Ethereum Classic: An Update

9 September 2016 Charles Hoskinson 8 mins read

Ethereum Classic An Update - Input Output HongKong

Ethereum Classic: An Update

I wanted to draft a brief update on IOHK's efforts on Ethereum Classic (ETC). We've had the opportunity to schedule more than three dozen meetings with developers, community managers and academic institutions. We've also managed to have several long discussions with several of the community groups supporting ETC to get a better sense of commitments, goals and philosophy. Overall, it's been a really fun experience getting to know a completely decentralized philosophical movement. It's also been illuminating to parse the challenges ahead for the fragile movement as it charts its own path forward. I'll break the report down into what we learned and what we are going to do.

What We Learned

Carlo Vicari and I have been trying to map out the total ETC community and also get some metadata about who they are (vocation, age, geography, interests...) so we can better understand the core constituencies. We will publish some preliminary stats sometime next week, but as a rough summary there are currently several meetup groups, a telegram group, a reddit, several Chinese specific hubs, a slack with over 1,000 members and a few other lingering groups.

Daily activity is growing and there is interest in more formal structure. With respect to developers, there are about a dozen people with development skills and knowledge of the EVM and solidity in the developer channel. They have been holding pretty deep discussions about potential directions and roadmaps. The biggest topics are currently pivoting consensus to PoW without the difficult bomb, new monetary policy and also safer smart contracts.

There is also interest in forming a pool of capital to pay for development efforts ranging from core infrastructure to DApps on top of the system. I haven't taken a position on this effort because we still need to address some governance and legal questions. Regardless of whether this pool materializes, IOHK's commitment of three full time developers will be funded solely by IOHK.

It seems that the price and trading volume of ETC has held relatively stable despite the virtual sword of damocles that is the DAO hacker and RHG funds. It seems that there is enough community interest in ETC to keep liquidity. I do think there will be tremendous volatility ahead and it's going to be impossible to predict when black swans are going to land in our laps, but I suppose that's what makes it fun?

IOHK's Commitment

After the initial conversations and analysis, we have determined the following serious deficits with ETC:

  1. There isn't an official or reliable channel of information about the events of the ecosystem or commitments of various actors. This reality has lead to FUD, impersonations and attempts at market manipulation in the absence of clarity.
  2. The roadmap of ETC needs to include at a minimum an emphasis on safety, sustainability and stability. There is a strong desire amongst the ETC community members we had discussions with to focus on reliable, high assurance applications that run on a network with proven fundamentals. Effectively, this needs to be the antithesis of move fast and break things.
  3. There is a desire amongst several well capitalized actors to donate capital to a pool to fund the growth of ETC. This desire has been complicated by the lack of a clear governance structure that will avoid fraud or misuse of funds. Furthermore an open pool would allow funds to potentially become tainted by RHG or Dao hacker donating funds to it. While code is law covers the protocol level use of funds, it does not shield actors from the legal realities of their actions. It is unclear how these funds should be treated or if accepting them would constitute a crime.
  4. The media is uncertain how to report on ETC outside of a referential curiosity to ethereum itself . There needs to be a re-branding and media strategy to ensure new users enter the ecosystem with a clear understanding of what ETC is about and how it differs from ETH.
  5. Concepts like the replay attack and also new potential technology that could be adopted are not fully understood by ETC community members or general developers. There needs to be actors dedicated to education and explanation.
  6. The Ethereum Foundation owns the Ethereum trademark. Further use of this branding could provoke a trademark infringement lawsuit to companies using the Ethereum brand and name. This complicates the formation of a centralized governance entity or steering committee if it chooses to use ethereum classic as its name. It also complicates business commitments to building on the ETC chain.
There are likely more problems, but these seem to be the most pressing for the time being. They are also compounded by the decentralized nature of the movement, which seems to be a boon for resilience, but a curse for agility. Given this fact, IOHK obviously cannot move unilaterally to address all of these problems; however, we can chart a course and invite the community to follow where they deem reasonable.

