Transparency within the Dfinity Foundation

You’re right I missed this part, but tbh I’m not relieved by it, Dfinity owns the repos and a majority of VP, so they can:

  • refuse to approve commits in the repos
  • vote against node upgrade proposals
  • stop anyone else from forking the project

I understand Dfinity wants to prevent random people from stealing their work and starting a competing project, but free software is part of the crypto ethos and with so much reliance on the foundation already not being able to compete with it just seems to further prove the centralization aspect many complain about. Dfinity’s lack of transparency and alleged control by Dom only makes it worse, the IC code is free to use as long as Dfinity, a company controlled by one man, allows. If it ever closed or went against the community’s will, there is nothing we can do other than rework all the code under stricter license, which is yet another obstacle on top of an already tough hypthetical situation.

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I see what you mean. In fact if Definity deleted or took a repo private, what would happen is that one of the forks, if they exist, would become the new parent repo, and all other public forks would be reassigned to it. Of course, if Dom were to make it private, and there be no community owned forks, then there would be no way to salvage it.This suggests it would be a good idea for the community to create and maintain a full fork (or several) of the repo outside the Dfinity organisation, that would mean the license constraints remain, but the code is free to use and modify.

It sounds like what the comunity really needs, is an equivalent to the ICA: but real. An independent, member led, transparent and accountable Foundation or DAO whose purpose is to genuinely decouple IC from Dfinity/ICA, not as competitors, but as an independent, complementary force, and a backstop in case anything were to happen to Dfinity, to ensure the IC can survive both Dom and Dfinity in worst case scenarios. That side of things, code only, would be pretty easy to achieve and maintain. The infrastructure, data, etc, is another matter, but first things first.

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You put a lot of time digging all this about ICP and the foundation. This must be a full time job. What’s your agenda and end goal here? Are you a concerned investor or developer? I am curious to know what drive you.

All this talk about decentralization makes me think about my recent reads of the famous philosopher Nietzsche. In some of his famous works Nietzsche explores the concept of good or evil vs good or bad. Here is one of the links I have been exploring The Concept of Evil (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Why this matters is because the community at large is trying to paint a picture that dfinity is not good without understanding how the world works.

Just take a look at Twitter, and see how their recent poll played out :clown_face: By allowing Trump back on Twitter America and the rest of the world is likely to be more polarized.

But isn’t that what the community voted for.

So all this talk about decentralization is not really what most of you think it is, stop putting all your energy in forcing things and go read and explore more about how the real world works.

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I am assuming you have deep investigations into other projects and crypto. I would like to read more on your critique of them.

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Unfortunately, oft-repeated shared illusions like “DAO democracy”, “trustless”, “permissionless”, “decentralized”, “autonomous”, “independent”, etc. are far more appealing to our Web3 hopes and dreams than the messy reality of a persistent concentration of power. As is common in all DAOs, the gap between illusion and reality is far greater than most individuals have the courage to realize. Instead of the ideal of atomized power that is implied by a vast “network nervous system” making all important decisions, what we have in reality is the equivalent of a single, dictatorial brain cell still making all of those decisions.

Until we can cast aside some of these well-packaged illusions of democracy and try to understand why dictatorial decision making is so difficult to displace, we cannot even begin to take the first step towards true decentralization of power. So far, I haven’t seen any inclination by DFINITY to evolve in that direction, let alone any roadmap to get there, which is disappointing.

Instead of the IC becoming an oasis of true decentralization and Web3 democracy, it will likely remain just a mirage that our imaginations live in. I can only hope that enough IC supporters eventually see the reality before it is too late. I fear that the IC will become completely compromised and absorbed by centralized power just as it gains mainstream support. We’ve all seen this story play out exactly the same way with all big tech platform companies. Any single point of failure or reliance on centralized control will ultimately be exploited and leveraged by centralized power.

Perhaps being a blockchain-based Web2 platform is all that the IC is meant to become. And perhaps it is too ambitious to try to achieve the next iteration of a networked humanity, with decentralized network ownership and control. Maybe we should just put off that lofty goal until the 22nd century instead. For now, it will be far easier just to settle for making the Andreessen Horowitz folks, the founders and other whales richer given the much more reachable and perfunctory goal of just reducing cybersecurity costs and risks. So don’t worry, all won’t be lost! /s

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The real world works consistently via dictatorship and centralized power in nearly every large organization. However, that does not mean this is how the world should work. We can do better.

