HomeAltcoinsInterview: Donald McIntyre (ETC DEV Team) on the Ethereum Classic roadmap, Orbita sidechains, and Vitalik

Interview: Donald McIntyre (ETC DEV Team) on the Ethereum Classic roadmap, Orbita sidechains, and Vitalik

During his 50-minute Crypto Insider interview, ETC DEV Team’s Donald McIntyre has been candid and open about his views on immutability. In the first part, he revealed that his advocacy within the original Ethereum crew has always been for a permissionless, immutable, and truly decentralized blockchain.

When he made the switch to the Classic side, he had already inherited his Bitcoin-inspired discourse for Turing-complete blockchains. And now that he’s accommodated his advocacy position, he is ready to reveal important details about ETC’s roadmap, talk about his three major influences in the field, and even criticize the vision towards which ETH is heading to with Vitalik Buterin and Vlad Zamfir at the helm.

It’s a classical (no pun intended) defense for the time-tested principles of blockchains and cryptography, as Proof of Work and immutability receive their acknowledgment for being more secure than any known Proof of Stake implementations. Without further ado, you may find out about Mr. McIntyre’s opinions by watching the video attached, or by reading the full transcript below.

Donald McIntyre interview, part two: full transcript

Vlad Costea: So since we are talking about solving, what is on the ETC roadmap? What are we supposed to expect from the dev scene and how are you going to scale to compete with all of the other people like TRON and NEO and NEM and Tezos and EOS and whatever?

Donald McIntyre: On the roadmap, we have four things. ETC DEV does two things. One is to maintain the protocol. So that project specifically is called Classic Geth. That is community project and we are one of several contributors to that project. We are the main contributors, but there are others. IOHK and other independent developers. Get classic itself is the note. We maintain that and we update it. One of the things that we usually is to integrate with new up codes or things that are happening in the smart contracts industry, so they are compatible with other networks, so other developers can come and easily start using Ethereum Classic. Then, we have three projects which are part of our products. They’re still open source but they’re built by us. The first one is what I mentioned which is Emerald. Emerald is a set of tools for Dapp developers to build Dapp on top-up Ethereum Classic.

It’s already rolled; we’re promoting it. I’m doing a meetup in Vancouver first week of December. We already communicated it in San Francisco at Elapse event, and it’s going very well. Dapp developers are very happy especially the ones that never built Dapp because it has all the best practices and it’s very easy to start. The second is SpoutnikVM that I also mentioned that I also mentioned which is an infrastructure component for the protocol and just makes it much more efficient.

Then the last one which is net net about scalability is called Orbita which is our site chain products which are basically networks that work exactly the same as the main net, but they’re not the main. They are different Blockchains and they communicate with the main net just for some functions. Those Orbitas are the solution to scalability for two reasons. One, because they can have much more performance, they can be proof of stake, proof of authority, proof of work or any other kind of consensus mechanism that may help whoever is using them. Second, because provide this scalability without compromising the security for the base network.

Vlad Costea: So if Bitcoin has liquid and lightning, Ethereum Classic has Orbita.

Donald McIntyre: Orbita and there is other projects. There is another project I think that people that are working with Lightning that are working on adapting Lightning to Ethereum Classic as well, or at least creating a system of channels on top of Ethereum Classic. In the future, I think that you’re going to have based Blockchain like Bitcoin Ethereum Classic Litecoin Monero with different profiles but highly secure, and on top, you’re going to have some channel systems like Lightning and whatever gets built on top of the others, or maybe it’s the same like in network, and you’re gonna have Orbitas that are going to have more features, and each kind of industries are going to create an Orbita with their own features and their own use cases with the performance that they want.

Orbitas are also going to be used at the individual level. For example, individual businesses manufactures can create an Orbita inside of their organizations, and machines can operate between themselves inside their own private network you could call. At the home level in the future, today, people are having devices like thermostats and door rings and alexa and stuff like that, but they all communicate with the central service of the provider. When Orbitas are used at the home level, those devices are going to be all autonomous, and they’re all gonna operate, and the owners of the home are going to use them etc. but without compromising their private information with centralized service.

Vlad Costea: That’s actually fascinating because I remember reading about the roadmap of Ethereum Classic, and the biggest selling point was internet of things. A lot of people would say, “Oh you know, internet of things doesn’t really work on the Blockchain because it doesn’t scale and stuff like that.” But now that you mentioned Orbita and you’re going to have side chains for each dedicated task, it makes so much more sense because you’re going to help a based layer which is decentralized and permissionless and immutable. On top of that, you’re going to build whatever application you need. I guess that’s a better plan than sharding but it also takes more funds and you’re going to need a lot of investments and development.

