Transparency within the Dfinity Foundation

Hi @tsetse I would have the same question as Diego. What’s your concern here?

Are you concerned about conflict of interesest where DFINTY employees give resources to certain projects of which they have a personal stake?

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Yes, @diegop , @zire , mainly grant giving, but also influencing votes that assist particular projects, publicising them more prominently than competitors and so on.

Well you have been nothing but professional here. I don’t think I want to continue this conversation anymore.

Thanks for the response

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I can only speak for myself. I DO NOT have any stake in any IC project because I feel this is a conflict of interest for my role as a member of the grant committee. I am waiting for SNS where I would get an opportunity to participate in IC projects alongside everyone else.

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This is a good step forward:

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I want to thank @tsetse for raising these questions. They are ones I also raised several months ago, going through the exact same steps, finding (and translating) the same docs. I think like @tsetse, I was genuinely hoping to find some great answers, something I could use to settle my growing doubts and commit myself, my money and my dev skills to making ICP flourish.

I did not quite get the responses you have, and you did not get the pushback I met, and it gladdens me to see the community moving forward in this way. I see similar shifts in people questioning other elements I questioned then, and being met with resonance, rather than an instinct to call FUD and do away with unpleasant cognitive dissonance.

But much as I appreciate @diegop’s brave attempt at damage control (I feel for him in the circumstances) I don’t think this long thread has moved the discussion forward one iota. It’s been responsive and polite and “we are all friends” and “hope that was clear, let’s just stop thinking about this now and get back to talking about how great ICP can be”. But I don’t believe a single one of your questions has been satisfactorily answered any more than mine. So having been reasonably gentle and watching the wheel come back round, and 76 answers later no movement forward at all (perhaps a couple of movements back) I ask your indulgence if I allow myself a little bit more emphasis and directness this time.

For all the tone of normality in the replies (“just boring bureaucracy”), the fundamental fact is anything but normal, and boils down to this: the great society-decentralising, trustless agent, Dfinity, has exactly 2 people in absolute legal control. Dominic, and a stand-in lawyer required by Swiss law. So make that 1 guy (and his token Swiss lawyer).

1 guy. In total, absolute control. Can shut down Dfinity tomorrow. Can replace anyone. Can veto any project. Or shape it. Can implement a backdoor (not saying there is one, just speaking to the power of his position). A single monarch of Dfinity, as an evangelist of the utopia of decentralisation. Cognitive dissonance anyone?

People will shout “alarmism!” “conspiracy theory!!”, but it is not. It is, to paraphrase Diego, a boring, bureaucratic fact. When you concentrate the power of the CEO and the power of the Board in one person, and your articles of association do not incorporate checks and balances (annual reports, financial disclosures, minimum board numbers, rotations, conflict of interest rules and registers, etc, etc, etc) you give absolute power to the CEO. When 1 man alone (and his token Swiss lawyer) is the board, the CEO and the Chief Scientist, without constitutionally mandated public information flows, you’ve taken a legal structure designed for accountability, and turned it into the emperor’s new clothes.

“But it’s a non-profit!” I hear a believer shout. Doesn’t that make him one of the good guys - or rather the single good guy (and his token Swiss lawyer)? What’s the worry about the concentration of so much power, influence and commercial intelligence in a single person, if they can’t profit from it?

Well, here are some questions:
Who decides Dom’s non-profit salary and benefits?
Dom does.

Who knows what Dom’s salary and benefits consist of?
I can’t guarantee it, but I would be astonished, given the general approach to transparency, if anyone beside Dom and the token Swiss lawyer knew. What really matters, is that if Dom doesnt want to disclose it to anyone in Dfinity, he doesn’t have to.

If Dom wants to fund projects he might derive a personal interest from, say via friends, family or proxies, could he?
Why, yes, he could.

If he did fund projects he, his loved ones or proxys benefit from, would he have to disclose it to anyone, inside or outside Dfinity?
Probably, to the token Swiss lawyer. That’s it. He wouldn’t even need to tell the token Swiss lawyer that it’s a personal associate, just: “we’re funding this.”

