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ETH + BTC = ETC

Key Points

  • Ethereum Classic, existing in response to problems enabled by centralization, quickly realized and adopted the genius of Bitcoin's decentralist design decisions.
  • Like ETH, ETC is a Turing Complete Smart Contract Platform.
  • Like BTC, ETC has a miraculous origin, which is impossible to recreate.
  • Like BTC, ETC has "no official anything", preventing "official" capture.
  • Like BTC, ETC aims to provide a reliable secure base layer and does so by upgrading the protocol conservatively.
  • Like BTC, ETC requires constant skepticism in community interactions.

Introduction

For those already somewhat familiar with the cryptocurrency ecosystem, a quite simple heuristic exists that cuts to the chase of what Ethereum Classic is attempting to achieve.

Ethereum Classic takes the philosophy of Bitcoin and applies it to the technology of Ethereum

  • The CEO of Ethereum Classic, if one existed
ETH + BTC = ETC
ETH + BTC = ETC

Many of those involved with Ethereum before the DAO Hack were under the impression that Ethereum was hoping to do precisely this: be built on top of the well-established core ideas that Bitcoin provided but add on additional functionality in the form of a Turing Complete Smart Contract Platform.

But as The DAO Hack showed, this was not the case. What is now known as Ethereumâ„¢ has very little to do with the decentralist values that Bitcoin was created to embody.

The decision for The Ethereum Foundation to abandon the decentralist values that were used to entice contributions was unfortunate but created a vacuum that ultimately further refined the meaning and importance of those values and birthed a project whose mission was to continue that Original Ethereum Vision.

Ethereum Classic, even more so than Bitcoin itself, exists as an explicit reminder about the importance of decentralist values. There were many who didn't understand their significance at the time, but many others saw the truth that decentralization was the very point, not just an annoying obstacle to overcome.

Since the chain split, the design choices and philosophy of Ethereum Classic have come to recognize the genius decisions made when constructing the original Bitcoin protocol. As much as possible, ETC emulates this success in the pursuit of decentralism and the real world achievements that followed.

Immaculate Conception 2.0

Much like Bitcoin, Ethereum Classic can be considered a divine entity due to the circumstances of its miraculous origin.

As explored earlier, Ethereum Classic's creation story is almost certainly impossible to recreate or happen by accident ever again. Not only were the events leading up to its birth extremely improbable, but ETC's very existence now serves as a warning to other projects, which are likely to avoid similar controversial hard forks, or at least only do them while mitigating the possibility of a chain split.

There were no markets and therefore no monetary value, and with this, it has not corrupted by the profit incentive from inception.
...
This is not the case with other coins [ed: except ETC]; all launched with founders looking to profit, having backing from investors who are looking for bit exits and naturally retail foaming at the mouth looking to flip their positions too.

In some ways, Ethereum Classic's conception is even more "immaculate" than Bitcoin's; it was not planned at all, by anyone, and unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum Classic has no Satoshi, meaning that there is no Satoshi to return and influence decision-making, which is theoretically possible in Bitcoin.

Ethereum Classic is also the only blockchain project seeded with a follower base that was 100% focused on the principles of decentralism. Despite the risks, they went against the official Ethereumâ„¢ project, self-selecting specifically because of their reaction to The DAO incident and the abuses enabled by centralization.

No Official Anything

Like Bitcoin, Ethereum Classic has no official developers, maintainers, or leaders. It has no official logo, no official website, no official conferences. Ethereum Classic cannot have an official anything because no individual or group has the authority to claim they represent ETC in any official capacity.

This is a rare quality and massive strength in the world of blockchains. It means no official thing can be taken down, captured, or compromised, and there is no official entity that can sue competing forks for copyright infringement.

