Ethereum’s “Difficulty Bomb” Delays
Constantinople fork delayed till 2019
Ethereum’s next hard fork, dubbed Constantinople, will be postponed until early 2019. Constantinople is designed to smooth the transition from a Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus algorithm to PoS. It’s rather important.
After finding bugs in the code they were testing on the testnet platform that went live on October 13, Ethereum’s core developers decided to postpone the network’s scheduled hard fork, which was supposed to happen in November, 2018.
Whether you call it an upgrade or a hard fork, Ethereum’s increasing complexity means it’s also taking more time to integrate new things. This rising complexity and slowness to integrate sharding, Casper and reach scalability might also be having an impact on Ethereum’s upside.
According to Genesis Global Trading, a major cryptocurrency investment firm that targets institutional investors, short interest towards Ethereum (ETH) has declined substantially in the third quarter of 2018. With a market cap of about $21 billion ETH still owns about 10% of all value of cryptocurrencies. If you think of it from a dev standpoint, Ethereum is far more central to how digital assets do business than that.
Ethereum is a bit clunky at times, this “difficulty bomb,” is in reference to a piece of Ethereum’s code that steadily increases the difficulty of mining new blocks. The bomb was originally conceived as part of a larger plan to transition the Ethereum network from the energy-intensive process it uses to agree on its ledger, called proof of work, to a more energy-efficient one called proof of stake. So these are growing pains for the crypto platinum of the world known as Ether. It’s also a period where it may need to find scalability solutions elsewhere for the time being.
The Decentralization Wars Have Started
- A developing a proof-of-stake system is taking longer than expected
- Ethereum’s direction now seems to be a never-ending compromise
- While Ethereum is one of the more “decentralized” public blockchains others pretenders (EOS and Tron among others) are gaining on it, apparently.
- ETH appears to have stabilized somewhat around the $200 mark.
- Meanwhile newcomers such as Dfinity, Harmony Protocol and others are boasting scalability prowess but appear to be more on a path of “centralization” to be run as run-of-the-mill tech startups.
However, in terms of developer activity, Ethereum has seen a continuous improvement and progress in the development of its core blockchain layer. It’s attracted a lot of software developers to blockchain projects as talent shortages and the war for talent for blockchain engineers is fierce.
Ethereum is Like a Software Engineer’s Renaissance
While Ethereum may not be as searched as it was on Google six months ago, we have to put all this into perspective. Ethereum’s development is one of the fastest-growing projects on GitHub. There are like 96 million open-source projects and 27 million software developers on the code repository. Microsoft can put GitHub in its back pocket and be worth $1 Trillion dollars and try to woo open-source developers, but it’s not exactly leading the future of code.
Ethereum’s development is also an experiment in massive decentralized governance. Delays are actually a good sign, one where consensus is reached with the right proposals being included and agreed upon. Ethereum is the 5th-largest growing open source project GitHub on the entire platform! The code does not lie, Constantinople is introducing five Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs).
The group also proposed releasing a new hard fork every eight months after the official Constantinople upgrade, a change from six months. The age of dApps and digital assets is just beginning. You can raise $4 Billion and still be a fraud or raise hundreds of millions from traditional VC and still have no chance to attract serious blockchain engineers to your project.
Trying to compete with Ethereum is like trying to dethrone Bitcoin. Try taking out the new digital gold or crypto platinum. The future of cryptoeconomics might be tethered to Ethereum’s code for quite some time.