- Maximalists don’t like Multi-chain
- Multi-chain crypto economy provides better security
- Multi-chain crypto economy fosters healthy competition
- Multi-chain crypto economy is the realization of decentralization
As the name of this article might imply, we believe that moving forward, the perennial debate as to whether or not the crypto/digital economy will be based on a singular network has been closed forever, and the verdict has been delivered…
The future shall be multi-chain!
At the heart of the crypto uprising that began over a decade ago (and the primary value proposition of the open, permissionless, immutable digital ledger technology) has been decentralization.
Decentralization is a very abstract, subjective concept that demonstrates the diffusion of power/risk from a single source to many. It is on the back of this ephemeral primitive that we now have an industry worth north of 1.65 Trillion USD.
Decentralization is a concept that systematically arises throughout human history as global power shifts happen. As an empire falls, 100 new ones are born and contend to replace it. As companies hit their maturation inflection points, they begin to slowly deteriorate and give up market share to younger, more nimble, innovative competitors.
Cryptocurrency (the ultimate application of blockchain technology thus far) was born from the very idea of decentralizing money, separating it from state, and establishing a neutral economic environment.
Therefore, in order for crypto to actually live up to its promises, it must embody the essence of decentralization on every level; having a single network domineering over all of humanity's digital value transference would ultimately be antithetic to that message… not to mention ridiculously risky.
Arguments Against Multi-Chain
Volumes have been written in opposition to a multi-chain environment. Many people, primarily early industry OGs and maximalists (Max Kieser), discharge multi-chain architecture in an attempt to protect their own personal interests. Some of the most prominent and indeed valid arguments have been enumerated below:
Technical and Economic Fragmentation
The inefficiencies of disjointed systems that fragment liquidity degrade user experience/functionality to such an extent that we ultimately end up recreating the same problems of siloed data systems prevalent in Web2.
This seems to only be a problem in theory.
As empirical evidence would suggest, fragmentation has actually become an opportunity for bridge service providers and aggregators' business models to be built.
Allocating all human, time, effort, and attention to securing a single system would result in much higher diligence and monitoring than if those same resources were split up.
This seems intuitively true on the surface, but in practice, things materialize differently. If all human economic endeavors are secured by a single network, then that network becomes a central point of failure.
At some point, the cost of contributing to said security would become so insane that regular people and businesses would no longer be able to participate, and nation-state actors would be the only ones with enough capital to contribute. Resulting in a round trip back to centralized control.
More environments mean more diversity in programming languages, logic, style, execution, storage, and everything else; meanwhile, having a single, universal ledger would allow for the training of a wider set of specialists based on standardizations. The clutter of multi-chains would just disincentivize potential users.
Not necessarily; in fact, not at all.
The variance in a multi-chain environment is actually more likely to be able to appeal to a wider set of developers. Each chain carries its own philosophies, expressed in its architecture, that resonate differently among developers. Moreover, human nature has a competitive element imbued into it; having developers competing with each other would actually produce greater results than if they were all working on the same thing the same way.
Asymmetrically Enriching Private Groups
Well-resourced and intelligent private groups with specific skill sets would subvert the openness of such system to be able to endlessly launch new digital assets ecosystems, leeching from their audiences and lining their own pockets. Insert Cardano pun here.
There is some rationale behind this thinking, and in fact, it does materialize in some shitcoin projects; there are groups of shadowy super coders that are spitting out scams incessantly…
However, it is this very same open competition that invited Bitcoin, Ethereum, Solana, and the countless forks in between.
This is a fake narrative pushed forth by the wealthy elites who are putting on a facade to confuse average people into supporting their arguments; it is the wealthiest that stand to lose the most in such an environment.
Arguments Supporting Multi-Chain
Early industry visionaries have been pushing the idea of a multi-chain universe long before the term “rollup” even existed. What are some of the points they used to defend the viability of a multi-chain cryptosystem? Let's see:
In the presence of a singular network, critical issues could have catastrophic results. If the entire human population depends on the Bitcoin blockchain for its activities and Satoshi suddenly appears to zero-day attack everybody, the world economy would come to a screeching halt. The damages would be felt for decades as trust infrastructure is attempted to be rebuilt.
Having a global economy that is not dependent on the success or failure of any single system seems obvious; thus, by splitting economic value throughout a multitude of independent networks, the world can continue operating uninterrupted.
Bitcoin goes down, freezing 30% of the value in the crypto industry with it. Ethereum continues to operate. Solana continues to operate. Businesses can conduct transactions. People can pay their debts. What's crazy is that even with the Bitcoin network down, the assets itself (BTC) would still be tradeable on any of the pegged networks (such as WBTC on ETH).
Just as in the case of economic resilience, should any critical technological issues, bugs, circuit meltdowns, or worldwide electromagnetic disruptions from solar waves shock a system enough to derail its fluid operations, there will always exist alternative/supplementary system(s).
This gets into the weeds of validator nodes sharing security through architectures like Eigen layer or IBC as well as conversations around software clients.
Imagine there are 101 nodes all running the same client on network Z. Suddenly, the client trips out and the network becomes impossible to operate on. The community of users and node operators get furious with the network’s technical ineptitude and can seamlessly reallocate their resources to support another network.
Leveling Playing field
Fostering healthy competition by allowing anybody to contend for the right of something is a natural law. In a world of a single network, the very essence of competition dies, and a pseudo-communist regime rises.
How Does a MultiChain Future Look?
Like a 4 dimensional spiderweb that continues to expand in every direction at every vector point.
Maybe there will be 100 base layer 1 chains, each with 100 layer 2s that have dedicated appchain Layer 3s.
Maybe there will be just 10 monolithic layer 1s with 10,000 modular appchain L2s built on them.
Sounds fancy, but in truth… Who the f*ck knows.
Over the years, the very concept of what a chain is and how it looks has evolved dramatically. New technologies (nested chains, rollups, sidechains, plasma, Eigen Layer, etc.) have shifted the paradigm of what it means to be a chain to begin with.
Just as back in the day, when the industry evolved from general-purpose hardware (CPU, GPU, FPGA) into ASICs, it has now shifted into a new era of application-specific chains (or rollups/rollapps). Moving forward, this will only accelerate.
So Is a Multi-chain Future Good or Bad?
Regardless of what maximalists might think, a multi-chain world is superior in just about every way to its single-chain counterpart.
At the very least, all of the experimentation/innovation taking place contributes to solving issues of scalability, interoperability, and performance in more exotic ways than in a uni-polar regime.
Decentralization will ultimately win.
To the entrenched incumbent behemoths of the legacy financial world, we wish you luck with swift adaptations to the new multi-chain crypto world order. We anticipate you to launch private networks, only to have them deteriorate to the forces of Mother Nature and Father Physics.
To the early-stage innovators and builders, we send you our goodwill and an invitation to connect.
Let's build this multi-chain world together.
Thank you so much for reading,
Would love to hear any thoughts you might have.
See you On-chain 👋⛓
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