Ethereum’s Life-Changing Phone Call is Today: Investors, Miners & Developers Listen in
What Can Alter The Course Of Ethereum's Future? One Phone Call – And It's Happening Today
All in one place, from miners to developers, investors and beyond. Those are all the demographics in the diverse population that are Ethereum stakeholders that will all be in attendance.
Attendance for what exactly? It's for an upcoming . developer call, which, according to news from the Ethereum Foundation's communication officer, Hudson Jameson, is set to take place today. The call in question is set to take place at 14:00 UTC this Friday, and be a live-stream meeting.
The ultimate aim of the meeting is to address and, hopefully, solve some of the most challenging questions in the lead-up to a system-wide upgrade which is scheduled for October of this year.
As part of this upgrade, there will be several non-contentious Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) which are currently ready for initial tests. These otherwise non-offensive EIPs are, however, followed by a number of others which have stirred up controversy in the past.
Of the EIPs which have caused debates, there are none more prominent than the following three – The Ether issuance, ongoing ASIC resistance, and the Difficulty Bomb, all of which are at the heart of one over-arching debate about the future direction of Ethereum.
The respective proposals put forward that aim to address these issues could dramatically alter that regularity of future Ethereum upgrades, having a lasting and profound impact on how it operates, by changing the network's economic policy, preventing specialized hardware from mining on the blockchain.
As a result, major core developers that traditionally attend these sorts of meetings have requested a larger range of present voices, particularly Ethereum miners and investors in the blockchain, so as to get as clear a perspective on how to move forward.
“There is a strong community sentiment toward delaying the bomb, to reduce the block reward and to introduce changes to the hashing algorithm, however, it's unclear how we proceed from here,” Afri Schoedon, Parity Technologies Communication Officer stated in a clear sense.
Even before the meeting, debates have been ongoing and only building through a number of social media outlets, with many of the stakeholders in the platform having views which are incompatible with others. And because the outcome will impact stakeholders in conflicting ways, Jameson has invited a number of people to the call to give their positions on the proposals.
“We have multiple miners, including nearly 50 percent of the ethereum hashing power (46 percent) either attending the call or making statements that will be read during the call,” Jameson argues.
“Our aim was to have a variety of voices collaborate on this issue.”
As For Investors
One of the issues that is creating a dire need for urgency within the community is the titular ‘Difficulty Bomb'. And for those unfamiliar with it, The Difficulty Bomb refers to a segment of code which is locked into the platform, adding an incremental challenge to mining cryptocurrency over time.
But while simply delaying the bomb's effect also impacts on the other question of ETH issuance, there are a number of proposals that conflict with each other sharply. Each of them offers a number of different methods on how to proceed.
Adding urgency to the current discussion is the so-called “difficulty bomb” – a piece of code locked into the platform that makes its blocks steadily less efficient to mine over time.
Two of the six proposals on the agenda of the meeting seek to reduce the level of issuance, which is something that other ether holders believe is already too high (Currently, the inflation rate is fixed at 3 ETH per block — down from 5 ETH since last October.)
Social media has a lot of people with a lot more opinions, and there are just as many when it comes to the issues which beset Ethereum. While there are a number of investors that haven't publically commented, there are several that have made their thoughts known on social media, calling for a reduction in ethereum issuance. They argue that the current inflation rate is an otherwise unnecessarily high tax on present holders of ETH.
In order to give credence to this argument, they point back to a direct quote which Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum's creator, made in 2017, stating: “In the foreseeable future, the supply will not go far above 100 million,” a figure which as now been surpassed.
There are others that are going as far as to blame the current inflation rate as the chief reason why the underlying value of Ethereum has entered a state of decline, hitting a year-long low of less than $300 in August.
According to one user: “Ether issuance is wildly over where it should be.”
Because it decreases the . quantity . of Ether that miners are awarded for mining blocks, there's a strong possibility that having too much of a reduction on issuance would prove harmful for miners, forcing them to move their equipment onto another network.
With that in mind, some of the arguments against this are that high issuance means that miners that rely on more general purpose hardware are already suffering as a result.
“There is basically zero profit right now for normal GPU miners,” one user claimed on Github.
While Ethereum was previously advertised as being GPU-friendly, working as an ASIC-resistant cryptocurrency, the specialized mining chips have been available for the network for several months. This has since lead to advocates of GPU mining to argue that efforts should be made to remove the hardware from the platform as soon as possible.
Over the last few months, the questions regarding ASIC and resistance to it has mostly fallen quiet, but there are emerging questions about potentially tweaking the difficulty bomb and underlying issuance model, meaning that the arguments have re-emerged in a big way.
And this is because supporters believe that a reduction in issuance could push the last remaining miners that rely on General Purpose Units off the network wholesale. What makes this an even harder argument is the fact that they are already feeling the pressure of a rising hashrate.
There are a number of stakeholders that are pointing towards the Proposal called EIP 1057 as a potential solution for ASIC resistance, all by using a randomizing, ASIC-resistant proof-of-work algorithm that was originally designed for Monero to remain resistant to the prevalence of ASIC hardware.
Speaking on behalf of Ethermine, a mining pool for Ether, its founder, and CEO, Peter Pratscher stated that the company's miners had the matter of ASIC resistance at the pinnacle of their concerns.
“We have reached out to our miners and from their response, it is clear that the most important point for them is to include a [proof-of-work] change to obsolescence ASICs,” Pratscher said, adding that the attitude around issuance was “somewhat ambivalent.”
Regardless, it's a question that has proven relatively timeless and equally divisive, with members of the community taking to a number of different outlets, including Reddit, warning that it's ‘not the answer', and may, in fact, impinge on valuable developer time in the run up to proof of stake.
Among those within the population of stakeholders within the Ethereum platform, developers are perhaps the most difficult to comprehend in their stance towards these developments. With many avoiding the pitfall of taking a position in such polarizing debates, instead focusing on delivering their share of code.
Still, within this group, there is a general feeling of reduced interest in the issue of issuance. This is partly because there exists a general attitude that Ether's high valuation reduces its usefulness within the platform in general.
For a broad number of Ethereum developers, for example, the matter of ASIC resistance is also one that represents more ideology than functional significance. This is because it relates to the underlying decentralization of the network — and therefore its resilience to attack.
There are those that hold an opposing position, believing that by raising the cost of attacking the network in general. That's because ASICs are much more expensive than GPUs, the hardware is much better when it comes to security and continued application.
With that in mind, there is a topic of particular interest to developers – the difficulty bomb.
“Delaying the bomb is the easiest part, everyone pretty much agrees we should do that,” According to Schoen.
While it's true that the consensus roughly is that the bomb must be delayed, in spite of a number of EIP's to the contrary. That are still some disagreements over whether to remove its code entirely or to keep the bomb embedded in the software. Initially, it was installed to prepare the network for the changes needed for the proof-of-stake algorithm. There are still those that argue that it's now irrelevant, considering that there's a delay in that change's timeline for execution.
Along with that, others believe that it's led to a whole other function, one that forces Ethereum to come together and find a consensus for complicated problems.
Nick Johnson, another user that discusses this matter:
“People are welcome to stick with the status quo, but they have to make an affirmative decision to do so, rather than letting inertia do the work for them.”