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Is the ground still solid under Ethereum's feet?
I don't think anyone would disagree if I said that Ethereum has had more recognition and recognition than it has ever had since its inception. You may also remember how much skepticism and scorn Ethereum was subjected to in 2018 and 2019. -- Of course, many of these doubts and belittles are groundless. At the time, for example, many people thought that Ethereum was a platform for ICO, and when the demand was gone, the chain was gone.

What I find interesting is that in a little over two years, the fashion of mocking Ethereum has turned into the fashion of advocating Ethereum. Time does change people, doesn't it? (Or should price change people?)

What's more interesting is that I'm in the minority in both of these atmospheres. Three years ago, I thought that Utility Tokens were going the wrong way, that the most promising scenario for blockchain was today's so-called "DEFI" -- or, rather, the automation of financial activities, and that a technology like Ethereum would not be without promise. (MakerDao launched SAI at the end of 2017, Compound emerged in mid-2018, and Uniswap V1 launched at the end of 2018. In fact, it's not easy to get started.

Today, I'm one of those who have a lot of reservations about the future of Ethereum -- and to put it bluntly, I don't appreciate it more than I appreciate it. To clarify this point, we have to start with the meaning of the term "Ethereum."

The term "Ethereum" is associated with several things at once:

It implies a blockchain paradigm that can be briefly summarized as "global state, on-chain computing, rich state" and "multi-resource pricing"; It takes the form of an account model, a contract that can be part of an on-chain state, and an abstract unit of measure, GAS;

It means the one (and most important) implementation of this paradigm in today's world, the Ethereum blockchain, and of course the economic value of this chain, ETH;

It means the forces and people who can adjust the details of this realization, who determine the direction of the bottom, determine its ability to survive and develop; Namely the Ethereum governance process and participants; Unfortunately, the program is already showing signs of closure, and its main player is the Ethereum Foundation.

The most striking feature of the Ethereum paradigm is its versatility. You can write any code on Ethereum, and there is no hard and fast Limit on the amount of code that can be executed, only the Gas Limit. This is where the much-talked about "composability" comes from. Today's DEFI applications are thriving and evolving, and composability is an important foundation.

However, its disadvantage is that it requires all nodes to retain the full blockchain state locally, otherwise they cannot participate in the validation of the block. And these blockchain states are only increasing. Over time, this can cause the nominal overhead of on-chain operations to be out of proportion and drive up the running burden on the whole node. (The recently discussed terms "statelessness" and "state-shelf life" are part of an effort to solve this problem. The current preferred direction is "state by date", but from what I can tell, the solutions that have been proposed so far are long and far from being elegant and effective.

That said, if only to solve this long-term survival problem, the Ethereum blockchain needs a set of governance procedures; Not to mention the fact that the participants in these governance programs might want to add some functionality and change some properties.

This makes it impossible to assess the future of the Ethereum blockchain based on the performance of these governance program participants.

Unfortunately, if the Ethereum Foundation were graded based on their performance over the last two years, I think they would get an embarrassing score. In 2018, Ethereum lowered its block rewards, and the EIP authors cited "Ethereum already gives more to miners than Bitcoin (overpay)" (which I never understood as a reason). At the end of 2019, "Istanbul" forked through EIP-1884, increasing the Gas consumption of several state access opcodes, which would break the availability of some contracts. However, the EIP was passed, both because of necessity and because its influence was not as big as expected for utilitarian reasons. (Of course, the projects themselves are not entirely blameless, since no one promised that Gas consumption would never change.) (This year, when the "Berlin" fork activated the EIP-2930, the broken contracts could be used again in special ways; I don't think it's funny).

The same is true for the EIP-1559. Opponents point out that no number of problems can shake the EF's resolve to pursue it. They seem to think that it is not a problem if there is not a technical lack of mitigation; In other words, no matter what the cost. (Good ones can read Tim Beiko's "Why 1559" to see how poorly educated the economics of today's Ethereum forking coordinators are.)

As for ETH2.0, that's not to mention. How many rounds have you changed about the sharding design? (I went first, the number changed at least two rounds; Fundamental design change at least once "Execute Shard -> Data Shard") not to mention how insincere some people are in the PoW versus PoS debate.

Unstable underlying design, unstable monetary policy, the occasional breach of contracts and the willingness to consume trust by proposing big and unambitious schemes - this has been the EF's report card over the past three years. Someone must enjoy the feeling of being pampered and being told that no matter what they've done wrong, they shouldn't worry and just go to school.

The fundamental reason is that EF has never seen itself as a paradigm tinkerer, nor has it felt that there should be any limits to its power. Instead, they are able to convince themselves that "blockchain is the automation of social consensus", implying that if the social consensus changes, the protocol can be changed; As for who knows what this mystical "social consensus" is, of course some people have eyes that can see things that I can't. Is that familiar?

What I've seen over the years is no indication that they think their power should be limited, that they agree to do something that many people don't want to do. Not at all. Instead, I just see them arbitrarily using that power to disparage others involved in the Ethereum blockchain. Can you imagine anything that the Ethereum Foundation would like to do but can't do with the implementation of the Ethereum blockchain, other than what's technically impossible? My conclusion is no. As long as they don't dare to think about it or have no interest in it, there is nothing they can't do. Does it make sense? There is no.

Ethereum bills itself as "off-chain governance," meaning it has no clear governance structure and procedures. But when you look closely, it's not the same thing as Bitcoin's "off-chain governance." While Bitcoin's off-chain governance is indeed very loose, Ethereum's governance lies in the middle of the structured-unstructured spectrum -- on the one hand, its participants do not qualify for governance by explicit endorsement and support, nor do things get implemented by explicit support. But on the other hand, it is a governance with a roadmap, and there is a factor among the participants that is impossible to ignore. Organizationally it's already decided.

Contrary to what many people think, this problem cannot be ameliorated by changing the way the governance process is engaged, because "where are the boundaries of power" and "how power is organized" are related but not mutually determined issues, This is the difference between what Isaiah Berlin called "negative freedom" (how much I am ruled) and "positive freedom" (who can rule me).

But, how to put it -- the two or three years that have accrued the current accolades for Ethereum have coincided with the two years (if I may say so) when the vision of Ethereum's governance participants didn't get very far. A lot of great projects and work have been built on the Ethereum paradigm itself, and have nothing to do with what EF is doing. This is an observation that I have hinted to others over the last two years.

By the same token, I still have a certain amount of goodwill and faith in Ethereum as a technology paradigm that will undoubtedly keep the Ethereum blockchain and ETH attractive and even more successful. But I no longer feel that the key players in Ethereum's current governance process are a group of people to be trusted. And a very pessimistic view of the damage they could do.

I'm sure there are many people who, like me, initially saw Ethereum as the spiritual successor and development of Bitcoin, because it made the functionality of the blockchain more general and enabled smart contracts that were easy to program and interact with. But as the years passed, those who thought this must have become disillusioned, it turned out that the system fundamentally betrayed the spirit of Bitcoin, and that it was impossible to change.

Trusted third parties are a security hole, and Ethereum is a bad example.

Two more stories.

A friend of mine once said that he thought Ethereum opened up a space where people could live, something that Bitcoin didn't do. This sentence makes me think for a long time, always remember.

Another friend, I asked him, what properties do you like about Ethereum? When will ETH stop looking good? "There are a lot of simple people like Vitalik in Ethereum, and they are very creative," Ta said. If the ETH does not become more usable after the chaos, then the TA will hesitate.

I think this is not only his answer. That's it. That's it. The original naive has been us, right.

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