Exclusive Interview: ETC Cooperative Director Talks Future of Ethereum Classic
Ethereum Classic, the original Ethereum chain, has been growing by leaps and bounds in the past two years. From a forgotten pre-fork to a rising power that is seeing major financial support and interest, Ethereum Classic has undergone a major re-branding and is gearing up to take on the world of IoT and other technology frontiers. With a lot of news and updates in the pipeline, we wanted to take some time to get in touch with the ETCDEV team ourselves and learn more about what’s going on. We spoke with ETC Cooperative Director Anthony Lusardi and his colleague from ETCDEV, Darcy, to discuss not only the state of ETC but where the group plans to go from here.
Our Interview with ETC Cooperative and ETCDEV
Robert DeVoe, Bitsonline: First I’d like to say thank you for having a chat with me about Ethereum Classic. Could you give me a general update on how things have been progressing this year?
Darcy, ETCDEV: Things are going well. Growing the team — 10 people on ETCDEV now. Establishing processes, very close to V1 release of Emerald Wallet and SputnikVM is very stable.
Anthony, ETC Cooperative: Going quite well, there’s quite a few people working on ETC from IOHK as well. On the ETC Cooperative side, our outreach has been going well, we’ve started getting more face time, interviews, we’re launching a redesigned website, working on some interesting projects with Ethereum Foundation (PeaceRelay), and have gotten Ethereum Classic well represented in Andreas Antonopoulos’ coming book Mastering Ethereum.
RD: One important change that’s occurring to Ethereum Classic is the upcoming removal of the “difficulty bomb.” Could you share with us a little bit about this process, including what sort of work went into it, and also if there will be any further difficulty bombs in the future that will need to be dealt with?
Darcy: The difficulty bomb was included to force the Ethereum network to eventually adopt PoS (or other changes, like change of monetary policy in ETH was pushed by difficulty bomb). ETC had originally paused it, now we want to remove it for good.
Anthony: To elaborate, there won’t be any difficulty bombs in the future, this is the last fix for it.
RD: A major new feature that is coming to Ethereum Classic this year according to the roadmap includes a technology called sidechains. Could you tell us a little bit about what sidechains are and how Ethereum Classic intends to make use of them?
“We want to scale ETC by giving business their own chain with flexibility to support things like mutability …”
Darcy: Sidechains are essentially private blockchains for third-party developers and businesses to put their applications on blockchain, but while respecting business rules and more affordable consensus mechanisms like PoA. It’s suitable for transaction-based web and mobile applications, and we’re currently doing a proof of concept with the OpenStack Foundation’s global cloud credit system. We want to scale ETC by giving business their own chain with flexibility to support things like mutability for GDPR compliance and things that businesses need.
RD: On the subject of the roadmap, it also mentions the upcoming Sputnik VM. What are some of the main functions of this VM, and how would you explain them to a non-expert audience? Will this VM offer any significant advantages or upgrades over what Ethereum or other similar blockchain projects have to offer?
Darcy: It’s a new implementation of EVM written in Rust, purely technical change for the time being but it’s designed to be optimized for low-power embedded devices in the future ( IoT )
“SputnikVM is getting as many devices as possible working with ETC.”
Anthony: The very non-expert explanation is that SputnikVM is getting as many devices as possible working with ETC.
RD: Ethereum Classic has seen a few decentralized applications launch on the platform in recent months. With the upcoming release of the DApp SDK, do you foresee that more apps and projects will launch on Ethereum Classic as opposed to other similar projects?
Darcy: We hope so, there is a lack of tools to develop applications. Application developers don’t want to have to get deep into the protocol level code. So, platforms that have good SDK and APIs have an increased chance of adoption. We’re also getting more proactive in developing a developer community. It’s small now, but we’ve just started.
RD: I’d like to get your opinion on this. In the last two years there have been a number of competing projects that are targeting the same kind of service that Ethereum offers. That being, a customizable and programmable blockchain that can run decentralized applications and create tokens. For instance, there is of course Ethereum and Ethereum Classic, as well as QTUM, Lisk, Cardano, Stellar, Neo, and many others. Do you foresee that the blockchain market will have enough space for all of these competitors to continue to exist side-by-side, or do you suspect that some of these projects will call it quits or perhaps be combined together?
Darcy: We honestly don’t see a lot of real competition at this space, ETH and ETC seems to be the only well-established projects focused on production-ready code. ETH is focused largely on the legal side of contracts such as person-to-person agreements, while ETC is focusing on machine-to-machine agreements. We feel that ETH and ETC are actually complementary and have yet to see any other project deliver substantial product.
Anthony: I’d agree with this, we see a lot of flashy websites and slick advertising but very little actual competition yet. NEO for example is an Ethereum-clone with a centralized consensus mechanism. Stellar, while interesting from a payments perspective, has a non-Turing complete language, Cardano is currently not decentralized, Qtum’s quantum “resistance” is not a major market need at the moment, and I’m admittedly not too up to speed on Lisk. Ethereum-based software seems to be the most mature software in this space.
RD: Several official sources have suggested that Ethereum Classic will continue working on its current Proof-of-Work mining system and not switch to an alternative like proof-of-stake. With that in mind, what do you foresee will happen to the Ethereum Classic hash rate and mining economics once all of the current miners who are dedicated to mining Ethereum start looking for a new cryptocurrency to mine? Do you suspect that they will migrate over to Ethereum Classic?
Darcy: Some of this is speculative of course — but we expect that the ETH hash rate will be distributed across other chains proportionally starting with what’s easiest to deploy and that’s most profitable. Given the fact that we’ve removed the difficulty bomb and there’s little effort to migrate an existing ETH miner to ETC. We expect to inherit a decent amount of hash rate.
“Fighting ASICs seems to be a losing battle …”
RD: And on the subject of mining, will Ethereum Classic be making any moves towards ASIC resistance now that Bitmain has created ASIC miners that are compatible with Ethereum Classic? Conversely, if Ethereum Classic is not looking to implement ASIC resistance, do you think that a sudden increase in ASIC mining activity on the Ethereum Classic chain would be beneficial, harmful, or have no significant impact?
Darcy: We don’t know without having actual numbers. The main concern obviously is that Bitman is currently the only ASIC provider. We’re not for or against ASIC — but we would like to see more competition in the ASIC market. Our stance is to not panic, watch the hash rate and if needed make changes based upon data and feedback from the community.
Anthony: Agreed, fighting ASICs seems to be a losing battle and will lead to more ASIC centralization rather than less as only the most well-funded ASIC manufacturers can afford to fight back from attempts to disable ASICs. The more manufacturers we can reach, and the more Ethash mining hardware available the better the long-term decentralization of the network. If you’re a mining hardware manufacturer, we’d love to talk with you.
Just the Beginning?
While Ethereum Classic has grown by leaps and bounds since its creation following the infamous DAO fork, it still has a long way to go before it sees the kinds of adoption that other major projects like Bitcoin and Ethereum have seen.
The group is not without outside support, however. In fact, the ETC Cooperative just announced a whopping $250,000 funding injection from the Digital Currency Group in order to support the further growth and development of the platform.
Furthur, IOHK and Charles Hoskinson of Cardano fame seem to be in full support of the project, and the company has plans for a second ETC Summit event to occur in South Korea later this year.
So while the group may have many technological and marketing hurdles ahead of them, they certainly seem well-equipped enough to handle them.
What’s your take? Where do you think ETC goes from here? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Images via stmed, Scandinavian Cryptocurrency Exchange
Note: A previous version of this article listed Anthony Lusardi as being director of ETCDEV and not the ETC Cooperative.