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Ergo deep dive: and justice for all

Ergo is a true anomaly: a modern crypto project with actual integrity.

Harry Hamburg
Harry Hamburg
28 min read
Ergo deep dive: and justice for all

If you’re a long-time subscriber, you’ll have noticed a pattern my deep dives tend to go through. 

A new project sets out a grand vision, promises next-generation technology, has a superstar team, is gaining notable adoption… 

…And has abysmal tokenomics, a corrupt initial token allocation and woeful governance.

I’d say 90% of my deep dives go this way.

Which is why I was intrigued by Ergo.

Unlike most projects, Ergo thought about its values before anything else.

In fact, its founder, Alexander Chepurnoy, wrote a manifesto that reads a lot like an extension of the original cypherpunk manifesto.

Chepurnoy’s manifesto rails against Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), champions financial privacy and proposes a new form of “ergonomic” money.

Hence the name, Ergo.

And part of that manifesto included Ergo’s commitment to a fair launch:

A Note On Token Economics:
Ergo Platform had a fair launch in the very beginning. It didn't hold any ICO, and there weren't any pre-mined coins for the platform's founders. Decentralization and fairness of a peer-to-peer monetary system were the priority in the first place. The Foundation treasury is set to 4.37% of the total coins mined, and it isn't possible to change the core elements of token economics further.

This is simply not the way things are done in crypto anymore.

VCs and insiders snap up the supply for a song and then dump it on an unsuspecting public at many multiples of what they paid for it.

That’s how you do crypto!

Really, what is Ergo playing at?

And the unusual behaviour doesn’t stop there.

Ergo has no gas fees. So transactions have a set price – no matter how congested the network gets.

And it’s insistent about keeping atomic composability as it scales.

(Here’s why that’s important.)

It also shunned the Proof of Stake (PoS) model in favour of Proof of Work (PoW)… even though its founder was a core developer on the first ever PoS blockchain, NXT.

Then there’s its choice to integrate optional privacy as a core feature – at a time when governments are locking up developers who work on privacy-focused projects.

The list goes on and on.

In short, this is no ordinary crypto.

Let’s take a look at that manifesto again…

The goal of the Ergo blockchain is to create Ergonomic Money.
Ergonomics is the scientific discipline concerned with understanding the interactions among humans and other elements of a system and the profession that applies theory, principles, data, and methods to design to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.
Time and time again, economies implode, and those with financial tools cannibalize ordinary people's wealth and value. This is not ergonomic; it is predatory and monopolistic, and we need better tools. 
Now perhaps competition will upset central powers, and it certainly did in the case of Turkey. 
[Referencing Turkey’s banning of Bitcoin when its inflation got too high and its citizens started using Bitcoin to maintain their purchasing power. Wall Street Journal link.] 
These tools must be private, resilient, censorship-resistant, secure, open and free. 
Perhaps you live in a developed society and think it is fine; the central banks are pumping liquidity into our economy. Central banks are bailing enough water that the ship won't sink. I hope you are right, but I fear you are wrong. 
Because the tools we are building may not benefit you today, make no mistake, they may be the lifeboat of tomorrow. That is the intent and purpose of my life's work in cryptocurrency. 
Anyone who dares to say a cryptocurrency is just a tool for criminals and terrorists must search how these organizations are funded and protected and where they draw their supply chains before making such accusations. Ignorance is venomous. 
Often those at the bottom suffer in separation from those at the top who initiate the suffering. This cycle of economic abuse needs to be broken. 
The goal of Ergonomic money is to create money and smart contracts for all people. Those at the bottom have the greatest need for the tooling we are building.

As you can see, Ergo’s founder is on a mission. And every aspect of Ergo’s structure and  development is shaped by this mission. 

As such, Ergo has five tenets: 

Decentralization First. Ergo should be as decentralized as possible: any parties (social leaders, software developers, hardware manufacturers, miners, funds and so on) whose absence or malicious behavior may affect the security of the network should be avoided. If any of these parties do appear during Ergo’s lifetime, the community should consider ways to decrease their impact level. 
Created for Regular People. Ergo is a platform for ordinary people, and their interests should not be infringed upon in favor of big parties. In particular, this means that centralization of mining should be prevented and regular people should be able to participate in the protocol by running a full node and mining blocks (albeit with a small probability). 
Platform for Contractual Money. Ergo is the base layer to applications that will be built on top of it. It is suitable for several applications but its main focus is to provide an efficient, secure and easy way to implement financial contracts. 
Long-term Focus. All aspects of Ergo development should be focused on a long term perspective. At any point of time, Ergo should be able to survive for centuries without expected hard forks, software or hardware improvements or some other unpredictable changes. Since Ergo is designed as a platform, applications built on top of Ergo should also be able to survive in the long term. This resiliency and long term survivability may also enable Ergo to be a good store of value. 
Permissionless and Open. Ergo protocol does not restrict or limit any categories of usage. It should allow anyone to join the network and participate in the protocol without any preliminary actions. Unlike the traditional financial system, no bailouts, blacklists or other forms of discrimination should be possible on the core level of Ergo protocol. On the other hand application developers are free to implement any logic they want, taking responsibility for the ethics and legality of their application.

– Source: the Ergo whitepaper.

I guess the thing is, virtually all crypto projects claim to have similar goals to this. But very, very few ever live up to their ideals.

So let’s see how Ergo stacks up.

It’s time to get into the deep dive proper…


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