30 May

During ETHBerlin, Vitalik Buterin, co-founder and lead architect of Ethereum, expressed regret for not implementing a simpler version of Proof of Stake (PoS) sooner. He also highlighted that despite Ethereum's mainstream success, it is often misunderstood, contrasting it with Bitcoin's clearer narrative as digital gold.

At the recent ETHBerlin event, attended by 620 developers engaged in three days of continuous coding, Vitalik Buterin made an unexpected appearance on stage. His insights into Ethereum's design came as a surprise to many.

The Ethereum Network Is Growing

The largest asset management in the world, BlackRock, has introduced its own tokenized fund on the Ethereum blockchain, and the United States has just approved a spot Ethereum exchange-traded fund. The Ethereum network is now larger than ever, with a vast developer community and financial apps valued at over $63 billion.

Buterin, though, has a list of things he would have changed. These include the creation of the PoS consensus method, smart contracts, and Ethereum's Virtual Machine (EVM). Buterin stated, "Bitcoin has a simple narrative, which is digital gold." With Ethereum, however, one might ask, "Whoa, what the heck is Ethereum?'"

During a discussion at ETHBerlin alongside organizers Afri Schoedon and Franziska Heintel, Vitalik Buterin reminisced about his cherished memories in Berlin. These included moments like hacking with Ethereum co-founders Gavin Wood and Jeffrey Wilcke in an old office, launching Devcon Zero, and celebrating the Merge upgrade in 2022.

During the conversation, Schoedon posed an intriguing question to Buterin: "Given your knowledge and experience over the past decade, how would you approach building Ethereum differently if you were starting from scratch today?"

Buterin's initial focus was on Ethereum's Virtual Machine (EVM). 

He highlighted a flaw in the original EVM design, which utilized 256-bit processing. In computer architecture, the bit size significantly impacts efficiency, with larger bits not always being advantageous. Buterin pointed out that 256 bits were excessive for most operations, leading to unnecessary bloat on the blockchain. He emphasized that the original design was overly tailored to 256-bit processing.

The transition of Ethereum to Proof of Stake (PoS) replaced miners with validators who stake 32 Ethereum, valued at approximately $124,000, to secure the network and receive rewards. Validators who engage in malicious behavior, such as validating fraudulent transactions, face penalties. This shift substituted energy-intensive computing with economic incentives. Vitalik Buterin expressed regret over not implementing a simpler proof-of-stake mechanism earlier, which could have significantly reduced energy consumption.

Another area of regret was the absence of automatic logging from the outset. Automatic logging enables users to track significant token transfers and identify potential security vulnerabilities, particularly as the industry transitions from externally owned accounts to smart wallets. Buterin emphasized that integrating automatic logging should have been a straightforward addition from the beginning, requiring minimal coding effort, but instead, it became a formal Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP).

May 2024, Cryptoniteuae

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