Standing Next to IOTA, the Blockchain is an “Inefficient, Imposing Mastodon”
Since the rise of the ICO phenomenon, a number of projects have emerged to propose the financing of blockchain-based solutions for organising new communities which are founded on sets of principles defined by its members.
The nature of these communities could be political or otherwise, but the political aspect inspired a piece published a few weeks back on ICOExaminer which discussed how blockchain technology appeared to be giving some strands of anarchist philosophy a new lease of life.
The article stirred up what was largely positive attention from within some anarchist circles. At the same time, however, one crypto-anarchist, going by the pseudonym jj-erin, felt compelled to reach out to us. “You’re wrong,” he (or perhaps she) said, ” … you should do some research on tangle technology; it is much more democratic.”
Consensus Costs Time and Money
Tangle is the concept which most famously underpins the IOTA project, a crypto-currency that is setting out its stake to define the impending machine economy. The IOTA white-paper states that tangle technology will “succeed the blockchain as its next evolutionary step.”
The blockchain requires incentives to be paid to miners to have transactions committed to its ledger. The natural outcome is that those who pay higher fees are given effective privileges in terms of transaction times, ” … meaning that the poor get sent to the back of the queue,” jj-erin tells me.
On the other hand, with the tangle concept there is a fundamental principle at work: there are no fees but, in order to benefit from the community, you have to contribute to the community, and you can even help define its principles.
“The blockchain is a little bit like the teacher at the front of the class who marks math homework,” explains Boxmining, a popular crypto-commentator; a blockchain teacher will go through and mark each pupil’s homework individually. On the other hand, a tangle teacher will provide a set of rules to each pupil in the classroom about how to mark the maths homework of his or her neighbour.
As a result, everyone in the classroom gets his or her maths homework results much more quickly. An added incentive built into the tangle protocol is that no pupil can expect to get his maths homework results if he at least doesn’t offer to mark someone else’s homework. This is true Anarchism at work, in its most Randian sense at least, where those who don’t pull their own weight are ignored by the rest of the network.
Another offshoot of the tangle protocol is that, as the number of participants in the network grows, work is more efficiently processed. This is in direct contrast to the blockchain where, as transaction numbers increase, the network slows. Another argument, perhaps, that anarchist-type cyber-communities will likely want to consider a tangle-based model of organisation.
Overall, ” … the blockchain is inefficient, inflexibile, imposing; it is actually a very conservative mastodon,” states jj-erin.
The choice, however, may already have been made. With claims that the tangle approach is quantum computing-proof, unlike the Blockchain for which quantum computing has been described as a Sword of Damocles, it may just be that the tangle will win out by simple default with the advent of qubit-based computers.