Linzhi Ltd. is a private fabless semiconductor company in Shenzhen.
On January 8th, we called upon Ethereum developers to publish rules and guidelines for what constitutes a good ProgPoW ASIC maker.
Today Alexey Akhunov published a wonderful opinion piece with 4 claims, which we see as a massive effort to bridge the hardware-software divide.
The Qi Hardware community provided a Chinese translation of Alexey’s claims:
To respond, we first quote Chris Ziomkowski, founder of XTend.online (unaffiliated with us).
The reasonable question was: “What should chipmakers do to not be labeled bad actors after designing a crypto (here: PoW) chip?”
We quote Chris Ziomkowski of XTend.online (unaffiliated with us but we love his answer) for our reasonable answer: “Commit to the cause of making equipment that is ubiquitous and available to anyone on an egalitarian and non preferential basis. Accept competition from others in finding the best way to secure the network. Be patient.”
However we also liked Alexey’s open-minded claim format so much, we take the liberty to add another set of 4 claims on top of his. If you believe Alexey’s claims to be untrue, the next 4 might be even harder to prove. If you believe Alexey’s claims are true, they may be easier. Let us know.
Claim 1: A change in PoW algorithm, or other reward algorithms in the future, must be preset to a fixed date at least 1, better 2 years in advance.
The highest principle in reward algorithms must be enabling competition.
Free and fair competition is an extension of open-source principles into hardware. Hardware requires capital and time. This means software developers have a responsibility to commit to a fixed date for the rollout of any reward algorithm in advance, long enough to enable anyone who wants to to prepare.
Equality of opportunity must be achieved. For simple hardware, 6 months or 12 months may be enough. Even for the most complicated hardware, 2 years should suffice.
Claim 2: Open-source principles, although universally loved in crypto, do not apply to hardware.
Open does not mean open and honest. Open cannot extend well to schedules and wallets. Business negotiations and contracts are not open in many cases. One of the founding principles of open-source was that there is a mandate for code to be open, because it can be open. A bowl of spaghetti however, can only be eaten once.
The hardware world cannot make this any easier for open-source software developers. We cannot wait until the whole world becomes an open-source program. Software developers have to accept that open-source is a concept that is inherently intangible, and need to make the extra effort to define what exactly they want from the tangible hardware world.
Claim 3: For crypto to succeed, bridging the hardware-software gap is critical.
We don’t want crypto to be confined to a world of papers and github commits. PoW was a key innovation to connect the world of software with the world of energy and time. Hardware wallets, gas turbos, accelerators for signing, proving, verifying, sorting and other things are on the horizon. Environmental impact is real, safe and fair working conditions are real. The hardware-software divide is a big challenge, but also one of the biggest opportunities in crypto in the near future. We don’t believe this problem will go away with the promised switch to PoS or even an entire retreat from all things physical.
Open hardware projects like Qi Hardware may help.
Claim 4: Contributing to the network must be more economic than attacking the network.
Many of the problems we have with today’s PoW come from bad alignment of incentives. It shouldn’t matter that much whether all participants share the exact same goals and values, and whether their investment horizons are short-term or long-term. Protocol developers have a lot of power in structuring the rewards — issuance, monetary policy, fees. There must be no way to capitalize on inefficiencies. Devs need to understand the very real physical consequences of their economic models. Linzhi believes in a future of Proof-of-Contribution: Crypto projects will reward contribution to the actual scaling of the network: verifying transactions, STARK provers, signing, sorting, block speed, etc.
Contributing to the network has to be more economic than attacking the network. That’s the principle software developers have to bring to life with algorithms and protocols, so hardware and software can grow together and in harmony.
Never stop learning.