Why Ethereum needs more enshrine features

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Why Ethereum needs more enshrine features

Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, published a detailed blog post exploring the question of which features should become official parts of the Ethereum protocol versus being built on top of it. Buterin explains that Ethereum sought to keep its base layer as simple and minimalist as possible in the early days, as well as retaining a minimalistic look. This was consistent with the Unix philosophy of creating uncomplicated, flexible software. Ethereum was designed to be a solid foundation for decentralized applications, with most functions implemented through smart contracts built on top.

However, over time, some have questioned whether more features should be enshrined in the core protocol. Buterin declares it as making something intrinsic to the official Ethereum specification that client developers must implement. The alternative, 'de-enshrining,' means removing a feature from the base layer and pushing it out to be handled by smart contracts instead.

Buterin evaluates the pros and cons of enshrining several potential features. Enshrining can offer efficiency gains, more robust security, and censorship resistance. It also risks making transactions more expensive, over-complicating governance, and reducing flexibility to meet unanticipated user needs down the road.

In order to analyze this debate, Buterin uses account abstraction as a case study. The proposals like EIP-86 were designed to make transactions just simple VM calls, reducing protocol complexity but increasing miner responsibilities. More recent proposals, such as ERC-4337, still begin outside the protocol, but may later enshrine components for efficiency and security.

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Engraving features can enhance efficiency, security, and censorship resistance. It can also extend the protocol's governance and make it too rigid for unanticipated user needs.

How can the community be fractured from enshrining.

There are different opinions on this question emerging within the Ethereum community. Pragmatists may consider enshrining features that provide clear advantages to users today, even if it's difficult to govern. purists contend that reducing the base layer safeguards Ethereum's vision as a decentralized application platform.

Businesses and institutions want features that embrace their use cases quickly enshrined, while decentralization advocates worry that risks unaccountable control by privileged groups. Developers desire increased base layer functionality for ease app building, but security researchers warn enshrinement may lock in suboptimal technical choices.

As Buterin points out, navigating these tradeoffs will only grow more complicated as expectations of Ethereum diversify and scale. The discussion of core principles, though, helps anchor the conversation as progress compels reassessment. The open'soft forking' process of Ethereum allows for continued evolution based on emerging community priorities. However, Buterin's post provides a valuable framework to weigh options and build alignment as Ethereum pushes toward its ambitious vision.