Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin yesterday proposed a way of hastening the process of transitioning from a proof of work chain to a proof of stake chain.

The proof of work consensus mechanism requires miners to perform complex computational calculations to validate transactions. This is a costly, environmentally damaging process that favors those with the money to buy expensive, bespoke miningequipment.

A proof of stake consensus mechanism validates transactions by letting those with the most amount of currency “staked”—held in a wallet on the platform—validate transactions. It’s far more economical, and doesn’t require the purchase of expensive miners (though it does favor the rich).

Vitalik's fix

Per Buterin’s proposal, validators who want to participate in the old Ethereum chain can register themselves as “eth1-friendly validators”. Anyone can register and deregister themselves as “eth-1 friendly validators”, but these special validators “would be expected to maintain an eth1 full node”, in addition to their eth2 node, or “beacon node”. 

These validators could then propose “eth1-on-eth2 blocks”—a way of making the old Ethereum “live” as a shard of the new one—but “verifying [these blocks] as part of a committee would be mandatory.” Merging the two together would make the process of upgrading the chain far quicker.

Buterin’s new idea would require stateless clients—a protocol which doesn’t retain information whilst making transactions. If validators turn out to be malicious, then “the malicious blocks would not get through.”

Buterin’s proposal was met with assent by Ethereum core developer Danny Ryan and a researcher at ConsenSys, Will Villanueva (ConsenSys funds an editorially-independent Decrypt). 

If all goes to plan, Ethereum could get its spanking new upgrade sooner than you think.