Does anyone know if Dom has any ties to the early ICP rug pullers who made the billions?
No one can ever know. We do know there is no legal, consitutional or administrative process that would lead him to verifiably tell us.

Is there one, single, tiny check or balance on Dom’s ability to benefit from sole control of Dfinity in ways direct and indirect?
Nope. As long as he doesn’t obviously break the law, there are no constraints.

The entire philosophy of the blockchain is trustless transactions. Is it not ironic that the entire organisational, financial and legal philosophy of Dfinity is “trust Dom, he is a dom, but he’s our Dom”?

You may think this is hyperbole. But this was precisely the answer to the question of legal, financial and institutional transparency that opened this thread.

“we have been advised that since we are living in a world of highly-financed bad actors launching surreptitious attacks and FUD, we have been advised to hold off on financing info.”

= “sorry, you will never know what goes on with our finances.”

That makes absolute sense and is pretty boring and conventional. For a small commercial entity. In some jurisdictions. Sometimes.

(Shhh. Don’t mention that there are of course plenty of businesses, including the biggest ones, living in a world of even better financed competitors eager to launch attacks and FUD. Who nevertheless publish their annual accounts.)

There is a HUGE zone between “we will keep sensitive financial info confidential”, and “we will disclose not a single fact about our finances to the thousands who have poured their savings and energy into our project”. That HUGE zone, occupied by every listed company, as an example, and 99% of smaller companies in UK for example, doesn’t exist for Dom, and therefore for Dfinity, since, legally and constitutionally, Dom’s will, is Dfinity’s will, no ifs, no buts.

Who is the “we” and who is the advisor here?

This model is not unheard of in private businesses. It might not get you a responsible business award or qualify you as a B-corp: but it’s a common way of running a private company. But Dfinity is not a private company. Dfinity, for all the money it manages, the VC funding it attracts and the startup feel of its operations, is (meant to be) a non-profit entity. Ask most non-profit foundations in the world (I run one and advise many): Dfinity’s total lack of financial transparency, their one person governance, their absolute absence of governance checks and balances, is not good, or even normal, non-profit governance.

“Yes there is a board. It really is no different than other Swiss foundation boards. Dom and Gian Bochsler are on the board. Why is it not on the website? They are both in the “leadership” tab of https://dfinity.org/ . Is it obvious at first glance? No, I do not think so. I take blame here as the new manager of the website team.”

Nothing to see here folks, it’s just a website issue. Should have added a mention in the about us link. Sorted. This is exactly how non-profits work. Boring, normal stuff.

Is it really though? Find me a multimillion dollar non-profit with hundreds of employees and complex financial operations, who has a single person on the board (and the token lawyer), who also happens to be CEO. It is pretty rare in the non-profit world, and they tend to wear shirts that say “I’m sketchy”. To be fair to @diegop, this internationally extremely rare breed of non-profit tends to be found in Switzerland, for the same reason other birds of “sketchy” financial plumage are observed in that habitat: secrecy laws.

" Yes, the foundation has all the paperwork, meeting minutes, etc… of a Swiss non profit. Tbh, pretty boring stuff."

Sounds normal. Apart from the fact that it is not really that normal, for the minutes to consist of whatever Dom (and his token Swiss lawyer), decide to write down. Do the minutes state any bonuses the board decides to award its CEO? Let’s ask the CEO, who is the only member of the board (with his token Swiss lawyer). Do they state what projects money will go to? Who knows? Who cares? Who gets to read the minutes?

If you were the only member of your company’s board (with your token Swiss lawyer), how often would you arrange to meet yourself? How would you handle disagreements with yourself? Would you put it to a vote? I suspect those board meetings are, as Diego puts it, boring indeed, and very, very quick.

Asked by @tsetse if Dfinity are aware of the reputational costs of zero transparency, @diegop replies:
“DFINITY definitely very much aware. We know it is a painful, painful stand DFINITY has.”

It definitely must be painful to Dfinity staff sent out to defend the indefensible. And I am sure Dom is very, very aware. After all, he could have chosen any jurisdiction to build his non-profit. He must have searched hard and wide until he found the single most secretive jurisdiction that would legally entitle him to run a foundation as a sole board member (with a token Swiss lawyer) with absolute control and, precisely speaking, zero accountability.

