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Considering Liquid Democracy

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Written by   283
2 months ago

Over the last three years, there have been many calls to change the decision making process in Bitcoin Cash. It is an inconvenient secret that the current process is "Amaury makes the final decision on all protocol matters." Often, people are not happy with his decisions.

His behavior has indeed been questionable with regards to HOW he goes about finalizing these decisions; although I trust the actual technical portions of the decisions he has made. Yet, there are demands for change, and if there is a better way to make decisions it certainly deserves consideration and effective effort to put the mechanism in place. As Thomas Sowell has said, "compared to what?" Demanding a change in process, without a concrete plan is a waste of everyone's time and energy.

Yesterday, I challenged the Bitcoin Cash Cryptocurrency Network participants to produce proposals for a better governance mechanism. Jonathan Toomim took me up on that challenge on reddit to argue for Liquid Democracy. I'm responding through read.cash to elevate the discussion from being buried in a reddit comment thread, to a top level discussion because of how much attention I believe the topic warrants. I also invite any others who are dissatisfied, with the current process, to discuss any other proposals in the same way.

Toomim's arguments for Liquid Democracy are reproduce here for clarity. Italicized sentences are mine from a previous comment.

Liquid democracy is what happens between coins already.

Very good point, I hadn't quite realized that myself.
Ultimately, any governance system within a coin should be based on the same principles that govern success/failure for the resulting coins in the event of a chainsplit. Otherwise, if one party has a relative disadvantage in the within-coin governance system compared to the post-chainsplit inter-coin competition, then they'd have an incentive to split just to get their voice heard.

This is similar to governance among nations being determined in a similar fashion to the likely outcomes of a hypothetical war. The UN Security Council's five permanent members aren't chosen arbitrarily: they're all military superpowers with substantial nuclear arsenals. They're given a disproportionate voice because they would have a disproportionate effect on any armed conflict that occurred in defiance of their voice.

And why is this process better than the emergent one that is already taking place?

Quick non-exhaustive list:

  1. Better granularity. It allows for the same process that ultimately dictates the fate of entire projects to also be applied in an efficient and low-friction manner to decisions within a project.

  2. Clarity of decisions. It's a quantitative method. It comes up with quantitative results. It's not ambiguous, not subject to interpretation. It's formally definable, and ultimately depends on cryptographic signatures on the blockchain.

  3. Less inertia. If someone in a position of authority unilaterally makes an epically bad decision, the community can make a rapid and specific response to overrule him on that specific decision.

  4. Conflict resolution and closure. Often, people who disagree on issue A will agree on many other issues. They will have more in common than they disagree on. Having the ability to make a clear and decisive group decision on issue A allows people to mark the issue as settled and move on. Often, this allows people to focus more on the things they can agree upon, rather than the closed issues they disagreed upon.

My response is as follows:

Ultimately, any governance system within a coin should be based on the same principles that govern success/failure for the resulting coins in the event of a chainsplit.

I don't agree with that. There are existential differences between how markets work and how software can be developed. In one situation a natural market can arise, in the other there is no mechanism to have a marketplace for "development" -- that is outside of paying effective labor (which is what is happening currently.)

Otherwise, if one party has a relative disadvantage in the within-coin governance system compared to the post-chainsplit inter-coin competition, then they'd have an incentive to split just to get their voice heard.

This is what I am trying to make clear. However, there is also a negative incentive of having to do a lot of work to make a fork, or new coin happen. Creating a fork or new coin is not trivial. It also causes a significant loss of network effect for both coins.

Right now it is clear that those people who want a change in leadership do not have enough incentive to actually carry out making that happen.

Better granularity. It allows for the same process that ultimately dictates the fate of entire projects to also be applied in an efficient and low-friction manner to decisions within a project.

Is this really true? There are a number of problems with implementing this process:

  1. In order to prevent sybils, coins have to be locked up over a period of the vote. This favors individuals who do need to move coins regularly.

  2. Making sure a reasonable quorum of users are paying attention is nearly impossible.

  3. Few users have the technical knowledge required to participate in such staking without new software being written - which is a significant cost in itself.

  4. It caries no executive power, or funding, for proposals, unless the staking is into a covenant that allocations an apportionment to the development.

  5. Roger Ver already tried something to this effect with vote.bitcoin.com, and other sites, have already tried this. It had no impact on the outcome of decisions because it caried no executive power.

And finally, and most importantly, Liquid democracy does not obviate the problems which the current emergent process solves. Without doing so, there will never be an effective mechanism to move to a change in the mechanism ofdecision making.

I tried to discuss these reasons in a previous article. However, it seems as if it has been largely ignored by those who do wish to change power dynamics within Bitcoin Cash.

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Written by   283
2 months ago
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Comments

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1 month ago

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1 month ago

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2 months ago

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2 months ago

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User's avatar Jim
2 months ago

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2 months ago

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2 months ago

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User's avatar Jim
2 months ago

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2 months ago

Excellent:

"I'm responding through read.cash
to elevate the discussion from being
buried in a reddit comment thread,
to a top level discussion because of how much attention I believe the topic warrants. I also invite any others who are dissatisfied, with the current process, to discuss any other proposals in the same way."


Absolutely brilliant.

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2 months ago

voter participation is solved by delegation.

executive power is solved by the chamber of miners (BMP).

funding is solved by flipstarter.

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2 months ago