Beiträge, die mit PlanS getaggt sind
Rolling back work permits for the spouses of H-1B visa holders could have sweeping consequences for the Bay Area, where tech companies heavily rely on high-skilled immigrants. Many of those workers…
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19221146
Posted by networkimprov (karma: 301)
Post stats: Points: 95 - Comments: 118 - 2019-02-21T22:29:06Z
#HackerNews #h1b #immigrants #permits #plans #spouses #strip #work
WASHINGTON — After nearly two years of delays, the Trump administration is moving ahead with its plan to stop granting work permits to the spouses of many high-skilled visa holders, an effort that could jeopardize tens of thousands of immigrant families in California alone.
Rolling back the permits could have sweeping consequences for the Bay Area, where tech companies heavily rely on high-skilled immigrants. Many of those workers come to the U.S. with spouses and children, and the loss of the spousal work permits could imperil families’ ability to stay in the country or deter workers from accepting jobs here to begin with.
The step forward for the regulation comes as a federal appeals court ran out of patience with the administration’s delays in issuing it.
The proposed regulation was officially sent to the White House for review on Wednesday, a government database shows. That procedural step means that the Department of Homeland Security has completed its work on the policy. The White House will now put the regulation through review with other agencies, a process that can take anywhere from days to months, depending on the regulation’s complexity.
At issue are work permits for nearly 100,000 immigrants who are here with spouses, working on high-tech visas and seeking green cards. (Spouses and children of H-1B visa holders have H-4 visas granting residence.) The largest share of those, nearly 30,000 of them, live in California, according to a Congressional Research Service report.
In 2015, the Obama administration created the H-4 employment authorization document, known as H-4 EAD, to allow those spouses to work until the family can get green cards. Getting those permanent residency permits can often take many years, especially for immigrants of countries like India and China that send a lot of high-skilled talent to the U.S. In the meantime, their spouses are unable to work legally in the U.S. unless they have an employer who can separately sponsor them for a visa.
Since it went into effect, more than 90,000 immigrants have been approved for work permits under the program. President Trump pledged early on to rescind the H-4 permit program, but the administration has delayed. As it continued to promise the regulation would come, a lawsuit challenging the program has been on hold in the courts.
That changed in December, when the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals stopped granting the Department of Homeland Security extensions and ordered that the case proceed. A group of technology workers called Save Jobs USA who argue the program jeopardizes American jobs sued the Obama administration and, after losing in D.C. federal court, appealed the case. The Trump administration after taking power had it postponed until December.
The reasons for the delay, and sudden step forward, are not entirely clear. Government lawyers had assured the court the rule was being written and reviewed. In September, the lawyers had predicted a rule would be out in three months. The first briefs in the case are due in March.
Experts suspect that with the government finishing a separate rule blocking immigrants who might use public benefits, and with the lawsuit moving forward, the work was expedited. Once the rule is published, the government could argue the court should indefinitely postpone the lawsuit, as the underlying regulation is being rewritten. That would avoid the chance that the appellate court decides the program is legal, setting a precedent contrary to the objectives of the Trump administration.
“The agency doesn’t want to risk having a judicial ruling that would go against it,” said Natalie Tynan, an attorney with Hunton Andrews Kurth who worked in the Department of Homeland Security for more than 11 years. “In general from an agency’s perspective, the agency prefers to issue its regulations rather than have the courts opine on what the regulations should say. So any opportunity to moot out litigation is a positive one for the agency.”
Fifteen members of California’s congressional delegation signed a letter urging the Trump administration to preserve the permit program last year. They included Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose and Ro Khanna, D-Fremont. Eshoo and Lofgren introduced legislation late last year to keep the H-4 spousal work permit program in place.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency within Homeland Security that manages the program, is “committed to upholding our nation’s immigration laws, helping ensure they are faithfully carried out, and safeguarding the integrity of our immigration system designed to protect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers,” according to spokeswoman Jessica Collins.
She would not comment on the substance of the regulation, but noted it’s not final until the review and comment process is complete.