But I don’t think it’s painful for Dom, let alone painful, painful. I think it’s actually quite nice for him really. He doesn’t even have to answer himself, because, as Diego explains, this doesn’t meet the “super-important” C-level threshold. The current situation, for Dom, is a carefully curated feature, not a bug. I have founded many non-profits, local, national and international. I have worked with over 1000. I can tell you that you don’t achieve such lack of transparency and accountability, with such singular control over so, so much money, without serious effort.

Astonishingly, Diego’s answers did not end the questions. Some people bizarrely still wanted to know how to find out whether Dfinity was solvent enough to keep running, to decide whether to invest. Absurd right?

@zire then chipped in.

"FWIW, I just wanted to say these:

We have sufficient means to support the team. Nobody has missed any pay check. I think we’re well positioned to live through this crypto winter"

Ah good then. Let’s carry on creating our trustless system. After all, that was pretty much the same thing SBF said about FTX a few days ago, and it worked out for them. Wait.

“Dom is not a conventional leader by any means, but he’s our Dom… As an employee of DFINITY and a believer of IC, I’m betting on him.”

So that’s what the entire legal, financial and ethical structure of Dfinity boils down to: be a believer, gamble, and make Dom your dom.

Finance records? Who needs them to invest:
Believe, gamble, follow your Dom.

Conflicts of interest? Who needs checks and balances:
Believe, gamble, follow your Dom.

Unlimited authority? Who needs observability into the decision making process or even the decisions themselves:
Believe, gamble, follow your dom.

The problem, to close the circle and return to the origin, is that every single non-technical decision taken by Dom speaks to a lack of trustworthiness. Out of all the institutional frameworks, he shopped for jurisdictions worldwide until he found maximum control, maximum secrecy, and minimal accountability. He then oversaw a launch that displayed the fastest inflation of a currency, the buying of currency from his own employees, a set of demonstrable, universally acknowledged but still shadowy transactions that made people billions, precisely when 99.99% of investors were locked out and could only yearningly watch; before plummeting just as the lock expired at a rate far exceeding that of the wider crypto market and in rhythms that tracked precisely with the movement of ICP coins during and after the lock-in.

I don’t think it’s FUD (“heretic!”) to question, in a collective endeavour to build a decentralised internet why Definity (ahem Dom) choses to structure itself as an uber-centralised pyramid calling the shots with a single man at the top with absolute no accountability and zero checks and balances.

I don’t think it’s FUD to question why in a beautiful project to achieve a trustless economy, Dfinity (ahem Dom) chooses to operate entirely on trust, or really, more accurately, entirely on faith in our benevolent leader (he may be Dom but he’s our Dom), that requires everyone whose investments and life goals are tied to the project, to just say “whatever you say” to their Dom, particularly when Dom has not given any sign of being particularly worthy of retail investors’ financial or institutional trust. Who needs an investor’s trust when you can have a believer’s faith?

In closing, I just want to emphasise the key word in my last two paragraphs: choice. Dom is not tied by some existential constraint. No FUD goons are pinning Dom to his chair. In one instant, he could add seats to the board. Include ICP investors, creators, advocates. Literally in one instant. He could tell his token Swiss lawyer: please copy and paste the statues of 99.99% of non-profits and reword for our purposes. Voilá. Checks, balances, accountability, and trust, for when faith won’t carry you.

It would take an hour with a financial advisor to say: what information can I share without risking the future of Dfinity, ICP and the planet? And then ask his accountant to share it. It might actually take 15 mins of his time, since there is not exactly a lack of examples to draw on for public financial disclosures that miraculously have not destroyed the companies making them every year.

@diegop wrote: “No one has answered this thread for boring bureaucratic reasons.” I think this remains the case. The bureaucratic reason of a non-profit with Swiss jurisdiction with a sole person of significant control, who has no interest in sharing with anyone any facts whatsoever that could curtail his ability to do, say, pay others or himself, exactly as he pleases, with zero external visibility outside of what he himself curates.