Donald McIntyre: If you think of the logic, it make total sense what you just said. You have a main net which is highly secure and global, and then you have an Orbita for a specific economic sector or industry then another one then another one, and then you have smaller Orbitas for smaller kinds of industries for example, and then a smaller Orbita for a specific organization or the home. That kind of layered scaling is the most logical and it adapts to physical restrictions not like the speed of light, and computing and bandwidth and stuff like that.

Vlad Costea: How do you respond to Bitcoin maximalists who would say, “You know, that can also be done on Bitcoin with a side chain.”?

Donald McIntyre: I like Bitcoin maximalist philosophy because it’s a philosophy of totaling prioritizing security. I think that’s the core message, the metamessage of Bitcoin maximalism. The belief itself it’s some of their belief that there is only going to be one global based Blockchain and that is only going to be Bitcoin.

My objection to that is that, one, is that eight billion people in the future with millions of businesses and nations and communities around the world, I don’t think that they’re all going to risk everything only in one network. I think there is going to be several networks just because humans tend to diversify risk. The other one is that Bitcoin has limitations. I don’t think that is very easy to build multiple site chains that will connect to Bitcoin, for example. The model of lightning network seems very good because it’s just activity network. It’s not a Blockchain, it’s a network of nodes that have channels. The only post a transaction on Bitcoin that doesn’t modify Bitcoin and disrupt Bitcoin in anyway. That’s a good model. When you have something like RSK? they had to create because Bitcoin doesn’t have the capabilities, they couldn’t make it totally technically interruptible, so they had to create a federation of nodes which are basically a security hole to do some of the functions.

That is something that I don’t think is going to be resolved because the only solution is something like drive chains, but drive chains require that each new site chain has to be approved by the miners. In the future, we’re going to have five huge miners that everybody in the world that wants to create a site chain has to go to ask for permission for them. I don’t think it’s going to be a practical thing. Bitcoin is excellent as a store value. You could say the analogy of digital, and I think it’s going to be used– even many site chain that work on top of ETC, I’m sure they’re going to enter transaction on Bitcoin and use Bitcoin as a store value. But because of those technical limitations that I mentioned, I think that we need the other concept, for example, Ethereum Classic which includes to a complete mess but integrated with the crypto currency not separate it from the crypto currency. Everything is integrated in the same system.

Vlad Costea: So we shouldn’t expect ICOs and utility tokens on ETC, right?

Donald McIntyre: The reason that didn’t happen on ETC, it was just a matter of chance. Everybody was focused on Ethereum and Vitalik and other core devs of Ethereum. They’re very charismatic and they go around the world, and they have a lot of money to make huge conferences with a lot of marketing spend etc. I guess that it was only logical for anybody to go where the money is and where the people are, so that was one factor. The other factor is that if you think about it, the Ethereum Classic community is naturally a group of people who are focused on the core technology, the ability, real solutions rather than marketing solutions to things. I don’t remember anybody in Ethereum Classic community even Igor or Charles Hoskinson specifically saying promoting ICOs or participating and doing marketing for people to come and do ICOs. It’s a mix of philosophy and attention.

Vlad Costea: I read your tweets and sometimes I realize that you’re very much influenced by the works of Nick Szabo and you have taken a lot of his philosophy and a lot of his teachings from his blog into what you’re trying to project with Ethereum Classic. Would you say that he’s your main influence in this field?

Donald McIntyre: I would say that the two main influences were Nick Szabo and Vitalik. I would say the first influence was Satoshi Nakamoto by reading the white paper and reading it 30 times even though I don’t understand specifically the computer science side, but I understand the concept. The principles are there. It’s clearly about decentralization. So anything that goes back to centralization or trust maximization instead of trust minimization, it’s contrary to that. My first influence would be Satoshi Nakamoto.

Then, I met in 2013 Vitalik and he’s incredibly intelligent. He also was a strong influence especially his philosophy of rationality. Then in 2015, I met Nick Szabo, and just by being with him and speaking with him, you understand many other things about the cypherpunk movement, the principles. Not only principles just for principles, it’s principles because they have specific deep deep reasons why they exist. For example, Nick, he’s not only a person that is going to say, okay, let’s create a system for money, and goes there and makes it.  First, he studies the whole history of money, and for that, he needs to study economics, and for that, he needs to study history. He goes in and he goes back, reverse engineers, everything of what is the origin of money and how money works in the mind of humans, and then he understands how to design a system. I think that’s how he created Bitgold, which recursor to Bitcoin. So those are my three influencers. Satoshi Nakamoto, Nick Szabo, and Vitalik.

