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Decentralization
In general, most Bitcoiners (BTC and BCH) agree that Bitcoin is a highly secure network that is immutable and robust. You would find it incredibly difficult to change past transactions or disrupt network communication. The main point of contention comes when discussing “miner centralization” of the network, where BTC proponents argue that scaling Bitcoin on-chain centralizes the network. However, what does centralization actually mean? Think back to the beginning of this article when we discussed Twitter. The number of followers was not as important as how connected the followers are. Graph theory classifies “decentralization” not by the number of nodes in the network, but by the interconnectivity of the network. Information fed into a decentralized network is dispersed and accessible rapidly by any node connected in the network.
We can take the small-blocker argument of “decentralization” to its logical conclusion and break down why it is not rooted in any academic sense of the term. A network with one million nodes with two edges between each node is no less decentralized than a network with one billion nodes with two edges between each node. There is no added decentralization with the addition of new nodes. Decentralization, when studied in academic circles, means the interconnectivity and distributed nature of the network. If a node on the other side of the world has information that I want, there is no added benefit to me as a node in the network to have one billion nodes within the network; what matters more is the ability to access and relay information all the way across the network quickly and reliably.
Imagine you are a journalist and a source hands you a bundle of sensitive documents that a very powerful government would not like to release to the public. You are fearful for your life, but most importantly you are afraid that something may happen and the information will be suppressed. You rapidly spread the documents to as many people as you can, but you want to get a hash of the documents spread to the entire world so that they can verify the authenticity of their copy and prevent tampering. You have about $20 of Bitcoin in your wallet. You have three options:
To publish a hash of the documents on your Twitter account for free.
To publish a hash of the documents in a Lightning Network transaction using the channel you have open with the Walmart down the street. You can’t afford an on-chain transaction on the BTC network because the mempool is clogged and the fees are $40 to be included in the next block.
To publish a hash of the documents in a Bitcoin (BCH) transaction embedded in OP_RETURN for less than a penny.
In what scenario do you choose 2 over 1 or 3? Since your goal is to get the information spread as rapidly as possible, let’s examine what can happen in each scenario:
Your 5,000 twitter followers see the hash and scroll past it. 100 of them are interested and take a screenshot. Within 30 minutes, Twitter takes the tweet down. No one archived the tweet, and all that is left are 100 random computers across the globe with a screenshot of the hash with nothing to prove the tweet actually existed.
You make a Lightning Network transaction and it routes through 5 well-connected hubs. Within minutes the nodes are DDoS’d off the network and your transaction only made it to 100 Lightning Network nodes. There is no record of the transaction in an immutable ledger, and thus no proof the transaction ever occurred.
Your Bitcoin (BCH) transaction is spread to every mining node across the globe in two seconds or less and every user (SPV wallets, merchants, etc) can see it immediately. The government attempts to DDoS every mining node in the network using all the computing power in the globe, and takes 70% of the network down. Miners continue to produce blocks. Your transaction (and therefore the hash) is embedded in the Bitcoin blockchain for the entirety of history for all to see and access.
Which of these scenarios outline true decentralization of a network?
The mathematical and academic arguments referenced in this article prove that we are witnessing the evolution of one of the most revolutionary networks ever created. It is not a network that needs to be planned or fixed, but one that introduces boundless opportunity to the world through highly innovative methods of connectivity. The principles of complex social network topology should make us all comfortable with the fact that all nodes are not to be treated equally in the Bitcoin network. The hierarchical structure of Bitcoin contributes to the robustness, searchability, and diffusive capacity of the network. It is time we embrace the Bitcoin hierarchy, and use it to create a truly decentralized world.