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Vitalik Buterin Highlights Flaws in Elon Musk’s Blockchain Scalability Idea




In a personal blog about the scalability of the blockchain, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin disagrees with Tesla CEO Elon Musk's vision of scalability.

Buterin starts the post by asking how far can we go with blockchain scalability:

“Can you really, as Elon Musk wishes, ‘speed up block time 10X, increase block size 10X & drop fee 100X’ without leading to extreme centralization and compromising the fundamental properties that make a blockchain what it is? If not, how far can you go?”

In May, Elon Musk tweeted about how the memecoin Dogecoin (DOGE) can “win.” According to him, “ Ideally, Doge speeds up block time 10X, increases block size 10X & drops fee 100X. Then it wins hands down.”

Musk was quick to respond to the criticism made by Buterin. In his response, he said that Buterin fears the DOGE and posted a Jaws poster with a Shiba Inu in place of the shark.

Commenting on the scalability challenges, Buterin says that there are “important and quite subtle” technicalities that restrict scaling. He also emphasizes that a major increase in scalability and throughput should happen “without extreme centralization and compromising the fundamental properties that make a blockchain what it is.”

Buterin sites computing power, bandwidth, and storage as the main limitations to a full node’s ability to handle a large number of transactions. As a solution to this scalability challenge, he introduces readers to quadratic sharding and says “Ethereum is not going further than quadratic…the extra scalability gains that you get by going from shards-of-transactions to shards-of-shards-of-transactions actually cannot be realized without other risks becoming unacceptably high.”

Talking about the solutions for blockchain defense and decentralization, Buterin highlights the importance of the regular users running nodes.

Sharing an example of an attack, Buterin says: “If you have a community of 37 node runners and 80000 passive listeners that check signatures and block headers, the attacker wins. If you have a community where everyone runs a node, the attacker loses.” The threshold for a successful defense against attacks is unknown, but “more nodes good, fewer nodes bad, and we definitely need more than a few dozen or few hundred,” he adds.


Ethereum developers are currently preparing for their 11th hard fork, called London, and Ethereum 2.0 developers are preparing for their first update, called Altair after the brightest star in the northern constellation of Aquila. The two updates are expected to take place at the same time, in July or August, to enable validators to upgrade Ethereum and Eth 2.0 in one go.

Earlier in the month, Ethereum reached an all-time high of over $3,456. This increase in the value of the cryptocurrency is attributed to the use of the Ethereum platform in decentralized finance (DeFi).

Elon Musk

Elon Musk has been a pivotal figure in the recent marketing and consequent price hikes of DOGE. He has also been in the news because of Tesla’s $1.5bn Bitcoin investment and subsequent cancellation of Bitcoin as a method of payment because of environmental concerns. Most recently, Musk spoke with North American Bitcoin miners on creating a Bitcoin mining council that promotes energy use transparency and accelerates sustainability initiatives.


Salman Hassen is an environmental engineer and an avid follower of emerging tech in the energy and IT industries. He writes about blockchain tech, sustainable development, and several other personal interests.