Once the White House signs off on the draft regulation, it will be published in the Federal Register. That will start a clock on a comment period, usually 30 to 90 days, after which the administration legally has to review the comments and make any necessary revisions. Only after that can the regulation be finalized, and litigation could potentially hold it up for months or years longer.
Still, the uncertainty of future job status and symbolism of the Trump administration proposal could have immediate ripple effects for families that rely on the visas, and companies struggling to attract top talent.
“If you have 100,000 people who are extremely well-educated, and on the path to getting green cards, and are either indirectly stimulating economic growth or directly creating jobs for native-born Americans by starting companies in this country, why would you pull out the rug from all these people?” said Doug Rand, co-founder of Boundless, a tech startup designed to help immigrants navigate the legal system. Rand also worked on the original H-4 regulation in the Obama administration.
Rand pointed out that only families already approved for green cards qualify for the work visa, meaning the government has already determined there are no Americans who could be working the high-skilled job. Once approved, they still must wait for the green card to be issued, and the spouses need the H-4 work permit because of the lengthy processing backlog for people from some countries, including India. Until they actually receive their green cards, they remain ineligible to work. Lofgren has co-authored legislation to eliminate per-country green card caps, shortening the wait.
John Miano, the attorney representing Save Jobs USA, said the focus should be on American workers, and argued that the Obama administration overstepped its legal authority to create the work permit without explicit congressional action.
“Why are congressmen creating regulations to protect the jobs of foreign workers when they have done nothing to advance legislation to prevent Americans from being replaced by H-1B workers?” Miano said. He added that the high-skilled visas have requirements that spousal work authorizations lack, including proving that Americans could not fill the jobs they are taking.
More than 93 percent of those affected by the potential removal of the work permit are women, which especially concerns advocates.
“It undermines the agency and dignity of these spouses and it harms their career prospects; it leaves them less empowered to leave abusive situations,” said Amanda Baran, an attorney and advocate with the San Francisco-based Immigrant Legal Resource Center and a veteran of the Department of Homeland Security.
“I feel like it’s just another part of Trump’s larger agenda, which is to expel immigrants, prevent them from coming in and make life uncomfortable for them here and compel them to leave,” she said.
Tal Kopan is The San Francisco Chronicle’s Washington correspondent. Email: tal.kopan@
sfchronicle.com Twitter: @talkopan
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✨ A collection of awesome companies offering free/discounted plans for eligible startups - dakshshah96/awesome-startup-credits
Article word count: 43
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19180236
Posted by dakshshah96 (karma: 74)
Post stats: Points: 138 - Comments: 24 - 2019-02-16T18:51:51Z
#HackerNews #credits #discounted #for #free #plans #startup #startups
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10/7/05 From The Lord, Our God and Savior
The Word of The Lord Spoken to Timothy
For the Churches of Men, and For All Those Who Have Ears to Hear
Thus says The Lord: #Churches of #men, you do always twist the #Scriptures! You cease not from adding to and taking away from the #Word of God, as you continue to stand firm upon your own cracked #foundations which your #forefathers laid! - Foundation upon #foundation throughout your #generations, built ever higher according to the #pride and #vanity of men, an #arrogance which has no equal!
How long shall you contend with Me? How long shall you #pervert the #Truth? Churches of men, shall I lie to My #prophets and give them false #testimony?! Or did you think I have ceased from making My #plans known, that I have altogether turned back from sending them? Certainly not! For I am The Lord, and I do not #change! Therefore, let every cracked foundation crumble and every #house fall with a great #crash! Let the #glory of #man be turned backward, until the pride of man is bowed down and the arrogance of man is utterly humiliated! For The Lord alone shall be #exalted in that #day, as it is written.
Thus says The Lord: #Humble yourselves, O churches of arrogance, and #pray that you are not left standing upon the #earth in bewilderment and #tears, in the day I gather up My treasured ones and steal away My #elect, those counted #worthy to #escape all these #things which shall soon come to #pass, the first to #stand in the presence of The Son of Man, the first to be #sheltered from My #fury. Behold, the #angels of #Heaven shall ascend and descend upon The Son of Man, until the #harvest is made #complete.