Thus IOHK is in the process of doing the following:

  1. We have interviewed several community manager candidates and will make our final selection sometime next week. He or she will be responsible for assisting meetup group founders, managing social media channels, broadcasting accurate information, combating FUD, collecting feedback from the ETC community and dealing with media entities. My hope is this position will be defined by its interactions with the ETC community and give us a starting point for timely and credible information at the very least.
  2. IOHK is going to subsidize an educator to produce content on ETC ranging from the replay attack to new proposals suggested in various roadmaps. We have one candidate in mind and are finalizing the contract and duration of the relationship. All content will be released under a creative commons license and our hope is to again let this role be community driven.
  3. IOHK has had numerous discussions with academic partners about the consensus algorithm of ETC and also the smart contract model. We would like to see if the EVM can be improved to be more secure and that Typescript and Purescript could be used as ETC's smart contract languages representing both a functional and imperative approach to development that maps nicely onto the skillsets of existing developers. We are seeing what types of partnerships are possible in the next few months and will provide an update.
  4. We've also spent quite a bit of time looking at Smart contract languages on the horizon. There are some excellent ideas coming from Synereo and Juno's Hopper. IOHK has entered into a partnership with Kent University to begin an analysis of Transaction Languages used in cryptocurrencies. We will have a survey report available sometime in Q4 of 2016. This report will form the basis of our organization's understanding of the interplay of smart contracts in cryptocurrencies. Once available we will release it to the general public as a whitepaper.
  5. We have decided that Scorex 2 will make a good base to build our ETC Main Client (Read Alex's First Blog on It). The core is going through a massive refactoring that will be finished sometime this month. From this point, we will retain a scala specific team (our three developer commitment) to fork Scorex 2 and build a full ETC Node including a wallet with GUI. The architecture of Scorex should allow for much faster iterative improvements and also a great opportunity to test our new blockchain specific database IODB .
  6. With respect to the developer hires in particular, we have taken quite a few resumes already, but also want to make the process open to the general public. Our new community manager will post the job ad on the ETC reddit once he's been hired. I expect the first developer to be announced sometime in September. Quality scala developers with the requisite skills to make meaningful contributions to Ethereum are rare and require careful vetting.
  7. With respect to a technological steering committee to guide the roadmap process, we are proposing the formation of a federated group tentatively called the smart contract engineering taskforce (after the IETF). Ideally we could develop an RFC process to propose improvement proposals from the community without the need for a formal, centralized entity. We'd love to see this form as a DAO. There could be two tracks covering changes requiring forks and changes that are iterative in nature. We will start the discussion about this group sometime in early October.
  8. IOHK cannot resolve the trademark issue, but will make a commitment to not use the Ethereum brand or name in its repos or company assets. This said, we would like to see some form of bilateral resolution to this situation. It seems pyrrhic to seek trademark enforcement on a decentralized movement. We also understand the confusion this issue is causing the general public and developers.
Overall, it's been a great two months and I look forward to the next few to see ETC continue to grow and become a strong, stable cryptocurrency. I'd like to thank the awesome community and all their help. I'd also like to thank the people who had enough patience to talk with Carlo and me despite the long meetings.

====== Edit: Special Shout out to the Ethereum Classic Russian Community:

RollerChain, a Blockchain With Safely Pruneable History

7 September 2016 Alexander Chepurnoy 3 mins read

RollerChain, a Blockchain With Safely Pruneable History - Input Output HongKong

RollerChain, a Blockchain With Safely Pruneable History

When you starting a Bitcoin node it is downloading all the transactions for more than 7 years in order to check them all. People are often asking in the community resources whether it is possible to avoid that. In a more interesting formulation the question would be “can we get fullnode security without going from genesis block”? The question becomes even more important if we consider the following scenario. Full blocks with transactions are needed only in order to update a minimal state, that is, some common state representation enough to check whether is arbitrary transaction is valid(against the state) or not. In case of Bitcoin, minimal state is unspent outputs set (we call this stateminimal as a node could also store some additional information also, e.g. historical transactions for selected addresses, but this information is not needed to check validity of an arbitrary transaction). Having this state (with some additional data to perform possible rollbacks) full blocks are not needed anymore and so could be removed.

