The struggle is real to maintain the egalitarian aspect of cryptocurrencies alive. There is a complex and heated problem which is plaguing the world of cryptocurrencies right now that has nothing to do with the regulatory procedures of financial authorities and governments – the problem of Application Specific Integrated Circuits or ASICs. Across all forms of cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Zcash and Monero, the communities are now charged up against the creators and users of specialized hardware which is going to compromise the decentralized and distributed aspect of their communities and offset the balance which is already difficult to keep.
Application Specific Integrated Circuits
ASICs are specialized hardware, designed for the very purpose of making the mining process a more profitable affair for those who are operating them. The introduction of ASICs into the market has caused an offset in the balance of the cryptocurrency mining process which was previously being done by GPUs, something that is very commonly available to everybody. Because of this hijacking of the mining process, the integrity of cryptocurrencies when it comes to being egalitarian is in jeopardy.
The mining process is essentially when the spare computational power is utilized for the purpose of solving cryptographic puzzles that contribute to secure and run the blockchain network that cryptocurrencies are powered by. Operators who expend their computational power are rewarded for their contributions to the mining process. The amount that they are able to contribute to the formation of blocks is what essentially equates to the rewards that they will receive.
ASICs are dedicated circuits that overthrow the very balance of the whole mining process and monopolize the mining process and rewards leading to a lot of complaints by the community for the arrival of these products. GPUs cannot function in a mining industry dominated by ASICs. We’ve already seen that with Bitcoin.
The Threat For All Cryptocurrencies
While currently the likes of Ethereum, Monero and Zcash are mined using GPUs, it is only a matter of time that ASICs will dominate the mining process in their ecosystems as well. There is a debate to change the algorithm in order to maintain the cryptocurrency’s ASIC proof nature intact but that is much easier said than done. Just last week saw Monero conduct a hard fork which saw the removal of ASIC capability on the upgraded blockchain network. It did not turn out to be so effective as it saw three more cryptocurrencies to form by groups, namely Monero classic, Monero zero, and Monero original. All three of these new cryptocurrencies are able to support ASIC miners.
This dilemma exists not just for Monero but for all other cryptocurrencies. Vitalik Buterin, the creator of the second largest cryptocurrency, Ethereum, believes that no action should be taken in the matter. It does resonate with anti ASIC sentiments and actions taken in that regard are going to be essentially a form of censorship. This means that the core developers of the cryptocurrencies are going to have more control over the cryptocurrency communities.
The war on ASIC mining in the world of cryptocurrencies is a struggle filled with conundrums here and there. Taking anti ASIC action and not taking anti ASIC action can both lead to the compromise in the decentralized aspect of cryptocurrencies. It’s yet to be seen how events unfold.
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