Increasing Decentralization on the Internet Computer

I’m still torn on the whole named neuron piece in general.

  • In order to be a named neuron you have to be voted in by the entire community vs just your potential followers who have the same ideas as you
  • Becoming a named neuron is just a blanket true/false legitimacy. There is no info on their expertise or ideas. And it will stay that way indefinitely unless purged from the NNS. What if they change people/go idle and start following someone else
  • Named neurons only affect the NNS dashboard, doesn’t change if they can be followed or any incentives. IMO someone should be familiar with an org/person and then be linked to follow them vs finishing their name on a list
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I don’t have the answer but a model around a dynamic web of trust/endorsements seems like it’s more sustainable, informative and up to date.
Also anything around incentives based on behaviors we want to see vs exclusivity (committee neurons) feels more web3/democratic. I hate the idea of bringing classic politics into the mix if we can build something better

Yes, it did actually happen…sort of…

It’s rooted in default following and the mechanisms that are already in place to decentralize the IC over time. All neurons were originally configured to follow DFINITY for All Topics. This occurred for every neuron that was created at genesis and every neuron created for just over a year after genesis. The All Topics catch all category originally included Governance proposals. Technically, no neuron was originally configured to follow any other neuron specifically on the Governance topic, yet everyone followed DFINITY for the Governance topic because of the design of the All Topics catch all category.

Proposal 34485 was a Governance Motion that introduced two important ideas: 1) disable default following for proposals on the Governance topic and 2) weigh the voting rewards based on the topic. It was overwhelmingly approved by the NNS governing body. DFINITY did not vote and no current named public neurons existed at the time. So DFINITY implemented the code change about two months later with proposal 44947, which was a Subnet Canister Management proposal topic of the NNS Governance Upgrade type.

ICPMN and cycledao existed at the time that proposal 44947 was submitted, but since it was a Subnet Canister Management proposal, neither public neuron carried any voting power that swayed the vote.
That proposal type falls into the All Topics Except Governance category, so 98% of all voting power in the NNS votes by liquid democracy when DFINITY votes. This part of the story is relevant because decentralization of the IC means that more proposal topics will need to be removed from the All Topics catch all. This cannot happen until there are neurons out there to follow that are capable of voting intelligently on those proposal topics. Nonetheless, DFINITY has clearly demonstrated that they are interested and willing to decentralize the IC and this is the mechanism that must occur.

Proposal weights is the part of this change that everyone talks about because it motivated people to configure their neuron for the Governance topic. When Governance was first decoupled from All Topics, DFINITY was still not voting. If they would have been voting, then people would have just configured their neuron to follow them, which would not have lead to any decentralization. They vote now on most Governance topics, but they have only gained back about 5% total voting power from the community choosing to follow them. They directly own just under 22% of total voting power, which is why they cast about 27% total voting power via liquid democracy when they vote.

The model described above that was implemented to partially decentralize the Governance topic will need to be followed again to decentralize all other proposal topics in the future. However, there will need to be neurons to follow that have the right expertise and commitment, which I believe means there will need to be new incentives. Default following was necessary to bootstrap the IC, but it will also create a relatively long transition to decentralization.