Ethereum 2.0 Implementation: A Decentralized Process?

As an outsider to the Ethereum community, and for that matter the blockchain community, allow me to express my admiration, and even amazement, at an accomplishment that I would have thought was impossible: creation of a viable currency, exhibiting both fungibility and double-spend prevention, that is not issued by any central banking authority.

A big Bravo! for that accomplishment – and indeed for the blow it strikes against authoritarianism and for democratic governance of the world’s information infrastructure! This is truly a new age.

And yet a thinking person can’t help but wonder how a well-planned and managed process such as the staged transition from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake could be performed by a collection of unidentified individuals in a purely democratic and trustless process.

Are we to believe that Vitalik Buterin had no more to do with that project than any other holder of similar amounts of Ether? Was the Ethereum Improvement Proposal EIP-1011 just crafted by the Ether-holding masses in one big collective effort?

Well of course no one is suggesting anything of the sort. The fact is that decisions about Ethereum’s direction and day-to-day management are made by a core of individuals who understand its complexities. Might one say that those individuals are in… positions of… um… dare we mention the word “authority”? Isn’t this authoritative group central to the success of the effort?

Transactions can be managed by an algorithm. You could say that transactions can be governed by an algorithm. Again, before Satoshi Nakamoto’s famous paper, no one would have thought that possible, but the notion of fully automated authority-free currency transactions has proven itself to be viable in practice.

But Development and implementation efforts, unless they are performed completely by an AI, require decisions made by human beings who are in a position of authority to make those decisions. Those efforts must be governed. And as the decentralization advocate Lawrence Lundy-Bryan has noted, “There is no such thing as decentralized governance.”

There is good governance and bad governance and everything in between. The thing that has created all the energy behind decentralization is the incessant, habitual, compulsive abuse of power that we see coming from existing governments, corporations, and other institutions. Individual politicians, bureaucrats, parties and cabals incessantly look for ways to circumvent statutory and policy limitations on individual power.

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