In the Spring of 2018, Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin hinted that sharding on Ethereum was coming this year. There has been massive speculation that Ethereum will be able to scale before 2020, with Casper, Plasma and Sharding.
The time taken to process ‘shard’ blocks, those split up between groups of computers, would be around ten seconds, Buterin suggested back in April. You can read more about Sharding here.
Ethereum developers have sought ways of providing on-chain scaling improvements for some time, but there is a sense now that the second phase of the ETH blockchain is approaching, maybe even faster than anticipated.
Towards a World of Decentralized Governance
All these neat quotes about the world-computer and smart contracts going mainstream are great, but dApp platforms are still maturing. Ethereum Foundation’s co-founder Joseph Lubin has a lot to offer on how Ethereum is evolving, and was recently quoted at the Rise conference.
He spoke on an interesting panel whose participants were the Ethereum Foundation’s co-founder himself Joseph Lubin, CEO of crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital Mike Novgoratz, Crypto.com CEO Kris Marszalek, Tenx’s Julian Hosp, and Wall Street Journal columnist Jacky Wong.
Lubin mentioned that he believes the ETH blockchain is currently transition from phase one to phase two, where new layers are being built on top of the decentralized core. According to Lubin, the fundamental layer one of the blockchain has now been well established.
Although we’re still in the early stages of Ethereum, the community is filled with some of the smartest minds in tech, to quote Raul Jordan, Ethereum is also attracting the most daily active developers in blockchain. Ethereum might not have the global recognition of Bitcoin, which had essentially a 5-year head start plus being the first-mover, however Ethereum is a platform that spawned and continues to produce a lot of blockchain innovation, startups, altcoins and thus attracts software developers to the “new” space.
From Decentralized Foundations to Scalable Products
Lubin characterizes layer two systems as those becoming more mature, with various on-, side-, or off- chain mechanisms that enable and will partake in greater scalability.
If Ethereum is meant to be a world-computer, it’s envisioned Ethereum will have thousands of transactions in the layer two systems that should be ramified in 2018.
Plasma as a Layer Two Solution
Lubin gave the example of Plasma, which is an on-chain scaling solution for Ethereum. This was introduced back in August 2017 by Vitalik Buterin and Joseph Poon, creator of Bitcoin’s own Lightning Network, which could also be thought of as a “layer two” solution.
How Lubin conceptualizes all of this is super insightful. He went on: unlike the early internet, which started “narrow,” he added, blockchain is starting out with a “very broad” offering for potential applications.
The blockchain is like quantum computing, a new kind of potential in technology; just as AI is in a formative stage of its development. If dApp are just five year sold, imagine what they will become in five more years?
Many see Ethereum is the real driver of innovation in the space now. Ethereum fueling an incredible array of ICOs in 2017, is a catalyst that’s itself working hard to mature, and is to blockchain innovation as a form of “crypto-fuel” for decentralized ecosystems.
That’s quite a more salient role to the evolution of blockchain, than say, Bitcoin — which is widely seen as more of a crypto Gold; a kind of crypto asset that has incredible price volatility and serves as a kind of baseline for the value of the cryptocurrency market as a whole.
Uncertainty is the Time for Crypto Idealism
If Ethereum’s world computer means a moving away from “frictional analog contexts”, Ethereum’s partnerships in the Cloud with the likes of Amazon are also incredibly symbolic.
Here is the ecosystem, the platform, that has the most value and enterprise partnerships that is also a cocoon for blockchain startups to demonstrate products that can integrate with the real world. Ethereum in this sense, is indeed like the “ether” where blockchain innovation and crypto-innovation can take place. It’s another layer of digital creation that was previous not possible.
All to say that Ethereum is evolving and attempting to scale faster. Who knows if fungible digital tokens will overhaul existing systems and serve all aspects of the global economy? Would governments, tech companies and regulators allow it? Could consumers veto them? It’s unlikely, but even the likes of PayPal and Alibaba are wracking up the blockchain patents, so who knows. The war of the future works in mysterious ways.
A Paradigm Shift in Collective Infrastructure and Power
If places like Malta and South Korea lead the way in legal reform acknowledging cryptocurrencies, places like Singapore and China are the birthplace of some of the most interesting blockchain startups. Ethereum is by default, a leader in a global movement.
Whatever “natively digital world” that’s manifesting, whether it be an algorithmic hierarchy, or an unchecked use of AI by corporations or facial recognition nets by Governments, it’s clear that it’s almost beyond our means to “regulate” in any effective way, as progress is occurring too fast on too many fronts simultaneously — this is only bound to accelerate in the 2020s, and even faster in the 2030s.
Indeed, it’s likely our fundamental pillars and institutions like voting, democracy, capitalism, banking, and how to regulate corporate monopolies needs to be entirely rethought and redone. What does 3D-printing do to the construction industry or retail? What does quantum computing do to the cloud? What do dApp platforms do for democracy? We’re starving for upgrades, and we’re going to see them with accelerated returns.
If Ethereum is a pioneer of blockchain, what that represents is bigger than whatever ETH becomes. Just as Bitcoin showed the world what distributed ledgers could do — , and indeed if Ethereum is not a security (SEC), consumer utility tokens may offer “a whole new model for delivering services and products to consumers. The way we investing in the future is changing, and the values of young people disadvantaged in an economic system that is stacked against them also is an environmental press that is bound to transform basically all infrastructures, industries and business verticals.
It turns out the world-computer is at the center of a revolution that’s going to take decades to come. Technology is undergoing a convergence that will combine blockchain, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and economics with business models and companies yet to be invented.