As for Trump, cancelling entire human beings from public discourse is not something any dictator should have the authority to do, which is what you are implicitly supporting. Other than never permanently banning anyone, which is what I would support, the next best option would only grant this extreme power to a decentralized community.

:joy::joy: You don’t have an idea about what you are talking about. You failed the assignment.

If Hitler was alive I could ban him from my social dApp indefinitely.

That’s how the real world works

“I could ban him from my social dApp indefinitely”. Indeed, that’s how the world currently works - but doesn’t have to - as I already stated. Ironically, so many want to play the same Hitler they are permanently banning, as you so aptly demonstrated.

I am neither a developer nor investor, but I would like, in principle, to be both, certainly a developer. You can see my earliest post history to see my motivations. I began this journey enthused by the IC vision. I have a passion and some expertise in green software patterns and wanted to query what the environmental impact of the IC was and how I might be able to help in this area. I also had general concerns with almost all web3 around speculative bubbles and power and coin centralisation.

My hope was that I would ask those due diligence questions, the answers would make sense and I could put my energies into it. I even got a couple of others interested enough to join and start building dapps. Then I found some lose threads and when I pulled, I found more to worry. And the more I pulled the more I marvelled at many of the responses, specially from my fellow devs and the more I knew and wanted to know. I eventually left things at that for what, 8 months?

I was recently a bit ill, looking at my emails and saw notifications on my responses, so I visited the thread again. I was drawn in, and @free’s response gave me hope again of being able to contribute, without having to worry about Dfinity’s technical monopoly. Then I read @paulaitubi’s reply on ICA and got even more excited, as an organisation in which I could help solve the IC governance issues I discovered in the “80% of cannisters” thread, and help build the IC, whose concept I still love. I did the basic due diligence of seeking ICA’s charter to see if I could join… and found Dom alone. Again, but this time behind a wall of promotion to the contrary.

So here am I. If a real ICA came to be from the community, and independent members’ organisation with transparency, influence accountability and real voting power, without any ties to dfinity or VC backing, I’d very likely dive into building, and eventually investing. As it is, I find myself in the middle of a fascinating, web3 story bringing together the best and the worst of the ecosystem in a hypnotic way, like watching people build a stunningly beautiful building on the edge of a precipice, with brilliant materials and lose foundations.

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Incidentally, people here seem to think it has taken a huge amount of time to investigate, like a deep investigation or full time occupation. The truth is I’m long-winded (Noooo, really? I hear ya, i hear ya). So most of my time has gone into writing. To the community. To this Forum. To you. And you find it nefarious, where I would find it civic. I write to you because I appreciate your work, and would love to find a way of joining you without cancelling my critical thinking faculties.

The investigation itself, you can duplicate (@tsetse did at the start of this thread!). It took me 5-7 minutes to google my way to both, Dfinity and ICA’s legal registration papers. It took me about 30 minutes to google my way into the lawsuit submissions on PACER, and I shared my findings on BOTH sides of the issue. Hardly deep investigative journalism, although admittedly that’s 1 hour more due diligence than many here have done before pouring their heart and minds into this beautiful project.

As to my research into other coins, I did share a good amount in my earliest postings, since it was that research that alerted me to the kinds of systemic issues and risks across crypto. I shared the stats on financial inequality, coin concentration and risk distribution in BTC, ethereum, doge, etc. I believe I may have shared some of my environmental findings too. Hope that clarifes where I’m coming from.

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I think we need to distinguish between centralisation, decentralisation, democracy, transparency and accountability.

I am not necessarily advocating for a democratic structure. I am not necessarily advocating for a decentralised structure (not the same thing). I am simply saying that whatever structure there is, be it democratic or autocratic, centralised or decentralised, we need it to be a) transparent, and b) accountable.

Even the status quo could work, structurally, and people have made the case. Let Dfinity, and even, let Dom Williams have sole control until the system is mature enough to hand over. As a founder myself, I can entirely relate to this, and have adopted such an approach myself.

But make it transparent: tell us where the money is going, on what basis, what decisions have been made, what is the solvency of the organisation. If you’re going to be the sole person on both ICA and Dfinity boards, so be it, but don’t hide it from everyone, and don’t pretend the ICA is an independent memberhip association with a General Assembly as the ultimate authority. If you’re going to own the voting power of Dfinity and the ICA, own it: but don’t pretend you don’t. If you’re going to use that power, use it, but tell us why, and show us what it does. If you’re going to move 5 million ICP from one to another, do, but tell us you are, for what purpose, and how that money will be used. Or at the very least, tell us you will hide it, and we just have to get used to it. Don’t pretend that there’s nothing to see and this is just boring bureaucracy and normal Swiss non-profit practice.