Therefore, again I say to you, humble yourselves! For pride has #blinded your #eyes and arrogance has stopped your #ears! #REPENT! And pray double for those YOU have led from the Truth! For you #preach and #teach in the #name of another #messiah, a false #christ who looks nothing like Me, a molded #image which you have shaped to fit your own #corrupt #doctrines and #perverse #traditions, #polluting My #name and My glory as you continue to #twist and #segregate the #Scriptures to your own hurt! Says The Lord.
Therefore, #blessed are those who
Come out from among them...
Blessed are those who #obey God rather than men...
Blessed are those who place their #trust
In The Son of God, striving always to #walk
In His ways and keep His #commandments;
They shall surely be #taken out of this place...
Yet woe to all those who #disobey The Son,
Woe to all who turn aside from The #Way
And forsake The Commandments,
For the wrath of God remains upon them
#prophecy #prophet #Jesus #Yeshua #Christ #Messiah #God #church #bible #scripture #christian #christianity #JesusChrist #HolySpirit #Savior #Saviour #Lord
7/7/05 From #YahuShua #HaMashiach, Our #Lord and #Savior
The #Word of The Lord Spoken to Timothy
For a #Brother in #Christ, and For All Those Who Have #Ears to #Hear
This question was asked of The Lord, for a brother in Christ: Lord, what is the #mark of the #beast, in the #Bible?
[The Lord answered] My #son, why ask of Me such things? Rather, consider the #marks you have taken. Are you #clean? Where does your #allegiance lie? Is it given to the things of #men and to the lusts of this #world? Or does it belong to God, longing always to know the deep things of #Messiah, whom you call Christ? Therefore, seek first your own #salvation; dwell not on outward things of #evil. For evil has lost its grip on the #redeemed.
Yet for the sake of all those who shall come to #read these #words, I shall answer you, that they may #hear and know and remember: The mark, this mark of the beast, is a choice, a #grave error. Yet as of this #day, it remains merely an #invention of #man, a #device, a #stamp. Yet there is an evil one among men who will gain #power and much #prestige, who will force everyone - great and small, #rich and #poor, #free and #slave - to receive a mark in his #right #hand or on his #forehead. The #technology exists; its #production has commenced. Thus that which was created for #good shall be used for evil, that the few may gain #control over the many, that no one may #buy or #sell unless they have the mark, that is the #name of the beast or the #number of its name, as it is written.
My son, what you seek concerning the #end of the #age, I have already given to My #servant, #John, written in the #book called #Revelation. And that which was given to John, I now bestow upon My servant, #Timothy, that all those who have ears to hear may hear the sound of this #Trumpet and #escape, for the #Day is at #hand. For as it is written: The Lord God does nothing without revealing His #plans to His servants, the #prophets.
Therefore that which you have considered, and that which you have #heard, is #true. And oh how #modern man glories in his own #creations, taking much #pride in the #inventions of his #mind. Look how he revels in the #works of his #hands. Yet they shall be his undoing, for even now he has brought #destruction upon his own #head. For in his pride he has opened the #door to the evil one, and on #account of his great arrogance has he made it possible for the man of #perdition to #rule over him; by his own works he has condemned himself to #death!
Why, O peoples of the #earth, do you forge #shackles and secure them about your #feet?! I tell you the #truth, you are all captives, #slaves to your own evil #thoughts and #desires! Therefore, forsake all this #madness and return to Me! Call upon My #name in #sincerity and in truth, and you shall truly be #free! For I hold all the #keys; even over #death and #Sheol do I have complete #authority. For as it is written: If The Son sets you free, you are free indeed! Says The Lord.
