"Can not we just solve the problem of privacy, can not we just say" done "and get to feature-complete?"
That was the question that Bob Summerwill posed to the public at the EthCC conference in Paris on Thursday, comments coming in the context of a wider speech calling for the end of "tribalism" in the community supporting the second largest blockchain in the world.
Community manager at ethereum and an ambassador for the Sweetbridge blockchain alliance, Summerwill opened the conference on a note that would resonate for the next three days; that if the development of the ethereum "world computer" is a technical pursuit, it can not escape social entanglements.
More recently, debates over the return of lost funds have revealed flaws in the existing governance of the platform, which is based on a process borrowed from bitcoin and internet development, the Request for Proposal (RFP) process.
But while controversial changes tend to be avoided in bitcoin, the ethereum developers have long warned that being too careful with the code could lead to stagnation. "Otherwise, we will be a duck sitting like a bitcoin and we will be overwhelmed," warned a member of the public.
Yet, for lack of a forum to resolve the debates, the GitHub development platform has become a battleground, with the etereeum core code ruffled by political demands asking developers to "make it immutable" or to increase the transparency of the Ethereum Foundation. nonprofit that oversees development.
As the conference has shown, ethereum developers are now faced with the problem of how to keep developing fresh and adaptive in new ways without sacrificing technical scrutiny. In fact, this fact has been recognized in many groups and sessions of the week.
"We have recently had a tremendous amount of conflict," said Greg Colvin, developer of the ethereum virtual machine, at the first meeting of a new governance group that convened Friday.
There, Colvin exposed his argument for the Ethereum Wizard Community, a board that will aim to succeed in the development of a unique governance model for ethereum.
According to Colvin, the technical debates were obscured by politics. However, with his new group, he hopes to solve this problem by advocating for software changes driven by developers.
"It's the developers who finally decide what's going on in a hard range," said Colvin:
"For political questions, pass it on."
Governance, abstract and applied
But as some struggled with more practical questions, one of the most well known coders of the ethereum, Vlad Zamfir, sought to provide a theory that could be used.
In his speech, Zamfir described governance as a "coordination problem," in which decision-making requires shared knowledge that a set of decision-making processes is the norm.
"In Bitcoin, we have a strong standard against hard forks, and this norm really structures, really strongly the coordination that people do around [the software]," continued Zamfir
However, when it comes to software changes, he said blockchain design provides checks and balances. In the case of Bitcoin, he explains, the nodes that run, or the computers with complete copies of the blockchain, can withstand the change.
Speaking at the fraternity meeting, Nick Johnson echoed this finding, stating that the decision that ultimately changes the code of a chain of blocks is usually the last step in the process. a long process of technical examination.
After having followed the various steps of the EIP process, in which the software is proposed, accepted, encoded in clients and finally released, the upgrade is then subjected to a political analysis.
"Customers are released, people are informed of what is contained and they have the choice to run the hard fork client and agree or not to continue with the inherited chain," said Johnson at the meeting.
In pushing political decisions for later in the process, Johnson explained that developers had plenty of time to technically analyze a decision, which was recently denied in persistent attacks against GitHub.
If the community rejects change, it can still refuse to adopt it, which Johnson described as "extreme and, hopefully, unusual, but also a security value."
According to Johnson, disputed ranges can help preserve the freedom of opposition groups, explaining "you get two communities, each of which is unanimous on one side of the debate."
Following a blockchain split of this type, the ethereum developer, Jeff Coleman, added that the "market decides" which version of the software is most useful.
Money is complicated
Johnson concluded by reminding the group that the EIP process is a tool, which can also be modified with sufficient consensus.
"There is nothing in ethereum that needs EIP," Johnson said. "If the process gets broken enough, people will simply normalize these things elsewhere."
However, it is difficult to keep such a technically pure process, especially when there is real money involved.
"The challenge for this community is that the economic interest is not just something that motivates people to prefer something or not to want something. It's also a feature technical network ", observes Coleman.
Because of this, Coleman continues, "sometimes it's impossible to look at neutral technical terms."
Colvin accepted this, stating that economic issues can be like "gravity in a technical discussion", leading to unexpected deviations from an objective argument.
And as Johnson noted, the question of whether funds should be returned is a clear example where the boundaries between technical and economic concerns are beginning to fade. In addition, it is difficult to arrive at a technical skill if there is a lack of clarity as to the direction of the ether.
"It's not enough to say that we want to be as technically good as we can say about what," Johnson said.
In the future, the fraternity intends at least to provide a forum for face-to-face discussions, with the next panel to be held in Berlin in July, organized by the Web3 Foundation.
Speaking in his lecture, Summerwill said that the solution to many conflicts is to meet your enemies face to face, since the majority of today 's debates tend to happen online, where the vitriol and anger spread easily.
Running through selfies slides that he had taken alongside some of the platform's most controversial figures, Summerwill emphasized the importance of social processes: "In the quest for the machine perfect, we forgot to be human.
Notes in the Zamfir lecture also echoed this point.
While perhaps turning away from the chaos of the debate in person, Zamfir acknowledged that governance is not limited to establishing mathematically rational rules.
"If you can develop decision – making rules by solving a mathematical problem, and you have a very elegant rule, but if you do not manage to convince people of the problem," he says. use, then I do not really think you have accomplished the goal of governance. "
Brotherhood of Ethereum Wizards united by Lane Rettig