Trust Assumptions in Blockchains.
I remember I had once a conversation with somebody from Bitcoin community about trust. Conversation was around the fact that the whole point of cryptocurrencies was that they were created so that we don’t have to trust founders / foundations or organisations supporting them.
As we do know generally philosophically Bitcoiners are opposed to foundations, on chain treasury systems, anything that is not PoW, etc.
I have responded that different protocols have different trust assumptions at the beginning. When Satoshi mined BTC nobody knew he would not do a massive dump, even today we cannot be absolutely sure, albeit as more time goes by it is fair to say that probability for this to happen decreases.
This got me thinking about Cardano and what are our trust assumptions and why do we actually need to trust anybody here. I realised that everything has to do with technical development, business development and stages of decentralisation we have. Initially when everything is centralised you cannot count on anybody to help you, you need to start decentralising. In this sense while we have already decentralised block production, we still lack many decentralisation aspects, e.g. ability to vote in and out core development team, decentralised governance is in alpha stage and many more.
The reason that Bitcoiners don’t need to trust too much (only Satoshi) is because they are content with technical features more or less (Digital Gold 2.0 narrative) and business adoption is happening for them almost automatically through word of mount, media, etc. They reached high level of “business adoption”. However, technically speaking protocol develops slowly and some features won’t be developed for technical and philosophical reasons. I remember also Nick Szabo that said because Cardano has auto-update future it is centrally managed. He was referring to auto-update of Daedalus and this was in the days where we only had Yoroi and Daedalus wallets. Today nobody doubts that we have like 10 wallets and we do not rely on auto-update. However, what we do rely on is hard-fork combinator. Full decentralisation we will only achieve if one day we can vote in and out via blockchain voting we have companies building on Cardano.
If in Cardano we were content with the current level of decentralisation and no need to bootstrap centrally further (Emurgo, CF, IOG), we could also reach this stage. The question is whether there would be enough of enthusiasts with funds to support fast paced growth further. A careful Cardano enthusiast will say now, hang on a moment, isn’t that we have on chain treasury system?
Yes, we do, so at minimum we need one or multiple organisations administering those funds for Catalyst or Decentralised Consortium Fund (DCF). This in turn leads me to the fact that longer term this is probably one of the most guarded era(s) we need. How do we make sure that funds are not defrauded / spend correctly, no bribery, or simply squandered because they are public funds.
What I find astonishing is that none of Cardano community members (including myself) wrote an application where we could track exactly where funds from treasury system are being released. One could write a web application called: cardano-treasury.io where we could track all things happening and with off-chain data oracle or db we should enrich pay-outs to see where funds went. You can make it coarse grained or fine grained. Coarse grained is so that we would know which Catalyst funding round got funded, fine grained would be, which projects within Catalyst got ADA.
Summary, in initial stages every protocol has a lot of trust assumptions, as protocol decentralises more and more trust assumptions are removed or mitigated. While Cardano resembles a lot from traditional governments when it comes to governance, there are notable differences. We are aiming for 100% transparency to held each other accountable and developer public trust in the process. Cardano dReps (decentralised representatives that can be voted for Catalyst) can be chosen and you can delegate your voting power to them. If for some funds you do not want to do this, you can revoke your decision and vote on your own or vote for somebody else.
Cardano has a bright future but in order to bootstrap protocol of this ambitious and size we need to keep getting bigger in terms of community and decentralising operations. Relying long term on IO, Emurgo, Cardano Foundation will only cause issues because you can never service the whole world of needs out of 3 organisations. That is also not the aim. Having said that we, as Cardano Community, are hopefully that those 3 orgs help us work in the initial stages.
Last but not least decentralisation is not an easy task, we need to do this together, there is insane amount of work to do for everybody:
- business owners
- product owners
- data scientists
I can go on and on.
We at Cardano Fans maintain Cardano Blockchain Insights (https://datastudio.google.com/reporting/3136c55b-635e-4f46-8e4b-b8ab54f2d460/page/p_wxcw6g0irc), regularly open source code here: https://github.com/Cardano-Fans, run a CRFA stake pool, prepare ourselves to become Milkomeda validator, regularly tweet and educate, debunk Cardano FUD, write medium articles about Cardano. It is still nothing in the sea of needs. We need to join up forces. There needs to be millions of us building and contributing to Cardano.