Ethereum is following a roadmap that will see mining slowly phased out as the network moves to securing itself with a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) protocol. Vitalik Buterin has already outlined his multi-step plan to ease PoS into the network on top of Proof-of-Work (PoW), eventually leading to a hybridized PoS/PoW system, which will ultimately roll into pure PoS.
A piece of code called the “difficulty bomb” is part of Ethereum’s protocol and it’s designed to exponentially slow the network (the “Ice Age”) in order to disincentivize mining and facilitate the transition to PoS. Though the switch to PoS has been taking some time, the difficulty bomb’s effects are close to being felt. The Ethereum community, however, is on top of the situation.
Currently, the Ethereum community is partaking in a voting initiative being held at CarbonVote.com. It’s an ongoing vote, with no specific timeline. If you’re unfamiliar with the platform, CarbonVote “was initiated during the DAO hard fork and conducted [a] vote in a secure web-page fashion with the feature that the voting conducted did not require coins to leave voters’ wallets. It had been a great source of reference when the community decided to go with the fork.” Now, CarbonVote is being used again, as Ethereum stares down the approaching Ice Age. A message on the website reads:
“Hey Ethereum Community,
In the face of the approaching Ice Age, we are faced with problems:
The prolonged block time in the Ice Age does serve a purpose for reducing incentives for miners and so as to facilitate the adaption [sic] to the PoS hardfork(s); however, it is at the expense of slower responsiveness in the system.
Appeals for removing the difficulty bomb and delaying the Ice Age are voiced in the community, but at the same time, it would also mean the continuous inflation of coins remains. Thus, we also see corresponding proposals for a reduction of Etherum [sic] coin emission to maintain the original more predictable supply plan, which would be beneficial for increasing investments and in the long run, a robust and stable growth for the platform.
There it came EIP#186 (https://github.com/ethereum/EIPs/issues/186). EIP#186 is drafted in the spirit of preserving fast response of the system, ensuring a smoother transition to PoS, and at the same time a decrease in per-block rewards.”
The initiative isn’t simply calling a vote on whether or not to implement EIP (Ethereum Improvement Proposal) #186; it’s trying to gauge community sentiment regarding the direction of Ethereum’s economic model. That’s why the vote isn’t just yes or no. The community has a “no” option, and four “yes” options, each with its own specific reduction of miner rewards. So, you can vote not only on whether or not to reduce miner rewards but also by how much.
All “legitimate voters should be players who have ethers in their wallets.” So if you’re reading this, that’s likely you. No coins leave anyone’s wallets during the vote, but you may cast your vote by sending a 0-ETH transaction from your wallet to the “yes” or “no” address of your choice. The amount of Ether at the address you send the transaction from counts towards the weight of your vote. The more Ether you have, the more powerful your vote. This is similar to virtual mining in a PoS system (the more Ether you stake, the higher your chance of a reward).
The current issuance level for Ether is 5 ETH per block (plus various uncle rewards). The current vote leader, as of this publishing, appears to be the option to reduce miner rewards to between 3 and 4 ETH per block. If you voted but want to change your vote, you only need to resend a new 0-ETH transaction to your new choice. Another option is to move all your Ether to a new address, that way, when the vote is tallied, your 0 Ether is counted as 0 votes. You will still need to pay the gas cost of the transaction, which is 30,000 gas (0.0006 ETH).
Once the vote is finished, and community consensus is reached, this particular EIP would need a hard fork to be implemented. The vote may be happening at the same time the price of Ether is rising, but this EIP has been around since December 21, 2016. The rising price of Ether is something worth considering, but this vote is mainly about helping Ethereum evolve its platform. So, do you hold Ether? Do you care about the future success of a potentially world-changing platform? Then you’re a part of the community. Get out there (well, over here) and let your voice be heard.
This article was updated on March 30, 2017: The Ethereum Foundation does not have any relation to the voting initiative on CarbonVote.com.