April 18, 2022

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digital daily: It Only Takes One

It only takes one: Ethereum is preparing to store a new form of data. The change will carve out a special location for unstructured "blobs," allowing layer 2s cheaper, readily available space to print their records to Ethereum's base layer. It is a productive step in scaling the ecosystem. This advance in distributed, decentralized networking hinges on a random number that anchors the math behind data blobs. This single number will be a key that can unlock the system. So, how to produce it honestly and securely? A trusted person? Or a computer? The chosen solution is a community approach called "Powers of Tau." Anyone with an Ethereum address can participate by adding a random number from their computer. Independent teams have built various software to generate these inputs. The project is now live, with nearly ten thousand contributors, and hopes to entice participation from several hundred thousand before it is complete. The community is also experimenting with public displays of randomness, such as adding a few data points from natural sources. The beauty of a Powers of Tau approach is confidence at extremes. Future users of the network can trust that many thousands of participants must contain a single honest one. Or for the true skeptics, trust no one: participate yourself. It only takes one.