↑ Revelation 13:16-17
↑ Revelation 13:16
↑ Revelation 13:17
↑ Amos 3:7
↑ 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (NKJV)
↑ Revelation 1:18 (HNV & CEB)
↑ John 8:36
#prophecy #prophet #Jesus #Yeshua #Christ #Messiah #God #church #bible #scripture #christian #christianity #JesusChrist #HolySpirit #Savior #Saviour #Lord
Eddie Lampert's $4.4 billion offer was Sears' only shot at staying alive and preserving 55,000 jobs. ESL plans to contest Sears' decision.
Article word count: 871
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18856222
Posted by craigferg501 (karma: 406)
Post stats: Points: 132 - Comments: 88 - 2019-01-08T15:36:17Z
\#HackerNews #126 #after #business #plans #sears #shutter #years
Sears Holdings has rejected Chairman Eddie Lampertʼs bid to save the 126-year-old company, setting the storied retailer with more than 50,000 employees on a path to liquidation, people familiar with the situation told CNBC on Tuesday. Sears, which also owns Kmart, planned to announce its liquidation plans Tuesday morning, the people said.
Lampert had put forward a $4.4 billion bid to save Sears by buying it out of bankruptcy through his hedge fund ESL Investments. His offer, though, was deemed insufficient by Searsʼ advisors, the people said. One of the biggest unresolved issues was covering the fees and vendor payment it owes, making it "administratively insolvent."
Still, ESL plans to protest Searsʼ decision, a person familiar with the situation told CNBC. ESL, which worked over the weekend to improve its offer, will point to the extensive advisory fees that Sears has racked up during bankruptcy. Such fees are part of Searsʼ administrative expenses.
The people requested anonymity because the information is confidential.
A liquidation could still salvage pieces of the storied retailer, like its home services business. Still, it marks the end of an era for the company that started in 1893 as Sears, Roebuck & Co., and was once the nationʼs largest retailer. Its fall from grace saw it swing from being the "first everything store" to a business that couldnʼt compete when "everything" was found online after Amazon arrived.
It will be what many deem the ultimate proof of failure in Lampertʼs grand plan to fortify two struggling retailers, Sears and Kmart, by combining them in 2005. The combined companies became victim of savvier competition, changing shopping habits and, many have argued, poor management.
Lampertʼs background as a hedge fund manager, once deemed the next Warren Buffett, proved to be poor preparation for battling retail titans like Walmart, Target and Amazon. Lampert believed that a strong loyalty program and data made investing in stores and advertising optional, people familiar with the situation have said. As Searsʼ losses piled up, it didnʼt have a choice, it couldnʼt invest.
Searsʼ last profitable year was in 2010. For the past five years, the ratio of Searsʼ capital expenditures to sales has been less than 1 percent, even as its sales have more than halved in the same time period.
Without proper attention, Sears lost relevancy and its customersʼ loyalty.
Sears had a little under 700 stores when it filed for bankruptcy in October, but it has since whittled that down to an expected footprint of roughly 400. It employed 68,000 workers at the time of its filing.
ESL declined to comment. Sears did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A liquidation would be what many deem the ultimate proof of failure in Lampertʼs grand plan to fortify two struggling retailers.
At the time, Sears was looking for more products to sell in its stores to counterbalance the infrequency with which people bought its hallmark appliances like dishwashers. Kmart had access to apparel brands that previously refused to sell in Sears. It also offered Sears valuable suburban and urban real estate to get it out of the mall.
Kmart, which filed for bankruptcy in 2002, needed scale to help compete against Walmart. The Bentonville, Arkansas, retailer had invested in technology Kmart had long neglected. Walmartʼs sophisticated operations allowed scale and the ability to sell at a deep discount that Kmart could not keep up with.
Lampert saw opportunity in both. The former Goldman Sachs intern had wowed investors with his ability to turn around the auto parts store AutoZone. Armed with his hedge fund ESL Investments and the confidence of a man nicknamed "the next Warren Buffet," Lampert believed he could concoct a similar turnaround in Kmart and Sears. He believed he saw value where others didnʼt.
