Will ProgPoW Lead To Ethereum Fork in July 2020? [EXPLAINED]

By Brawnd0 | CryptoLetter | 25 Feb 2020

So I decided to follow up on Ethereum’s development progress after the recent news that there were plans to bridge XRP and Ethereum. It’s hard to keep up with all that is happening in the crypto space and it’s been a while since I took a proper look at what’s going in Ethereum’s development ecosystem. 

That had me browsing Reddit and looking up for development news and of course, there’s the story of ProgPoW implementation going around, which has upset some people (more into why this is so shortly.) 

This has been in discussion for a while now and it has somewhat serious ramifications for Ethereum (which is why a lot of maximalists oppose it), including necessitating a hard fork. 

I thought I’d break this for you, try to explain it as objectively as possible, so that all of you could form your own conclusions about it. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

First, What is ProgPoW?

Kristy-Leigh Minehan, one of ProgPoW's authors, discussing it.

ProgPoW stands for Programmatic Proof-of-Work and it has a very specific purpose: it makes graphics cards a more viable tool in the mining process, as opposed to ASICs, which dominate the market and exclude many individuals from participating in the mining process (and thus making it less decentralized.) It would also help retain miners, and the more the participation a network sees, the healthier it is essentially.

While this may seem beneficial at the outset, looking at ProgPoW more closely, people started to see the the flaws in implementing it. For one thing, Ethereum is reducing miner rewards as it transitions into Proof-of-Stake. So this additional change may just be superfluous - given that a switch to PoS is around the corner anyway.

The hard fork is slated for July, decided in a Core Dev meeting. First approved in January 2019, the update was talked frequently talked about over the year and, eventually, in February 2019, an audit was approved. 

But the hard fork will be preceded by EIP 1962, which will take place 3 weeks prior in June. This EIP will bring some cryptographic changes to the network. 

The main worry from the community is that it is going to cause an ideological divide, ala the DAO hard fork. The core team itself is not very worried about this and there is no undeniable reason that this will occur, if even some people disagree with it. Personally, it seems as if a split into two blockchains would cause more damage than having the change. 

Why Do a Lot of ETH Maximalists Hate it?

Ethereum 2.0 is hopefully going to launch in July (according to some) - the same time as this ProgPow change. The general consensus is that it is going to launch in 2020, that’s for sure. And it is quite apparent why people many in the community, both developers and investors, are opposed to the idea.

It doesn’t seem like it’s going to seem very helpful at this time. Perhaps before, but with PoS arriving, not so much. A moderate case of too little, too late. 

There are some prominent names in the industry who are against the ProgPoW too, like Luis Cuende, the cofounder of digital court/jurisdiction project Aragon. He tweeted,

Others who disagree with the change include Hayden Adams of (Uniswap), Ameen Soleimani (Spankchain), Martin Köppelmann (Gnosis) and Igor Lilic (ConsenSys).

But most notable of all, Vitalik Buterin has himself criticized the way the situation was handled, saying that it makes people lose faith in the nature of the governance,

In the light of Proof-of-Stake imminent arrival, the implementation of ProgPoW seems rather unnecessary. You can see why they are trying to do it, but it does not appear as useful as it seems in the long run.


With Eth 2.0 and all of its benefits - sharding, proof-of-stake and other less glamorous improvements - set for arrival by the end of 2021 and refinement over 2022(the updates will see a staggered release with sharding arriving in phase 1), there is no doubt some weight to the argument of that ProgPow would just be an unnecessary step. 

While Eth 2.0 has been delayed many times, and the development is painstaking, Vitalik Buterin has confirmed that development is going well and that we are all set to be hitting the deadlines. 

You can sympathize with those argue against ProgPoW. With PoS around the corner, it doesn’t seem necessary. Staking will open the doors to many more, much more than ProgPoW could. But we shall see if it becomes as damaging as some have said. 

What do you think?

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