Musings on ASIC Apathy

One thing that has frustrated about the ProgPoW discussion is just the pure apathy we're seeing from some leaders and devs on the topic. If it goes through, it may be because not enough cared enough to stop it. If it fails, it's because the few voices that do oppose overpowered the majority who mostly don't seem to care at all. Ask a dev about most other EIPs and most will take a stand one way or another (because many of them impact their dApps). Ask a dev about EIP-1057 and frequently you'll get a "meh, I'll go along with the consensus."

Look–I get it. We've finally gotten to a place where the DeFi ecosystem and other projects have matured and become pretty damn usable, and we've all seen a ton of potential finally come together into real projects in some really great ways over the past few months. As long as that functionality is working and secure and with room to grow, many of us simply don't care much about the underlying PoW algorithm that drives us until PoS.

ProgPoW pro or con aside, this saddens me. I think it's a shame that so few people care about the distribution mechanism that we'll be pretty dependent on for probably another 2 years minimum. Beacon chain will take at least a year or 2 to mature, ballpark minimum another 5-8% of total supply or so will probably come from 1.0 before we can genuinely start to move off of it, and nobody gives a shit about how that happens, who that supply goes to and why?

Part of me is pro ProgPoW simply because it seems to be our last hope at at least fucking trying to improve our distribution mechanism that we're still going to be dependent on for a couple of years. If it fails to pass, I'm pretty sure it will be our last attempt ever, barring any emergency.

And I acknowledge that realistically, there probably won't be an emergency if it is not included. ASIC miners will most likely behave and not stir the pot causing us to question their dominance. I still don't think that we should necessarily be OK with them dominating field though. Those with access to cheap production (primarily those in China) and insiders close to ASIC manufacturers will always have a leg up, and I'm surprised so many are okay with this type of industry being the main beneficiaries in core economic distribution.

I realize GPU mining is always going to be flawed as well, but at least we can fucking attempt to be generalized with it. I'd rather give at least a small shot for a user with a couple of 1070s and cheap energy who actually cares about Ethereum to mine blocks than let it become a exclusive to specialized fucking milking factories. It’s not that GPU farms aren't bad in their own way, it’s the order of magnitude difference ASICs can allow the manufacture to have over time.

And maybe I'm wrong! Maybe the the risk is just too high, and it's right thing is to just stick the path for the benefit of not shaking the boat and go with what's working. We've seen Monero have successful ASIC resisting forks a couple of times without any significant security events occurring, but that doesn't mean ours will work without incident. But even if I'm wrong at least I fucking care about it, unlike some of you who won't even take a stand.

I'm sorry for sounding harsh, and likewise sorry for continuing to stir the pot on this issue which I'm sure many of you are tired of hearing about. I just find it genuinely sad that there is that much apathy for something that I personally believe is still pretty important. Some of the apathy is bear market driven I know, but I also get the sense that dApp devs are complacent in functionality to the point that they don't give a shit about the vision anymore.

Or worse, they say they care about the vision while simultaneously ignoring the problems with the underlying tech they build on. "Look–my dApp has potential to open up financial opportunities to communities around the world! Oh, the underlying protocol it's built on has fundamentally flawed economic distribution and will for at least another 2 years? Never mind that, we don't care about that anymore."

It just feels like we've lost something.


Epilogue: Remember when the Ethereum Community actually cared about fair PoW distribution and ASIC resistance? Pepperidge Farm remembers:

Ethereum Yellow Paper: "One plague of the Bitcoin world is ASICs." (but now that they're common in Ethereum and my dApp still works fine I'm chill with them).

ASIC Resistant Hard Fork Discussion Overview Collection of pro/cons from Hudson, mostly pro-ASIC resistance in the comments, but what I like about this one in general is the nice collection of people actually fucking caring one way or another. Can we care about it again, please?

Absurdly Efficient ASIC announced People caring even only 6 months ago! Nobody cares now.

Submitted March 26, 2019 at 10:52AM }
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