The next layer on top of the Bitcoin protocol is real time asset distribution information, consensus , and public ledger. Stocks, bonds, real-estate, escrow, microloans, gambling, crowdfunding and P2P contracts will be executed on decentralized networks. This has been referred to as colored coins or designated digital “contracts” by a new protocol named Ethereum. Ethereum is a platform, a scripting language, and ultimately a new decentralized system for developers around the world to build with. This can be any sort of deal, contract, exchange that can be mathematically expressed in code. It enables the parties to set the terms in a publicly verifiable and protected transaction. This can revolutionize the way the internet of money serves as self evident. There is an even greater application that will emerge from these types of systems. This is the DAO, or Decentralized Autonomous Organization.
Imagine a corporation 20 years from now that is completely automated, checked and balanced in its management by computer code, providing a service that is globally accessible. This is the DAO. An organization that relies on the network and the programmers pivoting with hacks that maximize the user experience and delegate operations more efficiently to the computer system. Developers around the world can instill Artificial Intelligence into a publicly traded corporation, a voting system, or even a manufacturing facility. The open source system will enable people to effectively build an organization with code, set it in motion, and delegate operations to machines and data servers around the world.
The value in a decentralized distributed system such as Ethereum is that anyone with an apparatus verifying contracts is now an additional node on network. Marc Andreesen of Andreesen Horowitz predicted that chip manufactures will soon start building chips that can support an OS and mine. An ever growing network of nodes, in every electronic device, verifying contracts between two people or within autonomous organizations. It is truly empowering to acquire the skills to build on a platform like Ethereum. It is an essential technological intermediate for what decentralized protocols like Bitcoin will enable in the future.
For more information about Etheruem you can read the white paper here.