If anyone of you believes into ethereum and did not hear about the planned DAO soft fork of ethereum, it’s time now to be careful. Although the supporters of the soft fork have repeatedly mentioned their concerns on the soft fork, they all chimed in to advertise it as the right thing to do after all. It seems as if they are trying to sweep all their concerns under the table, keeping telling themselves it won’t be as wrong as it seems to them. But it is. It is nothing less wrong than violating the basic rules of ethereum and enforcing it onto its users.
But why is that? In order to understand, we have to look at what makes ethereum so valuable. This is how ethereum is defining itself and what all the ethereum users have bought into:
Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference.
No censorship, fraud or third party interference.
That essentially means, that the ethereum developers will care to fix bugs in ethereum (such as when the software does not follow its specifications), miners will keep mining blocks in order to get rewards and everything is being determined by the code written and the specifications that make up the ethereum platforms. Exactly this is what make ethereum so unique: For the first time in history, there is a truly unregulated (read as unmanipulatable for egoistic interests) way to create contracts.
The problem with regulation: manipulation
If you look at the history of bitcoin you will notice its success is coming from the fact that it is not regulated. All money you own is just virtual, after all it is just a piece of paper, metal or any other physical replacement for a value everyone believes in. If your bank zeros your account, if the state declares that all your money is worthless or if it decides to create more money out of nowhere, you do not have the slightest chance to practically do anything against that. You can go into court theoretically, but you will never win practically.
Bitcoin is different in the sense that there is no regulatory instance that can harm you practically in the first place. This is kind of a game changer, be it with risks on your side. Because if you send bitcoin to a wrong address, or you lose your funds because someone has gained access to your wallet, all your money is gone. Noone can help you, because there is noone supervising and able to rollback transactions. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When the EU banks articificially limited the access of the greece people to their own money (which is a form of misusing regulatory power, ie. manipulation), those foreseeing these actions just turned their funds into bitcoin quickly in order to escape the threat and maintaining their freedom. Mind you: This has been done in order to “save the banks and economy”. So, with freedom comes responsibility.
With freedom comes responsibility!
Those people investing in the DAO had the code. They had the specifications of ethereum, they knew everything. They even knew there is a bug in the split function beforehand. And they signed a contract nonetheless. It was their responsibility to check. Apparently, a lot of them did not and lost a lot of money. By not using some part of their time/money to check and quickly buying DAO tokes, they were simply gambling for higher profits. And they failed. As I did, too. But I knew that and I was prepared to lose everything – such things might happen if you gamble unresponsibly. High risk, high profits.
Creating a case of precendence
The worst thing about the planned DAO soft fork is that is is creating a case of precedence. Today it is the so-called “attacker” of the DAO (which, see above, was just someone exploiting the unresponsibility of those signing the DAO contract), tomorrow it might be a huntdown of people having the “wrong” political opinions. But who determines what is wrong or right, who’s a hero and who’s a terrorist? Often, the heros and the terrorists are the same people, depending on who you ask.
What to do?
The DAO developers should stop spreading propaganda and keep fixing bugs that are non-conformant with the specs. There has really been no bug in ethereum that would justify a correction. By proposing a soft fork, they are violating one the basic rules, acting as a the third party manipulating the ethereum network they never wanted to exist.