No official anything is the source of much of the strength of the Ethereum Classic project, but it also has drawbacks as there is no central source of truth to coordinate from. Instead, a "do-ocracy" exists where anyone can contribute and based on what is done, picked up, and used, those contributions become part of Ethereum Classic. This makes it a unique project and attractive to contributors as literally nothing can stop you from being as close to official as anyone else.

Secure Base Layer

The view of many within the Ethereum Classic community is that the aforementioned Blockchain Trilemma is insurmountable, at least on the base later. For this reason, Ethereum Classic's current roadmap does not include the more exotic "solutions" that will be attempted by Ethereumâ„¢.

Essentially, there is no known one size fits all approach to scaling throughput that can be applied on the base layer without compromising an important security assumption, so for ETC as a protocol, barring some significant technological advancement, it is best left up to applications or secondary protocols to provide various different trade-offs and implement optimizations depending on the use case, giving users the choice of which to adopt.

Many in the Ethereum Classic community are also wary of attempts to increase the block size, due to the adverse effects that are likely to appear down the road in terms of "bloat" and the increased time to sync and hardware requirements, which, if left unchecked, may make it difficult to run an Ethereum Classic node, leading to centralization. Some argue the block gas limit should be reduced further, while others look towards Zero Knowledge Proof technologies that can reduce the amount of data needed to be stored on chain.

There is general agreement that a layered approach to scaling blockchains can increase throughput while satisfying the Blockchain Trilemma in a way that does not mess with the base layer. Individuals can safely experiment with different L2 systems without affecting L1, and can fine-tune the various trade-offs depending on the application and user requirements.

KISS Slowly

The base layer needs to be secure in several ways; both technologically with fewer bugs and socioeconomically secure against various forms of attack.

Because single points of failure can exist in many areas and are often hidden, all things being equal, it is easier to maintain decentralization in systems that are less complex. Additional complexity creates not just more technical bugs and exploits, but also potential central points of failure, in unforeseen game-theory quandaries and in the form of higher upkeep requirements leading to a reduced pool of developers able to contribute to maintenance. If a system is too complex for anyone to reason with, it may as well be captured by its authors, who have sole authority on how it should be operated, maintained, and upgraded.

Bitcoin, as with ETC, positions itself as the "good old reliable" system that does not need to innovate quickly, but instead, do so slowly and methodically without breaking it's previously established guarantees. This is achieved through a conservative approach to protocol upgrades, a "Move Slowly and Don't Break Things" ethos, and the delivery of innovation in layers, rather than attempting to implement radical changes to the base protocol.

Like Bitcoin, this approach does not preclude innovation. Instead, it simply demands a careful and methodical approach to protocol upgrades.

Don't Trust, Verify

One of the hallmarks of genuinely decentralized projects is that a healthy level of distrust exists amongst participants in the social layer. While this may sound counter-intuitive, it is what secures the social layer against many forms of attack.

Any individual could become compromised at any point, so all participants must maintain an ever-skeptical perspective in communications and decision-making, judging ideas rather than individuals and reputations. To do otherwise is to make one of the key failures of centralized decision-making, which may be expedient, but is fragile, as when decisions are made based on authority rather than merit alone, it allows terrible decisions not just to occur occasionally, but continue unchecked, double-downed on, and snowball out of control.

For this reason the concept of toxicity as a general approach to the adversarial cryptocurrency social space remains an open debate and is considered by some to be a legitimate, frank, albeit unsavory strategy for navigating discussions. Some consider toxicity a form of immune response that weeds out certain types of smooth-talking bad actors who rely on populism to forward a particular proposal. Toxicity is not compatible with all personalities, and the Ethereum Classic has its fair share of both toxic and non-toxic participants. Be advised that in most cases, abrasiveness in the cryptocurrency space is not personal, but on the contrary, about defaulting to a purely idea-based rather than personality-based discussion.


Next, let's take a closer look at some practical technical implementation details that Ethereum Classic has adopted thanks to inspiration from Bitcoin; Sound Money, and Proof of Work.

Continue Reading
Sound Money
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