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Squashing Bugs - The Daily Gwei #436
It's going to take more than a few bugs to kill the optimism in the air.
Over the last 24 hours it came to light that one of Ethereum’s star layer 2 projects - Optimism - had a critical bug discovered by none other than the creator of Cydia (a very popular app store for jailbroken iOS devices). For his efforts, he was rewarded a monstrous $2 million bug bounty and also saved a lot of users from potential heartache had this bug ended up being exploited by malicious actors.
I’ve written about how pretty much all layer 2’s on Ethereum currently have centralized controls in place - “training wheels” if you will - because they are still such new tech. Well the Optimism bug is exactly why these controls exist and it allowed the team to quickly patch this critical vulnerability and they were also able to alert the other layer 2’s that use their code (Metis and Boba Network). Without these centralized controls in place, the Optimism team would’ve had to covertly coordinate a fix for this across a decentralized set of actors all around the globe - we know from experience with Ethereum and Bitcoin that this isn’t an easy feat!
There are many other reasons why these centralized controls exist - the tech is still early, the teams behind each project need to be able to move rapidly to upgrade the system (or fix bugs), and decentralizing at this point is actually a competitive disadvantage. This is because it’d mean that a decentralized layer 2 network would move much slower than a centralized one which I believe to be a non-starter in this environment. Layer 2’s are execution/user-facing layers - they are not like Ethereum as a settlement layer - thus, they need to be able to move fast to stay ahead of their competition.
Of course, layer 2 teams will need to decentralize their networks over time if they want to become censorship-resistant and decentralized or else they’ll end up just being as bad as a sidechain in terms of security guarantees. But now is not the time - not when the tech is still this early and not when competition is so cutthroat in crypto. Remember, layer 2’s aren’t just competing with eachother - they are competing with monolithic layer 1’s as well and these platforms are mostly centralized with huge marketing machines behind them.
There’s always a balance to be struck in crypto when developing generalized platforms whether they be layer 1’s, layer 2’s, sidechains or whatever. You can’t really “move fast and break things” as you are dealing with other people’s money but you also can’t “move slow and ship sometimes” - you have to strike a delicate balance - something like “ship fast and try not to break anything”.
Oh and also make sure you fix all the critical bugs - very important!
Have a great weekend everyone,
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All information presented above is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as investment advice.