrency that isn't subject to the extreme volatility that cryptocurrencies have become associated with. "People can use the currency to store funds and engage in commerce without worrying about their monthly salary dropping by 57% between the time they receive it and the time they can use the money to buy products," wrote Buterin jokingly.
Stablecoins are something Buterin previously wrote seriously about on the Ethereum Foundation's website back in 2014. Many long-time followers of the ecosystem will agree that stability is not something that can be artificially created by pegging a given cryptocurrency to a traditional asset. Notably, Buterin wasn't the only thought leader to make this joke.
Before listing his pretend project team mates, former President Barack Obama and "a literal moose," Buterin explained how WTFs use "hypercube tangle technology," a likely jab at a competing DLT's consensus algorithm, famous for its own tangle. He also explained that WTFs "combine the benefits of capitalism and socialism with none of the downsides."
While Buterin is certainly very smart, it is unlikely he expected anyone to believe he had solved that historical riddle.
The second part of Buterin's April Fool's day scheme was less obvious and it has actually spun into a genuine discussion: a hardcap for Ether.
Posted on GitHub in the traditional fashion, Buterin's EIP 960 states "I recommend setting MAX_SUPPLY = 120,204,432, or exactly 2x the amount of ETH sold in the original either sale."
If true, Buterin would have been proposing a deflationary token model, like the one that Bitcoin is founded on. Some members of the ecosystem believe that coin caps help create value through programmable scarcity over time, essentially leading to smaller and smaller block rewards.
Perhaps this is an instance where Buterin's whimsy can provide insight into some areas of the ecosystem. Regardless, it's nice to have a figurehead with a sense of humor.