Viewpoint: Web3 should pay more attention to types than decentralization

Published on 1 Months ago   169 views   0 Comments  

Original authors: divya siddarth, Danielle Allen, e. Glen Weyl

Original title:ใ€ŠThe Web3 Decentralization Debate Is Focused on the Wrong Questionใ€‹

EVA, chain catcher

Web3 advocates believe that the scale of decentralization is unprecedented. Excessive centralization will hinder coordination and weaken freedom, democracy and economic vitality. Decentralization is a remedy. But the word itself is too vague to be the ultimate goal. Getting the job done requires proper decentralization, and we are worried that Web3 is on the wrong track so far.

We are more concerned about the degree of decentralization than the type. Focusing on the degree of decentralization will lead Web3 advocates to mistakenly describe the reality of existing centralization and the possibility of pure decentralizationใ€‚ On the one hand, existing "centralized" systems are not as overly centralized as Web3 advocates usually describe."Traditional" banks entrust many activities to local branches, and even the central bank is often a consortium. From the perspective of architecture, & quot; Centralization & quot; The cloud is rarely so concentrated in practice; It is usually scattered in a series of geographical regions to train large-scale machine learning models in a distributed way.

On the other hand, many Web3 critics point to the extreme inefficiency of the proposed decentralized architecture and the inevitable re emergence of "centralization" in Web3(NFT platform, currency exchange, wallet supplier). In addition, there are important limitations and trade-offs in widely targeting greater decentralization. For example, technical decentralization in a narrow sense faces the contradiction between resisting censorship and embedded value, which will eventually lead to poor function or some centralized decisions, just like the content audit mechanism on decentralized social networks.

Therefore, in a functional system, there are (soft) restrictions on the degree of centralization and functional feasibility. Instead of holding a wrong debate on whether the next generation technology should be centralized or decentralized, it is better to discuss how to best realize the ideal decentralized model. And clarify what we want from decentralization.

The value of decentralization lies in giving people the power to act decisively in their social environment and providing the necessary coordination mechanism across the environment.This is in sharp contrast to the current technological environment, in which the decision-making power of information, computing and audit is increasingly in the hands of authorities "far away" from relevant groups - for example, the platform content audit process attempts to cross community and cross culture, but it basically fails in both aspects. In this case, the decision-making is divorced from the application environment and made by people who have little direct interest in things, so they can't take advantage of the rich distributed information.

Our view of decentralization is about coordination. It emphasizes solving problems through the combination of "local" units, which gather in the social environment most relevant to current decision-making. This is not a new idea. The federalism of the United States, including local government, state government and national government, basically comes from this universal principle, just like the establishment of open source database and information aggregation similar to wiki structure. The key is that these local units can be combined - modular and interoperable, and can basically be "stacked" to a larger global scale, so that the decentralized system can effectively solve the problems requiring centralized coordination. This model is called composable local control.

Universality is the decentralized architecture and type that makes composable local control possible. However, the dominant track of Web3 is unlikely to be realized, and may even run counter to universality. The unauthorized blockchain is established as a Distributed Redundant ledger, in which storage and permissions are allocated by anonymous economic mechanism and accessed through alternative and tradable resources (such as computing and tokens). The architecture is optimized for a highly narrow set of problems, so in essence, it cannot be connected with the rich economic and social networks that actually need to solve problems. The pure financial system has a full historical record in concentrating wealth, information and power, and the current Web3 ecosystem has brought these attributes to the extreme. Therefore, redundant distributed ledgers contradict the benefits of affiliate networks and the form of decentralization advocated.

We are optimistic about the potential of Web3. However, in order to achieve this, we must take measures to make Web3 a network of networks, Not a ledger.

Most typical encryption projects, such as bitcoin, currently realize "decentralization", which is what we call "distributed redundancy": global, open and consensus based storage of a common and homogeneous data set in many places. Distributed redundancy depends on three factors.

  • Maximize the removal of data from the social environment. (all interactions are attributed to transactions recorded in the ledger, and the external environment cannot be reflected in the technical architecture).
  • Solutions aimed at universalization. (the focus on "global" applicability requires that all solutions apply in all cases.)
  • Redundant verification that relies on global consensus and access using alternative resources. (decision making mechanisms are limited by tokens or computational puzzles; people with more financial resources have more of these resources).

