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Arthur Breitman: "The Web3 industry is currently oversized in relation to demand".

Arthur Breitman: "The Web3 industry is currently oversized in relation to demand".

Arthur Breitman is a rare figure in the media. In the space of a few years, the French creator of the Tezos blockchain has given very few interviews, but for The Big Whale, he agreed to be interviewed again.

The Big Whale: Paris hosted the Ethereum Community Conference (EthCC) last week, which was attended by over 5,000 people. You took the opportunity to organise events around Tezos. How is the project progressing?

Arthur Breitman: Things are going well! We've got a lot of work going on at Tezos. We're currently scaling up with rollups, which are secondary layers of the protocol. After that, we'll have the subject of the "data availability" layers, which will enable rollups to be decentralised even further.

Alongside this, we've also announced the launch of an EVM rollup (compatible with Ethereum's virtual machine, editor's note) on Tezos.

What drives you to offer rollups? This is understandable for a blockchain like Ethereum which has congestion concerns for its operations, but this is not the case for the Tezos network...

That's a good question. In reality, rollups are a very good thing for the development of blockchains on two levels. First, there's the best-known approach, which is horizontal, with the possibility of having several rollups running in parallel, and talking to each other, while still being connected to the main blockchain.

Then there's the more vertical approach with rollups that offer greater computing power. We're going to have a separation between consensus - which requires a lot of decentralisation - and execution. Layer 1 will concentrate on data availability and consensus, while the rollup will manage execution. All this makes the infrastructure more efficient.

What is the aim of these innovations?

To enable Tezos to remain competitive and innovative (read our survey on Tezos). What's more, they optimise the protocol's interoperability and allow other virtual machines to run on it.

Was it just as important to improve Tezos' scalability?

I'm convinced of that. Just because the blocks aren't all filled doesn't mean we shouldn't improve the scalability of a protocol - quite the contrary! If a video game with 10 million users wants to move to a blockchain, we need to be able to offer it an infrastructure that is robust enough to accommodate everyone.

It would be a mistake to look at things too piecemeal, we need to have a global vision. While many projects neglect it, scalability has always been one of our priorities. In 2018, we were the first major blockchain to use the proof-of-stake consensus algorithm (Ethereum has been using it since September 2022, ed. note).

What performance will the Tezos blockchain be able to achieve?

We have demonstrated that the network can handle one million transactions per second thanks to 1,000 rollups, bearing in mind that each rollup is capable of handling 1,000 transactions per second.

In the near future, we hope that one rollup alone will be able to handle one million transactions per second ⚡️.

You are launching an EVM rollup, i.e. one that is compatible with the Ethereum language. Isn't this an admission of weakness for Tezos in relation to Ethereum?

It's a very pragmatic choice. Some people see advantages in developing projects in the Ethereum language, others in the Tezos language. We're not going to cut ourselves off from some of the developers in the community for ideological reasons. The aim is to be open to as many people as possible.

Do you consider EVM to have established itself as an industry standard?

No, I don't think so. Ethereum is dominant in the blockchain sector, but there are currently only 5,000 Ethereum developers in the world. If you compare these numbers to the WebAssembly, Python or Javascript communities, you realise that the Ethereum community is still small.

What do you think of Ethereum since its move to proof-of-stake?

I think they made a mistake in the design of their proof-of-stake, particularly with Liquid Staking Derivatives (read our survey) which allow you to obtain tokens representing what you have immobilised in the protocol to contribute to its security.

Some people think this makes the market more liquid and efficient, because you can use them in decentralised finance (DeFi), but I think it reduces the decentralisation of the protocol. Today, a player like Lido weighs a third of Ethereum's staking...

Lido is not a single entity. There are actually 30 validators...

I don't know how many people control machines on Lido, besides I don't think Lido has any bad intentions, but it does create a kind of centralisation.

What do you think is the biggest risk?

Transaction censorship. With a third of the staking, they can do it.

Europe is often described as the epicentre of Web3, do you agree?

Europe is clearly a magnet, but I also see a lot in Asia and the US.

What's your view of Nomadic Labs, whose role is central to the development of the Tezos ecosystem?

Nomadic Labs, which has teams in France and Benelux, has a dual activity, both technological and commercial.

They have to develop the technological core of Tezos, and also get companies to use this technology. The teams have had a number of successes as we've seen with Stables, the PMU project they've been working on.

Is this one of your favourite projects?

It's a very good project among many others, and it's especially one of the most recent!"

The Big Whale has revealed ten days ago that Edenred had been experimenting with its Ticket Restaurant on Ethereum. Are you disappointed that they didn't choose Tezos?

Now that we have an EMV rollup, it's not impossible that they'll work with us one day (smile).

What are the major challenges facing the Web3 ecosystem in the coming years?

The Web3 industry today is oversized in relation to demand. The Web3 ecosystem is like a city where lots of buildings have been erected that are now looking to be inhabited.

Beyond this question, the fundamentals have not changed. Web3 can improve a lot of things, from the financial sector to art. Thanks to Tezos, you can prove the authenticity of a work. It's no coincidence that Tezos has a large artistic community.

If there's too much infrastructure, what makes you think Tezos will survive? Why shouldn't other blockchains be able to take your place?

Nobody can say what the Web3 landscape will look like in a few years' time, and that's why we're looking to innovate so much and be as close as possible to the needs of the community. As soon as we identified that there was an art market on Tezos, we pushed to offer tools to artists.

Do you think, as many do, that artificial intelligence (AI) has replaced Web3?

There's a real trend, that's obvious. On top of that, AI had the good idea of making news at a time when the crypto markets were not at their best, so the phenomenon was amplified, and we saw investment funds change their tune.

For me, the AI revolution goes back mainly to 2020 with the announcement of GPT-3 by OpenAI. I don't understand why it took more than 2 years and the release of the ChatGPT interface for investment funds to realise this.

What is your opinion of OpenAI, the company developing ChatGPT?

I'm rather divided. On the one hand, you have to admit that they are technically excellent, and that they also have the support of giants like Microsoft. On the other hand, I'm concerned about the risks that artificial intelligence poses to us, particularly if we lose control of it.

I think that OpenAI and Sam Altman have identified these risks well. They are aware of what is at stake, which is why they recently announced that they were going to dedicate 20% of their computing power to security projects to avoid disasters linked to artificial intelligence.

What would be the worst-case scenario for humanity with the development of AI?

There are plenty, but we could have a planet Earth covered in solar panels that would be used to power the computing power of artificial intelligences. Needless to say, in this scenario, human beings do not play the leading role.

Nowadays, machines are not very dangerous, but imagine a robot, a hoover robot for example, that would be much more intelligent than those currently on the market. If it wanted to be sure of fulfilling its role as a hoover, it could go so far as to prevent human beings from going into the rooms it is supposed to clean, or even do everything it can to never be switched off, in order to fulfil the mission for which it has been programmed...

Could Web3 play a positive role in the development of artificial intelligence?

I'd like to think so, but to be honest, I don't have much faith in it. There's a lot of marketing in those who claim that.

The Worldcoin project, which launched its token on Monday, claims the opposite, are they wrong?

Worldcoin relies on eye iris scanning, but like any system, it's not perfect. It's always possible to fool the machine by generating images.

Also, the private key you get from the scan can be shared. At best, it proves that at some point someone had their iris scanned and received a private key, but this is not valid over time. Private keys can be resold, tampered with and so on. I think the project is missing the point.

What do you think Sam Altman's motivations are?

I think what he's interested in with Worldcoin is the issue of universal income. It seems fairly obvious that artificial intelligence is going to destroy a lot of jobs and that a basic income will be needed for part of the population.

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