The ethics of it aside, and that’s an unbridgeable aside for me, I don’t think this is either viable or sustainable. I think, with the many fragilities around ICP ecosystem centralisation, node concentration and inflation, voting power concentration, acknowledged gaps in data protection, environmental impact of a costly architecture, and other tricky, but perhaps solvable stuff, the current institutional and legal structure, privileged and opaque information environment and Dom’s unrestricted, unaccountable, secretive and ethically compromised position of absolute authority; coupled with the irrationality of crypto belief (as opposed to trust and verification); are existential risks that don’t bode well for Dfinity, ICP, and specially ICP’s investors (as if the devaluation was not enough indication!).

I also think, whether Dfinity and ICP thrive, or crash and burn in the future, Dom will be just fine, and profit from the outcome. Leaders in his position tend to implode from the cummulative impact of character choices, not a particular set of logistics, and thrive until the moments before implosion. Just ask FTX.

I genuinely love the concept of the Internet Computer. I hugely appreciate the extraordinary brain power, innovation, creativity and community. It is deeply seductive, because I want to believe. I am perhaps somewhat shielded by the lack of a personal profit motive: I’m not imagining myself an ICP millionaire in addition to this wonderful project.

But if I replace the urge to believe, with an urge to trust and verify, then I find this fantastic, inspiring structure resting on a foundation of cards. Probably bank cards. Probably Dom’s and a small circle. Probably not (any longer) in ICP. And one character flaw away of taking the whole thing down.

I’d like to be wrong, and I’d check against the facts, if only one could, beside Dom. And his token Swiss lawyer.

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I’d have upvoted this 100 times if I could, it’s sad your initial inquiries were met with a poor response and since then you have moved to other projects, we need more people asking tough questions and less of the “It’s alien tech” style of propaganda I often see in IC’s circles.

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Speaking of transparency I’d like to know why the ICA’s VP has almost tripled since September and is the highest it’s ever been, last AMA with Dfinity made it look like the ICA was kind of a failed or paused experiment and it didn’t do much at this time, but somehow they now have 3 times the VP they had on the 25th of September (5.4mil to 16.9 mil).

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Thank you for your much needed criticism of DFINITY’s lack of financial transparency in this current financial climate.

Even if @diegop and DFINITY fail to produce any financial documents, hopefully people in the ecosystem read your thoughtful post, realizing that given the financial secrecy and single party rule of DFINITY, they are undertaking insanely high platform risk by building on the IC.

Maybe this is also why developers are having so much trouble integrating with traditional businesses - why would a non-crypto business take on that type of risk with their product or data?

Even if the “tech” is novel, the finances and ownership of DFINITY are a big part of the reliability and redundancy of the IC (even though DFINITY is not the IC).

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I have to say, it’s amazing how sentiment and discourse have shifted in the last 8 months! I was stunned when I first raised these and more technical issues (see my post history) that they were somehow novel or unusual. And the reactions really different. On several threads now I’m seeing people return to these questions and the community engaging with them with maturity and seriousness. If anything bodes well for ICP, is the growth in these kinds of responses. It gives the system a capacity to adapt. When feedback loops face hermeticism at the top, and uncritical assent at the bottom, with the middle not minding, they essentially collapse, and the system quickly becomes maladaptive. Cognitive dissonance is a very useful warning system, to assist in course correction. When you keep it at bay, either burying the information, or your own head in the sand, you’re cruising for a bruising, in my experience.

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I think the problem with this is the “because I feel”. That is laudable of you, and as it should be, but it shouldn’t be left to dfinity employees’ discretion. What if a colleague does not “feel” they should not benefit from a project they decide to fund? What if on the contrary they “feel” like tipping the scales to benefit a friend, relative, or independent business venture? Conversely, what if you discover accidentally that a project you approved had one of your relatives as an investor? How would you protect yourself against accusations of self-dealing, in the absence of transparent procedures you can point to and say “see? I did things impartially, and awarded them the same as all the others, following our published and vetted process”.

These things protect both, the community, and the people involved in awarding the money.

