Vitalik Buterin warns against risks of overloading the Ethereum network


  • Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin warns against layer-1 driven recovery of layer-2 projects on the Ethereum blockchain.
  • Buterin outlines how re-staking initiatives or layer-1 soft forks could hurt Ethereum network’s consensus. 
  • Buterin gives the green flag to dual-use of Ether staked by validators, but  condemns the use of social consensus for layer-2 applications.

Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of the largest smart contract blockchain network, published on Sunday a warning against the risks of overloading the Ethereum consensus layer. While Buterin is in favor of a dual use for staked Ether, the Ethereum co-founder warned against the use of the ETH consensus layer for layer-2 applications. 

In a blog post, Buterin said that using the consensus layer for re-staking and soft forks could bring high systemic risks, leaving the Ethereum blockchain vulnerable.

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Ethereum consensus layer could get overwhelmed 

The Ethereum consensus layer could be vulnerable to an attack if the blockchain gets overloaded. In his post, Buterin addressed  concerns surrounding re-staking initiatives or layer-1 soft forks on the ETH blockchain.

The Ethereum network could face high systemic risks in the following cases, according to Buterin: 

  • Proposals where users vote by sending Ethereum, with those opting for the majority answer getting  a proportional share of all the ETH sent to vote for the minority answer.
  • Re-staking Ethereum stake and using it to “vote” instead of in-protocol incentives.
  • Layer-1 driven recovery of layer-2 projects, in the event that L2 has a bug and L1 forks are used to recover it.

Buterin acknowledges that even as most proposals to utilize the Ethereum consensus layer or staked Ether are made in a well-intentioned way, they pose risks to the underlying blockchain and should be discouraged. 

Buterin’s concern is that any  expansion of the duties of the Ethereum consensus layer increases the  costs, complexities, and risks of running a validator. Exposing layer-1 by stretching the duties of the consensus layer to risks could grind the blockchain to a halt. 

How does this influence Ethereum

The Ethereum co-founder’s objective is to sustain the resilience and stability of the ETH blockchain. In the event of situations like re-staking and soft forks, the Ethereum consensus layer is at risk of an unexpected fork, or a community split among validators.

Ethereum is the native token of a neutral technical problem, a fork or split could negatively influence the asset’s utility, adoption and price in the long term. 

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