Founder of Adamant Capital and crypto commentator recently Tweeted an extensive criticism of the entire Ethereum project, which has attracted quite a bit of attention. Today, founder and de factor head of Ethereum Vitalik Buterin, as well as other notable developers have taken it upon themselves to respond, defending the Ethereum blockchain.
Tuur Demeester laid bare a sprawling critique of Ethereum on the basis of technical, cultural, and even legal critiques.
2/ First, ETH’s architecture & culture is _opposite_ that of Bitcoin, and yet claims to offer same solutions: decentralization, immutability, SoV, asset issuance, smart contracts, …— Tuur Demeester (@TuurDemeester) December 28, 2018
Second, ETH is considered a crypto ‘blue chip’, thus colors perception of uninformed newcomers.
The first criticism was extensive, but its most pointed criticisms included Ethereum's purported inability to scale, and security problems inherent in Ethereum's proposed 'proof-of-stake' algorithms, which are being designed as a way to create an energy-efficient alternative to Proof-of-Work algorithms such as those used to secure Bitcoin.
In a Reddit post dedicated to the Demeester's Twitter thread, Buterin responded personally, making point by point rebuttals to each Twitter post.
The rebuttals, like the criticisms, are extensive, though the most salient responses are perhaps his defense of Proof-of-Stake's security, and the potential of sharding. Sharding is currently the most promising route to scaling Ethereum, which itself is one of the most significant problems facing all cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies get unworkably slow as transactions accumulate on their blockchains, meaning that they have limited application in real-world use for a wide swath of consumers, for example, as a payment platform.
Sharding is a technical solution to this problem which, while not complete, has shown some promise already.
Quiet but very visible progress on short-term scalability from @peter_szilagyi and co:— Vitalik Non-giver of Ether (@VitalikButerin) December 23, 2018
* Blocks getting processed fast
* Uncle rates dropping to ~8%, their lowest levels since before 2017-era gas limit increases, despite gas usage still being at ~80% of peak pic.twitter.com/BeQoP5871m
Sharding, put very simply, breaks up the entire network into a bunch of smaller 'shards,' which each have their own transaction history and state, allowing computers to compute the smaller computations on each individual shards, while supercomputers put the shards back together to recreate the larger blockchain.
Demeester's criticism also brings up a problem that sharding has always faced, which is potential security liabilities, including in the Plasma protocol, which is a specific proposed solution to scaling Ethereum.
Buterin dismisses the claim that Plasma is 'insecure' as an opinion and not a consensus, and stated that 'the ethereum research community is quite convinced that the fundamental Plasma design is fine, and as far as I understand there are formal proofs on the way.'
The debate hinges mainly on a lot of technical considerations which are yet to be ironed out, but the fact that Buterin has answer for each of his points means that these issues are being tackled. Demeester dismisses Ethereum as a 'science expirement,' but as many Ethereum developers took to Twitter to point out, Bitcoin was similarly experimental in its infancy.