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Vitalik Buterin: Ethereum’s “Scalability Sucks”

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:58 PM
P. H. Madore
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:58 PM

Among other criticisms that the Ethereum originator believes are valid, which are listed as follows:

  1. Scalability sucks; the blockchain design fundamentally relies on bottlenecks where individual nodes must process every single transaction in the entire network
  2. PoW is extremely expensive, and furthermore is fundamentally vulnerable to 51% spawn camping attacks with no effective strategy for recovering from one. Selfish mining is profitable starting at 25-33% hashpower, and 51% censorship attacks are definitely profitable.
  3. Privacy sucks
  4. It’s hard for regular users to hold large amounts of funds without running substantial risks of theft or loss due to theft or loss of their private keys.
  5. Economics do not encourage good “storage hygiene”; insufficient incentives for clearing storage and insufficient cost for filling it, especially for long periods of time
  6. Bunch of various marginal technical inefficiencies.
  7. it’s hard for regular users to know that contracts they are interacting with do what they say they do, and do not have accidental or malicious bugs.

The unlikely statement, which is demonstrative of intellectual honesty, came about as a result of a post made to Reddit’s Ethereum trading community. The author of the post decided to praise Buterin’s handling of a recent post made in the alternative Bitcoin subreddit, r/BTC. Roger Ver had quoted  Bitcoin Core developer and occasionally firebrand Gregory Maxwell as saying , “Turing completeness is pointless on a blockchain (see above link) in any case. So no worries, Ethereum’s long term value is still ~0. :)”

Buterin played out the way the conversation normally goes and ended by noting that Ethereum developer meetings are now open and logged, so anyone with beef of “centralization” as regards the Ethereum development process can see how it actually works in practice. When the original poster at Ethereum trader praised Buterin, he made the unexpected statement at the beginning of the article – criticisms of his own invention which he agrees with and wants to work toward improving. The discussion is interesting for anyone with interest in Ethereum, as Buterin shares more thoughts on the future of Ethereum after the recent blockchain congestion which prevented many of our readers from taking part in various initial coin offerings on the Ethereum platform.

For example, when asked about his opinion on the Rootstock approach to scaling, Buterin admitted that it was “very interesting,” but added that the same outcome is already possible with the base design of Ethereum:

Fortunately, ethereum contracts can do this already, though the incentives to do things that way are admittedly not yet high enough; that’s a special case of 5. It’ll be have to be solved with either a large increase in SSTORE/account creation pricing or storage rent.

Featured image from Shutterstock.