Lampert bought Kmart out of bankruptcy through ESL and ultimately combined it with Sears, to create Sears Holdings Corporation.
But Lampert was battling a national decline in the department store industry, as shoppers abandoned the mall and favored casual over formal wear. Department stores accounted for 14.5 percent of all North American retail purchases in 1985 but only 4.3 percent last year, according to Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail. Searsʼ peers, like Bon-Ton and Mervynʼs, whittled away, while rivals like Macyʼs and Kohlʼs poured money into their businesses to be among the ones left standing.
Walmart and Target proved relentless in their competition. The companies scaled quickly and poured money into private label brands, which were better in quality than those sold at Sears and Kmart.
As Searsʼ competitors invested in its stores, Sears took a different approach. Lampert believed that a strong loyalty program and data made investing in stores and advertising optional, people familiar with the situation have said. Then, as Searsʼ sales fell and its losses piled up, it no longer had a choice — investment fell out of reach.
Sears shrank its store-base, in a desperate attempt of to regain profitability. The stores that remained were in disarray, with outdated fixtures, dark lighting and piles of unwanted clothes. Sears lost relevancy and its customersʼ loyalty.
Then Amazon arrived. Shoppersʼ attention — and dollars — shifted to the newer and better "everything store."
—CNBCʼs Lauren Thomas contributed to this report.
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The past year It has been a tough year 2018, filled with roller-coasters and instability. The constant dropping of the crypto markets has ...
Article word count: 786
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18843544
Posted by rebolek (karma: 274)
Post stats: Points: 101 - Comments: 43 - 2019-01-07T07:55:12Z
\#HackerNews #2019 #for #language #plans #programming #red
The past year It has been a tough year 2018, filled with roller-coasters and instability. The constant dropping of the crypto markets has forced us to change our plans pretty much every three months, in order to cope with that market uncertainty and our diminishing means. Though we have taken measures to ensure the proper funding for Red project for the next few years, so no worries on that side. All that has slowed down work on Redʼs core and even our new C3 language. That said we still have managed to make some great progress in the past year, e.g.:
\* RED Wallet released: a good showcase of what can be achieved in a small codebase using a truly full-stack programming language like Red, from USB and hardware keys drivers to blockchain network interfacing and cross-platform UI! \* Garbage Collector: a simple mark & sweep, compacting GC for Red! That is a big step towards a completed production-ready Red version 1.0. \* Red console fully re-implemented in Red itself, allowing new features like syntactic coloring and user plugins. \* New rich-text display widget and related RTD dialect. \* DPI-independent support for Red/View. \* Preliminary port! and bigint! datatypes implementations. \* eth:// port for interacting with the Ethereum blockchain (to be released publicly very soon). \* PoC async tcp/udp implementation with client and server-side support. \* 350 tickets closed, among which 136 are bugfixes. \* RedCon1 held in Prague in November! \* Extended Red team with now about 12 people in total.
We are also working on structuring the Red Foundation and have a new recruit working on tokenomics. So the tokens retro-distribution to kick-start tokenomics should happen very soon.
The plan for 2019
We are starting the year with big targets as we need some last big pieces of the Red project to be implemented to reach both our technical and business goals. Here are the main tasks we will handle during this new year:
\* C3 toolchain release: the C3/System language spec was defined last October and work on the compiler and related toolchain is on-going. This is our main short-term priority as we want to test our business options in the smart contract market while it is still in its early days. \* Red full async I/O support (0.7.0 milestone): we already have a PoC for async tcp/udp support, with Rebol-like event handling API. There is still a need for more design work (on-going right now) in order to provide the best possible API for Red users. For now, we are trying to avoid going full-force into the deep territory of defining a general concurrency support (itʼs scheduled for 0.9.0 milestone). Iʼm not yet sure if we can escape stepping into it anyway if we want to go beyond the Rebol async model. \* Full Android support for Red: we have a preliminary implementation that has proven to be very promising! With the integration of async I/O and ports, we will be able to complete the wrapping of the Android API using decent human-friendly abstractions. We need to advance Android support to at least beta level by the end of this year. This is one of the major goals we need to achieve. \* Red/Pro: it is coming this year! It will be our first commercial product and set of online services targetting both individual developers and enterprises. It will include a new backend for Redʼs toolchain, providing a state-of-the-art optimizing layer and support for many new platforms, including 64-bit ones (though full 64-bit Red support will probably be for next year). That new backend will provide an alternative to our current code emitter and linker, the rest of the toolchain remaining the same. The current Red toolchain will be known as the "community" version, and continue being the main development branch.