In Bitcoin fullnodes are storing all the full blocks since genesis without a clear selfish need. This is the altruistic behavior and we can not expect nodes to follow it in the long term. But if all the nodes are rational how a new node can download and replay the history?

The proposal recently put on Arxiv trying to solve the problems mentioned with a new Proof-of-Work consensus protocol. I very lightly list here modifications from Bitcoin, for details please read the paper.

  1. State is to be represented as an authenticated data structure(Merkle tree is the simple example of such a data structure) and a root value of it is to be included into a blockheader. It is the pretty old idea already implemented in Ethereum(and some other coins).
  2. We then modify a Proof-of-Work function. A miner is choosing uniformly k state snapshot versions out of last n a (sufficiently large) network stores collectively. In order to generate a block miner needs to provide proofs of possession for all the state snapshots. On a new block arrival a miner updates k+1 states, not one, so full blocks (since minimal value in k) are also needed.
Thus miners store a distributed database of last n full blocks AND state snapshots getting rewards for that activity. A new node downloads blockheaders since genesis first (header in Bitcoin is just 80 bytes, in Rollerchain 144 bytes if a hash function with 32 bytes output is chosen). Then it could download last snapshot or from n blocks ago, or from somewhere in between. It is proven that this scheme achieves fullnode-going-from-genesis security with probability of failure going down exponentially with “n” (see Theorem 2 in the paper). Full blocks not needed for mining could be removed by all the nodes. They can store them as in Bitcoin but we do not expect it anymore.

The RollerChain fullnode is storing only sliding window of full blocks thus storing disk space, also less bandwidth is needed in order to feed new nodes in the network and so bandwidth saved could be repurposed for other tasks.

Ode to the Contrarian Artifacts

27 August 2016 Charles Hoskinson 6 mins read

Ode to the Contrarian Artifacts - Input Output HongKong

Ode to the Contrarian Artifacts

A Fistful of Pauls

It was the night of January 3rd, 2008 in Des Moines Iowa. The temperature was a brutally cold ten degrees, yet over a hundred thousand caucus goers endured long lines, confusing rules and poorly organized events to express their political will in the republican primaries. Just days earlier, many internal and some local polls showed Ron Paul performing admirably in a dead heat with Mike Huckabee.

It seemed as if the revolution's recent fundraising wins would translate into votes. It seemed as if the entire republican establishment was going to endure a defeat harsher than the wars they inflicted on the American people over the last eight years. Yet when the results came in, each percent point was like a dagger in the heart of the movement. The end tally was roughly ten percent support for a total around 11,000 people. Some rallies attracted nearly that many people. Somehow Huckabee attracted 4 votes for each of Paul's.

It seemed as if the harsh defeat was now reserved for the Paul movement. Some campaigners, exhausted from running the full grassley twice in just a few of months cried. Other responded with rage. Some argued that the vote had been rigged- afterall, the University commitments alone were 15,000 votes. One campaigner sat silently on an outside bench without a coat carrying a grave thousand yard stare for several hours. It was an easy time to feel hopeless. The remainder of the primaries didn't help.

In the aftermath, many wrote the Ron Paul campaign off as a populist anomaly. An internet era federation of John Birchers marrying the Austrians to return the American people to the 19th century's deflationary horrors and isolationism. How dare a campaign inflict the banality of historical reflection upon the American people! How dare he ask his fellow candidates to read books and think about the nature of money!

The appraisal couldn't be further from the truth. The contrarian arguments grew and now have created an entire generation of advocates who desire to end the fed, return to the gold standard, end foreign entanglements and embrace constitutional rights. In a more abstract sense, the contrarian always seems to be maligned, mocked and diminished; however, occasionally plants seeds that will eventually overcome whatever social paradigm they are fighting against.

Dr. Infinity

Another figure that comes to mind is Cantor. He is now regarded as one of the greatest mathematicians of the last few centuries including the company of Riemann, Euler and Gauss. Analogous to Paul's heresy of addressing the inconvenient and sensitive topic of monetary policy, Cantor dared to ask deep questions about the nature of infinity. He presented a diagonalization argument that demonstrated that while both the natural and real numbers are endless, they are somehow a different type of endlessness.

