A Red Herring – Peril of Consensus on the Blockchain


Stefan Thomas of Ripple labs got some attention today by claiming that the need for consensus among miners of a platform like Ethereum before they implement an upgrade will hamper adoption and use.  Actually, even the substitution of the term “consensus” for “majority”, telegraphs the actual intent of the communication.  If an upgrade advantages an ecosystem/platform one would expect that miners – who get rewarded as use of the platform expands – would be happy to install a good upgrade.  And we would hope they would reject a badly coded or illogical or unjust one.

I’m suspicious of this challenge to widespread use and adoption of an open blockchain, because I think it may be a disguised attempt to shift uninformed folks to using proprietary blockchains.  With proprietary blockchains, the vendors/owners can implement changes rapidly because they themselves vet the changes.  “Users” now become “customers” and customers are stuck with the new middlemen (not Visa or a Bank – but a vendor of a proprietary blockchain with a vendors inherent tendency to evolve into monopolies or oligopolies and milk the crowd/users of their assets.  In short, proprietary means closed and closed means higher fees paid by a user to a vendor.

This kind of misdirection is going to increase over the these next months as folks internalize the business process improvement potential of the blockchain.  I’m even seeing this in a portion of the herd starting to advocate for proprietary databases to ride on top of the blockchain and eliminate transparency of the data being housed.  If you appreciate the open transparent crowd sourced privacy protected permanent ledger the blockchain enables, put your effort and time and even money into expanding projects and platforms like Ethereum. 

 [linkedinbadge URL=”https://www.linkedin.com/in/stansmith1″ connections=”off” mode=”icon” liname=”Stan Smith Knowledgelevers“] is Co Founder at Kleverer.com