In addition to all that, a 0.6.5 milestone for Red is in the plans, aiming at making the Red console the main focus for Red users by providing:
\* prebuilt versions of the Red console. \* ability to invoke the Red toolchain from the Red console. \* a plugin API to extend the console in many ways.
In order to better focus on these tasks and better interact with our new team members in Europe, we will be relocating our core team from different parts of the world to Europe (Red Foundation is located in Paris). We also plan to make a RedCon2 developer conference in Europe later this year. Many thanks to all the people who have contributed or helped in any way with advancing Red and managing the community. How do we climb the tallest mountain? One step at a time! And the top is in sight now, weʼre almost there. 😉 Happy New Year to all, and keep up the great work you are all doing!
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The cryptocurrency is going on an energy diet to compete with more efficient blockchains
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18811864
Posted by sohkamyung (karma: 21789)
Post stats: Points: 145 - Comments: 68 - 2019-01-03T00:48:40Z
\#HackerNews #consumption #cut #energy #ethereum #its #percent #plans
opening illustration Illustration: Blood Bros.
graphic link to special report landing page
Bitcoin soaks up most of the hype and the opprobrium heaped on cryptocurrencies, leaving its younger and smaller sibling Ethereum in the shadows. But Ethereum is anything but small. Its market capitalization was roughly US $10 billion at press time, and it has an equally whopping energy footprint.
Ethereum mining consumes a quarter to half of what Bitcoin mining does, but that still means that for most of 2018 it was using roughly as much electricity as Iceland. Indeed, the typical Ethereum transaction gobbles more power than an average U.S. household uses in a day.
“That’s just a huge waste of resources, even if you don’t believe that pollution and carbon dioxide are an issue. There are real consumers—real people—whose need for electricity is being displaced by this stuff,” says Vitalik Buterin, the 24-year-old Russian-Canadian computer scientist who invented Ethereum when he was just 18.
Buterin plans to finally start undoing his brainchild’s energy waste in 2019. This year Buterin, the Ethereum Foundation he cofounded, and the broader open-source movement advancing the cryptocurrency all plan to field-test a long-promised overhaul of Ethereum’s code. If these developers are right, by the end of 2019 Ethereum’s new code could complete transactions using just 1 percent of the energy consumed today.
Photo: Gordon Welters/laif/Redux Ether Evangelist: Vitalik Buterin, inventor of Ethereum, hopes to finally demonstrate the blockchain platform’s low-power format in 2019.
Ethereum’s attempted rebirth will be one of the year’s “most fascinating technologies to watch,” says Zaki Manian, who is advising the cryptocurrency upstart Cosmos. Manian says Ethereum’s development process means that multiple coders and organizations must collaborate in the open, converge on specifications, invent all of the technology to implement them, and make them work together seamlessly. “It is by far the most technically ambitious open community project that has ever been attempted,” says Manian.
Like Bitcoin, Ethereum relies on a blockchain, which is a digital ledger of transactions maintained by a community of users. (It’s called a blockchain because new transactions are bundled into “blocks” of data and written onto the end of a “chain” of existing blocks that describe all prior transactions.) However, Buterin designed Ethereum to do more than securely maintain a ledger without a central authority. His vision was for Ethereum to become a global computer—one that’s decentralized, accessible to all, and essentially immune to downtime, censorship, and fraud.
