Thanks Vinay, a great summary of where we are and a nice intro for those discovering the space now. A few comments in regards to the following:
“There is no “Bitcoin Corporation” or “Ethereum Incorporated.” There are some charities which help write the software, but the actual networks are not run by anybody, any more than the internet itself is run by somebody.”
Theoretically, yes, but empirical evidence suggests otherwise... The internet most people experience today is practically ran by a handful of companies, in that the content they consume is filtered and distributed by a few. We can argue that is consumer choice but the fact remains the attention of the majority is managed by the few….
The original goals of HTTP were more inline with the goals we have for blockchains today — in that it was meant to disintermediate and allow everyday people to be their own newspaper, music label, content distributor, etc, etc. Some may argue, in the tone of Jaron Lanier, that it hasn’t met those goals and we’ve just replaced the old information monopolies with new ones.
Despite Ethereum’s, Bitcoin’s or any other Blockchain’s inherent decentralised architecture it is heavily influenced by a few. Even those that have made some attempts at endogenous governance (baked into the protocol) like Dash make it difficult for the majority of the participants to act in governance (currently €89,700 membership fee (1000 dash) at the time of writing this). Vitalik, an extraordinary individual who birthed this beautiful idea, we have to thank. But the DAO hack and the apparent influence he and the foundation had in this affair was both fortunate and concerning... If as you say we can’t ignore politics, and I agree with you. Then we should acknowledge that and start work on how we can build governance structures that safeguard the substrate we will all interact with for virtually any agreement or exchange, from any powerful individual or authority. A brief look on Ethereum foundation’s site reveals no constitution or rulebook…. If Vitalik is our leader — even if you meant it in the context of the circles you specifically function in — I would want some checks and balances to ensure WE can challenge and limit his power.
If Blockchains do indeed make it into the mainstream, and they will… The politics of Blockchains will be far more pervasive in our lives than that of the web. I can uninstall my Facebook app — refuse to connect with the Siren servers… It won’t be the case with Blockchain, where ones salary will be paid in any number of virtual currency or ones identity will be represented. As a community we need to start thinking about constitution and how we can enforce it socially and within the technology itself. Perhaps the Internet Of Agreements may touch upon this, I look forward to deep diving into it.
However, I can’t help but intuit that Cooperative governance, which is steeped in experience of decentralised governance (150+ yrs) could be the basis for such governance structures going forward, a mission I am personally on.