Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin Opines On Decentralization

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Vitalik Buterin (Courtesy: Twitter)
Vitalik Buterin (Courtesy: Twitter)

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin took to Twitter to share his new blog post, updated on his official website, about coordination, collusion, decentralization and forking.

In the blog, he writes Coordination, the ability for large groups of actors to work together for their common interest, is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. It is the difference between a king comfortably ruling a country as an oppressive dictatorship, and the people coming together and overthrowing him. It is the difference between the global temperature going up 3-5’C and the temperature going up by a much smaller amount if we work together to stop it. And it is the factor that makes companies, countries and any social organization larger than a few people possible at all.

He believes that Coordination can be improved by: faster spread of information, better norms that identify what behaviors are classified as cheating along with more effective punishments, stronger and more powerful organizations, tools like smart contracts that allow interactions with reduced levels of trust, governance technologies (voting, shares, decision markets…), and much more. And indeed, we as a species are getting better at all of these things with each passing decade.

On decentralization

One naive view of why decentralization is valuable is that it’s about reducing risk from single points of technical failure. In traditional “enterprise” distributed systems, this is often actually true, but in many other cases we know that this is not sufficient to explain what’s going on. It’s instructive here to look at blockchains.

A large mining pool publicly showing how they have internally distributed their nodes and network dependencies doesn’t do much to calm community members scared of mining centralization. And pictures like these, showing 90% of Bitcoin hashpower at the time being capable of showing up to the same conference panel, do quite a bit to scare people: