I think the first thing a new user to the Ergo network should do is read the Ergo Manifesto, as it outlines the underlying intent behind the Ergo Blockchain. Intent matters. Satoshi never left behind the vision for the network. Since his disappearance, there has been constant debate over what Satoshi’s Vision was.
We have Chepurnoy’s Vision. Those that support this vision, please join us in building a network in alignment with these principles.
General Overview: POW Mining
Building a distributed system is a matter of trade-offs. Investors need to understand the design and purpose of each blockchain. Ergo was designed to be in alignment with the first principles of crypto. The goal is to allow the average user to mine, invest, and participate in the network. We believe the larger value proposition of Bitcoin has been its continued resilience in the face of adversity. Our goal is to build a battle-ready system designed from the ground up with the latest technology and can extend these advanced features and functionality to any user in any environment. Simply put, our goal is to follow Bitcoins model of being unstoppable. In our design, this starts with the hardware. The hardware requirements needed to participate in mining are within the average user’s specs. Our current algorithm Autolykos V2 is memory hardened ASIC resistant and supports GPUs with 4GB of memory. This has allowed miners to repurpose their smaller mining rigs that were no longer profitable mining ETH to continue to mine profitably. As GPUs continue to optimize and advance GPU minable, Proof of Work becomes increasingly efficient. The latest Nvidia CMP 170HX mining card has been bench tested at 1.66MH/W, which is a big step forward.
GPU Proof or Work mining offers a unique market entry point. The first aspect to consider is resilience. The specs required for Ergo allow most personal computers on the market to participate in our network actively. The latest crackdown on mining in China demonstrated some geopolitical liability with ASIC mining. We have a lot of smaller GPU Proof of Work miners who are actively mining through VPN. This does create a delayed ping time and increased latency to mining servers; however, the only way to fully regulate GPU mining is to confiscate personal computers and gaming systems (as they have GPUs capable of meeting our hardware requirements). We already have users running a mining pool that allows them to create their mining pools via smart contracts, even if central mining pools are shut down or regulated out of existence. them
General Overview: Security/Programmability
Ergo was the first blockchain to market with a functional extended UTXO smart contract model. So far, the Ergo blockchain was the first chain to release a Dapp, Dex, Stablecoin, Oracle Model, NFT’s, and native assets in extended UTXO. Ergo’s extended UTXO model uses functional programming, Ergoscript, a subset of Scala.
EUTXO offers greater security, smart contract execution cost predictability, and more powerful parallelization. Account-based blockchains lack determinism, which means that they cannot guarantee the transaction’s effect on-chain. This uncertainty presents risks of monetary loss, unexpectedly high fees and creates openings for adversarial behavior.
Determinism built with functional programming is simply a better security model. Ergo was built to be a battle-ready network that supports permissionless, composable financial contracts. The initial design and test net process started in 2016.
The goal was to design a highly resilient system modeled after bitcoin’s success but bootstrapped with advanced programmability and functionality. Ergo is a different animal than the traditional projects focused on Defi. The majority of Defi segments in the Crypto market have been focused on throughput. Ergo has a path to increase scalability and was initially designed to support a variety of L2 solutions.
Most systems centralize the network, increase the hardware/network requirements beyond what an average user can afford, or create a setup with trusted/permissioned actors to provide security and increase throughput. In essence, the tradeoff is an increased barrier of entry and a lack of resiliency/decentralization, creating points of failure or attack.
I have some serious reservations about the overall resilience of many systems.
They were designed in a friendly environment, and if the regulatory environment was not accommodating, many design choices would be quite different. Bitcoin’s core value comes from being battle-tested for over a decade. In the development of Ergo, that is always the first consideration. Blockchains are financial tools.
Ergo’s market fit is designed to be an off-road vehicle, unstoppable in any condition.
Designed for the requirements of the common user and to build economic and counter-economic frameworks that can be deployed in any environment. Ergo is currently researching tools to allow users to interact with our network in limited or restricted internet environments.
In bringing that up with Alex, his only response was, “Well… If we see adversaries come, we will just see who built projects based on first principles.”