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Is it? These are great tweets. Where are the processes? Where are the binding, institutional rules that would make non-compliance an enforceable breach? What if in 2 months’ time he changed his mind. Would he tweet about it? What if he absolutely follows through: only buys Dapps publicly. Declares an acquisition. Does this cover acquisitions by third parties in which he owns a stake? He only holds ICP in his own name. Does he hold 10 other currencies through a company? In a trust? In a relative’s name? Far more important, is there absolutely any rule in Dfinity that would make the above an enforceable breach? What is your own instinct?

Here is an example. In 2017, Dom was both the head of Dfinity, and the CTO of String Labs. Dfinity raised c.$4 million then. In other words, Dfinity paid Chief Scientist Dom to raise millions to pay CTO Dom to work on products to enhance Chief Scientist Dom’s Foundation. For a non-profit, it sounds pretty profitable for Tom. But it’s a bit murkier than that. According to Crunchbase, String Labs raised a total of $5 million in from 6 investors in a Seed round. That’s it. The round relied on Dfinity. But Dom’s String Lab co-founder, widely advertised that String Lab received $25 million from Dfinity Foundation. And then it closed.

So Dom paid Dom to get 6 investors to pay Dom $5 million, and then Dom paid Dom $20 million more from Dom’s non-profit foundation. Did Dom make a profit from Definity? I’ll let you be the judge. String Lab appears to be closed down. How did it spend $25 million? Definity god knows. And Dfinity god’s partner, Tom.

So forgive my scepticism if when Dom Tweets about his transparency, I parse his words extra carefully, and ask whether he intends to write down the same thing in anything more binding than a Tweet.

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Well made points!

Time and time again, it appears that Dfinity’s lack of transparency is what is most likely to kill the project. The lofty goals of ‘decentralising the Internet’ are almost laughable when the above is considered.

As mentioned, why would anyone choose to build on a platform that sells itself as ‘reducing platform risk’ when it arguably offers greater platform risk (project failure, lack of transparency, law suits, untested engineering and blind faith in Dom).

All very frustrating considering the amazing team and tech.

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I’ve been watching this thread develop over time, and sure it gets more & more interesting. Although I applause you (@leamsi) for pointing out the elephant in the room and I agree transparency with the foundation is an important aspect for sure, I’m not convinced it is as detrimental to the project (i.e. Internet Computer) as you made it out to be.

As a developer myself, I am more interested in knowing when or whether IC can grow independent from the dfinity foundation. It is unavoidable in the early days that a platform needs its original creator, but is the tie between IC and the dfinity foundation grow stronger or looser?

On one hand I see accusations of the foundation “dumping” tokens (to which Dom have denied), on the other hand I see worries of dfinity having too much voting power in NNS (which effectively controls IC). But these two are conflicting opinions to each other, aren’t they? If anything I’d rather see the foundation diluting its ICP to investors sooner than later, so that voting power can grow more decentralized.

Voting power aside, the ability to continue develop and advance the technology behind IC is also very important. At the moment the leading role has been assumed by the foundation. Are they doing a good job? Are they incorporating or rejecting community contributions? Are they holding onto the expertise or are they willing to share? Is there any other entity (with vested interest in IC) that can do a better job than the foundation? If there is not, why not? How can the community foster a group of open source developers for IC core tech without depending on dfinity?

I think these are right questions to ask, instead of lingering on the transparency issue of a single entity: the foundation. I for one has little interest in knowing how dfinity manages its teams, how much control Dom exerts on his organization, let alone how much he gets paid. The mentality of relying on a single entity for IC to thrive must change, otherwise it never will.

That is of course not to say, from a legal & financial stand point, DFINITY should not improve its transparency, or the questions you ask are not worth pursuing. I think they are important, but for different reasons.

It has become a common & dominating practice for crypto startups to not to have “shareholders”. They effectively run token sales to raise money, but has no legal obligation to answer to tokenholders since they are not “shareholders”. Dfinity Foundation is no exception. Other foundations may do better at financial transparency, may do worse. I don’t really care if any of these foundations survive, what I care is whether the product they build will survive. A platform can only survive by being decentralized, both in how the platform functions day to day, and in how its future development is carried out.

I will be glad to see at some point the balance of core IC technology development tipping more towards the community. Are we on the right course? Does financial transparency help to stay on this course?

