Future's Now, Ethereum: Unto Faith and Flame Toward Serenity

Future’s Now, Ethereum: Unto Faith and Flame Toward Serenity

Advancing toward its Serenity “ETH 2.0” upgrade, Ethereum and its ecosystem are evolving. And while building and soul searching proliferate in the project’s community, stakeholders are pulling what’s certain and what’s uncertain, and thus the future, into the fore. 

Also read: Lightning Network Goes to Congress as Specter of Crypto Policy Grows

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v0.1 of Ethereum 2.0 Serenity Specification Released

On Jan. 31st, the Ethereum ecosystem welcomed the v0.1 release of the ETH 2.0 spec. It’s the latest advancement to put Ethereum closer to achieving its Serenity upgrade, which would actualize a scaling triumvirate of Casper, Plasma, and sharding.

“[This] marks the first release in a series of weekly releases through February 2019,” the spec’s introduction read.

“Phase 0 in v0.1 is relatively feature complete and approaching stable.”

That Phase 0, otherwise known as the Beacon Chain spec, is responsible for setting up the infrastructure that will power validators and validator attestations in Ethereum’s figuratively serene future. Phase 1, or the Shard Data Chains spec, will follow and be focused on shard chains, with more phases to come as well.

To better visualize the Beacon Chain’s structure and path toward Serenity, ETH 2.0 client builder Diederik Loerakker recently built a helpful visual schematic that can be found on GitHub. A lot of parts have been moved into place for Ethereum, and more will be moved yet.

The “Beacon Chain” schematic by Loerakker, a.k.a. protolambda on GitHub and Twitter. Image via Loerakker

What We Talk About When We Talk About the Price’s Future

Beyond the ETH 2.0 v0.1 spec release, there has been no shortage of soul searching throughout the wider Ethereum community recently.

Likewise, one interesting argument this week came from SpankChain CEO Ameen Soleimani, who made a case that the ether price should be “optimized for” because “security is a function of ETH price.”

In his argument, Soleimani said Ethereum’s builders should be willing to be aggressive going forward to ensure the blockchain’s technical and reputational security, e.g. by forking Polkadot, the fledgling multi-chain network, “to add a way to plug your parachain directly into the Ethereum blockchain instead of the Polkadot beacon chain.”

If dominance can be accordingly consolidated, Soleimani thinks central banks may turn to Ethereum as the go-to settlement layer for forthcoming “bankchains.”

Others, like Ethereum Name Service lead developer Nick Johnson, have argued the other side of the coin, contending that price optimization from an engineering standpoint is moot. Alas, the debate is on in the months and years ahead.

Aragon: Love You Ethereum, But I’m Flirting with Polkadot

In his aforementioned rallying cry for ETH price optimization, SpankChain’s Soleimani decried the steady migration of Ethereum developers to “other chains” as ground being lost.

Even in recent weeks, some users, specifically gamblers, have seemingly begun spreading out to different platforms like EOS and TRON.

Amid this context, the Aragon project’s AraCon2019 conference this week brought another related wrinkle of intrigue, as Aragon’s developers disclosed therein they were exploring building their own blockchain on Polkadot while they still worked on Serenity.

Of course, that revelation is still a far cry from Aragon announcing a permanent migration from ETH, but some in the space have taken it to heart.

“If that doesn’t light a fire for us I don’t know what will,” Ethereum core developer Lane Rettig noted.

Vlad Zamfir Launches Crusade Against ‘Szabo’s Law’

Prominent Ethereum Foundation researcher Vlad Zamfir — the mind behind CBC Casper — published an editorial last week titled “Against Szabo’s Law, For a New Crypto Legal System.”

In it, Zamfir made an impassioned argument against what he called blockchain governance minimization or “Szabo’s law,” derived in name from cypherpunk pioneer Nick Szabo’s advancements of fully autonomous software.

“Szabo’s law is simple: Do not implement changes to the blockchain protocol unless the changes are required for the purpose of technical maintenance,” Zamfir wrote.

The researcher went on to argue that Szabo’s law was extremely undesirable as it was sure to “eventually become illegal”; was “politically loaded”; was “insecure” and “aggressive” in its legal posture; and was unlikely to be “socially scalable.”

In the aftermath of publication, the unabashed call-out earned Zamfir a block from Szabo on Twitter. Yet the former has remained altogether undeterred in his new crusade.

“All cypherpunks want to empower people and put pressure on governments,” Zamfir later said on Twitter.

“Some naively think that this requires fully autonomous software.”

And while Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin has published his own thoughts on Zamfir’s call to action, the newly outlined school of thought is sure to figure into Ethereum governance discussions in the future — wherever they may lead.

Tomorrow Is Here Today

Even beyond just Ethereum, there’s so much technical progress now occurring throughout the cryptoverse that it can be difficult to fit your head around it all.

Regardless of the cryptoeconomy’s major 2018 correction, the space’s builders currently find themselves in an ecosystem teeming with more possibilities and competition than ever before.

This is the atmosphere amidst which Ethereum and all cryptocurrency projects are gunning toward the horizon. Of course, what happens next for any and all of them remains ever unclear, but it’s always possible to take stock of the present — its certainties and uncertainties — to see the path afoot.

As for Ethereum, what’s here now is already bustling. Take the fresh launch of the cross-client Proof-of-Authority Goerli testnet, for example. Even bitcoin, courtesy of BitGo and 26 other partners, is now “wrapped” on the Ethereum blockchain. And the mid-January Constantinople upgrade that was delayed is now back on for the Geth client at block number 7,280,000, just minus EIP-1283.

All that’s to come, if successful, should generate exponentially more bustle.

Those potentially forthcoming bankchains won’t settle themselves, after all.

What’s your take? As Ethereum continues advancing toward Serenity, what would you give the project on its report card? What would you like to see from it personally? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images via Diederik Loerakker, Pixabay

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