Some projects are designed to be optimized digital currency; others are designed to be censorship-resistant, open, and secure. General Overview: Privacy Another important aspect of this design is privacy.
Ergo brings tooling for what I would argue is some of the strongest privacy toolings in the crypto space on the application level. This allows privacy to be a choice rather than enforced by the protocol.
Ergo is not a privacy coin. However, it has advanced cryptographic features that can extend to the application level. The primary protocol is called ZeroJoin, which is the first non-custodial, non-interactive mixer in the crypto space.
It is permissionless, and all the logic can run locally with minimal requirements.
The implementation on the dApp level is called the ErgoMixer, and ZeroJoin can restore fungibility to any asset on the Ergo Blockchain. The ErgoMixer also brings a unique utility, and a tokenization framework is in development that will reward participants and create a fee-driven model allowing for passive income.
General Overview: Alex Chepurnoy
Core Developer Alex Chepurnoy is the core developer of Ergo, and I would call him a blockchain savant. His accomplishments are as unique as his personality, and he is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. His character and personality have been a fundamental part of shaping the Ergo community. A random developer can rarely hop into an ecosystem and interact, get guidance and advice from the core developer. Open-source software and blockchain are just his passion.
Alex started in the crypto space in 2011, working privately within the bitcoin community. He was the core developer of NXT, which was the first proof of stake cryptocurrency, and NXT’s concept of color coins was the precursor to modern Defi. Many projects such as IOTA, Komodo, Waves, and Ergo all spun off from the mindshare at NXT.
Alex helped found smartcontact.com again as the core developer, now rebranded as Chainlink.
After chainlink, Alex began working on Scorex and Scrpyto. Scorex is a modular framework for the fast prototyping of blockchains.
Scrypto is an open-source cryptographic toolkit designed to make it easier and safer for developers to use cryptography in their applications.
Alex joined IOHK very early on as an academic researcher and contributed to the initial R&D as well as multiple academic papers. He then came up with the concepts behind Ergo and went off to create his new design and ecosystem. Ergo is a custom blockchain solution built on custom tooling, with a custom-built programming language built from scratch.
Alex is the type to read academic papers for his pleasure, so his broad understanding of ongoing research and development concepts is extremely rare. I have known him to go on vacation and come back with code on paper. His top to bottom understanding of hardware, system frameworks, code design, development practices, and networks is hard to match. Ergo is conservative, it is built on cryptography and concepts that are well tested, yet it is a tech-focused blockchain that has been a pioneer in extended UTXO and continues to be innovative.
General Overview: The Power of Open Source
Ergo Platform is committed to open source development. Open projects create an innovative environment that encourages collective growth and development. This is something we will actively encourage. However, it is not something we enforce. The Ergo Foundation are not the police. However, we work with the community to propose common principles. Why open source? The first consideration is that extended UTXO is new. So a goal is to encourage the growth and adoption of this model. Trade secrets stifle progress. A trade secret, by definition, is a secret. Secrets are only known to the secret holder, so no one else knows how the code works. Since no one else knows how the code works, nobody else can improve it. This prevents growth and adoption because it prevents learning from the work of others. It this potentially profitable, yes, as it restricts competition. Open source creates an environment that drives innovation, collaboration, offers security benefits through community review, creates composable code, libraries, and frameworks. This collective mindshare and evolution are what lead to the crypto space. Bitcoin has had over 100 forks, different developers altering the codebase to expand functionality and fit unique use cases. Ethereum and the EVM model have bloomed through open libraries that have allowed developers to enter the space and begin their process of learning and problem-solving. Extended UTXO is a new contract model to encourage explosive growth, and evolution pushing an open-source model with educational tools is the best path forward. Extended UTXO opens an entirely new paradigm for the verification of distributed ledgers.
Overview of General Questions
1. Armeanio and Dan talked about an Ergo Fund and putting together a Plutus-style program for ErgoScript. Where does the money come from for that?
