Brendan Eich: Don’t Blame Cookies and JavaScript

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Best known for creating the JavaScript programming language, Brendan Eich is also the founder and CEO of Brave Software, creator of the Brave browser, and co-creator of Basic Attention Token. As his CTO at Mozilla, he helped bring his web browser out of the dark ages.

I recently spoke with Eich about the sins of Big Tech, the failure of the web advertising model, and how Brave and Basic Attention Tokens put users first. He also explained the euphoric cryptocurrency bubble, the stupidity of Web3, the great potential of blockchain, and why his CEO of a company doesn’t code.

Brendan H. Brave software

Brendan Eich

Matthew Tyson: JavaScript is a language that has played a fundamental role in the web and has fueled many coding careers. And thanks for getting to the heart of IE6. OK, modern day!

You created the Brave browser and Basic Attention Token to improve the interface between users and digital advertisers.

Brave allows users to consciously and privately dispose of their advertising dollars through Basic Attention Tokens. Is it an accurate summary? Could you elaborate?

Brendan Eich: Online advertising has taken value away from user attention, and even when not actively facilitating ad fraud, it has become a surveillance system that deceives publishers with high fees and opacity and allows malware to be distributed through ad exchanges. Evolved. This is not the intended result of the work he did with cookies and JavaScript in his Netscape in the 1990s.

Brave puts users first and provides answers that eliminate conflicts of interest between agents and primary interests. Chrome is most clearly seen in Chrome. By default, when a user logs into her Google account in one tab, it tracks the user in all tabs and windows. Chrome also cannot block tracking by default. It was developed by Brave and leads other browsers in quality against emerging tracking threats.

Brave Shields (the lion icon near the far right of the address bar) are on by default, block tracking scripts, isolate third parties into storage and network “partitions”, and are also keyed by first-party domains. Configured to interfere with fingerprinting scripts and fight many scripts. Other privacy threats. For more information on this baseline protection, see Privacy Features and Privacy Updates on our site. Absolutely available to users.

Basic Attention Token powers Brave’s opt-in, private, client-side advertising and creator contribution system called Brave Rewards. Users who click on her BAT logo, an equilateral triangle at the far right of Brave’s address bar, can start receiving private ads. This will give her BAT which can be claimed by the admins (Uphold, Gemini, bitFlyer). But by default, BAT is a blind-signed certificate, allowing users to provide tips, set monthly donations, and “auto-donate” via browser private her views and visit time analytics. Payment will be made anonymously to the creator.

Brave with BAT therefore engages users in the attention economy. This attention economy still funds much of the web and puts users first. Users are paid 70% of total revenue from private ads. The user is free to keep it or return it. Prioritize user choice and agency over publishers and third parties without apology. Given the rise of paid and ad revenue models for creators on the web, we believe users will support great creators, and we will continue to innovate how users can support creators directly, anonymously, and even pseudonymously. I will continue.

Tyson: you are the CEO Are you still coding?

Eich: Just enjoy it at home. My main job also involves reading code, but also assisting with QA and finding bugs and on a strategic level (e.g. evaluating new cryptography and blockchain systems), and a lot of administration.

Tyson: As another language author, Bjarne Stroustrup, puts it, “Corporate practices can directly antagonize individuals with exceptional skill and initiative in technical matters.” Does it resonate with you? Any thoughts on how to mitigate corporate creativity problems?

Eich: Yes, my career from SGI to Netscape has resonated with these companies as they grow and grow as companies. At Mozilla and Brave, I had to invent my work, collaborate in new ways to do innovative products, and recruit others who shared the sentiments Bjarne expressed. It’s been great, and I don’t regret avoiding the options of companies I overlooked along the way (now Big Tech).

Tyson: I’m very curious what the experience of building a real blockchain was like. How much effort was there (compared to writing a browser or programming language)?

Eich: BAT launched as an ERC-20 token on Ethereum, so there was no need to build a blockchain. Now in multiple chains thanks to bridges such as wormholes. Building a level up allowed us to get to market sooner and stand on the shoulders of giants like Vitalik (Ethereum) and Satoshi (who prototyped Brave Rewards on Bitcoin).

Tyson: There has been much discussion about AI and machine learning completely replacing human programmers. What do you think? real threat?

Eich: Not programming as a profession, even if better machine learning speeds up code development and introduces nasty new security attack surfaceI tweeted recently so I will use it as a reference there (Do not miss it vendor exterior).

Tyson: What’s at the forefront of programming languages ​​and software development in general?

