ASIC Resistance is a myth

“ASIC resistance” is a myth. The author rejects that myth as do many other individuals within the ETC ecosystem.

This position statement seeks to foster confidence that decisions around ETC mining are not being guided by an easily disprovable myth, but by the application of science, measurement and facts – not subjective personal beliefs.

The Ethereum Classic project “inherited” both philosophy and implementation decisions from the Ethereum project which are in conflict with the “Immutable, Decentralized, Unstoppable” philosophy and ethos of ETC.

The first break which ETC made against such inheritance was with Monetary Policy, where the lack of a fixed cap on supply in Ethereum, while not problematic for the ETH2 (“World Computer”) project, was a huge problem for ETC (“Bitcoin with state and smart contracts”). That project needs a “hard money” basis.

ECIP 1017: Monetary Policy and Final Modification to the Ethereum Classic Emission Schedule

Getting to human consensus on the Monetary Policy change was hard, because the change was in conflict with Immutability doctrine.  Changing consensus rules in any way is very problematic to some people.

Monetary policy was seen as something where there was very broad consensus that the inherited lack of monetary policy was a major problem for ETC. Breaking immutability in that way so that immutability could be preserved with respect to monetary policy on a multi-decade basis moving forward was seen as a worthwhile tradeoff.

“ASIC resistance” is another instance of a “bad inheritance” which could be fixed so that ETC ecosystem participants can have multi-decade certainty around mining as well as monetary policy.

Ethash Design Rationale by Vitalik Buterin, Chief Scientist, Ethereum Foundation, 10th February 2015.

ASIC Resistance is Nothing but a Blockchain Buzzword by StopAndDecrypt, 8th June 2018.

The Prognosis on ProgPOW, with Kristy Minehan on BlockChannel, 10th April 2019.

“She stated that ASIC resistance was, indeed, a ‘myth’ and a ‘fallacy’, adding that Proof-of-Work required “some form of ASIC to do the work.  Text summary of the interview above by coinbarters.com.

The ETC Summit 2019 mining panel in Vancouver, Canada, 4th Oct 2019, covered this very well.


“Is ASIC resistance a myth? Aren’t GPUs ASICs too?”

Bob Summerwill, Executive Director, ETC Cooperative

“An important thing to clarify here is when you say “ASIC resistance”, those people who are for “ASIC resistance” are not against something called ASIC. They are against something which is a custom hardware which is more efficient to the hardware available to the masses, or general hardware. So, I do believe ASIC resistance in that way is futile, because there will be some custom hardware always. If you have a coin which is worth mining then somebody will find a more efficient way of mining it, where it is ASICs or some other way, which gives them equal advantage that ASIC cannot. For example, maybe I live in a country where I have good connection to the government and can get almost free electicity. Now, I am maybe 1000x more efficient than someone, without buying any ASICs. If you are against ASICs in that way, you are just against competition”

Nishant Sharma, Head of International PR and Community Relations, Bitmain.

“I think ASIC resistance is more of a philosophy than a practical approach you can implement. If you look at things: GPUs are ASICs. CPUs are ASICs and the blockchain processes we make are ASICs. Fundamentally the philosophy behind “ASIC resistance” has been to make things products memory hard. And so, what you end up doing, is you are buying GPUs primarily to be “ASIC resistant”. You pay a lot for memory and inherently the hash rate is a lot slower. Philosophies around “ASIC resistance” are that it is widely available. You can go to AMD or NVIDIA to buy those products. But fundamentally it is not a good mining solution. You can see that in today’s world and very shortly that GPUs are not profitable and we see that as technology moves along the GPUs will be dwarfed by ASICs.”

Henry Quan, CEO, ePIC Blockchain Technologies.

FOSDEM 2020 – Blockchain Birds of a Feather

UPDATE – We have a room assigned!  H.3244 on Sunday 2nd February between 14.30 and 15.30.  That is upstairs in the H building which has the info centre, T-shirts and some of the rooms for the talks.  Look for the BoF signs pointing in the right way.

Screen Shot 2020-02-01 at 12.36.19 PM
Greetings!

I am proposing a blockchain “Birds of a Feather” session at FOSDEM 2020.

Who is with me?

There was a similar session at FOSDEM 2018, and while I missed FOSDEM 2019, I understand that one was held there too.

FOSDEM is a unique “neutral ground” from the horrors of blockchain tribalism.  I have spent a lot of time in the last two years working to build bridges between different factions of the blockchain ecosystem, particularly within Ethereum, but also across the whole space.

We all have so more more in common than we have differences, especially when it comes to the “foot soldiers” who are actually working on blockchain technology rather than the products or “coins” which incorporate that technology.

Please join this Telegram group for updates.

