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ProgPoW Debate Back on Ethereum Agenda, With a Twist

The debate over the implementation of the ProgPoW algorithm in an Ethereum upgrade has taken a new turn as the network reportedly expanded its blockchain capacity by 25% without a fork.

Support for implementing ProgPoW, which promises to make mining more decentralized by preventing miners with ASICs from monopolizing mining power, was once high. However, the algo meant to help the protocol become more resistant to ASICs is now being contested as a product of conflicts of interest while ASICs are being ruled out as an immediate threat to Ethereum. The argument heightened after the ProgPoW author, Kristy-Leigh Minehan, amongst other claims against her, was uninvited to the ETC Summit amidst calls for the Ethereum community to reject the upgrade’s implementation.

Minehan was the CTO of Core Scientific before she quit after the company was allegedly linked to Craig Wright of Bitcoin SV and Coingeek’s Calvin Ayre as well as to mining equipment manufacturing company such as Bitmain.

But for Minehan, who is at the centre of the debate, she said she has realized that the ProgPoW discussion is both a technical and political one  – and she’s on the technical and not the political side.

“On the political piece, it’s very much a story about the governance of Ethereum. A lot of these stakeholders and application developers felt like their voice was not heard or their opinions were not and a decision on ProgPoW was made without their input. So that is a big piece of it,” she said in an interview. “The second piece is that miners believe that they are not heard. That they do not have a voice and that their values or contributions to the Ethereum network are no longer valid or not even desired or wanted. That has really stressed the Ethereum governance piece. The third piece is many people are pushing back because ProgPoW is very technical. It does take a bit of understanding of how GPUs/hardware intimately work and that can cause a bit of confusion, stress, a little bit of chaos because as I’ve always said, software developers and hardware developers often live in different worlds and what the other can do is considered black magic. it’s very rare for the two to converge in one way and it’s even rare for someone to intimately understand software and intimately understand hardware. So there is all of those signal concerns, I’m sure I have missed others as well. Truly, I am more involved in the technical side rather than the political side.”

The hard fork for the Ropsten is scheduled for October 2 while the testnet Görli is for October 30 and the testnet Rinkeby for November 13. The first update for Istanbul mainnet fork will take place later this year while its second one will be in Q1 2020. Between now and then, what would stick eventually would surely be known as the situation unfolds but it is clear the ProgPoW issue is not going away even after subsequent upgrades – be it implemented or not. It would be seen whether every stakeholder would agree to have been given a fair chance to contribute meaningfully to the topic.

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