This work simultaneously led to extraordinary questions like the continuum hypothesis and to Cantor's dreadful consternation at his peer's sharp dismissals ranging from "grave disease" to "scientific charlatan". While he has been posthumously vindicated, the treatment by his peers and Cantor's subsequent nervous breakdown demonstrates the social consequences of dissent. As a final irony, there are now some mathematicians such as Norman Wildberger who are actually in the opposite position.

Value of Dissent

The value of contrarians isn't in their efforts to win over the crowd with their counterarguments to the norm- many are in fact completely wrong. Their value is more significant than a policy change or a scientific retooling. The power of contrarian thinking is that it forces a more fundamental appraisal of the axioms and heuristics we tend to use to navigate life.

For example, in the heroic age of medicine, blood letting and cocaine laced mercury were the common notions. Allopathy challenged the entire basis for having these thoughts. The methodology itself was flawed and needed a change.

On the same token, Ron Paul's movement was an electoral failure, but a massive success in the thoughts about money. Value is starting to be viewed more socially and globally than siloed, institutionally enforced magical units of account.

Some of Bitcoin's earliest and more ardent adopters were Paulites who already crossed the mental gap of seeing fiat for what it is- a social artifact. Now Bitcoin is a change engine forcing this humbling truth just by its continued growth and existence.

Lex Ex Machina

Smart contracts seem to me to be another contrarian mental artifact. They are eating at the roots of the common notions of law. Who should enforce laws? What are contracts? What is intent? How should arbitration be addressed?

We have socially constructed answers to these questions forming a corpus of knowledges hundreds of years old. No human could ever appreciate the totality of opinion and elegance of such a construction much less a mathematician ever read and understand the entire proof of the classification of the finite simple groups.

Yet this system is becoming increasingly more expensive to maintain, riddled with inequities and requires legions of domain experts to just interpret its arcane wisdom. Is it moral to propagate a system that hurts the poor, drains society of resources and favors a rich minority to manipulate at a whim?

Whether the effects of smart contracts have a real impact on commercial transactions and push us towards a private legal system for trade is as relevant as Ron Paul's loss. It's the attack on the fundamentals of the existing paradigm given alternatives that is much more meaningful. Contracts can become understandable open source, composable, templatable and in many cases don't require the heavy hand of government to resolve.

There is already a growing movement from Stanford's CodeX group to IBM's Ross providing AI driven legal assistance. As a corollary, I would be authorially negligent if I didn't mention Nick Szabo's recent writings on Wet and Dry code.

Could we now be approaching a future where the government has a moral obligation to give us our own robot lawyer to interpret their Borgesian library of laws? Could we see people switching between legal systems as easily as multinational companies? Will we begin to expect an evolutionary nature in our legal system akin to the accelerating pace of technology? With the right contrarian artifacts perhaps.

An Artifact in Every Thought

The concise summary of my thoughts is that we live in a house of ideas, common notions, social conventions and biases inherited from people no smarter or better equipped than us. We cannot accept at face value their gifts and curses. We have an obligation to introduce contrarian artifacts wherever we can. In the attempt to destroy them, we will expose the naked truth of our constructed reality. It might not be pretty, but it always makes us better.

Hoskus Parvum Opus: A Brief Sojourn Back to Ethereum

2 August 2016 Charles Hoskinson 14 mins read

Hoskus Parvum Opus, A Brief Sojourn Back to Ethereum - Input Output HongKong

Hoskus Parvum Opus: A Brief Sojourn Back to Ethereum

Heart of Darkness

We must never cease from exploration and at the end of all of our exploring will be to arrive at where we started and know the place for the first time. This quote from T.S. Elliot has become increasingly more meaningful to me over the last few years. I’ve had an opportunity to travel to 15 countries, more than 500,000 miles and meet thousands of amazing people, yet I feel as if I’ve returned to where I started with a new perspective.