What gives the Ethereum blockchain such potential is its ability to store data, support decisions, and automate the distribution of value. It manages these tasks through smart contracts, programs written by users or developers in Ethereum’s custom coding language. Smart contracts have obvious business applications, but the long-term hope is that apps built from them will eventually make Ethereum the ultimate cloud- computing platform.
That lofty vision clashes with Ethereum’s current reality. While there are some multimillion-dollar apps running on it, even Buterin says he suspects that Ethereum is consuming more resources than it returns in societal benefits.
The problem is all that mining. Like most cryptocurrencies, Ethereum relies on a computational competition called proof of work (PoW) . In PoW, all participants race to cryptographically secure transactions and add them to the blockchain’s globally distributed ledger. It’s a winner-takes-all contest, rewarded with newly minted cryptocoins. So the more computational firepower you have, the better your chances to profit.
PoW mining is difficult by design. The idea is to prevent any one entity from controlling the blockchain. For example, if a bitcoin miner’s computer system had more than half of all the mining power on the network, that miner could perpetrate frauds, such as revising long- completed transactions. Bitcoin users would have little recourse because miners are anonymous.
In theory, PoW keeps mining a distributed affair. In practice, however, the development of application-specific ICs (ASICs) that accelerate mining, produced by a handful of chip fabs in China, has concentrated power over many cryptocurrencies.
Ethereum took the fight against concentrated power one step further by selecting a memory-intensive PoW algorithm for mining “ether,” as its value token is known. This ether-mining algorithm penalizes the use of ASICs.
What Ethereum’s PoW algorithm has not prevented, however, is explosive growth in the computing resources devoted to ether mining. The computational power directed at that task grew more than 25-fold in 2017, as the token’s value surged from $8 to $862 and mining firms built dedicated data centers full of general-purpose graphics processing units, which are well-suited to ether mining.
The resultant energy demand has created a backlash from environmentalists. Utilities and communities, meanwhile, see financial risk and opportunity costs if they cater to cryptocurrency miners that gobble up cheap electricity while creating few jobs. Serving miners may require utilities to make equipment upgrades, which could become superfluous if cryptocurrency prices crash and mining operations shut down.
Recent market dynamics support the utilities’ concerns. The value of ether peaked at $1,385 last January and then began a downward slide. In November it crashed below $120—low enough to erase miners’ profit margin and to prompt some to slow down or turn off mining rigs. According to a projection by the Digiconomist—a site created by Alex de Vries, a senior associate and blockchain specialist at PricewaterhouseCoopers —Ethereum’s miners likely cut their total energy consumption by more than half in less than 20 days.
No surprise then that some utilities, such as Montreal-based Hydro-Québec , are setting higher electricity rates for miners. Such pushback from utilities and their regulators may further erode the security of PoW-based cryptocurrencies. Restricted access to power and rising energy costs will hinder new miners from joining the game, accelerating the concentration of mining power. As it concentrates, the risk of collusion and fraud increases.
For Buterin, slashing energy use has been part of the vision from Ethereum’s beginning. Most of Ethereum’s other proponents agree. “It’s widely accepted in the Ethereum community that PoW uses far too much energy. For me it is the No. 1 priority,” says Ethereum contributor Paul Hauner, a cofounder of Australian cybersecurity and blockchain-development firm Sigma Prime.
Ethereum’s plan is to replace PoW with proof of stake (PoS)—an alternative mechanism for distributed consensus that was first applied to a cryptocurrency with the launch of Peercoin in 2012. Instead of millions of processors simultaneously processing the same transactions, PoS randomly picks one to do the job.
In PoS, the participants are called validators instead of miners, and the key is keeping them honest. PoS does this by requiring each validator to put up a stake—a pile of ether in Ethereum’s case—as collateral. A bigger stake earns a validator proportionately more chances at a turn, but it also means that a validator caught cheating has lots to lose.
Moving to PoS will cut the energy consumed per Ethereum transaction more than a hundredfold, according to Buterin: “The PoW part is the one that’s consuming these huge amounts of electricity. The blockchain transactions themselves are not super computationally intensive. It’s just verifying digital signatures. It’s not some kind of heavy 3D-matrix map or machine learning on gigabytes of data,” he says.