When we have a room/time I will update this blog post and tweet that out too.

Best wishes,
Bob Summerwill

FOSDEM 2020 – Librem 5 State of the Union

UPDATE – We have a room assigned!  H.3244 on Sunday 2nd February between 11.30 and 12.30.  That is upstairs in the H building which has the info centre, T-shirts and some of the rooms for the talks.  Look for the BoF signs pointing in the right way. 

Bonus:  Stay in your seat for Pinephone Porters from 12.30 to 13.30 and for PineTime from 13.30 to 14.30.  Then from 15.00 to 15.50 Regaining control of your smartphone with postmarketOS and Maemo Leste in Janson.

Bonus: Sailfish/Mer BoF session 1st Saturday (today) at 15.00 to 14.00 also in room H.3244 booked by Nokius!

Screen Shot 2020-02-01 at 12.38.35 PM

I reached out to Nicole Faerber, the CTO of Purism, a week or so back to ask whether there was a Birds of a Feather session organized at FOSDEM 2020 around the Purism Librem 5 device, and she said no, so I volunteered to organize one.

As per the Purism website,“The Librem 5 represents the opportunity for you to take back control and protect your private information, your digital life through free and open source software, open governance, and transparency. The Librem 5 is a phone built on PureOS, a fully free, ethical and open-source operating system that is not based on Android or iOS (learn more about why this is important).”

Librem_5_-_AppLauncher_(cropped)

Devices are being shipped to developers and the multi-year process from conception to first release is coming to a climax.

There will be various Purism people at FOSDEM, who can give us an update on the State of The Union, demonstrate actual devices and take part in some Q&A.

We won’t have an assigned room until I get to the campus and can book one.   When that happens I will update this blog post accordingly.

Please join this Telegram group for updates.

Best wishes!
Bob Summerwill, Mobile Linux Fan.

Hard cap on the gaslimit for the ETC mainnet as an in-protocol consensus rule

I have just submitted a pull request to the Ethereum Classic Github repository proposing the following protocol change:

“Hard cap on the gaslimit for the ETC mainnet as an in-protocol consensus rule”

There is not an ECIP number assisted yet.  That is a task for the ECIP editors.

I welcome discussion on the proposal and suggested changes through the ECIP process as defined by ECIP-1000.

Abstract

A proposal to place a hard cap on the gaslimit for the ETC mainnet as an in-protocol consensus rule. From the block that this ECIP was activated, gaslimit would follow a curve defined in this proposal rather than being subject to miner voting.

Rationale

There is nothing more important to the ETC network than security and decentralization. Both of those desired characteristics have already been heavily compromised in ETC because of the malincentives which ETC inherited from ETH in the form of the miner gaslimit voting mechanism.

The gaslimit has been raised for the ETH mainnet first to 8M and then to 10M gas, despite it being obvious that the client implementations cannot adequately cope with the state trie growth that such a high gaslimit has created. ETH has been “overclocked” and smoke is coming out of the engine. This long crisis was one of the primary motivations for the ETH 1.x initiative which started around DEVCON4 in Prague in October 2018. The crisis on ETH is still ongoing and still unresolved and is affecting ETC too as well now.

The miner gaslimit voting is one-sided. There are no checks-and-balances. There is no voice for the end-users who care about the long-term health of the network. There is only a single “control knob” and the miners have control of that “control knob”. They are incentivized to vote the limit up to infinity, because fees rise if they do so. Like over use of credit cards, the bill comes much later as a consequence of growth of the state trie which makes it harder and harder to run a full node. For Ethash miners with GPUs or FPGAs there is little consequence for them “killing the host”. They can just exit and go and mine some other coin if ETH or ETC become completely centralized and unusable because of state bloat.

This malincentive has played out for ETH such that the ETH state tie is now so large that full-sync-from-genesis is completely impractical and the disk usage is off the charts for full nodes, let alone for archival nodes. Fully validating syncs for ETH nodes are now a multi-month process.

Here is a recent example from Jeff Garzik on 15th January 2020 (it took him nearly 2 months):

https://twitter.com/jgarzik/status/1217488290900848640

Sync’d!
– Ethereum –syncmode=full node:
– Laptop w/ 8G ram, external 1TB USB 3.1 SSD
– Started: November 26, 2019
– Finished: January 13, 2020
– Storage used: 668G
– Docker container restarts, for hard fork geth upgrades: 2

ETH is completely reliant on Infura now and it is well known how serious a problem that dependency on a single centralized and proprietary service provider is.

Anthony Lusardi proposed an appeal to the ETC miners to voluntarily vote the gaslimit down to 1M in March – (ECIP-1047) but that appeal has never happened, though might soon. A voluntary solution would be a step in the right direction in terms of the effects, but it does not solve the root issue which is the malincentive of the miner vote.

