In a recent keynote address at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Ethereum cofounder Vitalik Buterin offered a candid assessment of blockchain's key challenges and the strides made in addressing them.
Buterin centered his speech on Ethereum's persistent challenges: privacy, consensus, smart contract security and scalability. These issues, he emphasized, have remained constant over the past six years.
Back in 2017, Ethereum took a significant step toward enhancing privacy by introducing zero-knowledge proofs like zk-SNARKs. Fast forward to 2023, and Ethereum has made substantial progress in this domain. Advanced technologies like STARK, Zero-Knowledge rollups and Cairo are now part of the Ethereum landscape. Nevertheless, privacy remains a concern, mainly due to legal and acceptance issues surrounding tokens generated by privacy systems, as exemplified by the Tornado Cash case, concluded the developer.
Buterin introduced the concept of proof-of-innocence, a means to validate tokens within privacy systems without revealing transaction origins. This concept underscores the importance of privacy and ongoing efforts to optimize zk-SNARKs for seamless integration into mainstream finance.
Centralization and hacks
Shifting to consensus security, Ethereum has fully embraced a consensus mechanism, but challenges endure. These include simplifying the protocol, addressing centralization concerns and streamlining participation, notably through proof of stake.
In the realm of smart contract security, notable efforts have been made since 2017. Fast forward to 2023, and Ethereum has made significant progress in this arena. Buterin noted that the frequency of hacking incidents has dramatically decreased since the notorious DAO hack. Improved security measures and heightened awareness within the Ethereum community have played a pivotal role in mitigating risk.
In summary, Vitalik Buterin's keynote address shed valuable light on Ethereum's journey over the years. While recognizing ongoing challenges, his speech was aimed at demonstrating Ethereum's focus on practical solutions, mainstream adoption and enhancing user benefits.