Why are so many people so keen on pursuing redundancy and universality? Theoretically, the purpose of redundancy is to prevent attacks. However, as we have seen, in the context of recent supply chain challenges and the concentration of most bitcoin mining in a small number of ore pools, market efficiency tends to concentrate activities in very large-scale centers, which are often very vulnerable to shocks and disruptions (e.g. local covid locking Policy) or in jurisdictions that may be vulnerable to geopolitical risks (e.g. China and Russia). Effective and safe redundancy requires intentional compensation and the choice of diversified "hedging" risks, not just the lowest cost suppliers. But to achieve such hedging, we need to track the regional and network relationships ignored by the pure financial system.

In sharp contrast, the desirable type of decentralization, universality, focuses on.

  • Make the data as close to the social environment of creation as possible.
  • Connect and integrate multiple solutions through the mechanism of coordinating alliance and interoperability.
  • Leverage and expand online and offline trust and institutional relationships.

Perhaps what has been designed as an auxiliary system from the beginning is the original network, that is, the Internet based on TCP / IP. It is designed in this way for the sake of security and efficiency, and it can be said that it has achieved unprecedented success. More examples include:

  1. Activitypub standard for social networks and related applications, such as mastodon.
  2. A series of research projects from ink and switch, including the architecture of "local first" computing and the interoperability design between different programs.
  3. A range of social local identity systems, such as spritely, brightid and backchannel.
  4. Joint learning and broader privacy preserving machine learning.
  5. Mesh network.
  6. Data cooperation organizations, cooperatives and trusts.
  7. Wikipedia and Wiki based content structure are more common.
  8. Community content review system, such as reddit.
  9. Community priority cloud computing, file storage and time sharing.

Unlike distributed redundancy, universal redundancy often uses trust to improve efficiency, rather than reduce efficiency to eliminate the need for trust. Taking the community mesh network as an example, the community starts the decentralized wireless network through locally installed shared nodes and antennas. Creative economic incentive design is essential for the sustainability of such networks, but these incentives are embedded in social relations, not as substitutes for social relations. Similar principles are the basis of recent blockchain based alternatives.

The following shows the difference between universality and redundancy based on some areas that have a potential impact on Web3.

Identity and reputation

promise:Web3 promises to liberate identity and reputation from the control of a few large technology companies and allow communication, trading and governance as "self sovereignty".

Redundancy:As the basic data architecture of Web3, pseudonym ledger is not suitable as the basis of identity or reputation. In view of the convenience of establishing multiple accounts on pseudonym ledgers, false attacks (or multi identity attacks), that is, people seek improper influence on a platform by controlling multiple identities within the platform, are very common. The solution with redundancy as a prerequisite focuses on the universal and non contextualized unique encryption identifier. Deleting the context will result in the & quot; Universal security & quot; The dependence of identifiers often raises at least as many concerns as the centralized protocols they replace.

universality:Trust is the basic component of identity. Most of the relevant interactions that rely on identity mechanisms for proof or verification are more about relationships (the identity of employees, citizens, students and platform contributors) than about universal identity. Since the early days of the Internet, network-based authentication methods (commonly known as "trust network" or "IP trust") have envisaged authentication based on strong but usually informal trust relationships; Examples of the latest protocols built on this framework include spritely, backchannel, Keri ฤ€ Hau and ACDC.

Data enabling

promise: Web3 claims to let the data creator & quot; Own & quot; Their data and profit from it while protecting their privacy.

Redundancy:The typical vision of data ownership focuses on the concept of private property of data in "personal data storage", which can be freely traded and connected to the "market" through the defi structure. However, such a structure is unlikely to facilitate data authorization in a narrow sense for the following reasons:

  • Most of the data is relevant (e.g. email between people, genetic data shared by family parts, social map data), so the concept of private property failed. If anyone can block the transaction, the data cannot be used; If any individual can authorize transactions, there will be competition because each data holder tries to sell in front of others.
  • Most uses of data rely on aggregation, which limits the bargaining power of individuals without collective organizations, just as workers needed collective bargaining in the industrial age.

universality:An emerging data management assistance model combines social and legal structures such as data cooperation, collaboration and trust with privacy protection and enhancement technologies of data processing, such as joint learning and secure multi-party computing.