The Ergo Foundation can sponsor the money for educational programs, and this is of the core goals of the Ergo Foundation as an organization. We also have community fundraising tools and joint spending tools. Longer-term, I would like to propose the idea of creating a community development DAO that operates in parallel to the Ergo Foundation. One potential mechanism to fund this would be through projects that tokenize on the Ergo Blockchain. Open source development often comes with a variety of assistance from the community. If new projects are willing to donate a small allocation of their tokens to either the Ergo Foundation or a community DAO, it opens a long-term funding path. We have already started discussions with projects.
2. To what extent can there be competing for dApps? For example, it is hard to imagine more than one Dex on Ergo, but maybe? What potential synergies are there?
I actively encourage competing dapps. Competition is a critical part of creating a DEFI environment. It opens the ability for traders to arbitrage across dapps and creates increased activity on the network. Competing marketplaces also increases market efficiency. I encourage competition. It creates market opportunities and incentives to innovate.
3. Free software is great, but it does tend to undercut incentives. But, I also notice that Ergo isn’t super fast about posting new code. Is that what is going on with that, preserving incentives?
Free software is amazing.
Much of the internet would not exist without Linux (this comparison may make people complain, but Ergo is tokenized… Linux is not).
Bitcoin would not exist without free software.
Ergo is a new contract model.
Most projects are based on EVM or previous forks. Much of the infrastructure has to be created from scratch to match Ergo’s model.
Is that a negative? No, it is a bi-product of leading the Extended UTXO to market.
4. Who is using Ergo? What are the top countries using the chain? How does the user profile differ from other chains?
Ergo is still a very young network. At this point, the primary users are either investors or miners. However, as we build tooling, we have a path to capture multiple markets. Ergo is not a native token. It is a base layer blockchain; the focus is to create the basic tooling to support demand on top of the base layer. Unique needs arise when analyzing different projects. We are already putting together multiple Ergo Improvement Protocols to support development. Market specialization is the focus of developers and projects on top of Ergo. Our goal is to build a variety of tooling and infrastructure to support this growth.
5. Where does Ergo excel? What disadvantages relative to other chains?
Ergo’s advantages beyond the benefits of Extended UTXO, privacy is a simple path to sidechains and a way to revolutionize SVP client implementation. I would say there are two disadvantages. The first is time. There is considerable mindshare developed around EVM, and the account model in this comparison, Extended UTXO, is behind. The second is the current market mindset does care about first principles or crypto or the actual resilience of distributed systems. However, I do believe that both of these will change in time.
6. I would be interested in some real critique rather than nonsense FUD about PoW not being environmentally friendly.
POW is energy-intensive relative to POS. However, the security model is known. There are areas in POS where the security models are not known as they have not been fully implemented.
The reality with POS is each particular network has to create security assumptions based on various factors unique to each project. In terms of usability, consensus, etc. there are a lot of unique challenges as well.
If POS projects support stake migration, how will that alter network congestion, TLV in DEFI, and rates of return in DEFI? There are a lot of factors that are hard to predict. I am not anti-proof of stake.
However, there are many unknowns and complexities, project to project.
7. Sufficient provision of production inputs -Human capital How much effort is the chain making to onboard talents & produce its future army of developers?
Onboarding developers is first a matter of documentation and developer tools. This is in motion and we will continue to increase resources towards this end. We also offer bounties that give developers a pathway to learn, improve and familiarize themselves with the inner workings of Ergo. We also have hosted hackathons that have brought about projects converting into dapps. Moving forward, I would like to increase the frequency of hackathons and increase the offered prizes. Hackathon Ideas Privacy Tokenizing on Top of Ergo Documentation and Developer Tools.
8. How easy is it for non-web3 developers to convert? (e.g. C++ & Java peeps can learn Rust, used by Solana, in a month. For Avalanche you can code in multiple languages. Few likes Solidity.)
This honestly depends on the talent of the actual developers to start with. Not all developers start with an equal skillset. As we create additional resources, documentation, and educational tools, this process will be more streamlined. You can build on top of Ergo in a variety of languages.
8. Financial capital How much financial ammunition does the chain have in the pipeline?
The Ergo Foundation has a small allocation of block rewards. We are in the process of designing frameworks for additional funding and community DAO’s. Financial ammunition sounds like a really sexy way to say how large of a position is not public. This did not happen with Ergo. Why? To promote decentralization.