A protocol change to set a hard-cap would resolve the unsustainability issue for ETC and bring the protocol into alignment with ETC philosophy, rejecting this bad inheritance from ETH and back in line with Bitcoin’s sustainable approach.Unlike BTC however, we would define a long-term growth curve to reflect the constantly improving hardware – even with the same protocol and same client implementations.

Specification

At block number ACTIVATION_BLOCK on ETC mainnet, switch the gas-limit calculation to be one of the following two options:

1. gaslimit = INITIAL_GASLIMIT + (block_number – ACTIVATION_BLOCK) * GASLIMIT_CURVE_RATE
2. gaslimit = INITIAL_GASLIMIT + (block_number – ACTIVATION_BLOCK) * 2 ^ GASLIMIT_CURVE_RATE
Let ACTIVATION_BLOCK = TBD
Let INITIAL_GASLIMIT = 2,000,000 (subject to change)
Let GASLIMIT_CURVE_RATE = TBD

Backwards compatibility

There is certainly a concern that some smart contracts which used to work will cease to work (until some future point where the raising gaslimit makes them viable again) and we need to quantify this risk.

There is a concern that it will not be possible to migrate ETH smart contracts to ETC because of the lower gaslimit. Straw polls on Twitter seem to indicated that 1M or 2M is adequate for most smart contracts out there for their heaviest transactions with the sole exception of transactions for contract deployment, which can hit 4M or more. In that case we have no answer yet other than spliting contracts up into multiple libraries.

It looks like some kind of “Webpack for Solidity” would be workable, where we could add opcodes to deploy chunks of bytecode across several transactions, with new opcodes for START_DEPLOY, DEPLOY_CHUNK and END_DEPLOY or similar which could be used transparency internal to the development framework (Truffle, Embark, Brownie, etc) and compiler (SOLC, SOLL, Vyper, etc) to generate different bytecode depending on the gaslimit of the target chain. This is just an idea for the time being and needs its own new ECIP too.

Aragon is probably the perfect guinea pig for addressing these concerns because they have large smart contracts and have just recently been the victim of backwards-compatibility breaks in ETH as part of the Istanbul HF. If we can provide a great story for ETH to ETC migration with well engineered changes spanning frameworks, compiler and runtime then that will be a delightful win-win for all parties.

As Jorge said, while breaking smart contracts up is the right thing to do, it should not be REQUIRED. To require changes to existing script is a break in the implicit social contract:

Implementation

There is no implementation of this proposal yet because we are missing the specific details of the future gaslimit curve. That could either be linear growth or Moore’s Law style exponential growth.

The ETC Cooperative will fund implementations of this ECIP for Hyperledger Besu, Parity-Ethereum and MultiGeth, including testnets and audits as required.

Copyright

This work is licensed under the [Apache License, Version 2.0. The author, Bob Summerwill, attests to his sole authorship of this work, and that he is able to contribute this work to the ECIP process under the Apache 2.0 licence.  He further attests that he neither holds nor is aware of any patents, trademarks, copyright issues or other IP hinderances associated with this work.

 

Bob Summerwill for Headhunters (2020)

IMG_0360[View of Stanley Park and Grouse Mountain from Dunbar, Photo by Bob Summerwill]

NOTE – I am not actively seeking work, but I am always open to opportunities.  There are numerous ways to contact me if you think there is some interesting possibility for collaboration, but please DO READ THIS POST FIRST.  That will save both of us from wasting our time in discussing an opportunity which does not meet my basic requirements (ie. anything which requires me to relocate from Vancouver).

This is a follow-up to my Bob Summerwill for Headhunters (2017) article which was written in December 2017.  Not a great deal has changed in the meantime for my requirements and what I have to offer, but I felt it was time for a refresh anyway.

Since November 2017 I have maintained a full Conflict of Interests statement which enumerates the many roles and professional relationships which I have, whether financially compensated and otherwise and my cryptocurrency holdings.

During 2019 I also added my CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) personal tax filings and a list of individuals whose work I sponsor (all Github Sponsorships at the time of writing, but with Gitcoin donations likely to be added to the mix soon).   I also moved from a list of organizations which I recommend and endorse to a (very long) list of individuals who I trust and a much shorter list of individuals who I do not trust and who have hurt me or hurt the projects I am involved with.  I still have a bunch of hyperlinks and details to add to that list to make it more useful.

My Resume page is out of date, but my LinkedIn profile is very up-to-date.  The About page on this website is always up-to-date as well.

What does Bob need and want?

