I recently learned about Ethereum and have read the whitepaper, and I'm excited by the potential for Turing-complete decentralized apps. I have many questions but earlier today I was engaged in a Twitter discussion in which the fact of a "cost per operation" came up. To summarize:
* In order to accomplish any operation, a cost is levied for that operation (in ETH).
* While a DApp may refund a user the cost of the ETH after the operation is accomplished, this means at a minimum that users must first provide a "deposit" to pay for the operation in full.
Given these facts about the inherent nature of computation in Ethereum, what are the (side-)effects on poorly-resourced individuals?
To clarify, I understand *why* there is a cost (GASPRICE, etc.) and in fact I began looking into Ethereum precisely because I was looking for an operating environment that would be resilient against spam-like attacks. Ethereum promises that and I'm excited about its promise!
What concerns me is the fact that, since my DApp has nothing to do with economics—there are no assets, there is no money involved—and the target audience for the DApp is specifically poorly-resourced people, forcing them to effectively "pay" to use the DApp is antithetical to the purpose of the DApp. In other words, to put it crudely, I am concerned that the very same mechanism that will deter spam will also deter my user base because of a technologically-enforced Digital Divide.
From Twitter, I am told that the Ethereum Foundation may provide ETH grants to non-profit public good DApps. That's great.
But what I want to know is what, if any, other thought has been given to the fact that there is the potential for poorly-resourced people to suffer from even more radically restricted access to computation in general if cryptocurrency is required to perform such computation (on top of electricity and physical-world access to the CPU, etc.)?
Thanks for your time.