“We are early pioneers in a new industry where software is money, and one oversight can cost millions… Making mistakes has changed and matured us… All of us at Parity Technologies are deeply sorry… Let us make clear: we have no intention to split the Ethereum chain.”
“We stand by our commitment with the ethereum ecosystem… We have heard the community and continue to do so… We are not setting this debate aside, but simultaneously, Parity Tech and I are committed to continue building without vacillation. The only way is forward.”
So says Gavin Wood, co-founder of Parity Tech and one of the earliest, as well as one of the biggest, contributor to ethereum. Jutta Steiner, another co-founder of Parity Tech, says:
“All of us at Parity are deeply sorry to the users who remain unable to access their ether as a result of a bug in our code.”
Maciej Hirsz from Parity Tech says: “We’re even going a step further: we are not going to write contracts unless we really have to and just stick to building core tech.”
It sounds like a closure of sorts, albeit a bit of a sad one. Around 580 projects lost money, and they did so despite doing what you’d think is safer, using multi-sig.
For many of them, they did nothing wrong. One is expected of course to audit their smart contract, even engage in formal verification, and some, if not most of them, undoubtedly did. But where does the audit end?
This is the frontier, and just as one might find a new America, one might find they’re over the cliff edge. That means this space remains very much for the risk takers. Plenty of fame and gain, just as plenty shirtless men.
In chaos, one desires order and simplicity, even if that comes at the cost of some unfairly getting burned. The machine will redeem us sinners. Salvation in code is law.
It’s a simple idea for a simple people. A religion of sorts to replace the gods now gone. A children’s dream that the all ruling machine would be better than the always meddling men.
A seductive idea, which holds code as sacred and demands one washes their hands before speaking to the mighty machine for it demands respect in a court of if and then with no but, no maybe and no exception.
That’s for as long as the machine serves them, for as long as it grows their wealth, for if the machine goes mad and turns on them, or on itself, they’ll stand by and shout immutability for some but not all men.
For the machine is not god, nor above us all, however much some might wish it. We, are the machine. We, collectively, are the law above the code.
A tool is not religion, lest we prove idiocracy true. Of a higher mind perhaps, but still of a human mind. Subject to human rules. But not every-time, not for everyone. That’s, in any event, what this episode seems to tell.
The machine rules, unless there’s a systemic problem. Then humans tame the still wild horse. Even there, there will be some who will still claim it all untouchable. That humans must submit to the new priests, who though in minority still claim they should decide all things based on a theology no one understands. A theology no one understands because it allows them to interpret it as they please, to jump through loops for their own exceptions which are not called exceptions, to rule in effect, without claiming to rule.
And the best way to rule is, of course, fear. Tremble under the chain-split. Imagine all the terrors of an ETCC. Then dream of the heaves with just one eth, such beauty indeed, where all men sing. And if some are unhappy, they can leave. Eth is for the priests.
The king is dead, long live the king.
But there is another way to see the results, a far more optimistic way. That being what we have seen is the establishment of a somewhat fair governance process that can fairly quickly reach a yes or no in a controversial matter.
The level of debate has in some ways been what we can only describe as childish reees. Quick opponents descend into using smearing as a persuasion tactic. The longer that continues, the more the defamation of all. Then, it reaches the point where the community has in effect split, with the blockchain split so following as merely a formalization of it.
Which is why in these sort of cases it is important a decision is made and quickly if the community has any hope of staying in one chain. Not that an unhappy minority splitting is necessarily a bad thing, the results so far have actually shown it is very beneficial.
But there needs to be a way for eth itself to get to a yes or no in a very quick manner within say a month or less. The only way that can happen is by a vote, otherwise the governance mechanism can not be described as anything else but dictatorship.
That vote does need to be fair, and it does need to be seen as determinative, although some will always nitpick on ancillary matters in an attempt to discredit it.
The first point of fairness is whether those who have more eth should have a bigger say. We do not think the answer can be anything else than yes. That’s because they would be affected most by the decision, therefore they have the highest incentive to very carefully make the decision.
Someone with just one eth, for example, might merely go by easily manipulatable social media comments. Someone with 1,000 eth, or perhaps their assistants/researchers, would instead analyze the matter in much more depth and make a much more informed decision.
We do not doubt in this case the voters made the right decision. No was an easier option, avoiding an ecosystem wide “distraction.” While yes did not offer more potential benefit than the foreseeable cost, a cost that included the delay of Casper and Sharding.
Nor do we doubt that in the case of the DAO they made the right decision. Thus, with two data points, one could say voting does work to reach a quick and a somewhat objective decision.
Objective because it relies on the honesty or the intelligence of 51%. It is easier for those above average intelligence to persuade a stupid man than a stupid man to persuade those above average intelligence. With the two being 50/50 split, you need just a few “defectors” to make the “right” decision.
That’s the theory in any event and it has worked fine for Switzerland where they vote on issues rather than parties. There, they obviously have one person one vote because decisions affect all residents. Here, there can’t be one person one vote because decisions affect more those with more eth.
Curiously, however, both those in favor and those against the proposal said that the vote is basically insignificant. Yet in most cases the “independents” are the biggest group, and we think they would see the vote as at least highly persuasive, if not in fact determinative.
Because while everyone talks about how we need a governance mechanism, and then brush aside voting as a governance mechanism, then what exactly do they mean by governance?
That abstract complex word boils down to someone proposes a rule, and then someone decides whether to accept it or not. In most cases, thats the providence of coders who are engaging in non controversial matters. In some very exceptional cases, it’s the providence of token holders. In those cases, how else can it be decided but by a vote?
One can say, of course, you just split, but the question is how does eth itself decide? Do they just talk endlessly, go around in circles, then descend into “civil war,” or just hold a vote and be done with the matter in weeks?
We obviously think the latter, and that’s worked so far. If others however have a better method of how to reach a yes or no in public blockchains, then we’re all ears.