Vitalik Buterin wants to ‘make Ethereum (ETH) cypherpunk again’

The blockchain’s “cypherpunk” goal, according to Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, was essentially swept under the rug when cryptocurrencies began to over-financialize the network around 2017. According to Vitalik Buterin, one of the network’s founders, Ethereum needs to rekindle the “cypherpunk” movement that was once envisioned for the blockchain in its early days. According to Buterin, Ethereum was originally envisioned as a “public decentralised shared hard drive” that could utilise peer-to-peer messaging and decentralised file storage, but that vision began to fade in 2017 with Ethereum’s shift towards financialization, he said in a Dec. 28 post.

He emphasised that rollups, zero-knowledge proofs, account abstraction, and second-generation privacy solutions have grown more widespread, potentially preserving some of the cypherpunk ideas. A cypherpunk is someone who employs encryption when connecting to a computer network to guarantee privacy, particularly from government authorities.

Participating in polls without exposing one’s identity, as well as developing mechanisms such as quadratic voting and cross-tribal consensus finding to assist organisations in governing themselves, are among the other cypherpunk-type activities that Buterin would want to see more of on Ethereum. “It is very possible to build things within the crypto ecosystem that do not follow these values,” Buterin admitted, elaborating on certain examples. Building a very centralised layer that is secured by multisignature with no plans to modify, or an NFT ecosystem where the NFTs are hosted on a centralised website rather than a decentralised file storage platform like IPFS. “One could build a staking interface that needlessly funnels users towards the already-largest staking pool.” Buterin went on to say: “Resisting these pressures is hard, but if we do not do so, then we risk losing the unique value of the crypto ecosystem, and recreating a clone of the existing web2 ecosystem with extra inefficiencies and extra steps.” However, Buterin stated that he has been impressed with answers to some of the industry’s most pressing issues.

He mentioned that decentralised exchanges have given a solution to centralised exchange hacks, and that Cowswap, Flashbots Protect, and MEV Blocker have helped limit the severity of sandwich assaults on Ethereum users by Maximum Extractable Value players. Buterin proposed earlier this week to make the Ethereum proof-of-stake chain “lighter” and “simpler” on December 27 by lowering the number of signatures validators must make to keep the network functioning.

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