  • I am primarily motivated by global-scale moonshot projects which move humanity forward.   Examples of inspiring projects would include the Internet, the Web, Linux, Wikipedia, Bitcoin, Ethereum/ETC, Tesla, SpaceX, OpenAI, etc.
  • I have enjoyed working with Vitalik Buterin, Joe Lubin and Barry Silbert but I have little to no interest in working for anybody.  The sole exceptions, I think, would be Elon Musk and Satya Nadella.   I would consider leadership roles as an employee at SpaceX or Microsoft if the opportunities were impactful enough.
  • Short of such dreams, I would likely only work for global non-profit organizations (Ethereum Foundation, ETC Cooperative, EEA, Free Software Foundation, Creative Commons, Linux Foundation, Internet Society, W3C, Open Source Initiative) or United Nations organizations.
  • I have no interest in working for companies whose business models are walled gardens, such as Apple, Google, IBM, Amazon, Alibaba, Tencent, Facebook.
  • I have been boycotting Amazon since 2014 and will never be a part of their monstrous enterprise.
  • I am Vancouver-based. That is non-negotiable. That is where my home and family are. I have been remote working since October 2015. Travel is becoming more possible as my children get older but is always an imposition on my family life. See my travel history and planned travel for a taste of my current tolerance.
  • I have no interest in being an employee ever again (caveat SpaceX, Microsoft), and am only considering Consultant, Contractor or Advisor arrangements or better yet, completely informal collaboration and friendship.
  • I deplore software patents. I am not willing to sign NDA agreements. Trust me or do not trust with private information as you see fit. Companies do not own their employee’s brains. Ideas should be free. Unnecessary secrecy is repugnant. It is execution which has the real business value, not the ideas themselves, which are two-a-penny.
  • Money does not motivate me. Being in a position to progress humanity does.
  • I am willing to accept cryptocurrencies or cryptoassets as payment for my services, as long as I have sufficient $CDN income to cover the cost of living in one of the least affordable cities on the planet with three children to raise.
  • I have volunteered as Vice-Chair on the EEA Technical Spec WG and hope to be approved in that role for 2020 soon.
  • I am likely to run for election again on the Hyperledger Technical Steering Committee (TSC) in 2020 as I did in 2018 and I hope to succeed this time.
  • Increasingly I am coming to understand that technology alone is insufficient and that systemic changes need strong advocacy and indeed “politics”.  That may be distastefully to many technologists who just want to be left alone to “do their work” but those human factors are a reality and I am trying to embrace them.  My work might take me more in that direction eventually.   Standing for election in Hyperledger is maybe a trial run for further roles of that nature.   Lots of people can develop software.  Not many people are deeply technical and have interpersonal skills to talk to non-geeks and also enjoy that kind of advocacy.

What does Bob have to offer?

  • Four and half years at the heart of the Ethereum and blockchain ecosystem, with key roles at the Ethereum Foundation, ConsenSys, the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) and long-time affiliation with and now active involvement at Hyperledger.
  • Extensive connections and positive relationships. Great breadth of blockchain knowledge.
  • Over two decades of varied professional software engineering and problem-solving experience. See the Projects section of my LinkedIn profile for a full accounting.
  • Work on application teams, in central technology roles, technical leadership, on shared initiatives, and on global-scale open source projects.  Huge breadth of technical knowledge. Always learning.  Deep knowledge of configuration management, automation, DevOps and software engineering best practices.
  • Optimistic, enthusiastic, friendly, social, chatty demeanour (usually!) and good interpersonal skills.
  • I have very thick skin.  Just give it to me straight always.  I am a big boy.  I enjoy the vigorous debate.   Like Anthony Scaramucci I am a front-stabber.  Some people may see such a forthright style as rude, but to my mind it is just honest.   I have a history of speaking truth to power, and it usually works out for the best.
  • A completely open book. Not afraid to ask hard questions and to point out “elephants in the room”.
  • I am a Prospector (ENTP on the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator)
  • Blogging and social media presence. Loves to write.
  • PSA – Bob is already living in the future paradigm to a certain degree, which sometimes causes some tensions with the present.

 

Gas Limit Configuration Call

We just had an ETC Devs / Miners / Community call to talk about options to manage rampant chain bloat we are seeing on the ETC mainnet which is being caused by GasToken, with most blocks being filled with garbage, adding gigabytes to the state every day.  This will compromise decentralization in short order and is an existential threat to the health of the network.

Here is a copy of the recording of the call.  Thanks to a.s. for that.

