Blockchain Governance: Programming Our Future
Fred Ehrsam

Before we get into it — first of all, Thanks for a long, well researched and greatly structured article. I bow in respect to the work you put in for all of us!

And I am with you (from my first month of understanding Bitcoin) — it is about governance!

But in detail, let me give you my point of view hoping it will add to your reflections:

I do not agree with your Bitcoin “check and balances” metaphor as it ignores the fact, that normal users are not aware what their software is doing in terms of signaling. They have downloaded a wallet!

Therefore the devs who create this software and add signaling to it control this part. Users only control using it or not — in a certain way we heard it before: “love it or leave it”

And as there is strong market share of one wallet software in Bitcoin, that’s the story of 2016 & 2017.

Miners have no means to issue political moves against the developers other than forking away from changes implemented by the developers. But as users just use wallets and are conservative — each fork is just another chain, but not Bitcoin.

Looking at this, it’s also interesting to note, that Dan Larimer once said, that Crypto communities once created get conservative and given his governance model in his Delegated-Proof-of-Stake (DPoS) systems, he found it easier to just create something new than to struggle with the community his own project had created and the conservative approach they chose (I think he said it in the EpiCenter interview…and I think he may only have tried to justify his break aways…but that’s what he said).

Another non Crypto way to look at this phenomenon Dan described is the noise made when e.g. Twitter decided to finally acknowledge we are not using it with sms (140 to 280) — what an outcry to a change by so many ambassadors of digital who laugh at the change adversity of their fellow analogue citizen …

Regarding Ethereum, I think that the last Casper papers I had read (hybrid (Epoche) instead of pure proof-of-stake (PoS)) proved that the Core developers of Ethereum are not sure anymore how to solve the Proof-of-Work (PoW) centralization dilemma (its actually the purest “capitalist monopoly/accumulation of capital” dilemma known since the 19th century…history and humanity make great jokes sometimes).

Because PoS (naive or not) has yet to prove its advantages over PoW.

In its naive implementation its worse in centralizing than PoW.

In all other implementations or concepts it (seems to me, it) has not been able to prove its sustainability over PoW in a real case (with a significant size of users (more than 2,000 globally).

So Ethereum now will be able to secure its chain with PoW and experiment with PoS using it as a finality measure (Epoche), while at the same time being able to validate PoS assumptions and concepts on a significant chain.

And that is really an accomplishment! Enabling validation without harming the running system.

But the “Vitalik issue” (the “The DAO” handling, his famous “I’m still alive”-image; all showing his power over the community) remains unsolved and therefore dangerous in my view. The Ethereum foundation seems also not set up to allow a lot of new/external input in regards to the original core team?

It’s also funny to note, that whatever you think of the project, DASH’s validated approach of creating a reward split (45% PoW miners, 45% PoS validators (masternodes) AND 10% for the funding of development & marketing) never gets acknowledged when looking at governance solutions…

I am really not sure, if it makes sense to look at Tezos’ claims as the last thing I heard was that they were not releasing the code as promised in their timeline? And I do not want to start talking about their naivety in respect to creating a Swiss foundation…

Futarchy at least as adapted by Ralph Merkle in the paper you cite, was not intended for a pure chain governance model, but that’s actually a very interesting idea to look at!

As a model for the governance of societies it lacks solving minority’s rights (e.g. as the “happiness index & incentivation” would have risen and all would have been great — during the 3rd Reich for the majority — minorities were being terminated).

Utilitarian solutions put into mathematics or code can be dangerous for societies!

But as your article is about Blockchain governance I probably need to re-read Merkle’s paper in that perspective.

I think the liquid models have a similar issue for societies, and for chain governance I do not see a big difference to DPoS depending on the voting schemes?

And then there is this notion, that we may have to look into directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) as well as first IOTA and now Hashgraph seem to hint, DAGs could propose solutions to (until today) Blockchain immanent challenges?

Again — thank you so much for your great article!