Scaling Ethereum: Four Developer Working Groups Formed to Work on Ethereum

Ethereum’s developers have been working on many different approaches which could potentially help scale the smart contract and decentralized application (DApp) development platform.

At present, the platform’s development team is considering moving forward with Ethereum 1x - which is a proposed upgrade that may be able to improve the performance of Ethereum’s network more quickly than the other blockchain scalability solutions.

According to the latest discussions and conversations between Ethereum’s developers at DevCon4, the planned upgrades may go into effect by June 2019. However, any future changes made will first have be approved by the Ethereum community members.

Ethereum 1x May Be Launched On Separate Blockchain

Afri Schoedon , the release manager at Parity Technologies (the developer of one of the main Ethereum clients), said that the Ethereum 1x upgrade may be tested using a separate blockchain platform.

Currently, there are many Ethereum community members who would prefer that the Ethereum 1x software update be activated on the main Ethereum blockchain itself. These members, who are mostly developers, also want the Ethereum 1x update to be performed sooner than June 2019.

Notably, Schoedon told Coindesk that the DApp platform’s developers now think that the Ethereum 2.0 upgrade will have to be postponed until 2020. Schoedeon noted:

[The Ethereum development team] started panicking and saying, ‘Hey we really need to find intermediate solutions’.

According to the Berlin-based software programmer is what created a sense of urgency among Ethereum developers - as they now appear to be looking for more near-term scalability and performance improvement solutions. In order to further coordinate the ongoing efforts to scale Ethereum, there will be an open discussion held today at 14:00 UTC .

Commenting on the need to be cooperative and also openly discussing the different approaches recommended for future Ethereum upgrades, Shoedon said:

We need to to be very sensible about how we do this. We need to be very inclusive with everyone in the community and be very open and transparent about talking about all the ideas and discussing what might be the best approach.

Curbing The Growth Of The "Ethereum State"

According to discussions held DevCon4, there are four different working groups that are involved in the ongoing developments related to Ethereum 1x. Alexey Akhunov , an Ethereum core developer, is in charge of one of these groups and has been trying to introduce storage rent to the Ethereum network.

Storage rent is a mechanism that helps to curb the growth of the “Ethereum state” - which refers the collective state of all active applications (on Ethereum) and all the user accounts running on its blockchain network.

Curbing the growth of the Ethereum state is imperative because its network has become overcrowded - which has made it difficult for new users to join the platform. Some members of the Ethereum community have recommended that users be charged a fee if they want to store smart contract data on the the network’s blockchain. This could help slow down the large amount of data that is being added to the Ethereum blockchain.

Code Optimization Could Increase Speed Of Block Propagation

Other Ethereum community members have suggested that a certain portion of smart contract data be processed off of the main chain. There’s also an Ethereum 1x-focused working group that is considering archiving old blockchain data - which may no longer be needed.

A third group of Ethereum developers, known as “the simulation group”, have been “analyzing the issues that happen through the blockchain when block size grows or when the latency increases,” Akhunov noted. This may be quite useful - as it could help developers perform code optimizations that might significantly increase the speed of block propagation on the Ethereum network.

If blocks can be relayed more quickly, then Ethereum miners may be able to help process a larger number of transactions per block - which could earn them more in transaction fees, Akhunov explained.

The fourth Ethereum 1x working group is looking for ways to decrease the costs associated with issuing smart contracts. Proponents of this idea believe that it may help balance out an expected increase in costs for storing smart contracts on Ethereum’s network

Vitalik Buterin Explains Why He Cares About Price of Ethereum (ETH)

Siamak Masnavi

On March 20th, in New York City, Vitalik Buterin, the creator of Ethereum, talked to crypto-focused journalist Laura Shin at a live taping of her Unchained podcast (at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism’s Pulitzer Hall), and answered questions on a wide range of topics. Here are some key highlights from this interview.

What Vitalik Thinks About Zcash (ZEC)'s 'Dev Tax'

"Zcash is interesting... Definitely, like big props to them for just doing that and being proud of that and saying like 'you know, we got a 20% dev tax, what's up man?'. I am very proud of them for doing that. So, a great job, Zucco! But on the other hand, they clearly haven't solved the problem of where to allocate the money because, right now, they just have this centralized allocation pool that goes to Zcash company, or these individuals, or these other individuals, and they have hard forks, and these hard forks can decide to reallocate the pool, but then what process do they use to decide, and so it's definitely very far from the ideals that a lot of people see cryptocurrencies as having... It's still an improvement from no funding... It would be really nice if there was some decentralized process for achieving the same thing."

Why the Price of Ether (ETH) Is Important

"I'm going to be really candid because that's the right thing... Some of the earlier rhetoric, especially veering on the more extreme side of the price not mattering at all, in part was counter signaling to distinguish ourselves from other crypto projects that just do pumping and lambo-ing way too much, but another thing is that it was about minimizing legal risk by basically trying to make the project seem more distant from something that will be covered by financial regulation... 

If people try to claim the price doesn't matter at all, they [the financial regulators] are totally going to see through that...

I can tell you... why the price being higher than lower... is good.

One of them is, obviously, security. So if the price is zero, the network can't be secure, and that's true in Proof-of-Work or Proof-of-Stake. 

Another reason is, obviously, that there's a lot of projects who in the ecosystem hold cryptocurrency... and if the price is higher, then they'll have more money to do the things they want to do...

Especially, the security concern is a totally legitimate technical argument.

There are members of the Ethereum community who just say that 'Ether is a cryptocurrency and we want it to be more of a cryptocurrency'...

The Ethereum Foundation doesn't have a monopoly on Ethereum messaging, or even a hegemony on Ethereum messaging at this point...

The thing I am absolutely opposed to is engineering pumps for the sake of pumps because that's just a short term that's fundamentally dishonest. The thing I am definitely in favor of is not doing stupid that would lead to the price going to zero. So, one example of that would be having an issuance of like 100 million ether every year. Regardless of what other consequences that has, that would clearly drop the price to zero, and that would clearly be just terrible."

Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and Smart Contract Code Risk

"I'm definitely watching the whole DeFi space with interest and fascination... 

[On Twitter] Someone was trying to say something like 'Why doesn't pretty much everyone just take their money out of their bank accounts and put it into Dai earning interesting on Compound because that pays better rates, why would you just not get a free 3%?'. And I am like 'Excuse me, free? Are you really that confident that that contract has less than a 3% chance a year of having a bug in it?'. I mean, I honestly don't know how to measure the chances of those contracts having bugs in them, but there's definitely far too many people that round those risks to zero."

If Vitalik Had a Time Machine, What Advice He Would Give Satoshi

"github.com/ethereum/eth2.0-specs"... 

When Laura asked Vitalik if he was really serious about telling Satoshi to build Ethereum 2.0, he answered: "I do think it's a good architecture!" 

He then went on to elaborate:

"First of all, Satoshi had a really hard job because he just could not have predicted which way the ecosystem would have gone... I think on a technical level, suggesting a path that opens the door to upgradeability, to proof-of-stake, to more powerful virtual machines..."

What Vitalik Thinks Will Be the First Mainstream Use Case for Cryptocurrency

"Things I am near term optimistic about include first of all, the decentralized finance space... second of all, gaming [as in videogames]... on the non-financial side, identity, credentials, key revocation, and all of those things... fourth is parametric insurance... this is insurance that [for example] says if some extreme weather event happens, then pay me $500."