My suggested ACTIONS ITEMS:

  1. Blog post on https://ethereumclassic.org/ by @zacmitton explaining the situation and appealing to miners to voluntarily reduce gaslimit. To 1M? To 2M? To 4M?
  2. Outreach on the above (using existing contacts we have used for prior HFs)
  3. Volunteers to generate pull-requests against Parity-Ethereum, Geth Classic, MultiGeth and Hyperledger Besu which change the defaults for ETC to the same.
  4. Volunteers to consider countermeasures to reverse as much of the damage-to-date as we can by buying gastokens (using community fund if this is expensive) and then using them to debloat the chain.
  5. Volunteers to consider protocol changes for the long-term, which could include:
    1. Gas price changes
    2. Removing opcodes (remove refund opcode, remove selfdestruct)
    3. Hard cap gas and curve (my pending ECIP) to give multi-decade certainty.

Future discussion is best done on Github issues within the ECIP process, for global visibility and permanent papertrail on the decision-making process.

Thanks to Zac Mitton for setting up and hosting the meeting.

 

Ethereum 2020: Convergence and Collaboration

First published on Coindesk on 26th December 2019 as The Ethereum Community is No Longer Fighting with Itself.  This is my original draft.


This post is part of CoinDesk’s 2019 Year in Review, a collection of 100 op-eds, interviews and takes on the state of blockchain and the world. Bob Summerwill is Executive Director of the ETC Cooperative.

IMG_-b8cpdw

2016 and 2017 were divisive years for the Ethereum ecosystem.

In January 2016 the former CTO of the Ethereum Project, Gavin Wood, spun off the former ETHDEV C++ team to found Ethcore – later renamed as Parity Technologies.  There has been an ongoing love-hate relationship between Parity and the rest of the Ethereum community ever since.  This continues to the present day with their controversial proposal to move the Parity-Ethereum project into a DAO.

In July 2016 we had world class drama when The DAO was drained of funds.  After a month of the most intense debate, the ecosystem was cleaved into two with The DAO Fork.  The “World Computer” majority accepted the fork which returned funds.  That fork retained the ETH “ticker” and the Ethereum trademark while the “Code is Law” crew showed the world that minority chains can survive by supporting the unforked chain and bringing Ethereum Classic to life.

In October 2016, Parity Technologies blocked relicensing of cpp-ethereum to Apache 2.0 at the eleventh hour because it would have affected their commercial interests.  They also feared that having IBM’s “nose under the tent” could have led to a chain split.  That relicensing looked very likely to result in a huge swing towards Ethereum within the Hyperledger consortium which had been formed a little under a year before.  Not to be.

Blocking the relicensing led indirectly to the creation of the EEA which emerged as a “Plan B” as the relicensing floundered.   No grand alliance between Ethereum and Hyperledger was possible at that stage, but there were sufficient enterprises using Ethereum for more formal collaboration to be worthwhile.

So February 2017 saw the founding of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), including household names like Microsoft, Intel, JP Morgan, BNY Mellon and CME Group.  The members were primarily focused on private and consortium chain scenarios.  The birth of the EEA was a very tense affair, with serious worries that the Ethereum Foundation would flat out denounce the EEA.   Vitalik Buterin was privately supportive, but did not attend the launch event in personal.  Instead he sent in a pre-recorded video which made no mention of the EEA but spoke in generalities about business uses of Ethereum.   The EF itself made no formal statement.  The tension was palpable in those early months.

Was the EEA an attempt at corporate capture of Ethereum?   Was the EEA just a front for ConsenSys (who were contributing most of the resources during that launch period and early stages of operation)?   Parity were also notably absent, and indeed have never joined the EEA.  Were the EEA and Hyperledger rivals?  Was this just a proxy battle between Microsoft (a major backer of Ethereum) and IBM (the primary mover within Hyperledger?)

None of these fears were true.  They were all the result of zero sum thinking.

As Jeremy Miller said at the EEA Launch event, there was a no reason why a suitably modular Ethereum codebase should not meet all of these use-cases – public and private, permissioned or permissionless.   An analogy could be drawn with Internet and Intranets.  Both have their uses.  Deployment choices would just be configuration settings on common codebases.

That is just how things have played out.

In February 2017, Monax (a founding EEA member) joined Hyperledger and contributed the first Ethereum Virtual Machine – Burrow (previously known as ErisDB).  That codebase had only ever run as a permissioned chain using Tendermint, never on the Ethereum mainnet.  It was integrated into Hyperledger Sawtooth (as Seth), and then into Hyperledger Fabric.  EVM-in-Fabric was the primary display at the IBM booth at Consensus in May 2018.

In January 2018 I wrote a tweetstorm which become the “Call for an End To Tribalism in Ethereum” keynote at the Ethereum Community Conference in Paris in March 2018.  Kent Barton continued that theme with “Divided We Fail: The Irrational Insanity of Crypto Tribalism” in April 2018.

That Paris conference also saw the launch of the Ethereum Magicians led by my former colleagues Jamie Pitts and Greg Colvin.  That group of individuals sought to mature the governance around the Ethereum protocol improvement process.

