Arthur Breitman on the Ethereum Merge: 'Welcome to the Proof-of-Stake club'

According to Arthur Breitman, while Proof-of-Work has some benefits, it has long been obvious that Proof-of-Stake makes more sense.


650 words, 4 minute read

Ahead of the much-anticipated (and long-signposted) Ethereum ‘Merge’ later this month, Tezos co-founder and early architect Arthur Breitman has shared his thoughts on what it means for one of the world’s biggest blockchains to (finally) join ‘the Proof-of-Stake club’.

Describing Proof-of-Stake as ‘the industry standard’, Breitman called Ethereum’s adoption of the more efficient consensus mechanism ‘a great event’ while stressing that nonetheless, it simply represents ‘Ethereum catching up with the rest of the entire industry.’ Remembering his early research into cryptocurrencies in the 2010s, Breitman explained that while Proof-of-Work has some benefits, even then it was clear that ‘Proof-of-Stake made more sense. It had better incentives, [and] better security properties.’

If you have better security properties and lower cost, then it’s too obvious, why would some people [still] be using proof-of-work? […] You can better deal with attacks in a proof-of-stake network. You have better incentives. It works, and it’s been working for a while too.

[…] Tezos was designed in 2014. It had a testnet in 2016. The chain launched in 2018. It’s been running with Proof-of-Stake for the past four years, but we’re not the only one. We were joined by Cosmos, and Polkadot and Avalanche and countless other chains. Proof-of-Stake today is the industry standard.

In Breitman’s opinion, the Ethereum Merge is ‘great news […] but old news’. Far more exciting, in his view, are advances in scaling, which Tezos is able to implement without relying on participants running incredibly powerful hardware, or ‘companies backed by VCs that will sell you a token in order to scale’.

It’s based on decentralization, so that you can still connect to the network and validate it with just one Raspberry Pi. It’s based on economic integrity in the sense that, the only token you need to participate in Tezos is tez, and it’s based on a sensible design.

Describing ‘optimistic rollups’ as an effective means to achieve greater scalability, Breitman again contrasted Tezos’ more accessible, lower-cost approach to that of other blockchains:

Optimistic rollups, which are implemented within the protocol, are enshrined in the protocol, [and] are part of the economic units of the chain, not a product where you have to buy a token for a VC to use it. That’s the future. That’s what’s interesting. Having chains which are accessible by everyone because transactions do not cost you hundreds of dollars to make, but pennies or even less than that.

Finally, Breitman explained how decentralization is at the heart of Tezos’ governance model, with no hard forks, and participants, not developers or a governing board, suggesting and voting on changes to the protocol:

The Tezos protocol evolves based on a real governance model. There’s not someone who decided that the merge would happen on that date, and, ‘oh, by the way, it’s your free choice. You can either install the hard fork that we told you to install, or if you don’t, you’re going to be left alone by the network’. Fork- based governance is not a real choice, it’s a centrally controlled choice. Blockchains should not be centralized, and decisions around the technological content and the integrity of the protocol should not be left in the hands of developers, it should be in the hands of the communities, and Tezos has done this successfully.

Tezos has had more than 10 major upgrades happen with the votes of the participants, with the votes of the bakers, with the votes of the token holders, with really high participation rates.

You can watch Arthur Breitman’s full video presentation at the top of this page, and be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel for more videos.