The PoS development goal for Ethereum, first Constantinople then Casper, had an original estimated release targeted for late 2018, but Constantinople recently delayed to early 2019. This could mean the final upgrade to full Proof of Stake, Casper, could be pushed back beyond 2020. However, new Distributed Ledger Technologies are coming online and making Ethereum’s protocol look antiquated. Ethereum developers’ 1x solution hopes for advancements in scaling and could allow them to pump water out of the ETH ship to stop sinking under the waves of competition, for now. It’s not the solution to stop decentralized application (DApp) teams from jumping ship and swimming for other platforms.
After Ethereum’s final update, will PoS be the ultimate solution for its problems?
The idea of Proof of Stake is very democratic and equitable. It solves the problems of PoW’s requirement for specialized hardware and ever growing loads of energy to secure the network. I would support the higher energy requirements of PoW to secure the network if the consensus mechanism could remain in the hands of individual users. However, for the most valuable coins, industrial sized warehouses, operated by entities with large budgets is the only means to compete for blocks and receive incentive rewards.
The triple constraint for the first two generations of DLT technology were speed, security, and distribution. Distribution involves consensus among users with beneficial rewards or only fulfilling the need for greater decentralization. So, like the contractor’s triple constraint of fast, cheap, or high quality, we could choose 2 but not all 3.
Our more secure protocols were not very fast with transaction speeds (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Counterparty). Distribution lacks when protocols want responsible nodes to secure the network which usually requires either staking a large number of tokens and/or keeping a constant network connection, and some are highly centralized (NEO, DASH) . Our faster protocols relaxed on ensuring security and paid the price with hacks attacking their chains and the exploits not being recognized until much value was extracted by the perpetrators (Verge, Monacoin).
However, the vast majority of Proof of Stake projects are secure, and many hacks from recent years were preventable with more diligence from core developers.
Some platforms choose to sacrifice the distribution levels for higher speed and security. Others sacrifice security for greater speed.
Examples of strength of consensus mechanisms are illustrated below:
Now, 3rd generation consensus models are answering all three constrains in various modified Proof of Stake models, most notably Delegated Proof of Stake (dPoS). Dan Larimer, creator of dPoS, released forerunners to EOS such as Bitshares and STEEM. The only non-dPoS systems that’s competing in all three constraint areas are Stellar Lumen’s Stellar Consensus Protocol (SCP) and XRP (Ripple’s Consensus).
So, Ethereum will definitely have the distribution and security should be solid due to vast numbers of core developers who have skin in the game.
The only issue left with highly distributed Proof of Stake consensus is reliable & consistent low latency.
With distribution across laptops, desktops, mobile phone wallets and varying quality of internet connections may not bode well for a high performing network in which users with low quality equipment are constantly going on and off line.
What 5G has to offer?
According to LifeWire, most nations will gain access to 5G networks by the end of 2020. Since most in the crypto environment are first mover adapters, this may assist Ethereum’s PoS endeavors.
With the speed promised from 5G connections, common desktops, laptops, and even 5G phones can drive consensus speeds with little latency.
5G speeds are needed for on-boarding Internet of Things connected devices. With more devices connected to the internet, blockchain technology’s security is the great hope to stop our gadgets from getting hacked. With machine to machine connections, will this expand or make obsolete the need for personal computers? Will we tokenize our devices?
Could our devices, being constantly on, be the securers of the network, constantly earning ETH?
The 5G network could be Ethereum’s saving knight.