Polkadot – Vitalik’s nightmare or a blockchain dream come true? – Op-Ed Bitcoin News


While it is possible to draw comparisons between almost any two blockchain development platform, comparing Ethereum with Polkadot is almost inevitable. Not only technically – they use a comparable architecture and proof-of-stake consensus to achieve scalability – but because Vitalik Buterin and Dr Gavin Wood also have a common history in Ethereum.

Polkadot and Ethereum enter final stretch of trail for chain supremacy

The coming year promises to be important for both networks. Ethereum has rolled out a series of improvements ahead of the “merger” that will occur when Ethereum’s current mainchain joins the Proof of Stake Beacon Chain. At this point, Ethereum will finally abandon its Proof of Work consensus and switch entirely to Proof of Stake. Further upgrades are expected to follow as the network implements additional chains, or fragments, connected to the Beacon Chain, which are aimed at improving scalability.

While the timeline is somewhat nebulous, it seems likely that Polkadot is on the verge of reaching its next big step ahead of Ethereum’s merger. The “Parachain auctions” are the process of allocating the first fragment locations on Polkadot, a milestone recently taken by Kusama, the experimental “canary network” of Polkadot.

Assuming it will only be a matter of months before Polkadot follows suit, then we might expect to see the network fully operational and support a range of use cases before the end of this year.

A story in a jar

For their part, the two founders have always had sorrow to emphasize that they are not in competition with each other. But there is a lot of water under the bridge between Buterin and Wood. The two men are both vital members of the team that co-founded Ethereum, with Dr. Gavin Wood inventing the Solidity programming language and founding Parity Technologies, which has always been an important technology engine for Ethereum. Wood also founded the Web3 Foundation, which supports the development of Polkadot.

He left his position as CTO of Ethereum in 2015, after having already proposed a new kind of infrastructure that would transform the newly launched smart contract platform into a more robust and scalable platform. Tellingly, Wood did not mention Buterin in his last Ethereum blog post, despite verifying the name of several others.

While Wood and Buterin have been quiet about the competition between the two projects, others have been more willing to speak up. Peter Mauric, Public Affairs Manager at Parity Technologies, recently broached comparison, commenting on Ethereum’s shortcomings and referring to the smart contract platform as a “proof of concept” that provided the education needed to build Polkadot.

Clash of the Titans

After more than three years of development, Polkadot launched on the mainnet last year. Although it ran without any apps until the parachaines were up and running, the project generated a lot of interest, and not just because of the founder’s story. Polkadot offers the promise of true interoperability between applications running on different chains.

During Polkadot development, the Ethereum team worked on a solution for Ethereum 2.0. It is undeniable that the two platforms share many technological similarities. Both work on a proof of stake variant. In Ethereum’s case, this is an open validator network where anyone can join with the required minimum of 32 ETH stake. In Polkadot’s nominated proof of stake, DOT holders can wager DOT to nominate a validator.

There’s also the fact that both platforms use sharding to enable scalability, connecting the sharded chains to a central chain responsible for network security. Ethereum 2.0 is also removing Solidity and the Ethereum virtual machine in favor of a web assembly language called eWASM. Although Solidity is an brainchild of Gavin Wood, Polkadot is also designed for standard web assembly languages. The key advantage is that this opens up smart contract development to a much larger global pool of developers familiar with more general languages ​​like Go, Rust, and C / C ++.

Of course, all of these similarities might just be a coincidence. However, for Gavin Wood, the fact that Ethereum 2.0 is shaping up to be very similar to its own creation must sound like a justification.

On-chain or off-chain governance

There is perhaps a critical difference between the two platforms. While consensus takes place on-chain, governance has always been an off-chain issue for Ethereum. Apparently, in light of Ethereum’s experience with controversial hard forks, Polkadot shied away from this model in favor of a model without a chain governance fork.

It is important to note that on-chain and off-chain governance have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it will be interesting to see how these different approaches play against each other.

So two visionary founders, two ambitious roadmaps, two comparable platforms. However, there is a critical difference. Polkadot has had five years of development from scratch, with the ability to build and meticulously test everything twice – once on the testnet, and again in a live experimental environment on Kusama. When Polkadot is put into service with his parachains, it will be a good start from the get-go.

While this is no small feat, the Ethereum team arguably has a more difficult task ahead. To make an analogy, they have to change the engine of a moving vehicle. It is this simple fact that explains why it could be seven years or more between the first genesis of Ethereum and the eventual transition to proof of stake. It will take even longer before the network reaches a level of scalability that its supporters have so patiently waited for.

At that point, who knows how much adoption on other networks will have grown?

Ultimately, no one can tell what is going on in Vitalik Buterin’s head. But, to use the vehicle analogy, the idea of ​​hopping in a brand new sports car must be more appealing than trying to pimp an old car while driving down the highway at full speed. And looking at Polkadot’s development, it would be hard to imagine Vitalik Buterin wouldn’t agree.

Which blockchain do you think will come first – Ethereum or Polkadot? Let us know in the comments section below.

Image credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons, Forbes

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