EigenLayer: Abbreviated Introduction
EigenLayer proposes a novel system known as “Re-Staking,” a general-purpose cryptoeconomic primitive. Restaking allows Ethereum Stakers to receive additional rewards in exchange for taking on additional slashing risks. Developers can build middleware services (e.g., Data Availability and Oracles) or other core infrastructure (e.g., Alternative Layer-1s and Sidechains) on top of EigenLayer and seek the services of Restakers to provide validation services to their distributed systems. The restakers would subject themselves to additional slashing risks on these middlewares if they did not provide the services honestly.
The key idea behind EigenLayer is that it is a mechanism to leverage an existing trust network (i.e., Ethereum) to do other things (other than block making) that it did not intend to do.
EigenLayer aims to change the status quo by better aligning the interests of the Decentralized Applications (dApps), Middleware services, and Ethereum as the dominant Layer-1 decentralized trust network. The current state of affairs is that (i) dApps pay Ethereum a premium for the strong trust and security guarantees provided by Ethereum and face a fragmented and riskier trust ecosystem. On the other hand, Middleware developers are burdened with bootstrapping costly new trust models from the ground up. This situation dilutes the value proposition of the Ethereum Network. If EigenLayer could enable the core Ethereum security to be achieved across the ecosystem, that could help overcome these drawbacks.
Technically, any service could be built atop EigenLayer, such as variations of MEV-Boost, Data Availability layers, settlement infrastructure, decentralized sequencers, Oracles, bridges and bridging hubs, Event-Driven Automation Services, and Fair Ordering services.
As ambitious as it is, EigenLayer could unleash a new wave of innovation if adopted successfully. However, there are challenges ahead to overcome, and it will be interesting to watch the idea grow.
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