The Real Challenge for Ethereum 2.0

Ethereum’s vision for a decentralized world is dependent on diversity.

Tyler Mitchell Photography

“The world is run by those who show up.” — Robert Johnson

Black Girls CODE at DevCon IV, October 2018
Black Girls CODE August 2018 Pilot with ConsenSys

The State of Diversity in the Crypto-Community

Bias is built into every product by its creators. The less diverse the product’s authors, the more prejudice the algorithm.

  • The growing concern of plutocracy in a ‘decentralized’ ecosystem and the buy-in blockchain economy
  • Inherently centralizing qualities of Ethereum that we need to overcome
  • Design and user experience assumptions made in the crypto-community that are naturally exclusive, assuming technical literacy and access to smart-devices
  • Actionable next steps major community stakeholders can take to ensure Ethereum grows into an equitable, inclusive, and diverse community

Plutocracy is a Threat to ‘Decentralized Equity’

“Decentralized Equity is the measure of a public blockchain ecosystem’s ability to provide fairness and impartiality to its participants in order to maximize their potential success in learning, evangelizing, building, and scaling the technology.” — Robby Greenfield ;)

  1. Have founded one of these networks and hold vesting tokens
  2. Have already had a lot of fiat money at the time one of these networks was made public

Economies of Natural Exclusivity

There, at Hong Kong’s Scaling Bitcoin 2015, is BW’s Robin Yao; F2Pool’s Wang Chun; FinalHash’s Marshall Long; Bitmain’s Pan Zhibiao (33% of BTC Hashrate); Avalon’s Liu Xiang Fu; KnCMiner’s Sam Cole and BitFury’s Alex Petrov; Collectively, they hold over 50% of Bitcoin’s network hash rate
The Biggest Bitcoin Mining Pools
  • The more money you have → The more tokens you can HODL (in a PoS system) → The more tokens you have to stake → The more validator dividends you earn → The richer you become

The Argument Around Ethereum’s Inherent Centralization

  • No block size cap = Exponential chain growth
  • Exponential chain growth = Growing node requirements
  • Growing node requirements = Node count goes down over time
  • Node count goes down over time = Inherent centralization of the network

Naturally Exclusive User Interfaces & DApp Architectures

  1. Buy-In Economics: Assuming users will have access to Ether or any secondary market utility token (and that they can afford such a token)
  2. Wallet Literacy: Assuming that users will have smartphones to operate lite-client wallets, and, if they do, assuming that they know how to securely manage their private keys and memorize a 12-word seed phrase
  3. Transaction Fees: Assuming users are okay (and should, and can afford) paying transaction fees associated with using the DApp
  4. Cryptocurrency Volatility: Assuming users can leverage utility tokens, or tokens made for payment, that are volatile (and zed users can afford liquidity slippage)
  5. Language: Assuming users care that the blockchain makes that DApp function, and the usage of overtly technical language that confuses an otherwise intuitive user interface

Diversity is a Technical and Social Need

  1. Increase geographic node and or miner diversity and create/support node development programs with universities, particularly across the continent of Africa, the Caribbean, and South America
  2. Incentivize the development of EIPs/BIPs/etc. that target more effective solutions for maintaining inherently decentralizing Layer 1 attributes (i.e. putting new policies delineating gas limits, block size caps, and validator node responsibilities) by leveraging bounties and community grants
  3. Develop long-term programs and partnerships that support the institutionalization and increased availability of blockchain education and skill development with geographic diversity (e.g. Organizations like Public Universities, Black Girls Code, The Last Mile, Society of Women Engineers, etc.)
  4. Support hackathons and research grants that look to increase protocol and application layer development across neglected, cultural contexts (Sharia Law, Need for DApps/Clients that work on Mesh Networks, UX best practice templates, etc.)
  5. Hire new employees that differ in ethnic, gender, sex, and cultural backgrounds from your existing team to become more effective at developing holistic solutions
  6. Don’t wait to promote and empower marginalized identity employees to ensure that the voices of leadership directing your organization are as diversified as possible (in particular, the empowerment of technical voices at the leadership table)

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Robert Greenfield IV

CEO of Umoja Labs, Former Head of ConsenSys Social Impact, @Goldman Alum, @Cisco Alum, @TFA Alum, Activist, Intense Autodidact