As Ethereum takes its final steps toward the merge—the network’s much-hyped move to proof of stake—an influential crypto miner is looking to create a movement to resist that transition.
Chandler Guo, a well-known Chinese crypto miner, has launched a campaign to fork the Ethereum blockchain and create a spinoff, proof-of-work version, according to a Twitter post last week.
In Ethereum’s current proof-of-work model, so-called “miners” can generate ETH by directing huge amounts of computer power at difficult-to-solve puzzles.
The merge will end that practice, replacing it with a proof-of-stake system in which new ETH is created by pledging, or staking, large quantities of pre-existing ETH. Proof of stake is anticipated to make Ethereum a 99% more environmentally friendly network.
But the transition also will end the practice of Ethereum mining, leaving ETH miners stranded with costly and now potentially useless specialized hardware.
For that reason, Guo is attempting to, come the merge, “fork” Ethereum, preserving its old proof-of-work network so miners can continue to generate cryptocurrency with existing equipment.
But that cryptocurrency would not be ETH—post-merge, ETH will only be generated via proof of stake. Guo, in forking the Ethereum network, would be creating a new cryptocurrency, which he, at least for now, is calling ETHPOW.
Such a move would not be without precedent: In 2016, when developers forked Ethereum to attempt to remedy a massive hack, some purists remained on the old network, which they dubbed “Ethereum Classic” (ETC). At the time, Guo was a major proponent of creating ETC, a fact he invoked this week while promoting ETHPOW.
Guo’s plan is not by any means a done deal, however. Creating and maintaining a new Ethereum network would require an immense amount of support, both economic and technical.
ETHPOW would be an entirely distinct network and cryptocurrency from Ethereum, with no assumed value, infrastructure, or utility. Mining ETH was a profitable enterprise thanks to ETH’s underlying market value, and ETHPOW similarly would need to generate enough demand to incentivize mining it.
Guo did not immediately respond to Decrypt’s request for comment on this story.
In the buildup to the merge, Ethereum Classic, which is and will remain a proof-of-work network, has received a wave of renewed interest and investment. Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum’s co-founder, recently called ETC “totally fine,” and said, “If you like proof of work, you should use Ethereum Classic.”
But even ETC, which has been established and maintained for six years, is still worth but a fraction of ETH’s value. It remains to be seen how Guo’s ETHPOW will generate enough of a following to maintain viability.
“People say all sorts of things on the internet,” Ethereum core developer Micah Zoltu told Decrypt. “Until someone actually goes through the work necessary to ensure there is a release pipeline for the various clients and other pieces of software, I recommend just ignoring them.”