Vitalik Buterin Tackles Ethereum’s Centralization Woes
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Over the years, it has been normalized that Amazon Web Services (AWS) hosts the majority of Ethereum nodes, presently at 60% out of hosting network types. Hosting itself holds the largest proportion of Ethereum nodes, at 57% out of a total of 5,878 nodes.
Each node runs Ethereum’s dApps and their smart contracts as the foundation for decentralized lending, exchange, gaming, insurance, and other tokenized ventures.
This goes against the concept of decentralized finance (DeFi), for which the Ethereum blockchain network established itself as the central infrastructure. If that were the case, the residential network type would be dominant instead of running only 40% of Ethereum nodes.
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin recently addressed this glaring issue of DeFi’s reliance on corporate’s good graces.
Statelessness to Fix Ethereum’s Centralization Problem
At the Korea Blockchain Week (KBW), lasting September 4-10, Buterin directly addressed Ethereum’s centralization problem. The key obstacle in pursuing decentralization is lowering the barrier to entry.
Running a node must not only be simplified, but it also has to have reasonable computing and storage requirements. To that end, Buterin is pushing statelessness technology as the long-term solution. Statelessness refers to the node’s ability to verify transactions without storing the entire state of the Ethereum blockchain.
All Ethereum nodes must store it for both purposes – consensus and transaction verification. Buterin noted that the transition to statelessness would drastically lower the barrier to entry for running nodes. This would extend even to smartphones as potential infrastructure points.
“Today, it takes hundreds of gigabytes of data to run a node. With stateless clients, you can run a node on basically zero…In the longer term there’s a plan to maintain fully verified Ethereum nodes where you could literally run it on your phone,”Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum co-founder
Implementing statelessness so that it is less taxing to run nodes is diversified and gradual.
Alongside statelessness, Buterin and Ethereum developers are pursuing other measures to make Ethereum more decentralized. This includes improvements to staking, as the underlying mechanism by which Ethereum is secured.
To that end, distributed staking should be made easier as it makes validators more resilient by distributing private key management. Likewise, regular staking should also be made more convenient with the help of more straightforward documentation.
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Where Is Statelessness on Ethereum’s Roadmap?
Regarding the Ethereum roadmap, the transition to statelessness started with Beacon Chain, as Ethereum transitioned from proof-of-work (PoW) to proof-of-stake (PoS). As Ethereum 2.0 started storing the state of the entire network instead of individual accounts, it was the first step to scalability.
In the long run, getting to “strong statelessness” is a technical challenge that will take over a decade.
“These technical problems will have to be addressed eventually — maybe a 10-year timescale, maybe a 20-year timescale,”Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum co-founder
After the Merge, the following two largest upgrades in the near future are the Surge and the Scourge. The Surge aims to increase Ethereum’s transaction throughput to 100,000 tps. After that, the Scourge will remove centralization risks by tweaking Maximal Extractable Value (MEV) markets.
As such, statelessness will be addressed in the middle stages – the Verge and the Purge. The Verge will lower computation costs to verify blocks with the cutting-edge cryptographic technique SNARK – Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge. These improvements will run parallel with existing rollups, such as Arbitrum.
The Purge revolves around further network streamlining by introducing block history expiry and limiting network participation costs, including eliminating most gas refunds. At the end of Ethereum’s development cycle, the Splurge is about fixing leftovers.
Do you think Ethereum competitors will take advantage and squeeze in between these long-term goalposts? Let us know in the comments below.