Vitalik Devcon 4 Keynote: Ethereum 2.0 “Not So Far Away”

Vitalik Devcon 4 Keynote Ethereum 2.0 “Not So Far Away”

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin used his keynote speech at Devcon 4, Ethereum’s annual developer conference, to unveil a roadmap for the evolution of the platform to Ethereum 2.0, which, among other things, will see the protocol upgraded to the proof-of-stake model.

The annual Ethereum developer conference has been taking place this week in Prague, and Buterin has used the platform provided by the event’s keynote speech to present a roadmap for what he described as the “coherent whole” Ethereum 2.0 upgrade.

Ethereum 2.0 is the umbrella term for the mass-upgrade package which has been in the pipeline for some time and will see improvements implemented regarding scalability, virtual machine functioning, cross-contract logic and protocol economics. Most significantly it will see implementation of Casper, the project name for the new proof-of-stake model the network will be running on. He opened his speech by summing up the upgrade:

“Ethereum 2.0 is […] a combination of a bunch of different features that we’ve been talking about for several years, researching for several years, actively building for several years that are finally about to come together in one cohesive whole,”

Changing time-frames

There has been much altering of time frames throughout the four-stage implementation period of Ethereum 2.0, which Buterin acknowledged had been hampered by various snags along the way. The idea began back in 2014 and has had many iterations since. Whilst development progressed, issues including the DAO hack in 2016 and the Shanghai DoS attack temporarily halted progress along the way.

More recently, time frames were pushed back even further so that code could be perfected before launch. However, Buterin did stress it was “not so far away” and that additional testing was necessary, in light of lessons learned from the launch of Ethereum 1.0, which Buterin implied happened too soon.

Serenity Launch

Buterin made a point of stating that he would from now on be referring to Ethereum 2.0 as Serenity, since Serenity is the only phase left in the four-part chronology which makes up the entire Ethereum 2.0 upgrade. He described the component parts of this phase, which most significantly sees the transition from the proof-of-work to the proof-of-stake algorithm. This new algorithm will completely change the transaction validation mechanism and marks a new chapter in the Ethereum journey.

“This is a new blockchain [but] with this link to the existing proof of work chain,” Buterin explained. “It’s a new system but it’s a connected system.”

He went on to explain that the long-term view was that the migration of data over to the new chain would be a gradual process. Once the new chain was stable enough, all remaining applications on the old chain would be able to be “folded into a contract, on one shard of the new system” thereby completing their incorporation into the new chain.

Despite ETH’s poor performance in the markets recently, the Ethereum project is still clearly a centre of innovation. The roll-out of Serenity marks a significant milestone in the project and may change the project’s entire culture. In keeping with this spirit of innovation at Devcon 4, ERC-20 architect Fabian Vogelsteller also proposed an upgraded model of the ICO format, which would allow investors to potentially withdraw their funds at any point during the ICO’s lifespan.

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