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Ditto on every point for myself.

Ditto again for me. This is THE key sticking point for me in my due diligence before I can invest any significant time or money into the IC. The IC is fundamentally run by a dictatorship presenting itself as a democracy, and I don’t see any clear sign yet that they want to evolve away from that. That said, I don’t think it is necessary to ascribe any conspiratorial or deceptive intent behind this fact, since there are some significant theoretical hurdles to cross to achieve true decentralization. Also, many DAOs who have become mesmerized by the promise of Web3 make similar over-exuberant claims of being democratic when they are most certainly not.

As I’ve stated in several other posts, real power resides in prioritization, which the NNS is completely incapable of. Such decisions involve a prioritized choice among competing alternatives, particularly when the allocation of scarce resources is involved. NNS approval voting (like in all DAOs today) is almost always just a yes/no rubber stamp on a single isolated alternative/proposal, since it is deeply dependent upon the priorities that have already been decided upon by those with the real power to allocate resources.

Choice is most definitely at the root of the problem - in this case, collective choice. Collective prioritization is a far more difficult problem to address than almost everyone imagines it should be, as I’ve highlighted in previous posts. It is the core topic of my upcoming PhD project. I’ve even offered to DFINITY that we collaboratively explore ways to cross this “prioritization chasm” as part of my research to make the IC as truly democratic and decentralized as it presents itself to be. However, I have heard no response to that offer yet, made in both public posts and via DM. If they are not even interested in exploring how they can achieve true decentralization, then that would definitely be a big red flag for me. The jury is still out, though, so let’s not jump to any conclusions yet.

Again, I understand your frustration, @Leamsi, but I think it is a distraction to imply that the problem must be the particular dictator in power - benevolent or otherwise - rather than the system itself. No DAO that I’m aware of has adequately addressed this prioritization problem, let alone solved it, so try to keep that in mind. That said, I do agree that some mitigating measures around financial transparency and internal controls, with independent verification, would be very beneficial in the meantime.

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hey everybody! I would like to share my personal view here, more as a community member than as a DFINITY employee.

If we look at other web3 projects, there are always companies or foundations contributing to them, and those companies or foundations are not truly decentralized. Some may be more transparent than others, but at the end of the day there is always some board that is in charge. However, what is important is that the project overall is decentralized. As the ICP community, I think we should focus more on decentralizing the IC instead of only focusing on DFINITY.

I believe the lowest hanging fruit is NNS voting: DFINITY has 23% of the voting power today, but since many neuron holders choose to follow DFINITY’s votes, DFINITY actually has an absolute majority on most NNS topics (if we include the follower votes). I think this unfortunate, because the IC’s NNS is actually a super powerful DAO, because all replica software and NNS canisters must be approved by the NNS before they can run, so the IC is truly governed by the NNS. I believe we need to make sure that the NNS vote really reflects what the community wants. That way, there can never be any change made to the IC that does not have the support of the majority of the community.

Some concrete steps we can take to decentralize the NNS vote better:

  • implement “periodic confirmation”: right now we have a huge chunk of voting power (seemingly 50%) that follows DFINITY on “all topics except governance” but still hasn’t configured following on the governance topic, indicating that they’re not actively participating. This group follows DFINITY today, so periodic confirmation would likely help decentralize the vote quite a bit.
  • encourage more community leaders to step up as voting neurons, and in particular encourage them to vote on more topics than just governance. I think very important topics are “system canister management” (which approves upgrades to NNS canisters) and “replica version management” (which approves new replica software versions, we recently split this off into a separate topic to make it easier for the community to vote on this topic). It is critical that the Internet Computer replicas and NNS canisters only run vetted code. Voting neurons can get the source code for the NNS canister and replica upgrades, ensure there are no unexpected changes in the source code or or git history, and build the artifact from source to ensure that the binary is indeed built from the claimed source code.
  • encourage voting neurons to advocate their neuron more actively and to explain why they voted in a certain way
  • encourage everybody to revisit whom they follow, and consider following community neurons instead of all following DFINITY.
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I think NNS prioritisation is most certainly a crucial problem to solve. I have elsewhere pointed to the problems that stem from the huge concentrations of voting power. Liquid democracy is certainly liquid, but not democratic. Still, these are precisely the design challenges that make a project like this interesting and exciting: assuming good faith and capacity for influence. You have just pointed to your own need to collaborate with Dfinity to take your doctoral ideas for improving ICP forward. There is no need for DFINITY to take on your idea: they might have different priorities; different implementation philosophies; different people already working on it. But the fact that you would see a need to collaborate with DFINITY demonstrates the centrality of DFINITY in the ecosystem, even after renouncing a range of votes. And DFINITY is Dom. So Dom’s ethics, choices, priorities and motivations will cascade down to systemwide effects. This makes all your NNS development efforts, even if successful, a hostage to fortune. I think we are a VERY long way from a scenario where Dfinity is just one more voice among equals. While the absolute executive, financial and technological control of Definity resting in one man, with not an exactly uncompromised track record, then, as I put it, all other development rests upon a house of cards. Dom’s cards.