Vitalik much less, so in the last year and a half or two years after the fork because he was more strongly advocating for proof of stake and charting, and he also began to talk about radical markets and stuff like that using that on Ethereum and also quadratic voting systems. Less so today, but he’s a strong influencer as well.

Vlad Costea: I noticed that you have many arguments on twitter with Vitalik, and sometimes Vlad Zamfir was also Romanian. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to him, but I noticed like he’s like the ideal log or how you call people who pretty much outline an ideology and then promote it.

Donald McIntyre: Vlad?

Vlad Costea: Yes.

Donald McIntyre: This whole thing of like debating on social media started for me when– I am very active on both Bitcoin, Ethereum, and now here in Classic. When Bitcoin advocates, some advocates started to talk about bigger blocks, it became apparent that bigger blocks was a security risk or a threat. Of course, systems like Blockchains, they have to go the secure path not the risky path. If it’s a risk, then you have to stick to smaller blocks and build on top. The solutions were there, different solutions. So that’s where this whole thing of debating on social media started. In the middle of debating between 2015 and 2016 about keeping high security in Bitcoin, then the DAO hack occurred in Ethereum. When everybody started to talk about reversing the chain, of course I was in the camp of not reversing the chain and getting the hacker through other means like the FBI making an investigations things like that, but not actually reversing the chain.

And that’s where I started to disagree with Vitalik and Vlad and Nick Johnson, as well as other developers there about all these issues. And then that brought the focus also to the time bomb – why did somebody plan at the beginning that everyone would be forced in the future to migrate to something different? And then I started to read more about Proof of Stake and I started to see that it was not necessarily a good idea, so all this debating with Vitalik and Vlad started and continued.

In the case of Vlad, I think he has been very worried, and I think that he expressed his feelings for the first time during the DAO debates. He’s worried that blockchains can be used for bad things, for catastrophic activities. Not bad things like stealing $1000, but catastrophic things like something that will wipe out a good portion of humanity and things like that. And under that fear or assumption, he then started looking for solutions to governance that bring this decision-making to people who he feels would make good decisions. He wants delegates to stop whatever disasters or catastrophes would happen to humanity.

I disagree with that, so that’s why I am debating with Vlad about those things. I think that the concepts of immutability and trust minimization also mean governance limitation. So people adopt and start running nodes, and start using wallets and blockchains because they want to. And once they adopt a set of rules, and their property and their agreements are protected on the blockchain, they shouldn’t be touchable by anybody else. Only people with private keys can do whatever they want with their programs on the network, smart contracts, and money. Installing because of a fear of a future catastrophe centralized governance systems like a global UN or a global association for standards on blockchains, I think is a risk.

Vlad Costea: I’m happy that we got into this territory because I noticed that there is a big difference in philosophy between people who think that human beings in themselves are good actors and doing evil stuff is the exception from the norm. But those who advocate for the DAO hack and those who advocate to roll back the blockchain actually seem to have this mindset that doing bad things is actually part of human nature. And think this is much more akin to governments which have adopted these policies which think that all of us can be criminals and we should be prevented. It’s not that we are mostly decent citizens and those who are bad among us are the exception. So I guess that those who were for the hard fork believe in the bad human nature and that we should maybe have what they call “governance”.

Donald McIntyre: Yes, I think so. And I think that also because we as human have been living in the last 10.000 years with government systems. The first tribes and clans had chiefs, and then the first city states and honorary norms and laws, and these platforms that we created to coordinate better as we grew in towns and cities… and then we have the Roman Empire and other empires, and then we have the democratic revolutions of the 1700s. So we created democracy which is better for the world. There are many areas where it’s rather dirty, meaning that we have fake democracies and absolutism – like in Saudi Arabia, North Korea and other places.

But we are used to all these government systems and they’re all top-down. The blockchain, in a way, minimizes that. Yet a lot of people automatically think of the older systems and they are used to those, and their minds have to think that these rules have to also be applied to future systems. In the case of the blockchain, it’s precisely about minimizing the older systems and going back to a system where individuals through their private keys control their property and their agreements, software, apps, and programs. And nobody else can do anything about that unless you have bad key security – in that case, you lose and you have to go to social systems to try to correct it, but not go to the mechanical system to reverse it.

Written by

Vlad is a political science graduate who got a little tired and disillusioned with the old highly-hierarchical and centralized world and decided to give this anarchistic blockchain invention a little try. He found out about Bitcoin in 2014, had to do a presentation about it at Sciences Po Paris in 2015, but was too foolish to buy any. Now that he’ll never be a crypto millionaire and hasn’t acquired his golden ticket to lifelong financial independence, he’ll just write op-eds on various topics.

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