Too often we hear the likes of Blockchain could decentralise our system, to make things seem “fair” and “just”. There’s a reason we currently use a centralised system and this is a case for centralisation.
I believe it to be of importance that one studies both sides of a coin before judging which side is better.
If we were to decentralise power then society as a whole could vote on topics instead of having elected leaders vote for them. Because nothing bad happens when society votes for societies sake. Well, except perhaps Brexit and TK and TK
Decentralisation is the means to distribute power amongst many more power than those that previously had it.
When you distribute power, you start to take it away from smart people and give it to dumb people. Eventually in a fully distributed system society will have complete power.
Society is dumb. Instead of having professionals with 40+ years of experience and first class Oxbridge degrees we will end up with mums, fathers, young adults who’s only experience or knowledge of a topic is an article by The Daily Mail.
Society can be swung easily in whatever direction that is seen fit.
Take for example, Cambridge Analytica.
This quote from The Guardian sums up the issue nicely:
The data analytics firm used personal information harvested from more than 50 million Facebook profiles without permission to build a system that could target US voters with personalised political advertisements based on their psychological profile, according to Christopher Wylie, a former Cambridge Analytica contractor who helped build the algorithm. Employees of Cambridge Analytica, including the suspended CEO Alexander Nix, were also filmed boasting of using manufactured sex scandals, fake news and dirty tricks to swing elections around the world.
Cambridge Analytica used software to create fake news targeted at indivudals, a literal mass mind control programme. This isn’t one of those Black Mirror episodes. This is cold hard reality.
Society can be swayed so easily by shadow organisations such as Cambridge Analytica.
Let’s move away from the political term of decentralisation and into the technical banking term.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are psuedo-anonymous. You’re not entirely anonymous, you have an ID attached to your transactions and if you mess up you won’t be anonymous at all.
What does it feel like to know that every single person in the world can monitor your transactions if they so wish?
With a bank, you put your trust into one central system. You don’t have to worry that the FBI is going to track you down because you brought some narcotics online.
Okay, so let’s assume you don’t care about privacy. Someone hacks your phone, your computer and they have access to your Bitcoin wallet. Poof. Your moneys gone. Don’t worry though, you can just call up Mr. Nakamoto and get them bac… Oh. You can’t. That’s a shame. Well, with centralised-fiat money if your money is stolen from a bank account that’s the banks problem, not yours.
In the case of fraud, if you report it as soon as you assume it’s happened then you might only lose £50.
Let’s talk about a story. I was in Brighton for work once and I lost my debit card. I walked into my bank, explained the problem, showed them my ID and got enough money to live for the week.
Now let’s say you have some Bitcoin on a wallet on your hard drive. Your hard drive dies. Well, thanks to decentralisation your Bitcoins live, but you can’t access them… If it was a centralised system you would be able to call up Mr. Nakamoto and ask for them back - but you can’t.
Early Days of the Internet
Here’s what the internet used to look like. It was a purely peer to peer system. Let’s say you wanted to know what the HTTP protocol did so you look for documentation. Easy right? Just go to a search engine and.. Oh. No search engines? Okay. That’s easy. We’ll just ask every single device on the internet where we can find the documentation for this protocol. It’s easy because there’s so little nodes on the network.
Let’s say the network expands to 500 nodes and you all get sick and tired of asking every device if they have the file. So you put it on one single node and you say to every node “This file is at this node”. So now whenever you want to find a file, you just simply tell people it’s on this one node in the decentralised system.
Now let’s remember that saving is expensive. This is a really slow internet era. So saving files is expensive, so we try not to save files when we can. Which is why we don’t distribute the file and have every computer save it - hard drive space is precious in this time and so is the internet speed.
If everyone knows the file is at this node we don’t need to save it or remember where the file was, we simply just visit this node.
Another file is needed, but this time it’s on node 2. Not a problem. You simply tell everyone the file is on node 2. Still a decentralised system, just you know where the files are.
Eventually you get sick and tired of having to redownload this text file that tells you where all the usful files are, because hard drive space is precious and internet speed is slow.
So you choose a new node to have a single text file of every single file and where that file is. This node writes some simple code. You send a message to the node “Hey, I want to know where ACDC_Lyrics.txt is” and the node uses an algorithm to reply “Hey, no worries! It’s at node 6”.
So now whenever someone new joins the network and they ask “hey! Where can I find this file?” You just point them at special-searching node which points them at the node which has the file.
Eventually parts of the network get sick with having network requests 24/7 for files, they don’t want to constantly be giving out files. They’re also confused in their own mini-network. Does Tim’s computer have this file or Laurence’s? So they make a new node which only deals with files and they don’t have to deal with this problem anymore.
Everyone is really happy that they don’t have to save a textfile of every single file on the network, that they can just ask this one single node who only deals with searching to find the file and it does it for them. This saves them so much space and time and memory.
