Keywords/phrases: Governance problems which have allowed skeptics in the media to latch on to the failures of decentralised systems. Decentralisation isn’t a Boolean, it’s a range. Is it much more decentralised than anything we’ve built before, including its governance? Yes. You will not notice that developers and miners really don’t have control to effect change until something goes wrong, until there’s a highly contentious issue. They may want to offer a straightforward, direct, and simple solution, but the system won’t let them do that. Lead developers can make limited decisions about what they include in the code, but with blockchains you can either have opinions or continue to make money; if your opinions get too strong, you stop making money. Governance in these systems is tricky because by making those explicit trade-offs, we get liberty. If you want to have quick / simple / easy solutions, you will elect a dictator. The trains may run on time, but the destination might be a death camp, an efficient operation for killing people. Democracy is incredibly inefficient, but we practice it anyway because we appreciate the trade-offs that it gives us: self-expression; self-determination; freedom of association, of religion, of consciousness. Governance in network-centric systems are open to permissionless access and innovation, systems which exhibit a very high degree of autonomy and censorship resistance. The price we pay is that our debates are loud, messy, and sometimes don’t end, because there’s no centralised authority to filter everyone’s opinions; that’s how corporations and governments run. We’ve tried that, and if we want that kind of money, we have that kind of money. The bottom line is that this not an accident, it’s an explicit trade-off: efficiency is the price we pay to buy liberty. I will pay that price because I can apply engineering optimisation to efficiency; Bitcoin and Ethereum were the first times I could apply engineering optimisation to liberty.

This is part of a talk which took place on Sep 18th 2016 for the Silicon Valley Ethereum meetup at the Institute For The Future in Palo Alto, California:

West vs. East: The Consensus Balance of Power –

Do miners control consensus? –

Andreas M. Antonopoulos is a technologist and serial entrepreneur who has become one of the most well-known and well-respected figures in bitcoin.

Follow on Twitter: @aantonop

He is the author of two books: “Mastering Bitcoin,” published by O’Reilly Media and considered the best technical guide to bitcoin; “The Internet of Money,” a book about why bitcoin matters.



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