Devcon4 Highlights: Serenity, Decentralized Identity, Prague, Oh My!

Devcon4 Highlights: Serenity, Decentralized Identity, Prague, Oh My!

Having run from October 30th to November 2nd, the Ethereum-centric Devcon4 conference generated no shortage of technical buzz this year as builders, thinkers, and tinkers from several cryptocurrency communities convened to share ideas on how to further build out a multipolar decentralized ecosystem. 

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Serenity, Not Shasper

Ethereum’s scaling triumvirate — Casper, Plasma, and sharding — were repeated topics at Devcon4, which was held this year in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.

In recent times, the interweaving nature of this scaling strategy has led to the dubbing of “shasper,” a characterization of fledgling implementations aimed at facilitating both Casper and sharding solutions simultaneously. 

However, at Devcon 4, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin and others made the case that shasper, or Ethereum 2.0, should be known as Serenity. In his associated presentation, Buterin asserted Serenity would bring “~1000x higher scalability” to Ethereum.

Alas, Serenity’s in, and shasper’s out. The new scaling framework is more expansive, entailing eWASM, an advancement of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), a “pure,” i.e. non-transitional, shift to proof-of-stake (POS), and more.

Zooko on Privacy

Devcon4 wasn’t merely joined by members of the Ethereum community.

Instead, people from projects across the world and across the cryptocurrency ecosystem came to participate in the conference, as Bitcoin ABC’s lead Amaury Sechet highlighted.

Accordingly, builders in the Zcash (ZEC) community definitely showed out in force at this year’s Devcon4, as project co-founder Zooko Wilcox-O’Hearn noted.

Himself a keynote speaker at Devcon4, Wilcox-O’Hearn touched on Zcash’s fresh Sapling update during his talk on the privacy coin’s roadmap. Sapling exponentially increased the privacy and efficiency of ZEC transactions.

Lots of Technical Intrigue for Ethereum

As an Ethereum-centric conference, Devcon4 saw plenty of exciting technical advancements for ETH. Highlights included:

  • Updates for Vyper, Ethereum’s new smart contract language
  • Ethermint, a venue for scaling “Layer 1 DApps”
  • An iOS dev kit, for implementing Ethereum smart contracts on Apple’s iOS
  • Yul, a means to use less gas in optimizing smart contracts

E. Glen Weyl Headlines Final Day

E. Glen Weyl, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research New York City and co-author of Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society, gave the final keynote presentation at Devcon4.

Devcon4
Weyl pictured at Talks with Google.

Weyl’s talk was entitled “Decentralization Against Isolation.” Therein, Weyl laid out a decentralized identity system.

“Only by embracing the need for collective action through a diverse range of communities can we defend a decentralized society against the threats of authoritarian governments and corporate monopolies,” Weyl argued.

With the conference reaching its conclusion, many, like Vitalik Buterin, applauded the conference volunteers for a job well done. Next up, then, is Devcon5 next fall.

What’s your take? What was your favorite presentation at Devcon4 this year? Let us know in the comments section below. 


Images via Talks with Google, Prague

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