The future of Ethereum through the eyes of Vitalik Buterin

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With his eye fixed on the future of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin has come forward to say that the network is facing short-term “pain” but will have long-term gain as it prepares for The Merge and other major upgrades.

“Ethereum is in a long and complicated transition phase,” according to its creator Vitalik Buterin.

Speaking to a packed room at the conference EthCC in Paris last Thursday, he pointed out how Ethereum is undergoing several important changes that will improve the system in the long run.

In addition, Buterin called Ethereum’s transition to Proof-Of-Stake from Proof-Of-Work “long and complicated” and added that the network is moving towards becoming “a more dynamic and powerful system.”

Upgrade in four phases

Buterin discussed the upcoming Ethereum upgrades, which will be done in four phases: the Merge, the Surge, the Verge and the Purge.

The Merge refers to the transition of the network to a Proof-of-Stake mechanism, which is expected to take place around 19 September.

The Surge refers to the addition of 64 fragmentation chains, which are expected to reduce congestion in the main chain by distributing traffic.

The Verge is about further decentralization of the network.

The Purge involves removing historical data in an attempt to streamline the network.

55% complete after the Merger

Regarding the upgrade to Proof-of-Stake, otherwise known as EIP-3675, Buterin noted that Ethereum will be about “55% complete” after the merger.

Still, another major protocol upgrade that Buterin highlighted was EIP-4444, a proposal focused on storing historical data:

“Because people value scalability, you can’t rely on nodes to store everything,” he said, referring to “The Graph” and “BitTorrent” projects, as well as block browsers, as potential sources for data storage in the future.

Buterin also mentioned EIP-1559, the fee-burning model introduced in August 2021 to make Ethereum fees more predictable: “EIP-1559 was amazing. It changed a lot, but it changed the way we think about transactions,” he said.

Going for 100,000 transactions per second

Once the various changes are implemented, Buterin pointed out that Ethereum will potentially be able to process 100,000 transactions per second (instead of the 15 or so it currently handles), while Layer 2 could become three times cheaper as the network becomes more scalable.

Short-term Pain, Long-term Gain

While Bouterin spoke at length about the changes, he added a caveat:

“Ethereum’s potential is growing faster and faster. But the rate of change should slow down.”

Buterin said that the network will need to be optimized for security and predictability and referred to what he called “the escape velocity niche,” arguing that the Ethereum of the future may grow enough to not require any other major upgrades:

“It’s similar to Turing Completeness… If you have a computer that’s powerful enough, you can create almost anything on it.”

Future generations will be grateful

Summing up Ethereum’s future, Buterin said he expected the network had to face “short-term pain” to have “long-term gain” as it prepares for Merge, Surge, Verge and Purge:

“There’s this pain that happens once, but basically future generations will be very grateful,” he said.

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