The Problem with Proof of Work
K. L. Minehan
1.5K11

Disclosure: My name is Alexander Levin Jr, president of gpuShack.com and founder of ethosdistro.com, a Linux-based mining operating system that is currently running on 100,000+ rigs and 650,000+ GPUs.

I will attempt to demonstrate that forking Ethereum to use the so-called ProgPoW creates an unfair competitive advantage.

I disagree with the author’s initial claim that Proof-of-Work’s goal is to prevent centralization. Instead, PoW was initially used by Satoshi as a consensus mechanism. As per Satoshi’s whitepaper, “The proof-of-work also solves the problem of determining representation in majority decision making.”

ProgPoW’s proponent appears to have a consulting relationship with NVIDIA and NVIDIA-related AICs. This means that NVIDIA may be privy to future optimizations sooner, and more often. Furthermore, ProgPoW’s proponents’ project Mineority seems to be focused on creating a platform for sourcing and providing cloud hosting specifically for NVIDIA GPUs.

ProgPoW’s proponent has previously demonstrated a preference for NVIDIA by authoring OhGodAnETHlargementPill, which increases hashrate specifically for NVIDIA GPUs. At the time of this writing, I am not aware of any meaningful hashrate-increasing work done by ProgPoW’s proponent for AMD, or any GPU architectures other than NVIDIA.

In the past, using algorithms specifically for “ASIC-resistance” has created unfair competitive advantages for first-movers because it increases the requirement for Research&Development. In the case of ProgPoW, the author is the first mover. Regardless, ProgPoW does not address the problem of centralization: Every single coin with a high enough market cap, for which the coin’s developers cited ASIC resistance, has incentivized companies, operating in secret, to develop specialized hardware. Contrarily, coins that use simple algorithms theoretically allow more players to enter the ecosystem by reducing R&D costs, thereby creating a fairer and non-monopolized specialized hardware environment.

Based on the above, an argument could be made that ProgPoW’s author is selfishly and financially motivated to increase their influence in the mining ecosystem, despite their much-vaunted and somewhat weak populist arguments. Furthermore, the author’s failure to disclose glaring conflicts of interest weakens the argument that Ethereum should be forked to change the algorithm to ProgPoW.

I believe there exists an inherent conflict of interest for any algorithm developer who also works with hardware manufacturers. As a thought experiment, imagine if a consultant working for Bitmain penned an article claiming that Bitcoin should fork away from SHA256 to an algorithm developed by them in-house. No one would take it seriously.

I will, therefore, be voting “No” on this proposal.