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Join date : 2023-05-22

Starting The Public Discussion On Bittensor 'Governance' Empty Starting The Public Discussion On Bittensor 'Governance'

Wed May 24, 2023 3:43 pm
NOTE: In a recent interview, co-founder Jacob Steeves was asked 'What is the largest danger to Bittensor?' His answer was 'ourselves'. I couldn't agree more. This is my attempt to get the conversation started about how the community should begin the process of making 'common sense', coming to agreement on a shared reality in the context of the Bittensor Protocol.


“A new project has popped up that is threatening to overturn the lives of millions. With a name or an uploaded picture of a face, any sexual image on the internet is now indexed and searchable. Built on an unstoppable decentralized AI network called Bittensor, a website called ‘The Way Backside Machine’ is threatening to expose millions of people all over the world to embarrassment, broken relationships, and more at the click of a button. Governments the world over are trying to block the website and prosecute the makers of it but are having trouble finding the anonymous perpetrators behind the devastating site.”

This story is of course not real, yet. We can have little doubt that something like it will happen soon, however. When something like this does happen on Bittensor what will we, as a community, do about it? Re-delegate? Hard fork? Nothing? I don’t claim that I have the answer but I do think we have to talk about a process of communication now that will be integral for situations like this imaginary one in the future. Will that take the form of a DAO, community forum, citizens assembly? I do not know. All that I do know is that if Bittensor does achieve its goals as a global open source network for decentralized AI infrastructure it is extremely important to begin thinking about community sense making right now.

If the community can’t agree on a common course of action for upcoming challenges, the protocol will absolutely be at risk of destruction.

Below are some ideas concerning ’governance’ (community sense making) and an attempt to start the conversation in the context of Bittensor. The current incarnation of large DAO systems have failed to produce innovative change. The Dunbar Number seems to be a reason for this. Large DAOS that have not outright failed seem to have a few(less than 100) dominant members that hold the overwhelming majority of voting stake. These surviving DAOs have proven to be an accelerated, and at times comically grotesque, low poly mirror of our current inadequate governance structures. These organizational structures simply lose the trust of the wider community. Decentralization in the current blockchain space is a myth. As numbers of participants grow too large to create trust in a community, they devolve into existing legacy structures very quickly. The promise and potential of the blockchain medium in the context of community sense making has yet to be realized in any meaningful way.

In the abstract, I view trust as the only real exchangeable value/currency. All forms of value exchange flow from this basic idea, to what degree can an actor trust that his accumulated value will hold value over time in a given medium. Some forms of currency are physical embodiments of longevity(gold), others are forced upon us by threats of violence(fiat), and others still are etherial and based on relationships(the Chinese idea of Guanxi). If we are going to create a steady base for Bittensor (or anything else) to grow upon, we need to acknowledge the need for this trust and build communication structures that overtly promote the good kind of voluntary, verifiable trust as organizational scaffolding.

What blockchain and AI can do in this context of trust building is expand the Dunbar number using on chain behavior. The mechanism seems to be the theoretic positive aspects of a ‘social credit score’. Notice that I am not changing the name, because that is what it is. (See Note Below) The dystopian aspects have to be mitigated by anonymity, individual blockchain specific identities and other failsafes but this shortcut to trust is at the heart of creating new governance structures. It is happening right now with the blockchain sleuths like @zachXBT or potential employers asking for access to social media accounts. Think of it as the expanding of our evolutionary ‘village’ or clan to the nation state to the global digital world. But, the positive aspects and potential of this has been moving very slowly.

We as humans are now at the crossroads of these novel digital trust structures. Soon, we will have to make a choice to fight for a new vision of interlocking voluntaristic governance structures, or be enslaved by the arbitrary totalitarianism of the despotic ideologies of the past in digital form. Bittensor seems better placed than most protocols to lay the foundation of new ways to do things.

At the moment, Bittensor does not have a community DAO, fund or governance structure of any kind and is growing quickly. Not knowing the details, my guess is that the core contributors to the protocol are still less than the magic 150 number. Much less. There has been talk of a DAO or some other community organizational structure and I think it is wise to start talking about seriously of the form it might take.