First, I suppose it’s prudent to start with the early days of my journey. Quite painfully, I recall June of 2014. I had pneumonia and had just left Switzerland after a brutal fight over the future of the Ethereum project. I was on the losing side and now was headed to England to spend a few days with Michael Parsons, who was generous enough to provide a room in his house while I collected my thoughts about my future. I was in shock from being stripped of an identity.

Just a few days prior, I was a founder of a remarkable project with a beautiful vision of a decentralized world computer that was immune to censorship alongside the machinations of inconvenienced power brokers. And then I had become a sickly man having trouble breathing, traveling through an overcast city to a small house without a title, purpose or any vesting in a movement. It was a dark time, bereft of humanity or kindness save a few rare friends and my Marlene for whom I’m eternally indebted.

The following months were left with a great degree of uncertainty. I pondered returning to mathematics and picking up where I left off studying the great unsolved problems of additive number theory (See Nathanson's excellent two part series on the topic.) I received several offers to lead a new ventures- some with VC backing and good teams. Yet honestly my heart wasn’t in the game anymore.

Ethereum Rising

I really loved the amazing promise that Ethereum presented and to watch it unfold from the sidelines without stake or the ability to contribute was just too much. I invested so much time sleeping on floors, flying around the world and fighting almost constant exhaustion trying to keep everything together despite deep philosophical divisions in the team and vision. I had to detach and do other things.

While I had my grievances with the remaining founders, there was great solace in the project maintaining the original social contract. And despite my admittedly bitter criticisms about governance and the use of funds, this contract seemed to be immutable. Gavin invented new words to encapsulate the code is law mantra, and Vitalik would appear on a nearly weekly basis in some form of media extolling the need for a censorship resistance smart contract system.

The world was surprisingly receptive to the vision. Ethereum grew like a weed both in mindshare and market capitalization. It was incredibly satisfying to see every doubter reassess their prior comments, forgetting old stings and trying to eschew the hard line for a more neutral tone. It’s amazing how prognostications of impending doom and gloom transform into praise when people start making money. Readers with an overabundance of time should refer to Jeff Garzik’s tweets.

Bad Decisions

It’s a pointless exercise to litigate the sins of Ethereum’s governance in a blog post nor justify my latent bitterness in a sharply written argument. Nothing productive can be gained from this effort outside of reinforcing notions people already have. Rather it should be stated that the core of Ethereum has become badly compromised by an extremely poor decision.

The Ethereum protocol doesn’t care about Charles Hoskinson. It doesn’t care about Gatecoin or Bitfinex. It doesn’t care about the IRS, the SEC or the government of China. This lack of concern is the value proposition’s apex. Ethereum is a horribly inefficient computer that is perhaps the most expensive ever built relative to its peers. The reason we pay that price is because we want a guarantee of computational apathy.

The leadership of the ethereum project have made a decision to fork the protocol to eliminate the social contract of computational apathy. This fork is not about returning stolen money. It’s not about protecting the interests of the Foundation from a legal or regulatory perspective. It’s simply about changing the code is law paradigm to code is usually law until it’s not.

There was another option. I recall when Bitcoin has to make sudden changes to avoid a bug that allowed for the creation of billions of new coins. Issues that are clear flaws in the protocol’s design that break the intended social contract are non-controversial to fix. I don’t believe there are many in the ETC community who would object to correcting a flaw in the EVM that suddenly creates billions of new ether. It’s the changes to the social contract that are hazardous and always result in a community split.

For these changes, there needs to be a commitment made by the holders of the token to embrace the new system. Proof of burn is a perfect mechanism to accomplish this task. With ethereum, it could have been taken to the new level. An assurance proof of burn smart contract could have been written to pool ether holders wanting to embrace the new system if there was a certain threshold of participation (say 51 percent). If the threshold wasn’t reached within a time limit, then the participants get refunded. Otherwise, the contract executes and all the funds are burnt leaving a clean cryptographic proof to redeem tokens on a new chain. DAO holders could have been given a special purpose token excluding the thief.

