Are Permissioned ledgers just a stepping stone?
I’ve spent the last couple of months wondering about permissioned vs un-permissioned ledgers.
While my heart, (along with many fervent redditors) tells me that the “complete system of aligned incentives” provided by the bitcoin network provides the core to an (almost) perfect immutable system of data recording, I’ve been concerned that I didn’t fully undestand the thoughts of some intellectual heavyweights such as Gendal and Blythe, who see opportunities in permissioned ledgers, despite some of the incentives structures lying outside of their system.
While this problem has provided a couple of months worth of debate and entertainment, I’m coming to the conclusion that the debate is (almost) completely pointless.
There are many benefits to permissioned ledgers, but the cost of immutability provided by the most popular unpermissioned blockchain is so low, that it makes sense for even a permissioned ledger to utilize it as insurance.
By using the same SHA2 technology that protects bitcoin balances, either the central point (i.e. permission giver) and each of the players in a permissioned blockchain can (and should) create a full hash of their blockchain and record it in the Op_Return. In fact I can see a future where permissioned ledger wallets/nodes vary their chatter to the decentralised network dependent on the level of risk they perceive in what they are doing.
By treating a permissioned blockchain as an coloured coin asset, this (almost) costless insurance will actually strengthen the immutability of the permissioned ledger, along with the prestige and reputation of the global blockchain.
Any rogue actor wanting to subvert the chain on a permissioned ledger would need to subvert not just the individual players on their own chain, but then also subvert the global bitcoin ledger.
(As a side point, the mathematics and statistics students of today have a safe future as very highly paid expert witnesses in future legal proceedings.)
While the bitcoin faithful may mourn the fact that this will delay the movement of global capital onto their blockchain, they should instead support it as the next logical step.
Once permissioned ledgers are up and running, with a decentralised blockchain as the insurance and once the vast opportunities which are available have been realized, then human nature will look for the next improvement. We’ll collectively look towards the inefficiency of differing currency forms of recording value.
Whether its bitcoin, ether or some as yet unknown coin, the benefits of standardisation of assets will take center stage at some point… Just not yet.