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Interview with Afri Schoedon — the pioneer of ETH2 multi-client testnets

Our team has recently talked with Afri Schoedon — the pioneer of ETH2 multi-client testnets — on ETH2 launch, the current state of multi-client testnets, the existing networks, and more!

The long-anticipated ETH2 milestone is getting closer every day. Could you please explain to our readers what ETH2 looks like in plain words? And when do you expect ETH2.0 to go live?

If you have some ETH1 coins in your pocket, you could take them out, melt them, and pour them into a specially prepared wallet inside an unbreakable titan-wall. You will not be able to retrieve these coins again. For every 32 coins, you irreversibly melt into that wall, you would get one badge that states “VALIDATOR” legitimizing you to secure the ETH2 society patrolling the streets and being on the lookout for criminals. Doing so earns you rewards on your badge that eventually in the future can be cashed out and used to buy groceries or other items. The Ethereum 2.0 beacon chain will launch in November unless we find severe bugs in clients or protocol. I’m in-between Vitalk and Justin with my estimation here, I don’t think that we necessarily need to delay Ethereum 2.0 into 2021 unless we find critical issues. We are well on track for a late 2020 launch.

The multi-client testnet is considered to be the ultimate hurdle before we see real ETH2. As the initiator of ETH2 multi-client testnets, could you please share with us the primary targets of multi-clients, and its current running state?

Currently, at least five clients implement the latest version of the Ethereum 2.0 specification. The currently running Altona testnet appears to be stable which featured four clients in Genesis and just added a fifth with Lodestar. This allows us to prepare launching the official multi-client testnet Medalla very soon, which would mark the final step towards an Ethereum 2.0 mainnet launch.

ETH2 is opening a lot of opportunities, for example, for investors and miners. How could various stakeholders participate in ETH2 staking?

They can lock their ETH1 tokens and secure the beacon chain. There is probably not much more available very soon, I fear.

DeFi “yield farming” is one of the hottest topics in the crypto world so far. What is your opinion on this hype? Do you believe in them?

I’m a layer-1 person, I don’t really follow “DeFi.”

Do you think we can elevate the security of sharding computations to an adequate level?

Yes, but I’m not an expert on that. I enjoyed reading the Nightshade whitepaper. It’s both interesting for people to learn more about sharding but also offers a practical approach to validator partitioning and state sharding.

Do you think any of the existing networks deliver a proper level of development framework?

Besides Bitcoin and Ethereum, I’m quite attracted by what the NEAR community is offering for developers. That means I’m tempted to try it out, I haven’t touched their stack, yet.

Do you think we will ever be able to overcome onchain limitations to cope with offchain governance?

I don’t fully get that question. I think that off-chain governance is a feature and the inability to change seemingly controversial or non-technical parameters in most cases is an advantage. I’m having a lot of understanding about the conservative approach that Bitcoin does: soft-fork or no upgrade at all; but I also appreciate the pragmatic way of doing regular protocol upgrades on Ethereum. Yet I believe, not coming to a conclusion or not finding a rough consensus on some issues is actually a feature and protective measure. It should be respected that no decision could also be a decision.

A question that excites many community members: in nutshell, why did you leave Ethereum in 2019?

I was volunteering in a key-role of hard-fork coordination for Ethereum that many people mistakenly believed was a role of power. Due to an unfortunate statement on Twitter, I had to give up my contributions as it would have been impossible to work in that area without the support of the community. I never left Ethereum though, I just ceased active contributions and retired my online-identity after threats of physical violence against my family.

We are all going through these hard pandemic times. Could you tell us about your COVID19 experience?

I’m privileged to pay taxes in Germany where we have not cut down on health care, yet. So far, the COVID-19 experience here is not too bad. There are days I forget about the pandemic because there are only so few active cases here. I can really recommend that to other nations, by the way, cut down spending money for bullshit such as the military and invest in education and health care instead. It will pay off one day, eventually. Also don’t elect freaks as president, I know it’s tempting, just try to be reasonable.

And a question for dessert. What is your favorite crypto meme for now?

My fav meme is that guy in a club explaining crypto to a girl in detail. She’s obviously not really impressed and someone commented that meme on Twitter saying, “this, but both are guys.”

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