CogX: Improving Scalability and Operability Issues On Ethereum
CogX ’18: Speaking at the panel session about the roadmap of protocol updates on Monday, Executive Director of Web3 Foundation, Peter Czaban was accompanied by Nick Johnson of Ethereum.
Focusing on scalability, Johnson mentioned how Ethereum’s Naming Service (ENS) is ready to help improve the usability of blockchain networking, like IoV’s idea of the Human Readable Address, “making it easier for people to interact with the blockchain”.
“A single typo at best means it doesn’t work and at worst means you’re just throwing your money away.”
Czaban, on the other hand, explained how web3 is baselining the serverless internet, the decentralised web. Playing their part, web3 is collaborating with teams and aspirants trying to build decentralised systems and applications (DApps), working to solve concrete problems and develop protocols, based on the general understanding of the developers’ need, via their massive research team. A successful result was their collaboration with Parity for Polkadot.
Watch Bjorn Wagner, COO of Parity Technologies (the development team building Polkadot), talk about the concept of interoperability, and how Polkadot allows blockchains to communicate with one another.
Czaban also talked about governance in blockchain applications, referring to it as a complex mechanism, and we mostly arrive at complete governance through slow evolution and tiny changes over time and so a similar thing needs to happen in blockchains.
“Really not many protocols have an interesting working governance system, so I think experimentation is the way to go,” said Peter.
Nick Johnson agreed that usability and scalability are the biggest challenges and there has been major research in the recent past and we are getting closer to having deployable solutions, with the immediate example of Polkadot itself. Johnson named Ethereum’s State Channel as a possible solution for scalability, reducing blockchains to an individual level, “giving you most of the guarantees of a blockchain, with very little of the overhead.”
The other approach to scalability for him was Sidechains, which potentially allow for application chains, where the application can do all of its “local stuff”.
The third special approach for Ethereum, as told by Nick is ‘Sharding’, which takes the main Ethereum or Bitcoin chain, and splits it into copies, wherein each copy takes care of a strict subset of the chain. Sharding is currently in a research phase for the most part, with many projects having it as a ‘coming soon’ feature.
“Another thing is potentially creating open protocols where AI can be developed in a more collaborative and inclusive way. The nice thing about blockchains is that it creates this interesting incentive setup where people are keen to participate and the product is open source, so things like maybe open source search engines might be possible is the right set of incentive mechanisms are created.