Is EOS live? What the mainnet launch looks like and how to watch
The EOS launch isn't as simple as flicking a switch. It's going to be messy, chaotic and interesting.
EOS was largely created by a private company called Block.one, but the system itself is designed to be entirely open and public. Block.one has decided on a mainnet launch date of 2 June, but it's not actually going to be launching the network itself.
As a public network, it's down to the community itself to get it started. This means it's going to be a messy few days while everyone works on sorting out the system, whipping up a genesis block and settling the new blockchain routine. If you want to follow it live, the most up-to-date information will probably be from project participants on Telegram, Twitter and elsewhere.
EOS doesn't have a block explorer yet, so there's no real user friendly way of viewing vote counts or even seeing who exactly the block producers are. As such, you can probably expect a lot of messiness, wild rumours and miscommunications during the launch.
It's worth understanding how exactly the EOS network and its launch works. Nothing about the launch is certain, except that there will be scammers everywhere trying to finesse funds out of unsuspecting people.
How EOS and the launch works
EOS was created on the Ethereum network, and the initial EOS tokens were Ethereum-standard "ERC20" tokens. The mainnet launch will move EOS out of Ethereum and onto its own network. When this happens, EOS holders will receive EOS coins on the new network to replace their existing ERC20 EOS tokens.
EOS essentially runs as a network democracy. There will be 21 delegates constantly competing for votes. The 21 most-voted-for delegates get the privilege of producing blocks and earning considerable profits from doing so. The delegates get swapped out every 126 blocks, so each delegate gets to mine 6 blocks per cycle.
The network will switch on once 15% of EOS tokens in existence have placed a vote. Once this happens, the 21 delegates with the most votes will be assigned as the block producers. One of them, chosen at random, will get to produce the genesis block. From there, each delegate will be adding one block at a time with the builder being chosen semi-randomly on each occasion. Any EOS holder can vote for a delegate by lodging their vote with a certain party. This vote stays with that delegate until a user chooses to move it. It doesn't cost anything to vote, but some EOS needs to be held as a kind of collateral while a vote is pinned to a delegate.
There will always be some jockeying for votes, but ahead of the mainnet launch, it's likely that competition will be especially fierce. There are over 50 candidates vying for the 21 available delegate seats, and only time will tell who wins.
The network will have launched when the following happens:
- 15% of existing EOS tokens are used to vote
- 21 delegates have emerged
- They've created and built on a genesis block
- It's clear which EOS chain is the real one
Current EOS holders will receive EOS coins on the new network to replace their existing ERC20 EOS tokens.
Which chain is the real one?
EOS will be all open source, so there will inevitably be a lot of new chains and forks springing up. Some of these will be started by scammers trying to trick people, others might be created by experimenters or by losing candidates who start their own rival chain.
Just like anyone can fork bitcoin, and successfully create a brand new cryptocurrency if enough people follow it, anyone will be able to fork EOS.
For example, there are already plans for an EOS Classic fork, due to start at the same time as EOS. It will also be airdropping tokens to replace the ERC20 tokens 1:1 just like the "real" EOS is. The difference is that it will have 105 delegates, instead of only 21.
The real EOS is whichever one gets the most popular support in the end.
You'll probably be able to pick out the real chain by following popular sentiment and looking for the network with the most total votes. But when in doubt, look for the chain that ends up getting listed by all reputable exchanges.
What could go wrong?
A lot could go wrong, especially because there are only 21 delegates and it's a very valuable position.
Constant attacks are likely to be a concern. It's safe to assume that all delegates will be under distributed denial of service (DDoS/spam) attacks. Attackers will have different motivations, but rival delegates who want to undermine confidence in each other and improve their own chances will be active.
There's also the possibility of deal-breaking bugs. EOS's GitHub activity has been spiking as the launch date approaches, and some network-killing vulnerabilities are still being found at the last minute. It's entirely possible that the network will go live with deal-breaking bugs or vulnerabilities.
It's also possible that the community disagrees with the delegate selections. For example, language barriers might split the network into separate English-speaking and Chinese-speaking versions of EOS.
But the overriding issue might be that EOS's wealth is extremely concentrated. Just ten wallets, and even fewer separate entities, hold about 50% of all tokens. This unknown group will probably be hand-picking most of the delegates themselves. As they pick up the lion's share of delegate rewards, their influence will further consolidate over time.
It's also possible that this group will try to immediately jump-start the network with their >15% token share, and immediately take control of all the delegate seats. With the current lack of transparency and concentration of wealth, this might be relatively easy, especially with a relatively low voter turnout.
Fortunately, it's in their best interests to make sure everything goes smoothly. These hidden network owners will probably decide to rotate through a suitable diverse set of delegates to avoid large schisms and to keep the network more geographically diverse and functional.
A lot could go wrong, but it's still an exciting time. The EOS techno-pseudo-democratic experiment has been years in the making, and it's about to be put through its first real test.
Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VEN, XLM, BTC and XRB.
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