The biggest themes I noticed at DevCon in Bogota this year were: Account Abstraction, Rollups and progress against the Core Ethereum Roadmap. Sharing some of my notes below:
We already have meta-transactions that decouple signatures from submitting transactions to the chain and paying gas. This makes using ethereum easier because you don’t need to have any ethereum to submit a transaction. This would be welcome on Dapps but it requires custom functionality on the smart contract, a relayer, as well as support in the web app so it’s often not done. Either way you still need metamask or another wallet provider.
Account Abstraction is a somewhat nebulous term. When mentioned it seems to mean standardizing interfaces so that there is only one way to allow accounts to sign and create transactions. This would result in improving wallet UX by specifically making the existence of the wallet invisible to the user. One of the largest frustrations in crypto is managing your own private keys/ seed phrases. Tangentially if we upgrade the ethereum signature scheme we will be able to use mobile secure enclaves to sign transactions (think face id) instead of having to change apps to metamask. This would make using ethereum about the same as using a tradfi bank app.
Most want to make smart contract wallets the default to enable the sort of security folks are used to in the web2 world. Use a password, google auth for 2FA, and social recovery all while interacting with smart contracts and Dapps.
The major hurdle to these improvements in wallet UX are on the standards and on the app & smart contract side of things. Today most apps are designed to work with metamask and smart contracts are left as second class citizens. We will need to add more compatibility for smart contract wallets like Argent. This link tree shares some of the EIPs and research that are making strides on this front. EIP4337 implementation seems to have made progress without having to make changes to the consensus layer.
I think the most heartening conclusion is that now that the Merge is complete there is bandwidth to focus on something that is desperately needed for Ethereum usability and adoption.
Check out the DevCon Account Abstraction Panel!
Rollups are the current option for scale on ethereum and I love how they enable experimentation by decoupling from the mainnet chain. A lot of improvements such as different account abstraction techniques will be tried on L2s first. Optimistic roll ups like Optimism and Arbitrum are ready for use today but don’t have much adoption.
Fast and Furious Withdrawals from Optimistic Rollups include a summary of how optimistic rollups work as well as a way to exit them in less than the 7 day lockup period.
The benefits of optimistic rollups are:
- They work today using the existing EVM, so you don’t need to learn a new coding paradigm like Cairo
The downsides are:
- Security on these rollups requires a challenge to the withdrawals back to mainnet if the network believes execution was dishonest within 7 days.
- Fraud proofs for challenging withdrawals aren’t enabled yet 😐
- There is a significant amount of centralization in the world of rollups because it’s usually a single entity that controls the upgradable bridge contracts which we know have been huge points of failure across the blockchain ecosystem.
L2s like Starkware export the problem of circuit building to developers and Aztek focuses on a smaller array of circuits to make app development easier while also more limited. ZK EVM rollups are still years away.
Things I would love to explore more is how much the rollup can read the mainnet state. I assume this is where storage proofs come in, but my knowledge is limited here. To be continued!
Proof of Stake working very smoothly proved that Ethereum is not an ossified protocol. Post merge the tokenomics of Ultra Sound Money means that ethereum has a more well articulated narrative on token value as well as a similar ultimate fixed supply of 100M akin to BTCs 21M, but ETH value is still far from being supported by any sort of DCF model.
The Surge, Verge, and Purge are the playful names of the next steps in Ethereum’s scale journey. They are data sharding, statelessness of validators, and removing state from the overall ethereum chain respectively. The verge and purge take decoupling a step further by moving state somewhere else. Since the chain is at about 1TB and take up to 6 weeks to sync an archive node this chain would be super welcome!
As a Tallyer I would be remiss if I did not include a Governance shill :). One of the major takeaways has been the renewed excitement around onchain Governance specifically around OZ’s Governor. We are excited about getting together some of the sharpest academic and practitioner minds to continue to advance the capabilities of Governor include new voting power calculations and alternatives to the traditional coin/NFT weighted liquid democracy model. Check out all the orgs on Governor today @ tally.xyz and follow us @tallyxyz.
Feel free to browse talks from Devcon6 and those before it here.
What are you excited about in Ethereum? Share in the comments below!!