There’s a version of the future that’s tantalizingly possible in which Ethereum becomes the base layer for pretty much everything.
Recent advances in a technology called zero-knowledge Rollups — from StarkWare, Polygon and zkSync — enable the blockchain to move from fewer than 20 transactions per second to… well, an infinite number of TPS.
In theory, it would allow the entire world’s financial system to run on Ethereum.
“I think it’s theoretically possible,” explains Declan Fox, product manager for rollups at Consensys, which provides Ethereum infrastructure and apps like MetaMask. “We have the technology to achieve that kind of throughput necessary.”
“With recursive rollups and proofs, we theoretically can infinitely scale.”
He adds it obviously hasn’t been proven in production yet, “so that’d be the next step.”
The tech is so new and so promising that soon after it became viable, Ethereum rearranged its entire roadmap to take advantage of it. This week’s Merge is arguably the least interesting bit of the coming changes.
Ethereum is eating the world — metaphorically that is.
One of the pioneers of zero-knowledge proofs — or validity proofs as he prefers to call them — is StarkWare co-founder Eli Ben-Sasson. He worked on the problem for two decades, helping nurture it from an abstract theoretical concept — “something that is completely galactic and impossible, not enough atoms in the solar system to record even one such proof” — down to something that can efficiently be generated on a laptop.
At its most basic, the process employs high-level mathematics to generate a tiny validity proof that verifies that a whole bunch of other transactions has been carried out correctly. Instead of putting all the transactions on the slow and creaky blockchain, you just record one proof in a transaction.
“This technology lets you send a very succinct proof that asserts that a computation was done correctly — even when you weren’t watching, which I think is the most magical…