A successful DAO/Community Organization needs two overlapping groups. A motivated, successful and trustworthy leadership class and many various lesser involved voluntary participants. I believe the above mentioned idea of ‘trust’ as value is the real driver for new participants and the most ‘sticky’ for participants and the health of the community when the inevitable turmoil arrives. So how to create that trust?

I would propose that the larger the power/influence of an actor in Bittensor the larger the expectation for transparency in regards to the issues surrounding the protocol. If the DAO is for governance of a protocol, the more influence an actor has over the protocol the more transparency on how they use that influence should be expected and demanded by the DAO/community as a whole. Expectations of transparency about large token movements, who controls large wallets, the philosophy and desired outcomes of influential members are lacking in the culture of most other DAOs and organizations to their detriment. Blockchain offers us an amazing and unique tool to create that transparency and verifiable trust structures. We should make use of it!

Importantly, I am NOT arguing for ‘enforcement’ of these ideas in any code. I am arguing from a voluntarist perspective. But there needs to be a discussion of what the influential members of the protocol believe. For example, censorship(where is the line if any), immutability of the blockchain (ex/ETC, or JUNO #16), respect or lack thereof for the laws of nation states, attitudes towards privacy and many more. Obviously ideas and opinions may change, but a conversation about these ideas needs to be held is a systematic way before the inevitable stressors are placed on the community. Bittensor needs to build a culture where trust structures are expected to be built into group communication. At this point, the stakes are growing and before long they might be very high.

(Of course, other obvious things need to be worked out if a formal Organization is to be created as well. The scope and purview of the governance, the make up of the organization, funding, checks and balances and all those good things. I give them a passing mention here as I believe that if the influential members of the Bittensor community introduce themselves sufficiently, those details will most likely be easier to work out. In any case, without more information about wiling participants there is not much more to be done right now in any case.)

Bittensor has the potential power to be world changing. We can all feel it. That same potential for creating a decentralized counter balance to the centralized dominant players in the AI space like openai will open it up to the risk of attack. The great design of the architecture of the protocol will give some resilience to the challenges ahead, but the most important strength of Bittensor will be the community’s ability for decentralized common sense making and common action. I hope this essay begins that process.  

I will finish with a few more thoughts about the example of the AI trained searchable index of sexual images. If pulled from the public internet, perhaps the challenges against it would fail. What if it included hacked/stolen material? Images of minors? Deepfakes? What would you think was the right course of action? Again, I don’t think anyone has the ‘right’ answer and that is not the point of this piece. My argument is that we have to set up a trusted system of community sense making so that the community can agree to course of action together when those challenges inevitably arrive. What form do you think it should take?

NOTE: I totally understand the power and the danger of the ‘social credit score’ and view what is happening in China overtly, and the rest of the world covertly, as a crime against humanity. I am a voluntarist absolutist. I also understand what we are facing and that an honest thoughtful conversation about the issues of somehow rating on chain behaviors is necessary. That conversation has not been had in freedom loving communities to our detriment. We should look at it squarely and discuss.

Last edited by Tea on Thu May 25, 2023 3:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
Posts : 2
Join date : 2023-05-22

Starting The Public Discussion On Bittensor 'Governance' Empty Re: Starting The Public Discussion On Bittensor 'Governance'

Wed May 24, 2023 4:11 pm
And just for transparency's sake, this is my address 5Ea3SzKR8gzcAjf1ECJ8Cm16PMNqPKqhtHfw3fWnkw1C3oTz. I have a smaller wallet as well and I am just passed 50 tao staked as I slowly move into a larger position here. I am an amateur that has been paying close attention since 2020. I do not make my living from crypto, or tech in general, and I belong to no organizations in the space. My goals are navigating a safe and meaningful path through these global changes to maximize the freedom for myself and my children. Hence, my interest in Bittensor. I am happy to answer any questions about my knowledge base or motivations, although I would prefer to remain anon for now.
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