Bitcoin’s need for Anarchy

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Nobody votes to adopt anarchy, it just happens.  It is emergent, it is organic, and that is exactly the way it should be.

If you asked anyone what was the most innovative thing about Bitcoin, you would likely get an answer such as “censorship resistance” or “financial disintermediation” or “deflationary money”.  But the truth is that the biggest innovation of Bitcoin is the fact that it is headless.  In fact most of what makes Bitcoin capable of delivering on the aforementioned promises is the fact that there is no company owning Bitcoin, no CEO to sue, or entity to hold accountable.  Bitcoin is simply a protocol.  Unlike previous protocols like TCP/IP however, this is a protocol that can represent money directly, and as such is likely to have a lot of politics embroiled with its implementation.  In the project’s nascency it was just Satoshi who maintained the software, and after his disappearance that torch was placed on Gavin Andresen, and subsequently Wladimir van der Laan.  As the project grew in popularity and media coverage, more developers came forth taking on more active roles in its development and maintenance.  This is a good thing.  The progression went from solo designer, to committee stewardship during the first 5 years of it’s life.  Like any committee tasked with such a heavy burden of safeguarding over 6 billion dollars in value, bureaucracy does what bureaucracies are arguably designed to do, slow down innovation in the name of conservatism.  For example, the current standing feature change policy enacted by Wladimir, is intended to only allow non-contentious features to be brought into the code base.  While this protects the status quo, it also effectively means that the system will cater to the lowest common denominator and prioritize preservation over dynamism and progress.

“Bitcoin will either grow to a million dollars per BTC, or go to zero…”

This is a fine opinion that any person or group is entitled to have, but certainly to impose that ideology onto the network would be in itself an act of oppression, yet we find ourselves presently with a dearth of viable alternatives should we choose to disagree with the conservatism of the Bitcoin Core team (a few of which work for Blockstream).

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The Future of Bitcoin Governance is Unlimited*

 

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Nature is full of self-organizing, self-optimizing structures

There has been a lot of chatter recently on coat-tails of Bitcoin core’s 2016 Roadmap which was disappointing for a lot of people in the industry who were expecting to see a more immediate capacity increase via a non-contentious hard fork.  This has brought the debate back to the issue of Bitcoin governance and our current lack of consensus on how Bitcoin should be governed.  I had previously written a proposal about creating a meta-protocol above the technical protocols of Bitcoin itself, which would be a basis for competing ideas, goals and principles to be proposed and agreed upon, much in the same way the BIP is a process by which competing enhancements or features are proposed for the protocol itself.  In the prevailing months, I have come to realize that a free market solution has manifested which makes such a rule system unnecessary: one of Emergent Consensus. (a sort of self-organizing property)

This is a completely new idea, and not one that we are accustomed to understanding, given that all organizations and political systems in present times rely on a notion of democracy where the general public (lacking sufficient time, knowledge, or rigor) delegate their rights to a representative, whom they vote into power, who in turn should make decisions on their behalf for a designated period of time.  They do this for no visible reward, and the cost of failing at their task is losing the vote the next time around.  In such a system, we are basically basing the entire security of the system on the premise that we will be able to find enough of these altruistic ‘saints’ who will consistently put the good of the many above their own desires.  Of course, as we all know, supply of these saintly people are in hard supply, and thus corruption is born, inherent to the system itself.  (Remember politicians are not supposed to be rewarded proportionally for the services that they perform)  Bribing politicians is how the free market reacts to this inequality.  This talks to the root of the problem with Proof-of-Stake systems, which serve to enrich the rich (those with more stake) proportionately more than the poor.  This is also the base of consensus systems which rely on weak subjectivity* instead of objective consensus**, all of which are still theoretical and have not been shown to work in practice at scale.  Our current democratic system of politicians and government is a weak subjectivity system.   We must trust that there is a critical majority of politicians that are not corrupt, as well as trusting one specific honest politician to tell us what is in our best interest, in order for the system to work for us.  I will leave you to ponder on whether or not it is an inherently stable system in the long run.

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