Ethereum’s Casper network didn’t really have a “good” time as it faced a very critical examination from well established computer scientist, Dalia Malkhi, who has spent years in her field studying on how nodes agree. Her question she raised about the network was “is ethereum’s biggest future upgrade fundamentally vulnerable?”.
During her presentation on blockchain at the conference, she addressed the Casper network – ethereum’s upgrade which seeks to use proof-of-stake instead of the traditional proof-of-work to verify transactions.
Dalia’s Concern About The Ethereum Casper
Casper, first of all, is ethereum’s network that is meant to use a different kind of algorithm to verify transaction blocks in a newer way (at least let’s skip all the technical mumbo jumbo). With proof-of-stake, the miners don’t have to use real life electricity and energy to prove that they actually verified blocks of mining transactions. Most of the people propounding the proof-of-stake system idea believe it would avoid or cut down on power costs and large energy consumption during computations.
However, Dalia believes that there could be a fundamental flaw in this system, or put in another way, the system could be flawed at its very foundation. She on the other hand acknowledge that the Ethereum network had led inspired more research into the field of distributed systems in the computer sciences. In her speech, she stated that
“I think proof-of-stake is fundamentally vulnerable. You’re giving authority to a group to call the shots […] In my opinion, it’s giving power to people who have lots of money.”
Why Malkhi Questions Casper?
Malkhi is concerned about two main things that the Casper network seems to “breach” from her perspective. These are liveness and safety – two things that are practically inevitable in any blockchain system as they are the very key elements that are making the blockchain network such a surely adopted system. Malkhi isn’t just making any claims, but drawing conclusions based on discussions she has had with some developers if the Casper network. She states in her speech
“I had a conversation with Vlad Zamfir yesterday,” Malkhi said. “He argues, isn’t it still useful if it’s ‘mostly’ live?”
She doesn’t really agree with Vlad, as she thinks that finding errors with these kind of networks easily develop flaws in the least expected ways – the logic of her argument being that certain assumptions that are made in the developing of these networks because they ae far from perfection when she says
“Seriously, it’s very easy to come up with a solution which is not live. It’s trivial. The only thing we need to do in this field is generate mechanisms that are both safe and live,”
Malkhi however still believes that there is hope and a bright future for the world of cryptocurrencies and distributed systems and even for the Casper network even though no blockchain network ever be free from flaws – hence the need for constant development and improvement. But anyways, isn’t that what humanity has been doing all this while – improving.
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