This post is being carried over from my blog LiskNation as I transition my writing to Steemit full time. You can read more about my transition here. Thanks for reading!
Since the day Lisk was announced, it has inevitably been compared to Ethereum. Even Crypti, the pre-cursor to Lisk, was heavily weighed against Ethereum as a direct competitor. While I understand the basis for these comparisons, pitting the two against one another, or suggesting that users must choose only one network to support, shows a drastic misunderstanding of the goals which Lisk aims to accomplish. In this feature, we will focus on 3 key differences that show how Lisk is vastly different than Ethereum and explain why that is great for Lisk and it’s supporters.
1. A Focus on Custom Blockchains, not Smart Contracts.
Most people are very familiar with the idea of Smart Contracts. Ethereum was built on the idea that smart contracts will some day rule the world and all applications will be running some form of smart contract system (which I don’t disagree with). The aim of Ethereum is to be that system and they have developed their business model around that belief.
Lisk is not in the smart contract business. Lisk intends to allow interfacing with smart contract systems, such as Ethereum, through virtual machine integration. Let me make this clear. Lisk IS NOT a smart contract system. It is a custom blockchain system. Lisk has built their business model around creating a simplified user experience and platform to easily implement custom generated blockchains for anyone from the individual, to the small business, to large banks. This direction is very different from that of Ethereum and once you understand this key factor, you will start to see that not only are Lisk and Ethereum very different, but they are designed to work very well together.
2. Main Chain vs. Side Chains
In the aftermath of the exploitation of the smart contract that runs The DAO, many crypto enthusiasts have become wary of Ethereum, The DAO, and by association Lisk. Unfortunately, this is again due to a lack of understanding of what Lisk is or isn’t, and unfairly equating it to Ethereum. Ethereum has developed a full-featured, Turing complete system that allows developers to write smart contracts using their custom programming language called Solidity. In the last several weeks, it has come to light that the smart contract running The DAO may not be the only cause for alarm, but rather Solidity itself may lead to bigger issues for Ethereum.
The problems plaguing the DAO have bled into the Ethereum network and not only hurt their image, but their valuation as well. This is because in Ethereum, all smart contracts are stored and run from the Ethereum blockchain itself. In the case of the DAO, there have been many conversations on how to reverse the theft that occurred. These conversations have led to the proposal of a hard fork of the entire Ethereum network, in order to bail out The DAO and any investors.
Whichever side of this argument you are on (I am not personally in favor of the bail out, but that is for a different post), this would never be an issue when it comes to Lisk. For better or worse, rolling back the Lisk blockchain would do absolutely nothing to save a failed application. In the Lisk ecosystem, all blockchain applications are running on completely isolated and separate sidechains. While these sidechains do have ties to the main Lisk network, they do not have any ability to impact the Lisk network itself. Each are independently proven and managed blockchains with their own consensus system, delegates, and database. This is a very important distinction between Lisk and Ethereum.
To break it down:
Lisk runs every single application on a completely separate, isolated sidechain, responsible for itself. If a sidechain fails, the blame and responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the developer running the sidechain. If a sidechain sells illegal drugs or starts Silk Road 15, this falls on the shoulders of the administrative account and delegates of that specific sidechain. That sidechain is registered to an individual just like any standard web application.
Ethereum runs smart contracts and services from and on the entire Ethereum main blockchain. That means the risk and liability can be hard to attribute. Much like the case of the DAO, while the contract itself may have had issues, part of the issues lie in the Solidity language itself. This also causes a problem when it comes to those running network nodes for Ethereum. If someone creates a smart contract that is illegal or malicious, all full nodes on the network may execute that contract. This could cause legal liability just for participating in the network. While this hasn’t been tested in court, it’s a slippery slope I don’t personally want to test the waters on.
Lisk != Ethereum, and that’s OK!
As a crypto currency enthusiast, you aren’t required to pick sides. Both Lisk and Ethereum have huge upside potential and may both create revolutionary new ways of developing and administering applications for years to come. Despite what you have been led to believe by other media outlets or industry “experts”, Lisk and Ethereum aren’t in direct competition to one another and are actually being built in a manner that I think creates a great deal of synergy between the two.
I hope this feature has helped you to better understand the differences between the two networks, and has solidified your support for Lisk. The next few years are going to be filled with exciting innovations in the blockchain space and I believe Lisk is poised to be at the center of it all.