During his presentation in Taipei during the BeyondBlock Conference last Monday (November 25), Vitalik Buterin inventor and founder of the Ethereum blockchain braved the rain and humidity in order to detail his vision for Ethereum 2.0.
Throughout his one hour presentation he covered many potential modifications in Ethereum’s design that he would like to see brought to fruition over the next couple of years to boost Ethereum. Vitalik identified the main growth areas for the still quite young currency as being in regards to personal privacy, security, naturally and scalability. Of the multitude of topics discussed though it was the scalability that appeared to get him the most excited.
Buterin does not appear concerned regarding rivals. “The Ethereum killer is Ethereum, the Ethereum of China is Ethereum, the Ethereum of Taiwan is Ethereum… 2.0,” he said.
The very rate at which Ethereum continues expanding appears to validate Buterin’s positive outlook. At the peak of it’s seemingly relentless climb the price of an Ether recently crossed the key psychological barrier of USD $500 a coin. This mighty feat combined with the fact that the Ethereum block chain has proven to be a fast and trouble free instrument from a transactional point of view is why Etherium is currently flying so high.
Currently the Ethereum blockchain is handling more transactions than the other major blockchains combined. An incredible feat and something no other crypto currency can come even close to achieving.
Keeping Ethereum responsive from a transactional point of is one of view is going to be one of Vitalik’s key criteria moving forward. During his presentation on of his slides read, “We want to scale to thousands of transactions per second, on chain, without any supernodes,” but maintaining this capability without supernodes is just one of the facets in Vitalik’s master plan. Moving the currency forward and maintaining its current value in the crypto space requires the careful balancing and coexistence of decentralization, scalability and security, not an easy task nut something Vitalik and his team think they can achieve.
Separating a blockchain network into a number of smaller sized part networks (called shards) is a potentially efficient way to process multiple parallel and is one of the potential ways that Vitalik may attain the high throughputs required to take on the likes of networks such as Visa and MasterCard.
“You can think of (sharding) as, in a fairly simple version, creating a blockchain where you have, let’s say, a hundred different universes, and each of these universes is a different account space,” said Buterin. “So you can have an account in some universe or you can have a contract in some universe and you can send a transaction in some universe, and if you send a transaction in some universe it only affects stuff in some universe.
“But these kind of 100 universes are not just separate blockchains; they are systems that are also interconnected with each other,” continued Buterin. “Particularly, they share consensus. So in order to break even one of them, you have to break the whole thing.”
Buterin then went about defining reasonably simple as well as a lot more innovative methods to apply sharding in the Ethereum blockchain, describing a sharding roadmap that visualizes, at the very least, the production of brand-new “universes” that do not influence the main blockchain while allowing the trailing of some new ideas such as increasing scalability, beginning with “quadratic scalability as nodes validate certain shards and act as light clients for other shards.”
Keeping the presentation moving at a cracking pace, Buterin then moved on to discuss the concept and importance of privacy. In the near term, the implementation of zero-knowledge proof personal privacy technology the same as that used in the Zcash blockchain is something of particular interest o to the Ethereum team. These brand-new personal privacy tools will enable the user to only reveal deals to certain parties while concealing them from everyone else. In his own words the cryptocurrency privacy issue now 75% solved.
Another significant planned upgrade to Ethereum will certainly be the intro of Proof of Stake or PoS in the Casper release which could be with us as soon as next summer season. With the eventual launch of Casper, Ethereum will be moving from a straight up Proof of Work (PoW) model to a new and improved hybrid PoW/PoS model. “In this scheme, all of the proof-of-work mechanics will continue to exist, but additional proof-of-stake mechanics will be added,” noted Buterin.
With the recent revelation that the calculations on the Bitcoin blockchain are currently consuming as much power as 159 countries and the admission by it was identified that a reduction in the energy consumption of the Ethereum blockchain was going to be one of the key requirements to maintain it’s long term viability as well. The integration of the hybrid PoW/PoS model will be a key part of these energy reduction efforts and should give Ethereum a long term advantage over many of the other often mentioned currencies.
Smart contracts that utilise the Turing-complete programming language are definitely one of the major draw cards for Ethereum. While smart contracts are finding utility in a range of varied applications and are creating new possibilities for the way we trade with each other, the safety and security of Ethereum smart contracts is coming up in the press all to often. Buterin was able to confirm the rumours that Ethereum will ultimately be adopting a brand new Python-like programming language for it’s smart contracts known as “Viper”. Viper is being applied to make it possible for the growth of more secure Ethereum applications.
While last Mondays talk by Buterin didn’t go over anything truly new it did go a long way to confirming previous leaked rumours as well as plans mentioned in previous talks and documents. The enthusiastic way in which he talked about the Ethereum road map brought the crowd to their feet and went a long way towards showing why this currency has the huge cult like following that it does.