The Tip of the Iceberg at EDCON 2017

The European Ethereum Development Conference in session, exploring technology, research and applications built on the Ethereum platform.

Thibaut Schaeffer from the Provenance team shares notes from EDCON: a two-day event examining the latest enhancements from Ethereum, a decentralized platform that lets developers build apps without a middleman or counterparty risk. With daily meetups throughout the week, culminating with workshops on Sunday, the event was a great opportunity for the community to come together halfway between Devcon2 in Shanghai (check out our post) and Devcon3 that was just announced to take place in Mexico in November. We are happy to share insights from the event.

Provenance is building on a common data system called a blockchain. To do this we have implemented our services in the Ethereum ecosystem since its launch. While traditional blockchains typically allow a restricted set of actions, Ethereum allows to deploy any set of rules. It can be compared to cloud services in its flexibility, with the exception that execution of code is not restricted to a central party.

To understand the basics of blockchain technology, we released an introduction here.

From regional to global

EDCON was intended to bring the European blockchain community together, however it was great to see people from all parts of the world; from Argentina to Iran to Thailand, and of course the US and China.

From 0x874b to insurance.eth

Ethereum is likely to get more user-friendly thanks to the ENS system, announced to be released on March 13. What does it do? When visiting a website, you are actually accessing a server that is referenced by an obscure address like 12.123.44.23. In order to type in the name of the website instead of the server’s address, the web has a system called DNS. This is not the case on Ethereum though, where accessing an application requires knowing the address, which in this case looks like 0x874b54a8bd152966d63f706bae1ffeb0411921e5. With the ENS, it will be possible to access applications just by typing, say, insurance.eth.

From one to many

There will be many blockchains. The myth that one blockchain could “rule them all” is dying. In order to manage a greater number of transactions, serve specific purposes or increase privacy, projects like Cosmos envision an Internet of Blockchains where value can flow between different networks. For example, a financial institution could issue a security on the public Ethereum blockchain and any unit of that currency could then be transferred to another network seamlessly with no need for a third party. It is still very early days in that area, and connecting different chains require cooperation between the different projects. However, this has been a growing area of interest and will be experimented on further this year.

From work to stake

One major topic of the conference was the switch from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake. At the moment, the security of the Ethereum blockchain, just like Bitcoin’s, is guaranteed by a network of computers running intensive software, basically competing on who can spend the most electricity. This is called Proof-of-Work. Ethereum plans to switch to a model in which computers compete on who can put the most money at stake in the system. This switch would drastically reduce the environmental impact of securing the blockchain, but even more interesting, it could lead to a faster and more secure system overall. The internals of that new algorithm are still being worked out and were developed in several talks as well as debated in a panel.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There were many other projects that showcased their progress, from blockchain charity to distributed computing, to decentralised weather insurance, giving us lots to look forward to in the months to come.