Slashing computational power and energy use is not just an ecological move. It also has a financial benefit, because it should reduce the rate at which fresh ether is issued to encourage validators—extra money that dilutes a currency’s value. “Because PoS validators aren’t expending all of this energy, we don’t have to reward them as much,” says Darren Langley, a senior blockchain developer with Rocket Pool, in Brisbane, Australia, which is developing an app that will assemble staking pools, paying interest to ether owners who join the pool.
Moving to PoS could also boost security. Under PoS, the location of each validator’s account is known and can be destroyed if that validator breaks the rules. Vlad Zamfir, Ethereum Foundation’s lead PoS developer, likens this to the Bitcoin community gaining the power to incinerate the data centers of a miner who abuses his power.
By 2015, the advantages of PoS had already convinced the Ethereum community to make the shift, and leaders such as Buterin had expected to do so in just a year or two. To make their intentions clear, Ethereum’s core developers reprogrammed their PoW code to create an exponential rise in mining difficulty. Known as the “Difficulty Bomb,” it began slowing the creation of new transaction blocks in late 2016 and was expected to bring ether mining to a grinding halt a few years thereafter.
This time bomb has, however, functioned more like an alarm clock with a snooze button. In October 2017, when mining time had already nearly doubled to 30 seconds, the Ethereum team reset the clock, delaying PoW’s doomsday by about 12 months. And they will likely hit snooze again shortly.
It’s not that Team Ethereum is sleeping in. In fact, Buterin says, Ethereum’s developers have already slain most of the theoretical dragons associated with PoS. But the process of turning those theoretical solutions into efficient software has been moving slower than expected.
What provides hope for 2019 is a radical new plan adopted by Ethereum’s leaders in June 2018. Before then, they had anticipated building PoS into the existing Ethereum blockchain. In June, they decided to make a clean break and to build an entirely new blockchain—one that operates solely via PoS.
The two-chain solution—dubbed Ethereum 2.0—makes a world of difference for Ethereum’s programmers because continuing on the original chain would have meant writing the machinery of PoS as a sophisticated set of smart contracts. Hauner, who is leading an effort called Lighthouse to build an Ethereum 2.0 software client, says Ethereum’s smart-contract language is a tough medium for writing complex code. “Writing smart contracts is a very constrained environment for computing. You can’t do complicated things on it,” he says.
Just a few months after the decision to shift to Ethereum 2.0, its PoS specifications had been sketched out and over half a dozen teams were already working on software implementations using a variety of programming languages. Hauner’s group at Sigma Prime is developing its Ethereum 2.0 client using Rust, for example. He expects this app and others to be running PoS on beta networks, or “testnets,” early in 2019.
Buterin says public testnets could be handling another Ethereum 2.0 innovation—chains with multiple branches to boost transaction throughput—by the end of 2019. But he warns that there could still be “unknown unknowns” lurking that could set their timeline back.
As a multibillion-dollar network, Ethereum obviously has a lot to lose if it launches glitchy or insecure technology. To play on Ethereum’s PoS chain, holders of ether will have to deposit a smart contract on the original Ethereum chain that irreversibly transfers ether to the new chain. Any missteps could jeopardize the entire ecosystem of developers and projects that use Ethereum’s smart contracts.
But Ethereum also has a lot to lose if it delays much longer. An array of well-capitalized projects—Cardano, Dfinity, Eosio, and Manian’s Cosmos, to name just a few—are hatching their own PoS-based blockchains. Like Ethereum, they seek to prove that high security and high efficiency are not at odds.
The first to unleash the potential for blockchain applications may well become the computing platform of the future. The others will probably wither away. “This environment is naturally quite predatory,” Manian says. “There will be a single platform that survives.”
This article appears in the January 2019 print issue as “Ethereum Will Cut Back Its Absurd Energy Use.”
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