In October 2018, EEA and Hyperledger announced that they were becoming associate members of each others organizations, and would be collaborating on common projects.  In April 2019 the Token Taxonomy Initiative was launched, with Microsoft and IBM working together.  In June 2019, Microsoft finally joined Hyperledger.  Now we just need IBM to join the EEA (hint, hint)!

Tensions between the Ethereum Foundation and the EEA thawed in 2019, with Aya Miyaguchi, the Executive Director of the EF joining the Board of the EEA in August 2019, and the Mainnet Initiative being announced as a collaboration between the EF and the EEA.

In August 2019, ConsenSys announced that they would be joining Hyperledger as a Premier Member, with Joe Lubin joining the Governing Board.  They announced that they would be contributing their Enterprise Ethereum client Pantheon (now renamed as Besu).

Three years after the failure of cpp-ethereum relicensing, we finally had a fully-fledged ETH mainnet client as part of Hyperledger.  Besu was written in a mainstream enterprise language – Java, had permissive Apache 2.0 licensing and had mature governance under the Linux Foundation.   It was built by a large team of world class software engineers, building to the specifications which the EEA had matured since 2017.

ETC Cooperative funded ETC support and that work was completed by ChainSafe in December 2019.  There has been a period of growing collaboration between the ETC ecosystem and the ETH ecosystem in late 2018 and throughout 2019, after several years or hurt feelings and bitterness after “a bad divorce”.  Virgil Griffith was key to that detente and has been an excellent friend to ETC.

As my good friend John Wolpert said so well in his seminal “Bring on the Stateful Internet” blog post in August 2018:

“I wish we could take all the good work out there — the patterns each team in the blockchain space has explored for the past several years — and lop off all the brands, the flags, the preciousness we all get when looking at our own babies. We would see it all as a bag full of Legos, a set of potential standards converging on what we really need in order to build awesome new applications that transcend the limitations and troubling central control issues of client/server.”

The artificial boundary we have put in place in our minds between “public chains” and “private chains” is fading rapidly.    All our different technologies, whether we call them blockchains, or DLTs, or distributed databases, should be interoperable.

One chain to rule them all is Maximalist nonsense.   Out future evidently has multiple chains.   L1s and L2s.  State channels, Rollups, Plasma, Lightning, Counterfactual instantiation, L2 privacy solutions, Off Chain Compute, every type of consensus under the sun.  Integration with legacy systems is critically important too.  Blockchain is not a silver bullet.

At the close of 2019, we are in a completely different place than we were during the high drama of 2016.  Former rivals (both within Ethereum and across the broader enterprise blockchain ecosystem) are pulling together in a way which is a delightful contrast to the fractured and tribal landscape of the near past.   Collaboration is proving the winning strategy over cut-throat competition.  This trend will only accelerate into 2020.

Maturity of governance is also finally being seen as the critical foundation for collaboration which it truly is.   The whole ecosystem is finally growing up.

In 2016 I wrote:

“We have the opportunity to build a set of technologies in the next few years which could have similar societal impacts as the Internet, the World Wide Web and open source languages, relational databases, etc.  We are building a decentralized computing platform which every individual on Earth should benefit from.”

“These technologies need to reach into every nook and cranny of our computing fabric: big and small, public and private, independent and corporate; smartwatches to mainframes.”

“This is a large and ambitious undertaking that is addictive and all-consuming for many of us.  Diversity of viewpoints, a broad spectrum of use-cases to mature the base technology, and an open and inclusive attitude and environment of collaboration will help us achieve our shared goals.”

In 2020 that dream is ever closer to becoming a reality.   It is a sheer delight to have had such a front-row seat to this revolution.   Bring it on!

I am a Prospector

There is a pattern which has run through my whole life. I try everything.

I am a ENTP according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator with the “P” standing for Prospector.

Some website call this type of person “The Debater”, some call it “The Diplomat”, some call it “The Visionary”. The specific labels are not as important as the characterization of the patterns of behaviour. Those are spot on in describing me.

I was a lot more introverted earlier in my life, so was an INTP. I have also had long spells of severe depression, and more recently hypomanic phases. I finally got what I believe is a correct diagnosis on 30th Oct 2019 – Cyclothymia. Or, as my good friend, Texture, calls it “Baby bipolar” 😂

From Judging (“J”) or Perceiving (“P”) article on myersbriggs.org:

The following statements generally apply to me:

    • I like to stay open to respond to whatever happens.
    • I appear to be loose and casual. I like to keep plans to a minimum.
    • I like to approach work as play or mix work and play.
    • I work in bursts of energy.
    • I am stimulated by an approaching deadline.
    • Sometimes I stay open to new information so long I miss making decisions when they are needed.

