Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin recently listed his thoughts on his website about the future of blockchain development, and the path most likely taken to get there in his aptly titled article ‘Endgame’,

While it doesn’t involve any magical stones or finger-snapping to make it happen, Vitalik mused about the scalability of blockchains and outlined the necessary steps from three different solutions to get there.

Solution #1 – Breaking down the data block

The first solution which Vitalik considers the most plausible is:

  • Allow second-tier staking with 100 low-resource buckets to validate the block data that is broken into data chunks. A block is accepted when 2/3 of the validators assigned to each bucket agrees on the transaction validity.
  • Prevent fraud with ZK-SNARKS which can prove block validity directly, and check block availability by conducting data availability sampling with DAS checks.
  • Prevent censorship by adding secondary transaction channels that can submit its own list of transactions.

Solution #2 – Data Sharding

Another probable solution that Vitalik considered was the use of data sharding to scale block validation with rollups. This includes:

  • Having a single rollup block and 64 Ethereum shards to validate its data.
  • The rollup data is split and fed into the 64 shards which validates a part of the rollup

The system would naturally be trustless due to the logic of ZK rollups or via a fraud prover node with Optimistic rollups, and a secondary on-chain inclusion channel could bypass any kinds of data censorship.

Solution #3 – Multi-rollup Implementation

The third solution that Vitalik thinks could occur is a blockchain world where multi-chains and multi-rollups become the norm. This would include:

  • Users leapfrogging across different rollups to avoid high fees via cross-rollup bridging
  • Implementing block production auctions to prevent block validation monopoly
  • Implement censorship-resistant bypass channels to prevent users from censoring transactions

While the third solution allows for more decentralisation when it comes to block production, Vitalik feels that the benefit of controlling many of these multi-rollups would incentivise groups to try and create a centralised manner of block production.

Conclusion

The Ethereum founder concludes his Endgame article three main takeaways.

Firstly, block production will become centralised as a result of a limited number of nodes having the hardware capability to handle large blocks, or as a result of a majority control of multiple domains.

Secondly, block validation will remain trustless and decentralised due to the implementation of validation techniques like sharding or second-tier staking, cryptographic proofs like ZK or Optimistic rollups, or through the nature of multi-chains.

Thirdly, censorship can be prevented either through the shutdown of malicious actors in the chain, having a secondary on-chain channel, or implementing anti-censorship features in the chains or rollups.

While we certainly aren’t at the Endgame yet when it comes to blockchains, it appears that Vitalik’s thought experiment is finding a feasible compromise to the growth and scalability of blockchains, which moves closer to finding an answer for the blockchain trilemma. But perhaps with new technology and programming methods, there could be an answer to the last issue of keeping blockchain production decentralised as well in the future.

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