Afaik IC’s code is not completely FOSS, so if Dfinity ever went rogue the community can’t easily fork the protocol, that alone should impose a higher level of transparency on Dfinity’s end. The project relies on its good faith way more than others.

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A good dictactorship is better thank a false democracy. Dfinity is made of most brillant mind in the world, probably with some of them working to change the world more than because the need of money. For this reason, I am not bothered by their large power on the network. The perfect democracy can’t exist in this world… I saw many people and project who tried… if it could work, the Bitcoin, appeared in 2009 would not be what it is today. I realized now that it’s better to have trusted human guarantors, even if it’s very imperfect. If Dfinity didn’t have all this power, I would have jumped ship.

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Excellent and thoughtful answer. I couldn’t agree more: if DFINITY was incidental to ICP, what Dom does or doesn’t do with the money he made legally or illegally, ethically or unethically (not the same thing), lose any interest to me. And yes, the question you ask, given the answer you hope for, would resolve the biggest vulnerability I see in the project, replacing it with other, design focused concerns.

“As a developer myself, I am more interested in knowing when or whether IC can grow independent from the dfinity foundation. It is unavoidable in the early days that a platform needs its original creator, but is the tie between IC and the dfinity foundation grow stronger or looser?”

Those are two different questions. The answer to the second is clearly that yes, the relationship is growing looser, given DFINITY’s laudable choice to abstain on a range of strategic NNS votes.

But in terms of the systemic vulnerability to Dfinity’s dangerously awful governance standards as a (nominally) non-profit foundation, the question is not whether it’s looser or stronger, but whether it is decoupled enough for Dom’s total control not to constrain, shape or endanger the unfolding of IC. And I think the very fact this thread is unfolding, shows that DFINITY remains very, very far from peripheral to IC. If Dom sneezes, there is nothing approaching the social distancing required to stop IC catching Covid.

And yes, I hear the messaging from DFINITY about wanting to step back, acknowledge the positive steps in this direction, and I’m even predisposed to believe in the intentions and good will of the team as a whole. But: is Dom’s position, legal ensconcement, doubling down (“advising”?) on lack of disclosure, and current activity online the sign of someone wanting to step back, chill out, and watch his baby leave the nest? Or do those indicators suggest someone still deeply invested, personally and economically, and ready to make decisions to keep a steering hand quietly hovering near the scales?

And if the latter, does the current direction of travel of DFINITY allow you, as a developer, to build confident in the direction of travel, when Dom, and Dom alone and exclusively could, tomorrow, decide that Dfinity resumes its NNS voting? Dom and Dom alone, once everyone has built good infrastructure on the premise of DFINITY receding in control, could go, thanks for all the fish, on second thoughts we’re back? Or absolutely any other scenario that comes to him?

I think that Dom would be delighted with the community’s “ability to continue develop and advance the technology behind IC.” Free labour on a project he controls, and where any retreats are a sign of his largesse, and subject to his fiat.

I agree the questions you ask are the most critical ones. I think we are a long way from being able to answer them in a way that makes the sole control of Dom over dfinity with zero disclosure, accountability or transparency, anything other than IC’s key constraint and biggest risk.

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