Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, has engaged in a discussion about the delicate balance between maintaining the protocol’s simplicity and integrating advanced features. He emphasized the importance of refraining from overcomplicating the protocol, stating that the reluctance to add unnecessary complexity is both “understandable and good.”
In a blog post dated September 30, Buterin elaborated on Ethereum’s design philosophy, emphasizing its minimalist approach. Ethereum’s software was intentionally designed to be minimalist, allowing for easy adaptation to diverse user needs while avoiding the pitfalls of software bloat.
Examining the Benefits and Risks of Feature Integration
According to Buterin, discussions surrounding layer 1 and layer 2 blockchain networks often center on the question of whether to integrate additional features into the core protocol. These features aim to address various user requirements, including privacy, usernames, and account security.
Buterin suggests that integrating more features into the core protocol could potentially reduce de-facto centralization and enhance security across different aspects of the blockchain ecosystem. It could also lead to standardized solutions that improve the user experience.
However, Buterin cautions that this approach carries inherent risks. Enshrining too many features can increase the burden of trust and governance, potentially overcomplicating the protocol and failing to anticipate users’ evolving needs, which may backfire in the long run.
Proposed Features for Integration
To address these challenges, Buterin proposes specific features that could be integrated into the protocol’s core. One suggestion involves altering staking penalty rules to make trustless liquid staking more feasible.
Another feature would be the inclusion of EVM-MAX or SIMD to simplify a broader range of operations for efficient implementation. The protocol could also introduce EVM verification rather than embedding the entire concept of roll-ups.
“What features should be brought into the protocol and what features should be left to other layers of the ecosystem is a complicated tradeoff, and we should expect the tradeoff to continue to evolve over time as our understanding of users’ needs and our suite of available ideas and technologies continues to improve.”
Raises Concern About Lido and Rocket Pool Liquid Staking Approach
Meanwhile, Buterin faulted Lido and Rocket Pool’s approach to picking node operators. According to him, the mechanism employed by these protocols can’t be unrestricted because attackers could join and amplify their attacks with users’ funds.
“Lido, which has a DAO whitelisting node operators, and Rocket Pool, which allows anyone to run a node if they put down 8 ETH (ie. 1/4 of the capital) as a deposit. These two approaches have different risks: the Rocket Pool approach allows attackers to 51% attack the network, and force users to pay most of the costs. With the DAO approach, if a single such staking token dominates, that leads to a single, potentially attackable governance gadget controlling a very large portion of all Ethereum validators.”
It’s worth noting that the Ethereum liquid staking market is currently dominated by Lido and Rocket Pool, controlling over 77% of the market, according to data from DeFillama.
As Ethereum continues to evolve, discussions around protocol expansion and feature integration will play a pivotal role in shaping its future development and ensuring that it meets the diverse needs of its user base.