And in addition to transparent, make your processes accountable. You ask people to trust you. Set out what happens if you break that trust, and make it enforceable. You are still a monopoly, or a cartel, you still control everything, there is no one with you in the lonely heights of absolute power except your token Swiss lawyer: but if you spend the 5 million ICP in ways that do not benefit ICP, what are the consequences? If you decide to shut down Dfinity, what are the provisions? If, contrary to your tweet, it turns out you’ve not declared your investments, and you’re not entirely in ICP, what are the consequences? If you break the trust you ask the community and investors to deposit in you as Supreme Leader, what is plan B, and how does it get triggered?

So you see, even in a non-democratic, even in an anti-democratic structure, it is possible to have transparency and accountability. It is not what I’d recommend, but it means that people are able to make informed choices, that the project doesn’t have a single point of failure, and that the entire enterprise, and Dom Williams himself, are protected from unfair accusations and inferences: they can just point at the transparency data and at the accountability mechanisms, and end the argument.

For me, a democratic process would be a plus. A transparent and accountable one, a necessity.

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I agree with everything in your post. Full transparency is always a necessity when investors are involved, regardless of organizational maturity. I support all your points to increase transparency.

Likewise, I have argued that a fully democratic process is only a plus and not a necessity at this early start-up stage. However, my personal focus is on the longer term, when a fully democratic process with atomized power will become a necessity as well. It will take time to evolve such a process that everyone can have confidence in. Also, the risk of both internal and external centralized power structures coopting or contaminating the Web3 vision of the IC will increase exponentially as it becomes more mainstream. I can help to experiment with and evolve such a process, so that is why my personal emphasis has been on this problem rather than transparency, even though both are very important.

That said, I also have significant skill sets in finance, data integration (ETL), FP&A, BI, etc. Therefore, I might be willing to help out in implementing some automation around scalable financial transparency and forecasting if DFINITY wants to experiment with some options there as well. I could probably even do a pilot project without any cost commitment. Please take note, @paulaitubi, and DM me if you are interested.

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Please, keep the posts and criticisms coming. I see very few people digging into the details and trying to hold Dfinity accountable.

As you mentioned previously, the IC has the potential to become something very special. However, not everything is as squeaky clean as it first appears and significant improvements need to be made; particularly in regards to centralisation and the concentration of ‘Dom Power’.

Dfinity will not be proactive and make these changes themselves. The issues need to be flagged and the community needs to stop avoiding criticism and take the challenge on. I do believe that Dfinity are well intentioned and if criticism is valid they will take it on board (?).

I think a good first step would be for Dfinity to become clearer about what the ICA currently is / how it has deviated from its previous goal.

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If criticism is valid, does it matter where or who it comes from and what drives them?

I see Leamsi as adding value to the IC ecosystem. The more you critique the the more you can refine and optimise.

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This is correct for DFINITY’s copy of the IC repository. But everyone can fork that repository, so if DFINITY were to suddenly disappear or turn malicious, the code would still be there.

DFINITY and the ICA combined have around 25% VP. The majority of voters follow DFINITY on non-governance topics, which is something where we definitely need improvement for decentralization. We need named neurons to take responsibility beyond governance proposals. But this is something where DFINITY can only help (mostly through education or tool support), and we need other community members to step up.

This is not my understanding of the intent of the license. My understanding is that:

  • The license should allow the community to continue the development of the Internet Computer blockchain, even if DFINITY were to disappear or turned against it;
  • disallow forking of the project to generate an alternative blockchain on the same codebase.
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As is tradition, all licenses are found in the source repository housing the code that is licensed under them; they contain links to the canonical locations at dfinity.org (IC-1.0, IC-shared-1.0). As is described in the root license file, a file’s license in the primary IC monorepo is described by the first parent directory with a license file in it. Within the monorepo, notable licensures are the consensus protocol, the canister execution environment, the hash tree (no relation to ic-certified-map which is Apache), the state replication system, the certification system, the boundary node (except for the service worker), the message router, the replica orchestrator, and the threshold BLS12-381 library, which are IC-1.0, and the multi-signature BLS12-381 library which is IC-shared-1.0. The licenses can best be understood as ‘open source if the final code runs on the IC’; the difference between the two is that the latter permits Ethereum as well.

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