Parts of the network are extremely pleased that they no longer have to have their personal computers on 24/7 when they can just have this special file computer do it all for them.
Now this is currently the state of the internet. We have Google (our searching node) and companies servers (file nodes). Even though we made completely logical steps to make our decentralisd system better we ended up with a centralised system. At some point the internet stopped being decentralised and it became centralised which in turn improved the whole network.
This isn’t just some glitch. Humans very early on decided that the centralised internet would be better. Us humans, you and me, are prone to creating centralised systems.
Even Tor uses a centralised system.
Centralisation in Humanity - A deeper understanding
For as long as humanity has existed we have had centralisation. Giving all the power we have to one or a small group of people.
From Jesus Christ - the saviour of the world to Kings and Queens; governments, parliment. We’ve always had people ruling us, owning us, making decisions for us.
This hierarchy is so ingrained in our lives that even parents make decisions for you.
“Duhh that’s normal” you sigh. Yes, it’s normal for parents to have power over us. But as a metaphorical object it goes to show that we’re not only used to having singular beings being given power but that we want it. We want to give power to singular organisations and people.
Now before you try to put your parents on the blockchain, this is just an example to show how deeply ingrained this hierarchical structure is in our society.
Humanity didn’t just decide on this hierarchical structure, it naturally occured. This hirarchy that can be seen in all living things is the basis of life as we know it.
Decentralisation is truly the means to implement anarcho-communism on society and as much as people may say they want this equal and fair system - do they actually want an equal and fair system?
Let’s say you have a community of 10 people all living in a communistic society. No one rules over one another. They have 10 of resource X, which means that each one has one resource X. No one is “rich” and no one is “poor” but they all live an average life.
Without the means to be able to gather more of resource X this community would just live,breed and die. Without the power, the possibillitie of becoming slightly more rich by having more than 1 of resource X there is no reason for humanity at all. You’re born, you serve your community, you reproduce and you die.
Now let’s say that this society is different - it’s no longer communistic in nature.
Let’s say we have this setup:
Mr. Jones: 2 of resource X Mr. Mogg: 2 of resource X 6 normal citizens - 1 of resource X 2 people - 0 of resource x
Now because we have this hierarchical system in place where 2 people are considered “richer” than everyone else, this may just save society as a whole.
You see, Mr. Jones and Mr. Mogg are clever. They understand they can become rich, either by killing off normal citizens to get more of resource X (in reality this would be murdering people to steal their money) or they can attempt to make more of resource X. They hire the 6 normal citizens to make more of resource X. Let’s now say that Mr. Jones and Mr. Mogg keep 50% of the resource and 10 new resource X’s have been added to the system.
This means that Mr. Jones and Mr. Mogg now have 2 + 2.5 = 4.5 of resource X and they pay everyone who worked towards generating this resource. There are 6 people so 5 divided by 6 is 0.83.
So the setup now looks like:
Mr. Jones: 4.5 of resource X Mr. Mogg: 4.5 of resource X 6 normal citizens: 1.83 of resource X 2 people - 0 Of resource X
Now in a communist society you wouldn’t work hard to produce more of resource X than possible, because you all get the same share. Why work hard when you get nothing out of it?
But in this society, more resources have been added to the societal pool.
Now let’s say Mr. Jones and Mr. Mogg donate a small portion of their wealth, 0.5 each to the people with nothing:
Mr. Jones: 4.5 of resource X Mr. Mogg: 4.5 of resource X 6 normal citizens: 1.83 of resource X 2 people - 0.5 Of resource X
Because we have this evidently hierarchical system were some people are richer than others we also have this “goal” system where it is possible for a normal citizen to become very rich. They can have dreams and aspirations and if they work hard enough they might one day be richer than the normal citizen.
Because they work hard towards this goal, more resources are produced and because more resources are produced society benefits as a whole. Of course, the 2 normal people are poorer than your average normal citizen but for whatever reason we can assume that they are poor because they do not wish to work. They want to put in no work and have enough resources to survive on.
This system rewards hard work, it reawards ingenunity. Unlike in a communist system where hard work isn’t rewarded.
In a socialist setting where the resources earned by the hard workers is shared amongst people who don’t work hard you are discouraging hard work and promoting doing no work.
This hierarchical system is what exists today and it is what propells humanity forward. Without this sytem we wouldn’t have Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg. This system doesn’t punish doing no work, it rewards doing hard work.
“What does this have to do with technological decentralisation?”
With decentralised technology you can create applications that live outside of the realm of ownership. You can have a true democracy where everyone votes on changes to society. Well, you actually only need 51% of society to vote on something for it to become “fact”.
With our previous system which is what could be called “capitalism” you had one central body consisting of 2 people which dictated, rewarded and paid the lives of everyone else. We also saw how taking from the hard workers and giving to the no-workers punishes ingenuinity and hardwork.
In a technical system one person can create an application