On the Future of Decentralized Computing

Marko Vukolic, The Distributed Computing Column by Seth Gilber


Decentralized systems (e.g., blockchain systems) have the potential to revolutionize financial and payment systems, as well as the internet — for the good of humankind and planet Earth. This position paper aims at justify- ing this standpoint and at laying out a vision for the future of decentralized computing.

We start by revisiting the definition of decentralized systems, briefly sur- veying the literature on the taxonomy and di↵erent facets of decentraliza- tion. We complement existing definitions by proposing Inclusiveness as a critical facet. We argue that our notion of Inclusiveness rules out some pop- ular candidate technologies for a “base-level” (or L1) blockchain consensus, namely Proof-of-Stake, from replacing Nakamoto’s Proof-of-Work (PoW) as the base consensus technology of decentralized systems.

We further discuss why the high energy consumption of Bitcoin’s PoW consensus is not wasteful and why Bitcoin should be embraced as the money of the future. We then argue that future decentralized systems should aim at leveraging the “slow-but-very-secure” PoW consensus of Bitcoin, building systems on top of it rather than trying to replace it. Finally, we propose some open problems for decentralized cloud computing research.

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