When I say everything, I mean everything:

Screen Shot 2019-11-26 at 6.37.28 AM

  • I was a gold bug, a sovereign citizen, a prepper and a huge Alex Jones fan in 2009. I stocked up on decades worth of dry food, baseball bats (no guns for me), old US silver coins for barter, the lot. I learned to grow my own vegetables. I was learning to sail (so I could get a boat as my “escape route” from collapsing Vancouver when SHTF. I was looking at buying property in Chile. I was totally bought on New World Order, Bilderberg, Council for Foreign Relations, Bohemian Grove, etc. I used Liberty Reserve. I was looking at buying additional citizenships, some through very shady means. I was a 9/11 Truther. I even went down the Birther rabbit hole for a while and started doubting vaccines 🙂
  • I was a Libertarian and Ron Paul fan. I followed the 2012 US Presidential Election intensely. Was gutted at how he was treated. I still think that his position on Military spending is spot on. Abolishing pretty much all government functions and social welfare nets? Maybe not so wise, I see now.
  • For years I was obsessed with trying to understand how on earth Germany descended into Nazi hell. I have shelves and shelves of books on Nazi Germany and WWII. I have a copy of Mein Kampf. I also have shelves of books on the USSR and Communism, and multiple books on Stalin and Lenin and Mao.
  • I was fascinated with the Occupy movement when that came around.

In a more mundate form, I has seen this behaviour in myself in a work context too.

I was at Electronic Arts for 15+ years, and in that time I found myself on nearly every different side of every fence there was within that organization. Working on game teams, in central technology teams, on workwide initiatives. As an individual developer, as a technical lead, in an architectural oversite role. Visit “every bucket”.

Same in my Ethereum journey. I started as a community member. Then I was a volunteer. Then I was “on the inside”, working for the Ethereum Foundation. Then I was at ConsenSys, working for the largest for-profit entity within the space. There I was deeply involved in the creation, launch and operation of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, and involved with Hyperledger. So very different dynamic within a consortium of frenemies. Then I was at Sweetbridge and Quantfury, and setting up Varro Technologies with Alison – trying to work through startup land – and building your own company. Then I flipped over to Ethereum Classic, which was seen by some as “the mortal enemy”. Not me!

What does all of this mean?

I have probably “been you” at some point, because I try everything out. I may or may not “like those clothes” for a long time, but I will at least try and am thoroughly curious and seek to understand EVERYONE and EVERYTHING. I like to think that I have a lot of empathy and compassion because of my breadth of human interactions. I hate unresolved conflict.

It is exceedingly unlikely that I am “your enemy”, and if you see me say things which “trigger” you, or which sound like my thinking is hostile to you and your beliefs, the likelihood is that that is untrue. I have skin as thick an elephant, so please just tell me whatever your issue with my statements is, and we will have a conversation like adults.

Criticism is welcome. I am a big boy. Let me have it! In public or privately as you wish. We might both learn something in the process.

I have been called an Infinite Fucking Looper, a Corporate Communist, a Socialist, a Misogynist, a Racist, an Egotist, a Tyrant, an Authoritarian, an Ethereum Maximalist, an ETC Maximalist, a Hyperledger Maximalist.

There is nothing you can say which I have not heard before. I think all of these labels are totally miss the mark, but I take no offense. Just words.

The only Maximalism which I would confess to would be Humanity Maximalism. I believe that most humans are essentially good, and that collaboration is the path to our Star Trek future.

Even that I would temper, though. I love cats and dogs and other animals too, and I hope that I get to meet aliens one day as well.

ETC Cooperative joins Hyperledger

I am delighted to announce that ETC Cooperative are officially Associate Members of Hyperledger as of 21st November 2019.

In September, I pledged that ETC Cooperative would contribute ETC support to the newly approved Hyperledger Besu codebase. That support has already been upstreamed, and ETC mainnet syncs successfully.

This is a very happy day, and a very satisfying step in a long personal journey.

brian

Quote from Hyperledger:

“We are very happy to have the ETC Cooperative now a formal part of the Hyperledger community” said Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director of Hyperledger. “Even back in 2016, it was clear to me and to Bob that the more we could do to bring together developers from all our different ‘tribes’ working together on common code the further we could go as a whole blockchain community, even if we differ on long-term goals, governance models, or genesis blocks. Since then, the growth of the Ethereum ecosystem (both ETH, ETC, and the growing enterprise uses charted by the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance) has made the value of technical collaboration even clearer. Bob was an early believer in this, and to see this idea bear fruit in ETC Coop’s interest in ETC support in Besu and their interest in other Hyperledger projects is a high point of 2019 for me.”

