Ethereum Takes the Stage As Devcon2 Begins

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Like any good movie, mission impossible music metaphorically came on last night around midnight London time, just hours before the opening of Devcon2, as Geth nodes – used by most of ethereum’s network – suddenly started crashing at block 2,283,416.

Some villain, who presumably just wanted to see the world burn, had coded a smart contract asking everyone, in German, to Go Home, while everyone was asleep in Shanghai, resting for the big day. The Hyatt hotel must have been bombarded with phone calls around 4AM Shanghai time sending the impeccable development team, half asleep, to the war room (cue in the music):

Devcon2 War Room Image Credits Alex Van de Sande

The client was fixed in a couple of hours with a new one released before the opening. Things turned back to normal with everyone now all set and ready for Ethereum’s big day:

Devcon2 Birdseye View Image Credit Bernd Lapp

“Okay, Ethereum is done. Go back to Ethereum Classic.” – joked Vitalik Buterin, putting behind what had gone and moving on to present the Mauve Revolution, named after Dilbert’s attempt to make fun of blockchain’s adoption. Buterin publicly stated:

“My personal roadmap is: 2.0 = quick and dirty scaling that actually works, sacrifice goodies for safety if needed (eg. 12-hour cross-chain msg time initially is likely), 2.x = build up stronger and stronger correctness guarantees over time.”

Vitalik Buterin Presenting the Mauve Revolution at Devcon2 Image Credits
Shermin Voshmgir

This was just the start of a day packed with development – far too many to mention with just enough space for highlights. We start with Vlad Zamfir who presented his work on Casper. According to commentaries, most were unable to keep up after about three minutes with some becoming confused and wondering whether there are now two Caspers. Vitalik Buterin publicly explained:

“Think of Vlad’s Casper as being like EWASM and my Casper as like Greg’s EVM tweaks; pursued in parallel, but also heavily learn from each other.

Vlad = ‘how to we get the best possible properties?’, me = ‘how do we stop killing trees and get to 1-10k tx/sec, and do so safely, as quickly as possible given current ethereum as the starting point?’ [In my opinion,] we need both.”

Vlad Zamfir Presenting Casper at Devcon2 Image Credits Chainb

One of the more interesting presentations was by Heiko Hees from Brainbot Technologies, a blockchain development and consulting company.

He showcased Raiden, Ethereum’s Lightning Network, which allows ethereum to handle basically unlimited transactions per second while communicating with smart contracts. “Raiden on Raspberry PIs, metering and controlling power supply. Where small chunks of energy is payed for on-demand every three seconds.” – says Hees of his IoT Raiden demo while speaking to

Heiko Hees IoT on Raiden, Ethereum’s Lightning Network, Demo at Devcon2 Image Credits Max Fages

Videos of the demo are unfortunately not yet available. The internet connection at the hotel is apparently terrible with the event, which starts around midnight US time, lacking livestream. Videos are coming, however, and should be out tomorrow – hopefully.

Another presentation that deserves mentioning is Zooko Wilcox’s and Dominic Williams’s Zcash. According to public statements, Ethereum smart contracts will be able to read the private and anonymous Zcash network, adding a privacy layer to ethereum while allowing for “general purpose privacy-preserving tokens.” Monero, therefore, may soon find itself with some real competition.

Zcash on Ethereum Presentation at Devcon2 by Zooko Wilcox Image Credits Coury Ditch

There are a lot of references to dogecoin’s shibe as well. We cannot tell whether their purpose is to bring the doge community’s fun spirit to Ethereum or whether there might be an interoperability announcement. Regardless, it seems that Ethereum is interfacing with other communities, with Hyperledger recently offering to work together – thus creating a wider interconnected ecosystem.

The final presentation to be highlighted (apologize to all the other awesome presentations which will certainly be covered in other articles), is by a new start-up that wants to disrupt the legal system.

Turning Real Life Contracts into Smart Contracts Presentation at Devcon2 Image Credits Juha Viitala

According to their website, they want to turn lawyers into programmers, with the project aiming to “draft legal documents the way programmers develop software” or, as Juha Viitala, Netgen CEO, summarized – “Making simple real life contracts “simple” smart contracts.” A very ambitious project and perhaps promising as the legal system is ripe for disruption.

Day One of Devcon2 Image Credits Ujo Music

There were many more presentations, with Devcon continuing very late evening today for Europeans and Americans. Metamask is to go on stage as well as many other projects and development tools, so we look forward to Ethereum’s second big day.

Featured image from iStock/mel-nik.

Last modified: May 21, 2020 10:16 AM UTC

Andrew Quentson @Aquentson

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