In a recent blog post titled “Don’t overload Ethereum’s consensus,” Vitalik Buterin has expressed concerns about the dangers of extending Ethereum’s consensus beyond its core functions.
Buterin’s May 21 blog post focuses on the need to preserve the minimalism of the blockchain. It highlights the potential high systemic risks of utilizing Ethereum’s network consensus for additional purposes.
Since the implementation of the proof-of-stake mechanism with “the Merge” in September 2022, Ethereum’s consensus has been responsible for validating blocks and securing the network. However, Buterin cautions against expanding its functionality, stating that doing so could introduce vulnerabilities to the ecosystem that should be discouraged and resisted.
Over the years, several proposals and ideas suggest using Ethereum’s social consensus for activities such as price and data oracles, re-staking initiatives, and employing layer-1 soft forks to address issues in layer-2 projects. Buterin warns that each extension of the blockchain’s core functionality increases its fragility, potentially exposing it to bugs or intentional 51% attacks.
Buterin mentions the risks of creating ETH/USD price oracles, where bribing ETH holders or validators to vote on specific outcomes could result in a fork that penalizes dishonest participants.
Buterin proposes possible solutions
While he acknowledges the need for improved oracles, he proposes a case-by-case approach, as different problems inherently possess unique characteristics.
The Ethereum co-founder emphasizes that expanding the responsibilities of Ethereum’s consensus incurs higher costs, complexities, and risks for validators. He advises caution when application-layer projects attempt to broaden the scope of blockchain consensus beyond verifying the core Ethereum protocol rules.
Instead, Buterin suggests preserving the chain’s minimalism, supporting re-staking practices that do not lead to a slippery slope of extending Ethereum’s consensus role and assisting developers in finding alternative strategies to achieve their security goals.
The shift from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake in Ethereum’s consensus mechanism occurred in September of the previous year. Furthermore, the recent Shapella upgrade, implemented on April 12, has made staked Ethereum available for withdrawal.
These developments have sparked increased scrutiny of validator roles and security risks on the world’s largest smart contract network.
PEPE triggers Ethereum congestion amidst meme mania
PEPE, a meme coin that has gained immense traction within the crypto community, recently caused Ethereum blockchain congestion. This surge in popularity resulted in a sharp increase in gas fees on the network, reaching a 12-month high earlier this month.
Furthermore, the PEPE frenzy has significantly impacted on the trading volume of Uniswap. The platform experienced a substantial surge in trading activity, surpassing even the volume seen on Coinbase.
In the first week of May, Uniswap’s trading volume reached an impressive $1.2 billion, while Coinbase recorded $948 million in volume during the same period.