Eich: I went to graduate school in the heyday of systems software research, but as Rob Pike wrote over 20 years ago, it’s dead. The forefront seems like a fruitful “second golden age” of programming languages ​​such as Rust (which I executive sponsored at his Mozilla). Also, reverse debugging works well now (eg and commercial products built on it). People of formal methods, and those willing to give up their sanity, can now validate or find bugs efficiently in a way they dreamed of in the 80’s.

These frontier settlements have evolved into new ecosystems that support new markets. It is also related to blockchain. Formal methods are mandatory to find bugs in smart contracts and protocols. As the third word in the term makes clear, Zero Knowledge Proofs involves automated verification. I would love to see more programming language leverage and rigor in DevOps. There are several startups working on this.

Tyson: You can read more about zero-knowledge proofs here. In a recent interview, you said that the new “Web3” scene is like the early “Wild West” era of the dotcom era. There are many possibilities, but there is also a lot of room for stupidity.

Despite the “dot bomb” of the late 90’s, the web has proven itself well. Do we see a euphoric crypto bubble followed by a moody correction and a more stable role for crypto-based services?

Eich: Cryptocurrencies that are paired with fiat currencies (mostly USD) are volatile. Sadly even stablecoins can find unexpected shelling points or fail due to design flaws. has become increasingly unstable and may continue. Boom-bust cycles are designed by central banks and their allies and tend to last for decades. Crypto “seasons” range from a few years to half a year. We expect these to balance out over time, no matter what regulators do.

No matter what happens, cryptocurrencies and blockchain/DLT will stick. Too many wealthy people are betting in this space, primarily as a hedge against fiat currency problems, for an easy or quick reversal.

Tyson: What do you think is the biggest promise of blockchain?

Eich: I agree with Moxie that even a client/server based product needs a cryptographic protocol to enforce properties such as anonymity (an activity that cannot be linked to arbitrary identifiers).

Blockchain is great when there are too many counterparties and too much risk, or especially when peers can meet directly on the network. There was no bank nonsense requiring wire charges or delays (gas prices were low back then).

For me, the blockchain promise ties into Brave’s user-first agenda. Network effects create 1st and his 2nd place winners, oligopolies and monopolies. In the case of Web2 (“Web 2.0” in its original formulation), such winners naturally collect user data to optimize (e.g. winner search engines).

This inevitably leaves users as mere sheep shearing attention-based data, while creating a treasure trove for hackers to attack and ad fraudsters to cheat. Problems, trolls, bullying, Cyops, and all other Big Tech ailments stem from this centralized data collection flaw.

Therefore, the Web3 ideal should protect user data at the ultimate edge. In other words, a device, a supercomputer in your pocket or on your lap. These can directly and indirectly connect to blockchain nodes that do not collect data and his Web3 servers via cryptographic protocols written by Moxie to create illicit market power. People maintain power on the edge of p2p and cryptographically secured client/server networks.

This vision reverses the vile value hierarchy of the Web2 Big Tech powerhouses (Google, Meta, etc.). They say they care about their users, of course, but above all they have to serve shareholders, ad buyers, publishers and third-party ad tech. Bender, and other even less reputable actors (eg, the State and his three-letter agency). So it’s going to be a fight, but we users are outnumbered.

Tyson: Do you have any advice for founders with startup dreams in the world today?

Eich: History, including old books from the period after World War II, when a “new class” of managers emerged from Vannever Bush’s Brain Trust and became unreliable narrators of history, particularly including his own rise to power. Please research. History rhymes without repeating itself. The future may seem different and more distant past than those in power admit.

Study maverick economics. Because the mainstream kind of economics (“dismal science”) is full of courtiers and mountain bankers. Look at some schools. There is no one true way of him like a cult. Do a thorough study of companies and businesses to know what to avoid (in my case summarized by Bjarne Stroustrup).

Like Steve Jobs did, look for user pain points that market winners have become complacent and neglect or ignore. Users often know they have a painful or mild itching problem, even if they can’t prescribe a solution or accurately describe the exact problem.

Work with lead users. They invent new categories of products and services. You can’t win without them.

Tyson: You are an investor too. What stands out when you look at the company?

Eich: I’m not much of an investor, but a friend introduced me to Burton Klein. His corporate typology is true. If you can find a Cline Type 1 company that is investable, invest in it. We all remember seeing Type 1 and Type 2 companies launch like rockets. Once the Type 4 is no longer politically welcoming, short it out.

Tyson: What is your definition of “success”?

Eich: Helping others create a better world. “We are all in this together” —Harry Tuttle.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.


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