Ethereum co-founders reflect on 10-year anniversary — EthCC

Ethereum has evolved extensively since its inception in 2014, but usability and technical improvements remain hurdles as the protocol enters its second decade of life. 

Ethereum co-founders Vitalik Buterin and Joseph Lubin highlighted these focal points as the ecosystem gathered in Brussels for a week-long program of events centered around EthCC.

Vitalik Buterin on stage at EthCC, addressing how Ethereum can continue to improve at a layer-1 level while leaning heavily on layer-2 networks.

Recent years have seen Ethereum successfully shift to proof-of-stake consensus and adopt a layer-2 centric approach to scaling the base layer of the network.

This journey has been dotted with successes and challenges as the ecosystem looks to attract mainstream acceptance and adoption.

Ethereum achieves scalability, affordability

Cointelegraph spoke exclusively to Lubin during a side event hosted by Consensys’ Ethereum zkEVM Linea. 

Buterin and Lubin have openly hailed the advent of zero-knowledge proof (ZK-proof) powered layer 2s as the future of Ethereum’s development.

The ability of these platforms to batch transactions off chain and submit cryptographic proofs to Ethereum’s base layer has brought significant performance and cost reductions to end users.

Cointelegraph’s Gareth Jenkinson, Linea product marketing manager Christopher Kocurek, Linea lead Nicolas Liochon and Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin at Linea Live in Brussels. 

Reflecting on the current state of the ecosystem, the Consensys CEO said major strides had been achieved in terms of performance:

“We have achieved scalability, we’ve achieved affordability, and we’re really close to achieving usability.”

Lubin also added that zkEVMs have proven to be the key technological approach that is best suited to bringing high-speed, low cost functionality to the ecosystem. 

ZK-rollups over Optimistic rollups 

Optimistic rollups presented a stopgap for scaling challenges. As Lubin explained, optimistic approaches had “edge use cases” and that fraud proofs that required up to two weeks for final settlement were “just not going to be the real direction of travel.”

“With ZK tech, we believe we developed the right course. I don’t imagine that these, network states will be heavily built on optimistic technology,” Lubin said.

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While he admitted that optimistic technology will remain useful for certain things, Lubin said it would be “foolish” to use technology that is “less efficient and less effective” when validity proofs will be available.

User experience remains a crucial hurdle to overcome as the wider Ethereum ecosystem looks to abstract some complexity away from end users.

Vitalik’s vision for Ethereum as a base layer

Buterin drew a full house for his keynote address at EthCC and his address focused on addressing his views on the challenges remaining for Ethereum as a base layer for its L2-centric approach. 

Key concerns highlighted by the Ethereum co-founder included the barriers stopping ETH holders from solo staking and pooled staking.

Buterin also said that censorship is one of the biggest risks facing the ecosystem. This could include the censorship of transactions by nodes and other more technical concerns related to malicious parties influencing how transactions are processed.

A proposed approach to combating network attacks or censorship is to increase the quorum threshold to 75% or more. Buterin explained that this could avoid a potentially censored chain reaching finality.

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The Ethereum co-founder also highlighted his vision for the majority of Ethereum users to be able to run light clients to verify the base layer and L2s on mobile devices.

Protocol simplification was top of mind as Buterin wrapped up his address, highlighting how the L1 can be improved while still leaning heavily on the benefits afforded by L2 networks.

“Ethereum has unique strengths as a robust base layer, including some that are not even held by Bitcoin,” Buterin said.

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