In favor of Decentralized Systems

decentralization Apr 9, 2022

The Cold war between Soviet Union and United States of America, was a war between ideologies. Soviet Union being the centralized ideology. Who believes in centralizing all money and power to a central point and using the coherence of centralized systems to win, also known as Communism.

The USA, being a capitalist nation, is relatively decentralized. It gives freedom to people, and doesn't take 100% of their profits.

During times of rapid acceleration a decentralized system, with its free nodes, groups innovate at a pace no other single centralized entity can compete with. The Soviet Union can tactically win wars but they cannot build Apple and Wikipedia at the same time.

Decentralized systems are more efficient

Decentralized systems are fundamentally more efficient and encourage explosive innovation, because there is no single person that handles "what to invest resources in". A centralized system decides everything for its workers. Wouldn't the world be better if we had not just one but five competing such centralized systems?

Moving these central points of authority from one to five makes the entire ecosystem explode with more ideas and competition.

This also makes decentralized systems more efficient because not everyone is doing the same thing. This is quite counter intuitive because in today's world where the word decentralized is often coupled with "blockchain" and the word blockchain is often coupled with "slow".

Decentralized internet protocols have scaled more than centralized ones. The Fediverse is a great example. Mastodon is federated counter of Twitter's centralized model. Mastodon has millions of users but the entire system is fueled by donations only. its because in mastodon there are multiple instances of mastodon, all decentralized and communicating to each other independently. So a single instance doesn't have to do much.

In the case of Bitcoin and "blockchain" the inefficiency comes in because of its requirement of consensus. Every node has to agree on everything for the network to proceed. Although Bitcoin and some other cryptos have levied this by moving to layer 2 solutions such as The Lightning Network that are federated and don't require consensus on the entire stack.

Final Thoughts

It gives me comfort that open-source won* not because people were suddenly woke enough to realize the threats of closed source software, but because open-source encourages open innovation. Everyone can do whatever the fuck they want. No friction to innovation.

Open and decentralized (permission-less) systems should therefore always win in the long run. The Web (decentralized) won over Gopher (centralized). Linux servers (open) won over windows server (closed). Today Science in the hands of many grows far more than Science in the past in the hand of few elites.

There's always new avenues for innovation to spill into. And there's no single person or leader who can operate a centralized institution that can recognize all such avenues.

We as a society should celebrate this. We should encourage more openness and decentralization, not only because of ethics, but because its tendency to yield an innovation explosion.

* I understand Open-Source didn't win in the tradition sense because most end consumers still use closed source software although the developer community is mostly open source now. Open source is MUCH more popular than before in avenues closed system were too blind to step into.

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ParmuTownley

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