Vitalik escalates ETH 2.0 merge as miners plan a 51% attack

Vitalik escalates ETH 2.0 merge as miners plan a 51% attack

James Baker
on Mar 12, 2021

Ethereum miners have recently begun coordinating a possible 51% attack in direct response to the EIP-1559 proposal, which burns a majority of the transaction fees rather than giving them to miners. There are a wide variety of benefits to this proposal, such as potentially making Ethereum deflationary, providing users with a better user experience, and embedding ETH's economic value at a protocol level.

Miners have strongly opposed this change, as it will significantly decrease their revenue, and they have even went as far as creating a website dedicated to stopping its integration. The currently listed mining pools on this website that are against EIP-1559 far exceed the required 51% hash power. While this EIP evidently benefits the Ethereum ecosystem at large, some miners believe they can turn things around to keep their exorbitant block rewards by blocking the upgrade altogether.

Like clockwork, the Ethereum community has quickly organized potential solutions to this possible 51% attack, with Vitalik leading the charge. In an informal document titled "Quick merge via fork choice change," Vitalik describes how Ethereum can perform a "quick merge" by rapidly moving from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake with limited changes required to Ethereum clients.

This quick merge would prioritize quickly moving to proof-of-stake while leaving the fine tuning for a future hard fork of ETH 2.0. In fact, Vitalik states that "the minimal merge will make these things easier to work on, as it would no longer be needed to worry about merging two chains at the same time." This appears to indicate that a quick merge may be the preferred course of action, regardless of any potential 51% attack.

Status completely and unambiguously supports the EIP-1559 upgrade, and will be glad to assist both the community and the developers to ensure this critical change is fully integrated into Ethereum.

James Baker
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