The purity of this approach creates universal consent amongst the participants in the new system with the new social contract. A vacuous vote with no stake at risk is not consensus- especially when there is around 10 percent participation. Instead it seems to be a failed attempt to manufacture a democratic mandate to do something the core developers already wanted to do. It appears they didn’t want two chains to co-exist so they forced the issue.

I did not sign up for the paradigm of code is sometimes law. It makes absolutely no sense to me. Why waste millions of dollars in energy and run such an inefficient computer if it’s not going to provide hard guarantees of fidelity? Why shouldn’t I just run code on a federation of servers with carefully chosen trust pairings? Why shouldn’t I just play the jurisdiction game and trust my code to neutral and stable states like Switzerland? Such places usually have the moral high ground of a democratic mandate and known conflicts of interest unlike the current leadership of Ethereum.

Obviously the existence of Ethereum Classic seems to convey that I’m not alone in my protest and disgust for the fork. There are thousands of very angry miners, developers, and stakeholders who did not support the actions the foundation took and are directly expressing their rage via supporting the original codebase.

While this aggregation is powerful and clearly deserves a re-evaluation of the decisions of the last few weeks, it’s not a cohesive, productive ecosystem with a vision, a roadmap and the ability to execute. It’s effectively the cryptocurrency equivalent of a recall election. People made a choice to fire the prime minister, but they didn’t select a new one.

Return to the Center

This brings me back to my return to Ethereum. 2014 was a very long time ago for me. I’ve grown a lot as a person. I lead new company with nearly 30 employees to worry about. We are engaged in thoroughly interesting work ranging from the formalization of proof of stake, complete with security proofs based on the GKL15 model (publishing soon!), to studying governance at its most elemental level.

I have no desire to abandon our current projects and my personal obligations to attempt to force a Vitalik versus Charles showdown. A vanity play would accomplish nothing, and the market itself is a far better distributor of karma than any man could ever hope. There isn’t an ether white whale for me to slay.

My Participation in Ethereum Classic

Thus it is my burden to explicitly state how I would like to contribute to the ETC community alongside what I won’t do. First, I will not seek a leadership position. It is needlessly divisive to inject myself into this movement with the aim of being the ETC CEO or some other kind of power broker. Nothing good can come from the distraction, and there are better people to lead. Second, I will not promote a roadmap that enforces a zero sum game between ETH and ETC. They are now projects governed by different philosophies and different communities. They shouldn’t conflict in principle. Third, I will not support an effort to centralize the project around a new foundation. Centralization of power is the entire reason we are in this mess.

Now on to the things I will do. As I previously mentioned, ETC is currently unified in anger and resentment. There are many groups of people in the ETC community and they will eventually conflict with each other after the dust has settled. Also a fairly large amount of trading volume into ETC has come from the bitcoin space. It’s unclear if this community is going to solidify behind a stable vision and roadmap outside of the code is law paradigm, which is admittedly an extension of bitcoin’s honey badger approach to transactions.

Abstracting the point to something productive, I think it’s reasonable to explicitly state the social contract of ETC and make a commitment that it will not change. Bit Novosti drafted a manifesto that seems to be the current ideological driver of ETC.

Therefore my first goal is to unify a fairly strong majority behind the basic tenets of immutability, irreversibility and openness. My hope is to transmute the anger into a productive movement unified behind some basic goals like Bitcoin enjoys. I fully admit this might not be possible and some hard choices may have to be made; however, I’m optimistic we can pull together into a cohesive movement.

Second, from a roadmap perspective, ETC needs to decide whether it will stay connected to ETH or diverge. I strongly argue that divergence is necessary as it’s logically inconsistent to reject the Foundation’s judgement, yet still accept their vision for the project. While obvious improvements, bug fixes and optimizations of things like the EVM should be capitalized on, ETC should chart its own path.

The most immediate concern is the proof of stake transition. I believe that the transition to Casper will not be straightforward. Rather, difficulty will likely be experienced due to the ad hoc methodology of Casper’s design and the inexperience of its architects.

Designing new consensus algorithms is among the most challenging tasks in computer science, as illustrated by Lamport’s turing prize for Paxos. Trying to address problems of scalability, human incentives, modeling with process calculi and other such things in a single transition with a billion dollars at stake is a tall order.

