Optimism’s Path to Technical Decentralization

An update on OP Labs’ goals for advancing Optimism’s technical decentralization.

Optimism’s Path to Technical Decentralization

Optimism aims to empower humanity by enabling global coordination of human intelligence via decentralized blockchain technology. OP Labs contributes by building technical infrastructure to help make this optimistic vision possible. An essential component of this vision is the decentralization of the OP Stack codebase.

Much of the work at OP Labs over the last year has been about readying the OP Stack to support broader technical decentralization. For example, the Bedrock release will enable the use of multiple proof schemes and multiple clients. Multi-client fault proofs are a fundamental component for technical decentralization, and the modular framework of Bedrock will have a big impact on the community’s ability to decentralize the actual development of the OP Stack.

With all this in mind, we wanted to share an update on OP Labs’ goals for advancing Optimism’s technical decentralization together with the Collective.

Strategic Approach

It is important to be intellectually honest about the challenges communities face when working towards decentralization. Namely, writing complex, bug-free code is incredibly difficult, yet critical, as a single vulnerability can be catastrophic for any L2.

We are advocates of being intentional, pragmatic, and abundantly cautious in the steps that are taken to activate fault proofs onchain. While full provability will take time, there are several protocol upgrades that can be developed in parallel to move the OP Stack meaningfully further along the decentralization spectrum without waiting for fault proof readiness.

We call these parallelized upgrades baseline decentralization milestones. These protocol upgrades decentralize custody of the bridge upgrade keys and enable permissionless output proposals. The community could continue to iterate on fault proofs carefully, while pushing towards baseline decentralization at the same time.


The Superchain and Beyond

Baseline decentralization is our top priority, and something we hope to help deliver towards the end of this year. Looking ahead, we expect completing precursors for fault proof decentralization will be a focus into 2024.

Once baseline decentralization and the Cannon fault proof milestones have been achieved, the community can shift its focus to other high-level themes such as deploying additional proof systems on Mainnet, phasing out the attestor network, removing upgrade keys, and decentralizing the sequencer.

We’re excited that everyone building on the OP Stack codebase can contribute to, and benefit from, our collective efforts to advance its level of technical decentralization. And in a post-Superchain world, all connected L2s can inherit this vision and progress.