On October 16th 2018, Jameson Lopp has agreed to do an exclusive interview with Crypto Insider’s Vlad Costea. The hour-long discussion, which has been published and transcribed in its entirety, contains plenty of brilliant moments where the cypherpunk approaches intricate topics and provides his knowledgeable expertise. Given the value of these explanations, we have decided to offer you small bits that are easier to consume and digest.
The first piece that we’ve chosen is a nearly seven-minute introspection on the state of Ethereum. At first, Mr. Lopp expresses his thoughts on the Casper Proof of Stake implementation by referring to a recent testnet consensus failure. He then becomes slightly more optimistic in regards to the ways in which the sharding system can bring a greater and more impressive throughput. Finally, the Casa HODL engineer implies that he agrees with the Ethereum Classic version on a philosophical level, but expresses his concerns regarding the reduced financial capital and manpower the original Ethereum blockchain benefits from.
Below you will find a full transcript of Jameson Lopp’s comments:
Vlad: Do you think that the Ethereum people will do a good job with their Casper implementation? Because there seem to be a lot of rumors and a lot of talks about Vitalik’s version or Vlad Zamfir’s version. They seem to have different philosophies, they might have reached at this point, when they saw all these Ethereum killers just take away some of their market share… they might have reached some sort of consensus and maybe they want to speed up the implementation because it has been almost 2 years or even more…
Jameson Lopp: I mean yeah, they’re on the bleeding edge of creating these new consensus protocols, and it looks like they’re constantly rethinking the work that they’ve done. And it’s hard to believe that they have stumbled upon the optimal version of whatever this protocol should be because it’s still changing. I think just a few days ago they had a consensus failure of their testnet, and that in itself doesn’t mean that the whole thing is flawed, but at the very least they have some bugs that need to be worked out. When it comes to building these type of networks, you can never be 100% sure that it’s bug-free. It more comes down to “Well, the system has been running for this long and it’s securing this many millions or billion dollars in assets, and it has not been successfully attacked.” So we have to wait and see this type of deals before we evaluate it better.
Vlad: So do you think that Ethereum will ultimately be its own killer, in the sense that you have EOS, Tezos, NEO and plenty of other projects. But do you think that Ethereum will overcome its issues and just get back its community and its part of the market?
Jameson Lopp: I think that if and when they do deploy their Proof of Stake system, there are a lot of people holding onto their Ether because they want to stake it and they want to basically earn interest on those tokens that they have been holding onto. So that would create like a new sense of enthusiasm and whatnot. I think the big question for me is actually the scalability of their sharding implementation and how that changes the security model, because from what I’ve read about it very drastically changes the security model from a fully-validating node on the network today (which I would argue that there aren’t that many of Ethereum) to eventually become this sharded node of which we only see a tiny aspect. It’s about observing how it ends up playing off of other shards or whether or not there are consensus failures between the shards and how that’s all handled. It’s a big question mark and it’s going to be very interesting to see how it plays out.
But I think if they do succeed in the sharding plan, the last I saw is that they were estimating 200x throughput. Which is pretty significant, but you still come across this fundamental issue of doing all of these computations on the blockchain. Even if it’s a sharded blockchain, it’s very difficult to foresee how you end up having this world computer that is actually used in a mainstream level. Personally, I believe that Ethereum will become adopted more as a protocol and as a virtual machine than the main Ethereum network. And we’ve actually seen this happen, as there’s a number of different private and permissioned networks out there that are based on the Ethereum Virtual Machine. Even RSK, which is the Bitcoin sidechain, supports the Ethereum Virtual Machine. So I think that Ethereum has showed us a very clear use case of having this more generic developer-friendly smart contract language. It’s a bigger question to my mind how the final form of that is being adopted and implemented is. And it may not be on the main Ethereum network.
Vlad: Do you think that ETC has it right in their approach in that they support immutability they want to be what the original project wanted to be about at the same time they don’t seem to alleviating issues in scalability and they haven’t had any issues because they were not challenged up to this point. Do you think sometime in the future they might fail or maybe succeed in their attempt in the internet of things and maybe have smaller applications. Not necessarily like Crypto Kitties which will freeze their blockchain but at the same time they are permissionless. Anyone that wants to deploy on their blockchain could and depending on their malevolence may freeze their blockchain.
Jameson Lopp: I would say I would align philosophically with the Classic developers more but I think there are also at a huge disadvantage simply because it is such a smaller group. They don’t have the same manpower and skills basically dedicated to building out that network. So from that standpoint it could be more challenging for them to be a serious contender in this space.
Vlad: That is very diplomatic of you, you did not make any assumptions about the future other than saying it could be challenging. I can take that, now let’s get back to Bitcoin.