Leaderless consensus…possible?

The world is structured in one way.

Technology is now trying to make it change.

Our society, our financial system, work, play, interests…all have traditional been centralised. There is one key decision maker at the top, and this filters down to everyone else. From the head of the family, to the head of government, central decision making has been key to our flourishing as a species.

Take government for instance. We vote to select representatives who can then take decisions on our behalf. The more number of decision-makers, the longer it takes to make a decision. And in most cases, a consensus cannot even be reached, if there are too many people who have the right to veto.

Finance – centralized again. We use a central bank to issue fiat currency as legal tender, with little backing other than the government that stands behind it. Money is transferred globally through banks – again – central nodes that enable instant transfers by processing thousands of transactions per second.

Even something as nuclear as a small family has a head who takes decisions.

And then comes along the blockchain (revolution). Decentralisation is it’s key mantra, democratisation is at it’s core. Decisions can be made by multiple nodes along the way, and the ‘chain’ verifies transactions – the more nodes the better.

To draw an analogy, it’s like you going to an ATM to withdraw money and, when you key in your PIN, a hundred people around the world verify your transaction ( identity, cash in account etc.) instead of the system at Emirates NBD. Or, a society where every bill is passed not by elected representatives, but by literally everyone (if the blockchain is robust and scalable enough).

This is truly radical thinking, and can change our world in a very fundamental manner. While a lot of us identity blockchain only with Bitcoin, there are many applications of this technology that can bring a revolution to multiple sectors – completely change them as well.

Want to know more? Am part of a panel discussion tomorrow that speaks of the Blockchain Trilemma (google it to know more) – and it is an interesting discussion! Try to be part of it.

But this post is not a plug. Leaderless consensus reminded me of Sanātana Dharma. Thousands of devās, hundred of sects, many many ways of worship, and let there is a consensus. There is a commonality.

There has never been a centralised decision mechanism in this “land of seekers”, as the Happy Guru says. Everyone worships their own way, everybody has their own personal method. Yet, sanātana dharma has flourished for thousands of years, with no central body governing it, with no single point of leadership. Rituals got diluted, and varied with time, but the essence still remained the same, fresh as always.

Maybe sometimes you don’t need leaders. All you need is a robust system, time-tested and with deep roots. The branches find their own way, and the leaves know how to grow and prosper. And the tree stands the test of time.

Leaderless consensus – has been a feature of Bhārata for thousands of years.

See you tomorrow!