Quote from ETC Cooperative:

“My own Hyperledger journey started in May 2016 when I hosted an Open Source Blockchain Meetup outside of OSCON in Austin, Texas. I was working for the Ethereum Foundation at the time.” said Bob Summerwill, Executive Director, ETC Cooperative. “Chris Ferris and Brian Behlendorf both attended that event and Chris spoke. It was obvious to me even then that moving Ethereum codebases under the mature governance and IP policies of the Linux Foundation was the best way to advance the project. With HL Burrow and HF Besu that is exactly what has happened, though it has taken a lot longer than I anticipated. It is an absolute pleasure for me to bring ETC Cooperative to the Hyperledger table, to help accelerate this trend. We are seeing ever increasing cooperation between ETH ecosystem, ETC ecosystem, EF, EEA and the many other flavors of the “Ethereum family”. Hyperledger is the best possible place to coordinate that collaboration, in my opinion. We have already made our first contribution to Hyperledger – with ETC support upstreamed to Besu last week.”

Addressing East/West disconnect in ETC

How do we address the East/West disconnects within Ethereum Classic?

It is actually really simple when you understand that the root issue is technical hindrances to communication across the Great Firewall of China. I would argue that these technical hindrances are much more significant than language barriers. There are many countries which share language, but differ a lot in culture.

“England and America are two countries separated
by a common language” – George Bernard Shaw

EastWest

The vast majority of communication within English-speaking Western and global communities is happening on the ETC Discord server and on Crypto-Twitter, but both of these applications are blocked by the Great Firewall, so are inaccessible to the majority of people on the Chinese mainland. This is a fairly recent thing, with VPNs being a lot more accessible (though legally “gray”) until this year. Even beyond that “brick wall”, these communication tools are very little known in China.

WeChat, on the other hand, is completely ubiquitous in China, and not just for chat, but also for payments and other functionality. It works just fine in the rest of the world too, so is the natural choice for a global communication platform for Ethereum Classic in which we value the Chinese community’s needs to a degree appropriate to their importance to ETC.

There are a lot of people in China. There are a lot of great companies. Much of this is unknown in the West because of the language barrier and these communication barriers. So let’s fix this, and get active two-way communication paths going. We want the Chinese communities to benefit from the latest information from the English developers and also to build greater understanding of Chinese development efforts in the West.

So please join us on the brand new ETC Global Comms channel:

Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 11.40.10 PM

On 3rd October 2019 we reverted EthereumClassic.org from the WordPress site which was active from April 2018, having been one of Anthony Lusardi‘s earlier projects as the previous Director of the Ethereum Classic Cooperative (February 2018 to March 2019).

WordPress

So was that spending a waste of money? Not at all. That website served the community for 18 months and was a significant upgrade both in its aesthetics, but also in its content. We are not going to lose any of that content. We can migrate it back across. This is just a change of underlying technology, motivated by the workflow benefit we gain by enabling anybody to update the website themselves by submitting pull requests against a public Github project, rather than having to ask administrators (first Anthony and then myself) if they can please add an extra entry, or make change XYZ. That is not a scalable approach, and it resulted in the “rot” of some of that information.

Where this infrastructure touches on East/West disconnect is that we have also had an information gap between the communities because ethereumclassic.org has only ever been an English language website to this point.

There are two primary communities and their websites covering China, to this point:

The earlier community was ethereumclassic.cn, maintained by ETCC – Ethereum Classic Consortium (China), with Roy Zou the best known face. Here is Roy presenting at the first ETC Summit, in 2017 in Hong Kong.

roy
The second community was started in 2018, driven by DFG and ETC Labs, but has a broader scope. That is ethereumclassicasia.org, covering China, Japan and Korea, and also having outreach to other Asian countries. Christian Xu is the driving force behind these communities.

christian_xu-bw-1-362x362

Having multiple community groups for a single country is not intrinsically problematic. Ethereum Classic is permissionless. There is no “official” anything or any right to exclusivity.

Not even the ETC Cooperative itself is an “official voice” and can only use its influence and respect to suggest that things move in any particular direction.

If we add Internationalization support to the Github-based ethereumclassic.org, such that Chinese language documentation on the platform is available without needing a specific website then we will be a lot more aligned in the information we have access to. For countries which only have small communities and perhaps only have users rather than developers / companies building the platform, just providing translations without the overhead of maintaining their own website, and all the overhead of keeping that information up to date will be very appealing.

Indeed, within minutes of me suggesting this approach, we had a volunteer to do German and Russian translations.

So I think that Adding Internationalization Support to the EthereumClassic.org will be the second “move”, as well as the creation of the WeChat channel, will move us in a very, very good direction. If you agree, please help! Come to Github and comment on that issue, offering your help in whatever form you can. I don’t think it will take long!