In these models, cooperative organizations responsible for and socially connected with data subjects (from local governments to workers' cooperatives to credit cooperatives) collect and manage entangled interpersonal data in society. These organizations can consult with companies and other entities to develop guidelines on the use of shared data. For example, credit unions can act as managers of member data, exchange specific insights only with start-ups that establish loan refinancing instruments or public sector institutions aimed at improving financial policies, and maintain the privacy of basic data while adding value to the ecosystem and transferring benefits to members. Such managers can further communicate with the networks of other credit cooperatives in order to obtain better leverage and benefits. A similar structure can be used for covid-19 contacts to track or track different needs such as carbon emissions, and release a lot of public interests while protecting individual and community decisions.

Organizational innovation

promise:Web3, especially distributed autonomous organizations (DAO), promises flexible, lightweight, responsible organizations and peer-to-peer, full community authorization.

Redundancy:To date, fully automated organizations have failed because they cannot specify related contingencies in error free codes. Flexibility and automaticity are basically strained because permanently automated processes are vulnerable to oversight errors or mispredictions and cannot adapt to situations not covered by the initial code. After all, automation is about universal and repetitive rules; Flexibility requires the opposite. In human cognition, flexibility comes from the judgment and creation of specific cases. Therefore, Dao relies heavily on governance, but without identity infrastructure, it mainly relies on a token one vote structure, which is vulnerable to attacks, such as venture capitalists who control 51% of tokens. Rely on informal Dao, usually Web 2.

universality:Partly due to dissatisfaction with the current Dao structure,Platform cooperationDoctrineExit the communityใ€Meta governanceใ€RadicalxChange And other related campaigns have been developing tools, such as community currency, soul binding tokenSecond ballotAnd other innovative voting systems, new democratic deliberative tools, such as Pol. is and LoomioAnd new ways to fund emerging democratic accountability organizations, such as secondary financing and GitcoinThese tools focus on community participation and empowerment, bringing organizations together to build larger scale cooperation, rather than acquisitions or pure financial contracts. Although some functions are most effective when automated, these processes achieve adaptability that is critical to the operation of the organization.

Web3 provoked an important discussion on decentralization. However, it is time to use this energy to achieve the best effect of Decentralization: universality, not redundancy - a network of networks, not distributed ledgers.

In the case of deviation from the current Web3 ecosystem, many goals can be achieved. Non transferable soul binding tokens, which remain with the original issuer and are therefore non-financial, have great potential to allow social identity and community autonomy, even when privacy is not a major consideration (for example, what a person puts on a public resume or will be included in twitter).In such a soul ecosystem, the transferability and transparency of trust based and non transferable tokens can not only realize a more personality based network, but also realize innovative voting and community governance agreements.

In fact, many such protocols have flourished in experiments in the form of incomplete security. For example, four-dimensional voting and funding, voting and collective funding mechanisms enable more detailed preference expression and aggregation. Multi signature accounts are empowering community asset management. There are a series of attempts to establish a data alliance and other attempts that rely heavily on blockchain. It seems that Web3 can be further combined with various ancillary technologies to enhance the existing ecosystem.

More ambitious projects suited to universality have greater potential in addressing meaningful coordination challenges. These projects may face some obstacles in achieving scale:

  • Neither serve the power of the current profit seeking incumbents, nor encourage speculation in global alternative currencies based on their commitment to the global revolution.
  • Given the intention to cooperate with and make use of existing social structures, rather than trying to replace them, the implementation path is more long-term and socio technical.
  • It is not directly related to the current energy around the blockchain, so it benefits less directly from the resulting hype.

However, we see these challenges as a call for coordinated, multisectoral investment. Although this path may not be so straightforward, it also has greater potential for social change. Today's Internet is developed in the multi sectoral cooperation between the U.S. government, academia, industrial research laboratories and Internet service providers, supporting the decentralization of affiliates on the basis of public mission. The major coordination challenges of our time, from crisis response to global governance, require well-designed universality in order to succeed on scale. We believe that the universal elements outlined here can provide the basis for such a system.


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