Crisis Escalated, 2 Ethereums Forever

Unfortunately I think we’ve made the DAO hack worse by escalating the situation to an Ethereum hard fork. It was estimated by Vitalik months prior, that at LEAST 90% of the community would have to be on board for a hard fork to be successful. I don’t know where we lost sight of that, and thought we were simply doing a majority vote.

I have to admit I didn’t fully see this future (2 living forks), but now that there are, there will be some interesting consequences I’d like to share:

So in order to fully protect Ether, every exchange now has to ‘split’. The can accomplish this by creating a transaction which outputs their Ether into 2 different addresses based on which fork the transaction is being run on. This one transaction is send to both networks, and they each have different results (ether sent to different addresses).

Now you have your ETC in one address and ETH in another. Why do this? essentially, If you don’t, some confusing things can happen which may lead to assets in one of the networks being stolen. Here’s how:

Lets say I want to buy some ETH from someone. He has some stored away from last year, and sends it to my wallet. But now I can take his signed transaction and replay it on the Ethereum Classic chain, and boom. I have stolen ETC. You may say that this doesn’t matter, maybe he doesn’t care about that chain. Well unfortunately thats ridiculous, because its worth real money ( anyone who has no desire for ETC should send theirs here: 0x82ab1649f370ccf9f2a5006130c4fca28db2587e ;) ). Or maybe you say fine, that ETC just comes with it. Great but that should factor into the price.

Now that you understand replay attacks, lets look at some of there other implications, because it seems to me like virtually all digital assets on the network should go through various forms of this splitting. Lets say you have a digital land registry. Land rights are tied to addresses and can be sent into other addresses. If I send you my land right, I could split it as explained above, and then later sell someone the land right which is only viable on one chain. I hope its the ‘right one’. I can keep my land right on the other and you may not even notice. Which version of Ethereum is the ‘official’ one for this land rights contract anyway? It will probably come down to the history of the specific app, and which chain they decided to use at conception.

We may all have to remember which version of Ethereum a particular service is meant to be hosted on. GOD DAMN IT WHY CANT THESE ANTI-FORKERS JUST LET ETH-CLASSIC DIE! well here is one reason: When I chose what fork to run my service on, wouldn’t I want the one with cheaper gas prices for me and my clients?  Because the price of ETC is significantly lower, so will be the transactions. Also, when I make a decision on where to register the digital assets that my clients will hold for decades to come, which chain might be tempted to destroy or redistribute, and which chain can I trust to be immutable.

The problem is that this will happen again. lets not kid ourselves, Ethereum is only going to get bigger, and more valuable. Next time it might be 500 million in assets. Maybe that will only represent 1% or all Ether. While we perform that hard fork, who knows if the US government may require extras be thrown in, like redistributing funds held by know terrorists. What about the hard fork after that? Governments might start to order hard forks in certain countries. Maybe China would end up with there own forced fork that never really gets picked up internationally. They could make it illegal to interact with the old fork. In a future with all these forks out there, how do you pick one? At that point the only one that stands out is Classic – the only network to be clean of all (impromptu) forks.

Yes, it looks like there will be different forks around, I don’t know how long before it happens. Maybe a whole decade, but blockchains are forever, and I hate to see communities fizzle apart, ending up on different chains, for all of the technical reasons above, and many more networking affects, but also because …its confusing!

Will you be for or against the next hard fork? Should we ever bail another bad contract again (Lets say its a billion $ hack)? What if the purpose of the fork is to destroy an assassination market?


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