Personally I think that partnering with larger firms or investors makes sense after a significant period of being on the market (as with bitcoin) rather than an insider advantage from launch.
9. Infrastructure: How much infrastructure does the chain have or is planned at least? Peer competition within industries?
Ergo has a pretty broad technical base. Native tokens, smart contracts, Bridges, L2 solutions, Oracles, Privacy tools, Sidechains, SPV clients. All of these are iterative and will evolve as the network develops. These are built on top of the extended UTXO model, which bring native advantages (security, parallelism, and predictable costing)
10. Are there signs of strong rivalry in the same niches emerging within the L1?
(Offensive opinion alert!)
Most L1s (IMO) are built for throughput at the cost of resiliency.
Throughput is attractive, but the most efficient model for throughput will always be centralized.
The benefit/tradeoff of a decentralized network is resilience. Ergo has the capacity to increase throughput with L2 solutions, and sidechains. But it will never be as fast as a centralized system.
The closer a system gets to centralization or as the user requirements increase, the faster it gets.
11. Does the dev culture of the chain strike the right balance btw encouraging peer knowledge sharing & respecting proprietary IP?
IP requires trust in the “proprietary technology.” Closed projects require a leap of faith. The point of bitcoin was to remove faith and replace it with auditable certainty.
How many times in crypto have we heard…
My new system has 104859234 TPS! but sorry it is proprietary…
The test environment cannot be disclosed. But trust us…
You can’t replicate it locally but trust us…
Ergo is trustless and open. I cannot police projects in an open network, but I can encourage developers to recognize the benefits. It is better to provide metrics that can be replicated. It is better to provide transparency. I could use the example here of Uniswap V3.
Had they open-sourced this framework, it would have evolved. Open source accelerates frameworks becoming more efficient for users, most likely more profitable.
There are also serious security concerns from closed projects as the community review process does not occur. A lack of community review could potentially lead to catastrophic hacks.
The goal of the Ergo network is the benefit the users. I believe that IP protects profit, often at the user’s expense.
Projects with a strong attachment to IP can build on other networks and always bridge into Ergo to access the network liquidity and tooling.
12. Clusters of supporting sectors Are there signs of synergetic niches / industries emerging within the L1 ecosystem?
Ergo was built for financial smart contracts before DEFI was even a term. Given the strengths of the extended UTXO model, this is a significant growth sector for ERG. As Ergoscript and the Extended UTXO model develop I believe new innovative frameworks will be discovered.
13. Quality of domestic demand How does the user profile of this L1 compare to other chains?
At this point, the primary users are miners, developers, and investors, aside from the telegram trading chat, which is the traditional degenerate dumpster fire crypto chat. I am honestly quite impressed with the overall mindset, contributions, skills, and principles of the active community.
14. Where in the world is the chain getting the most adoption?
Currently, the most extensive set of users are miners and investors. These are relatively globally distributed. I believe this is a product of the Extended UTXO model being young. We have a large number of community developers and the work/advancements being made can be tracked weekly.
15. Role of the blockchain itself? What’s the chain doing to promote rivalry among its native projects & stimulate innovation?
Innovation and competition are stimulated through open-source code. Ergo brought a new smart contract model to market and has led the way in building on this model. As we move forward we need to bootstrap tooling and documentation for new developers.
16. What’s the chain doing to improve infrastructure & human capital supply?
We actively offer incentives, put together documentation educational tools, and expand open development positions for the core network.
17. Is the chain “subsidizing” certain projects to help them gain ST advantage, which may inadvertently undermine innovation & competition in LT?
It may appear that way to some.
We are a young network (being we have a new smart contract model) We are very competitive long-term with the tech we bring to the table. The network is still in its infancy. Price does lead to developer adoption. However, it is hard to claim or disavow strategic advantages when you lack competition. That is due to bringing a new type of network to crypto.
Extended UTXO has a bright future but is still very young. The advantages are obvious, but it is relatively new.