Dmitry Meshkov: Nobody Knows How to Make Some Aspects of Blockchains Better
The scalability of the Ethereum blockchain network has been the core concern for most experts including Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin and Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam for a while. While Vitalik Buterin’s long-term strategy involves a major migration of consensus protocols from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake, Dmitry Meshkov, IOHK researcher and ERGO platform founder, agrees with Ehrsam on the necessity of two-layer and off-chain scaling solutions for the benefit of both Ethereum users and developers.
Previously, in an analytical column entitled “Scaling Ethereum to Billions of Users,” Ehrsam noted that Ethereum is in urgent need of scaling solutions in order for the network to support large-scale decentralized applications (Dapps) with 1 to 10 million users.
Many blockchain developers and projects are not concerned about Ethereum’s scalability issues just yet. That is because Ethereum is yet to host a massively successful Dapp that is being utilized by an active user base on a regular basis. As the demand for Ethereum increases as a settlement network and a smart contracts protocol for Dapps, the necessity of scaling solutions will become more evident and clear.
“[Utilization of off-chain and two-layer solutions] is quite a good idea actually. It is not clear how it will be in practice but off-chain ideas are now most popular in blockchain and to put all the work off-hain and use blockchain as a second layer — we see this with Bitcoin, Lightening Network and so on and so forth”, said Meshkov. “It may lead to quite a lot of problems, for example, centralisation of resources and payments. It is possible but we should check if it will work.”
At the moment, blockchain projects with multi-million dollar ICOs and even multi-billion dollar companies within the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance such as JPMorgan and Microsoft are actively testing and developing applications on top of the Ethereum protocol. For Ethereum to be utilized by a large-scale Dapp, it will need to provide seamless process for users. Specifically, users should not be forced or pressured to spend high fees or gas to broadcast smart contracts to the main Ethereum blockchain.
“Blockchain can be a game changer but it’s still a technology at its early stage in development and it will take a lot of time to make it much better, to make it production-ready.”
Efficient scalability and flexible ecosystem for developers will be important driving factors supporting the mainstream adoption of Ethereum and blockchain technology as a whole. Meshkov noted that many organizations and developers are attempting to develop production-ready blockchain platforms for commercial use-cases. Once blockchain technology and leading public blockchain networks can be commercialized, Meshkov further emphasized that the technology will be able to disrupt many industries, starting with finance.
“Blockchain can be a game changer - it can change our world, it can change internets and so on - but it’s still a technology at its early stage in development and it will take a lot of time to make it much better, to make it production-ready”, he underlines. “For now, it needs more experiments— we can’t regard blockchain as something complete. It’s a good experiment, it is a prototype that works quite well but there are lot of problems we need to solve to be ready to use it on every level of our life.”
The Stumbling Block of All Blockchains
Meshkov explained that the majority of problems that developers and major conglomerates like Microsoft are trying to solve revolve around research and development. On paper, issues seem resolved but in the implementation and integration phase, unforeseen technical problems emerge. Blockchain technology offers decentralization and absolute transparency, which no other technology can offer. Hence, scalability, privacy and security issues that blockchain developers are required to solve on a regular basis are unprecedented.
“There are some problems that are solved in papers - you can solve some problems but they’re not implemented anywhere yet. But actually, there are even problems that are not solved even in the papers so nobody knows how to make some aspects of blockchains better”, said Meshkov.
Most importantly, despite the lack of incentives for Blockchain Core developers and projects like Ethereum, Meshkov stated that the development for public blockchain networks must continue. Although he sees a few possible applications for permissioned and centralized blockchain networks, Meshkov explained the integration of private blockchain networks is bad in practice, as it goes against the fundamental concepts of blockchain technology.
“I don’t like the approach of people creating private blockchain without all participants of blockchains, and we don’t need security here because it’s private and we control it in a centralized ecosystem. It is possible to create a good private blockchain but what I see is not good— I don’t like most of the examples of those people who try to implement a private blockchain because they don’t know how to make it secure in open settings and that’s quite bad practice,” he added.
Have you ever wondered why whitepapers are called “white papers”? Probably not. But hey, it might come up in a pub quiz. One theory suggests that the name may have developed from the so-called “blue papers” - a term used in 19th century Britain to refer to legislation proposed by the Government in Parliament. If the material for a blue paper was too informal, it would be published with a white cover and referred to as the White Papers.
Those crazy Brits. Mad men, the lot of them!
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