Dan Larimer: 'Would You Prefer a Centralized Heaven or Decentralized Hell?'

Omar Faridi
  • 23 Apr 2019

Daniel Larimer, the Chief Technical Officer (CTO) at Block.one, a Cayman Islands-registered firm that publishes open-source software and is also involved in the development of EOS, a leading platform for building decentralized applications (dApps), has argued that even decentralized (or distributed) networks have centralized components.

Larimer, a computer science graduate from Virginia Tech, questioned whether users would “prefer a centralized heaven or a decentralized hell.” Clarifying what he meant, Larimer pointed out:

I think we need systems that are more decentralized than Bitcoin, EOS, and Ethereum. I also think we need more centralized solutions. I’m working towards enabling both sides to scale.

Struggling With “Mainstream Demand To Store Value In Non-Traditional Places”

Meanwhile, Brendan Blumer, Larimer’s colleague and the 32-year-old CEO of Block.one, noted via Twitter that regulators have begun to “understand” how blockchain technology works and why it may be useful. However, Blumer also said that lawmakers are “confused on how to handle the rapidly growing mainstream demand to store value in non-traditional places that are more aligned with individual belief systems.”

Interestingly, other prominent members of the crypto community have very different views or arguments regarding which blockchain projects may be considered decentralized (or centralized). Widely-followed Bitcoin (BTC) developer, Jimmy Song had explained in December 2018 what decentralization means.

According to Song, who used four questions (last year) to describe what decentralization means to him, cryptocurrency projects which raised funds through an initial coin offering (ICO) are not decentralized. The computer science graduate from the University of Michigan explained that ICO campaigns involve a relatively small group of people who manage a project’s funds, which basically makes them centralized.

Other factors which may lead to the centralization of a crypto project’s management include how its network upgrades are handled. For instance, Song believes that if a cryptocurrency “regularly” undergoes hard forks (backwards incompatible update), then this technically means the project is not decentralized.

Threat From Quantum Computers

While other members of the crypto community may not necessarily agree with Song’s views, there may be some technical considerations that software architects will have to address when quantum computers become sufficiently powerful.

For example, there are certain services such as email which may be easier to manage in the long-term as their administration is centralized. Analysts have noted that once quantum computers become a legitimate threat to the binary blockchains (and other online systems) of today, it will be easier to migrate centralized services over to quantum-resistant platforms - whereas the process of shifting decentralized networks to newer platforms may involve a significant amount of manual tasks users would have to perform.