Why Ethereum Classic wants to become more interoperable with Ethereum

Messari, along with Bob Summerwill, Executive Director at the ETC Cooperative and Kevin Lord, Ethereum Classic Community Manager at IOHK, in the Messari community group organized a public AMA. Below is a transcript of the conversation.

ETH classic
Image via bitcoinmagazine

Bob Summerwill: I went down the rabbit hole in February 2014, reading the Ethereum white paper then, meeting Vitalik IRL in July 2014 and getting active involved as a volunteer in July 2015. Then EF, then EEA and ETC and ConsenSys and Hyperledger since 2019.

Messari: Kevin could you also share your background and what got you interested in crypto? A question for both two of you, what was it about ETC that made you want to work on this specific project?

Kevin Lord: What makes me interested in “cryptocurrencies” is bitcoin. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay too much attention to the project until a few years later. Then, another event that really pushed me into ETCLand, was the DAO hardfork.

After the DAO hard fork I began lurking in the ETC slack and subreddit, then eventually began connecting with then etcdev advisors and other contributors. Soon after another person and I began a campaign of sorts called “ETCisComing”. This was all the social media for the most part and subsequently lead to “ClassicIsComing” and me joining IOHK.

Bob Summerwill: At the time of the DAO fork, I was working at the Ethereum Foundation. During that month, I had a better understanding of both sides of the coin, and so I continued to work in the Ethereum ecosystem. Although I have advocated the right of the ETC to go their own way from Day 1 and interact with volunteers who really bring that series to life.

Later in April 2018 I met Anthony Lusardi at EDCON where he was speaking at the invitation of Virgil Griffith. In January 2019, Anthony asked if I was interested in working at ETC Coop and I took the opportunity.

Messari: In recent months, ETC has implemented a couple of forks to remain compatible with Ethereum. With the direct Agharta upgrade, ETC is now more compatible with ETH. What are the reasons or benefits of maintaining a high level of interaction with ETH? Do you object or agree to the use of ETC for data storage?

Bob Summerwill:
ETC = “Bitcoin with smart contracts and rich statefulness”
ETH2 = “World Computer”

Those projects are completely complementary but have very different goals and priorities.

Kevin Lord: ETC for data storage – I completely oppose this because in my opinion, ETC should not be used that way. However, ETC is not allowed and anyone is free to do anything with the network.

Bob Summerwill: “The reason or benefit for Ethereum compatibility” is pretty clear! Compatibility means that such applications can also be deployed on ETC. We’re also seeing more projects adding “ETC support” or are interested in adding it – although at Azlan you won’t even need “support”. Because there will be a difference now.

Bob Summerwill: That doesn’t mean that ETC and ETH will be 100% compatible forever. Sustainability Security and ALSO immutability and not breaking existing smart contracts will always be the highest priority.

I have suggested a hard-cap on gaslimit in-protocol as one answer to that. Within the EVM, Wei Tang has proposed removing the observability of GAS. It will also be a change that makes ETC incompatible with ETH but may be better for forward / backward compatibility. Our aim is to get to a place where changes to protocol can slow Right down.

Messari: Why is absolute immutability important?

Bob Summerwill: “Absolute immutability” is not desirable. As much immutability as possible is INCREDIBLY desirable, though, because it is the fair basis for a very sound economy to be built on top.

Kevin Lord: Immutability is important but “trust-minimization” is more important. Valuable features of ETC such as: significantly reducing trusted third parties, only allowing private key owners to control their tokens or contracts on the network, with no freezing mechanism and Open for everyone to use.

Bob Summerwill: Simple example of ETC not having (or desiring) absolute immutability is the application of the emergency gas repricing which happened after the “Shanghai attacks” on ETH in 2016. Should ETC has refused to make the same changes “Because Immutability”, “Because Code is Law”? Of course not. That would be insane.

“Code is Law” is about not breaking social contracts, not breaking smart contracts, not moving funds without private keys. For Aztlan we will be taking everything EXCEPT the repricing which broke 680 Aragon smart contracts. That is NOT how ETC rolls.

ETC is a permissionless platform. Participants can use it in any way that makes sense to them, as long as they pay a transaction fee. I predicted that as ETC gains popularity (and we it # 10 on CMC the other day), those prices will increase to get much closer to ETH at which point “dumping data” onto ETC will not look such a good “cheap scaling option” anymore. In addition, if we limit gaslimit, there will be less capacity for that and the fee may increase even faster.

Messari: How are the development decisions made in the ETC ecosystem?
How does ethereum classic make changes to the network? Like how does it avoid a network/community split like the DAO hard fork bailout?

Kevin Lord: It’s trust-minimization that enables immutability, and censorship resistance in blockchain systems. Changes must also be proposed through the ECIP process.

Messari: Similar to Ethereum’s EIP process, but is it different?

Bob Summerwill: Decision making on ETC happens via the ECIP process which was modeled after the EIP which was modeled after the BIP which was modeled after the PIP.

Kevin Lord: Yes, the ECIP process is modeled after the Bitcoin BIP and Ethereum EIP processes. I think they may be slightly different on how to submit BIP and EIP proposals.

Bob Summerwill: Both ETH and ETC are effectively run by an “altruistic technocracy” but non client-devs have more of a voice than they do on ETH.

Kevin Lord: ETC has a much more open/transparent improvement proposal process than ETH.

Bob Summerwill: From my observation, all the key stakeholders in the ETC ecosystem are aware of that dynamism and embrace it.

Messari: Is there a remarkable DeFi project about to be developed on Ethereum Classic?
What does ETC have to offer/piggyback on DeFi solutions out there?

Bob Summerwill: In my opinion, ETC is a better platform than ETH for DeFi projects. Because:

  • The ETC native token is hard-money
  • The ETC prioritizes long-term sustainability and plans that will last for decades. ETH has a very uncertain future, with uncertainty about the ETH2 conversion time.
  • scalability is one of your lowest concerns.

ETC is also Ethereum and with full compatibility, DeFi projects that can target ETC are also very easy.

Kevin Lord: There are currently a limited number of projects directly implemented. One of them is Commonwealth, a branch of P3WH3D. Another would be the Saturn Hodl Dapp. Wrapped ETC by POA is also another project with tremendous potential.

Bob Summerwill: I expect to be doing my “pitch” on ETC hundreds and hundreds of times during 2020. I will be at ETHDenver, ETHLondon, ETHCC and Consensus 2020. Yaz will be at those events and more. Kevin will be around. ETC Core and ETC Labs will be around.

Messari: And then some on the possibility of ETC layer-2 efforts:
Any update on ETC sidechains?
Is any update regarding the Connext state channels on ETC network?

Bob Summerwill: On Layer 2, that is a beautiful story. Because ALL of the layer solutions for Ethereum will now work on ETC as well. In particular, for Connext, there is no technical reason why that could not be done on ETC today, but there are funding needs.

In particular, ETC Cooperative is a public charity with a limited budget for grants and funding. Just today it was announced that Grayscale are extending their funding of ETC Cooperative, which is awesome news.

Getting to sustainable funding models is a real problem in the whole of the blockchain space. The best projects will support ETC because it is easy for them and because ETC makes sense to them and they see a viable business there.

DAppNode, for example, just announced ETC support. I had them on my TODO list and never even got the opportunity to talk to them prior to their announcement.

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