Vitalik Buterin on Ethereum’s Future: Improving Decentralization and Permissionlessness

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Vitalik Buterin on Ethereum's Future: Improving Decentralization and Permissionlessness
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In his blog post titled “The Near and Mid-Term Future of Improving the Ethereum Network’s Permissionlessness and Decentralization,” Vitalik Buterin outlines significant advancements for Ethereum’s network. The primary focus is on developing strategies and implementing key protocol enhancements to enhance the experience for node operators and users on both Layer 1 and Layer 2.

Ethereum’s Development Goals

The Ethereum community and developers are continually questioning whether the network’s development is aligned with the right goals. Concerns about the network’s decentralization, along with the technical capacity to ship large and significant features, are being addressed, with many of these improvements already in progress. The focus now is to address the concerns raised by the community and provide viable solutions.

Miner Extractable Value (MEV) and Builder Dependence

Miner Extractable Value (MEV), a revenue form that only can be gained by executing complex strategies within various DeFi protocols, has caused concern within the Ethereum community. This form of revenue has led to large actors gaining a higher return per block due to their ability to optimize extraction algorithms. Ethereum researchers are working to minimize this issue by limiting the power of builders while still allowing them to optimize arbitrage and other forms of MEV collecting. The goal is to reduce the builder’s power to exclude or delay transactions, thereby preventing certain types of attacks.

Liquid Staking

Most Ethereum staking is currently done by various providers, including centralized operators and DAOs like Lido and RocketPool. However, solo stakers still make up a relatively small percentage of all Ethereum staking. The Ethereum community is researching ways to increase solo staking by reducing the minimum deposit size and simplifying the setup process. The goal is to make solo staking more accessible and economically viable for a wider range of participants.

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Hardware Requirements of Nodes

The accessibility of running a node has been a contentious issue within the blockchain community for a decade. While running a node is currently challenging and requires significant resources, Ethereum is working on solutions to reduce the hardware requirements. Implementations of Verkle trees and EIP-4444 could potentially decrease node hardware requirements to less than a hundred gigabytes. Future developments could possibly reduce these requirements even further.

Conclusions

Ethereum is taking steps to move away from reliance on a small number of large-scale actors for network operations. Current protocol proposals are emphasizing the need for a truly decentralized network, with developments such as stateless nodes, MEV mitigations, and single-slot finality already underway. However, there is still much work to be done to further enhance Ethereum’s decentralization and permissionlessness.

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