In an article published on September 30 on his personal blog, Vitalik Buterin discussed very sensitive topics, the main topic being the future of Ethereum.
In his talk, we find thoughts on the challenges and opportunities facing the Ethereum community, particularly in the areas of ZK-EVM rollups, liquid staking and private mempools.
The gist of the discussion can be summarized in a very specific question that Vitalik asked at the start of his blog: is it wise to add more features to the protocol or is it better to aim for a minimalist structure?
Observing the changes in the blockchain landscape over the past few years, Vitalik has identified 5 important lessons that reflect the modus operandi with which this issue should be approached and from which we should all learn.
Let’s look at the details together.
Vitalik Buterin, a prominent figure in the world of blockchain, published an article on his personal blog a few days ago in which he discusses some philosophical topics on the future of Ethereum and its community.
The founder of the world’s most famous smart contract The dev platform began its article by reflecting on the priorities that the protocol set for itself in its early years, which now appear to have changed with the evolution of society and the entire decentralized ecosystem in which Ethereum orbits .
In fact, in the beginning, the ultimate goal of its blockchain was to make the backbone as simple as possible and put maximum effort into building as many applications as possible on it.
Back in 2013, Vitalik and his initial team’s idea was to build a virtual machine that would operate via blockchain verification, which would essentially result in a call to the machine itself.
In recent years, however, there has been a strong community interest in including as many features as possible in the core protocol.without leaving it to the rest of the world to resolve the challenges that have emerged over the years.
Among these, we now find stories that focus more on the simple question of scalability This has always plagued the Ethereum World Computer, but we also find user needs that range from simple digital asset exchange to issues of privacy, account security, censorship resistance, and even advanced cryptography.
The fundamental question that Vitalik Buterin asks in the published text is therefore the following:
Should the Ethereum protocol include more features?
Let’s try to be more specific by reporting Vitalik’s thoughts on Zk-EVM rollups, private memory pools, and liquid staking.
Should Ethereum integrate more features into the protocol? The ZK-EVM rollup challenge
Looking at each of Vitalik Buterin’s thoughts on the future of Ethereum and whether or not the structure of the protocol should be enshrined by adding or removing features, we can see the following.
Starting with the theme of ZK EVM accumulationswhich are increasingly present as L1 scaling structures that use off-chain compute tests to offload the main chain, Vitalik addresses controversy surrounding possible bugs in ZK code.
Indeed, many ZK projects have a “security chart” that can be consulted in case of bugs in the test systems. The doubt concerns how these rollable networks should handle the level of trust in the test systems and in the security committee.
The way forward seems to be to give less and less power to these bodies, made up of people who think outside of the blockchain information.
It is planned to start supporting “quasi-EVM” versions with custom code tested by other systems, which can act as a hybrid for these complications.
In conclusion, the consecration of the ZK EVM is both promising and fraught with challenges: currently the underlying technology is immature and requires exceptional human control.
More complex designs could be added as the technology develops.
Private Mempools and Liquid Staking
Let’s move on to the subject of private memory pools: With the growing notoriety of MEV Bots on Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin and the whole community began to think about alternative solutions to avoid damage caused by attacks such as lookahead transactions.
As pools are currently public and visible to anyone, a MEV can easily be “corrupted” by paying more. costs as necessary and choosing the order in which he wants the broadcast to be executed in order to obtain a financial advantage at the expense of the end user.
To solve this problem (which actually also has benefits for DEXsuch as lower price spreads and stability of lending protocols), some developers have developed a sort of private memory pool that can keep user transactions encrypted until they are added to a blockchain , thereby reducing profit opportunities for MEVs.
The problem, however, is that such systems require a special type of encryption: which, to put it simply, must self-decrypt once the transaction has actually been irrevocably accepted.
Unfortunately, there is no single solution reliable enough to be practically accepted at Layer 1.
SO, dedicating anti-frontrunning functionality to layer 1 seems a difficult proposition, at least until deferred encryption is perfected. Again, the complexity of Ethereum’s structure is viewed positively, but we still need time and compromise.
Finally, on the liquid stakes before, Vitalik Buterin’s thoughts are linked to the risk of future centralization which Ethereum could suffer from given the growth of certain protocols like Pool and RocketPool.
In the short term, the most immediate solution is convince the community to use a variety of providers so that no entity becomes too large.
The experiment has already failed since several suppliers called on stakerswithout success, trying to eliminate part of the Lido market share, which currently stands at 32%.
Since moral pressure did not work, Vitalik leaves the door open to simply creating a fungible ETH staking token in the protocolpossession of which would grant governance access to choose who manages the nodes.
There are actually other, more complex ways to address the risk of system centralization, such as committees of random depositors voting off-chain to decide node management, but this would undermine the concept of collective power.
As ideas and concerns on this sensitive issue grow, Vitalik concludes by simply saying that the path forward is not entirely black or entirely white, but that there is the possibility of “sanction certain things and leave other things to users”.
Vitalik Buterin’s 5 conclusions from his thoughts on the future of Ethereum
At the end of his article, Vitalik Buterin draws some conclusions based on his previous observations about the future of Ethereum and the doubts about whether or not to include as many features as possible in the protocol.
Below we summarize 5 interesting thoughts from Vitalik:
1- To understand whether the consecration is right or not, we must be aware of the fact that blockchains are social systems not personal computing platforms.
Thinking in this way can help provide answers to the challenges that will arise in the future.
2- The consecration of functions can help avoid the risks of centralization in other parts of the stack. However, too much dedication can strain trust and governance of the protocol and compromise the neutrality of Ethereum.
3- Through between minimal dedication and full dedication of all features may be the right path to take as technology evolves. This is especially true for liquid staking.
4- Dedication can be counterproductive in the long run, because user needs are unpredictable. Features that we consider essential today may not be widely used in years to come.
5- This could be very beneficial to simplify or even remove certain functionalitiessuch as pre-calculations that optimize contracts to save time and reduce gas prices.