It seems far more reasonable to embrace a smaller change and focus on the other major deficiencies of the system such as the developer experience of smart contracts or sub-protocols such as the recent ZCash contract and HAWK. Therefore, I will advocate to remove the difficulty bomb and to transition to something like VCU’s recently developed PoW/PoS hybrid algorithm, which enjoys an incredibly sound theoretical foundation and the careful hand of peer review. Furthermore, when ETH takes the leap to Casper, the miners have somewhere to go.

As a final point in the short term roadmap, the failure of the DAO is not solely due to the arrogance and greed of the team. The language they used to develop the DAO (solidity) was never designed for high assurance software. There exist well designed formal methods such as coq proofs that can provide mathematical guarantees of behavior.

It has always puzzled me why the ethereum team didn’t initially emphasize these techniques. Smart contracts are generally small pieces of code that need high assurance of correctness. That’s literally what these tools were developed to provide. There has been some great initial work done by Pattersson and Edstrom at Chalmers on using Idris to draft smart contracts. Furthermore, the Foundation seems to be taking formal verification more seriously. I will support work along these lines and attempt to bring such things to ETC.

Third, there is the matter of governance and funding. As I previously stated, I believe firmly it is counterproductive to establish a new foundation for ETC. We are blessed with an opportunity to try new ideas. Ralph Merkle has recently published a well written whitepaper (cite) on a system called DAOs, Democracy and Governance based upon ideas from Robin Hanson and others (also enjoy his recent Epicenter Bitcoin Interview). Arthur Breitman is preparing to release the first version of Tezos at Strange Loop in September that will create a formal mechanism to update a cryptocurrency protocol. And the Dash community seems to be focusing heavily on decentralizing governance and appears to have achieved some degree of success for their project. Given all of these advancements and great ideas, why should we resign ourselves to a foundation chained to local laws in a particular jurisdiction with a director?

It seems more prudent to gain community consensus on where ETC and ETH will diverge in the immediate future and then focus attention on developing a better governance model inspired by these ideas. As for funding, IOHK will commit to hiring three full time developers to exclusively work on implementing a roadmap for ETC for at least one year. Furthermore, IOHK’s research division will develop a governance proposal within that year for ETC. In terms of an initial start, we are exploring if our Scorex codebase and EthereumJ can be hybridized.

Finally and somewhat ironically, I’d like to try to be a peacemaker during my time in this community. We gain nothing from fighting each other or name calling. We gain nothing from staging 51% attacks or a lawsuit against entity X for grievances. The reality is that ethereum classic should be treated as sharedrop targeted towards ETH holders. Everyone got the drop. Some sold, some lost their ETC and yes the DAO hacker gets a large share. But it is important to point out no one paid for their initial ETC.

If we continue to treat ETC or ETH as the one true chain, then we will spend the next few years sorting out the differences if it’s even possible. Let’s instead treat this like a philosophical split of an existing open source project and someone gets to be libreoffice and someone gets to be open office. I understand it’s not clean and that wasn’t the decision of the people in ETC, but it’s where we are at and we have to accept it.

As a fig leaf, it seems reasonable for the first joint effort of the ETH and ETC development teams should be an effort to completely resolve the replay attack concerns (here’s a nice writeup). Someone has to blink.

Successful divergence gives ETH and ETC a wonderful what if opportunity to AB test different ideas. Why should it be wasted because of pettiness? To the ETC community, Bitcoin stayed by its principles and has achieved a ten billion dollar market cap and changed the world. We don’t need to win by destroying ETH.

I Know This Place

I hope you enjoyed reading this long blog as much as I enjoyed writing it. One of my fondest memories was traveling to Miami in January of 2014 and meeting the Ethereum team for the first time in person. It was an innocent time filled with unbounded potential and passion. ETC feels like those times again, and we have an incredible opportunity to do something special with a great community that is willing to go the extra mile for their principles. That’s a rare gift and I’m glad to be part of it in any capacity that’s helpful to its growth.

It seems I've come to know this place for the first time. It’s been a remarkable journey.