This year, I got to be a part of the developer community of a cool new crypto project initiated and driven by the LatticeX Foundation called PlatON Network, which is a next-generation Internet infrastructure protocol based on the fundamental properties of blockchain and supported by their privacy-preserving computation network.
They were hosting a Dev Talk on Decentralization where I gave my views along with some opportunities and challenges involved in the subject of discussion which was decentralization.
Below, I try to address the topic in a brief note.
What is decentralization?
Decentralization refers to a system where there is no single centralized authority that makes decisions on behalf of all the parties. Instead each party, also called a peer, makes local autonomous decisions towards its individual goals which may possibly conflict with those of other peers. Peers directly interact with each other and share information or provide service to other peers. An open decentralized system is one in which the entry of peers is not regulated. Any peer can enter or leave the system at any time.
Why is decentralization necessary?
Decentralization solves trust issues by empowering multiple participants to manage a network. Users don't have to trust a central authority, and protocols are designed to prevent bad behavior. Decentralization allows participants to have fair participation and opportunity in a network.
The biggest opportunity with decentralization is being able to break free from the monopolies of today who have a great access to all our data and exploit it for profits. In decemtralized systems, users ideally own their data and use it in a way that preserves their privacy. Users can participate in a trustless and permissionless way which gives the power of inclusivity and equitable opportunity.
One of the biggest challenges of Decentralization is to achieve true Decentralization in the first place. No system is a 100% decentralized, with some tradeoffs being made across the crypto ecosystem between decentralization, trust, efficiency, speed, and scalability.
While Bitcoin and Ethereum are the biggest network with the most decentralization with their POW consensus mechanism, they are slow.
This is why many solutions to solve the problem of scalability with newer consensus models like POS where participants stake their assets to be able to qualify as validators. There, a network with too few validators compromises on decentralization.
Another challenge is dependence of centralized services which can pose risks of being single point of failures. For example, validators often run full nodes in a cloud provided by a third party. If these cloud or node service providers go down, this could bring down the network. This had happened with Ethereum when Infura went down because of faulty update on a hard fork.
Moreover, over 50% cost of cloud services comes from storage. With the increasing of blockchain data, the cost of validator arises. Therefore, reducing the size of storage is important for validators to reduce cost and further maintain the security of the network.
This is where PlatON seems promising with the privacy preserving framework. The vision of PlatON 2.0 is to build a decentralized and collaborative AI network and global brain to drive the democratization of artificial general intelligence.
With technologies like Zero Knowledge Cryptography, Proof of Storage and other innovations, they are aiming to make PlatON a secure and reliable blockchain to develop the future of digital economy. PlatON offers a high speed of validating transaction with a specially designed PPOS consensus architecture with a large number of validators, which makes it better compared to many existing blockchains which have a very few set of validators.