Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, said that the blockchain network’s current 40% completeness could jump after the long-planned Ethereum merge.
On Thursday, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin shared that he sees the further evolution of the Ethereum blockchain network in the coming years. According to Buterin, Ethereum is merely 40% complete, something he expects to increase post-merge.
Buterin was a speaker during the Ethereum Community Conference (EthCC) held from July 19-21 in Paris, and in his talk, he compared the Ethereum network to its longtime rival, Bitcoin. He stated, “the difference between Bitcoin and Ethereum is that Bitcoiners consider Bitcoin to be 80% complete, but Ethereans consider Ethereum to be 40% complete.”
High Hopes after Ethereum Merge
Buterin added that the current 40% completeness would increase after a proposed technology upgrade to the Ethereum blockchain network is completed. The upgrade, known as “the Ethereum merge,” would see the blockchain shifting to a lower energy and more efficient system of processing transactions.
“Ethereum can go up to being 55% complete after the ‘merge,’” Buterin said. “We’re getting close, which is really amazing.”
Developers already shared their tentative timeline for the Ethereum merge last week, saying it could happen sometime in September.
Buterin said the merging process would be “a long and complicated transition.” However, he reiterated that switching to the new system—known as proof of stake—would make Ethereum more secure and invulnerable. It is referred to as the “merge” since the process would combine the Ethereum mainnet with the proof of stake beacon chain.
“Proof of stake is much more secure than proof of work, but it does have its tradeoffs,” Buterin said. One such tradeoff is weak subjectivity, but he believes the pros outweigh the cons.
What the Ethereum Merge Could Mean
The consensus protocol most widely used presently is proof of work, which involves miners consuming excessive amounts of computer power to complete complex puzzles when validating transactions. Ethereum uses proof of work, which explains its considerable carbon footprint.
Evidence shows that each Ethereum transaction produced 103.42 kilograms of carbon dioxide last year. There were over 460 million transactions on the network in 2021 alone, meaning the blockchain’s carbon emissions totaled 47 million tonnes for that year.
In contrast, the proof of stake validation system relies on a network of participants ready to pledge or “stake” a portion of their Ether tokens. The Ethereum blockchain network can dramatically reduce its carbon footprint by switching to proof of stake.
And while it doesn’t guarantee 100% completeness, Buterin said the Ethereum merge could up the figure to 55%.
What Comes Next?
The Ethereum merge is only the first phase of the planned upgrades for the blockchain. There are still four major phases that could probably increase the abovementioned figure to 100% based on the Ethereum roadmap.
The developers call the four-part upgrade “surge, verge, purge, and splurge.” These rhyming upgrade names aim to make the Ethereum network decentralized and more secure.
The second upgrade, surge, refers to the addition of Ethereum sharding, which, according to the Ethereum Foundation, is a scaling solution that could enable inexpensive layer-2 blockchains, lower the cost of bundled transactions, and make operating nodes that secure the network more manageable for users.
Per Buterin, the network could process transactions faster upon completing this phase. “At the end of this roadmap, Ethereum will be a much more scalable system,” he said. “By the end, Ethereum will be able to process 100,000 transactions per second.”
The third upgrade, verge, will execute a type of mathematical proof called “Verkle trees” and “stateless clients,” according to Buterin. These technical upgrades allow users to serve as network validators without storing extensive data on their machines, mainly when the switch to proof of stake commences since validators with staked Ethereum tokens would be confirming and verifying transactions. Buterin sees the verge as beneficial “for decentralization.”
The fourth upgrade, purge, is not to be confused with the widely-acclaimed horror movie that legalizes all crimes imaginable for one night in a year. The purge, in this case, involves purging not people but old network history. Buterin said it is to cut down the amount of space available on a user’s hard drive, simplifying the Ethereum protocol and not requiring nodes to store history. As for the final upgrade, the splurge, Buterin said it’s “all of the other fun stuff.”
Buterin looks forward to a future where Ethereum can finally “settle down.”
“At some point, the rate of change will slow down,” Buterin said. He implied that he prefers this personally and believes it’s what other people want for the Ethereum protocol, too. “There are things that could happen. There are unknown unknowns. But those unknowns should decrease over time.”
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