Buzzwords continue to dominate tech news cycles as AI is back in fashion and AI crypto projects see record gains. “AI,” “ChatGPT,” “machine learning,” “blockchain,” they’ve all had their time in the sun as the flavor of the week for VC funding. However, one of the most important terms has quietly seen a resurgence in popularity while remaining out of the current Zeitgeist or ‘internet meta;’ that is, “decentralization.”
Decentralization has seen a surge in search activity since November 2022, with interest close to its all-time high. However, the noise is less about retail speculation on the latest coin to pump and more around those building the global digital infrastructure. The importance of decentralization has never been clearer to those who understand the risks of a centralized financial system.
Let’s start by defining what we mean by “decentralization.” Simply put, decentralization refers to the distribution of power and control away from a central authority or entity and towards a network of individuals or nodes.
As a commentary on the “buzzword” cycles of the tech industry we asked ChatGPT to explain decentralization for us in a few novel ways. Here is what it said;
Explanation for a 5-year-old:
Decentralization means that instead of one person being in charge of everything, everyone gets a turn to make important decisions. It’s like taking turns to be the leader in a game, so everyone gets to have a say.
Explanation for a 15-year-old:
Decentralization refers to a way of organizing a system or network so that power and control are distributed among many people instead of being concentrated in one central authority. This can make the system more transparent, secure, and democratic.
Explanation for a 30-year-old:
Decentralization is a process by which power and control are spread out across a network of individuals or nodes, rather than being held by a central authority. This can help to promote greater transparency, accountability, and security, and reduce the risk of one point of failure.
Explanation for a 90-year-old:
Decentralization is the idea of distributing power and control across a network, rather than having it concentrated in one central authority. It’s like how a group of friends might work together to make a decision, rather than having one person make all the choices. Decentralization can help to make systems more resilient, transparent, and equitable.
Buzzword or not, it is clear that the power of AI is immense and the integration of tools such as ChatGPT and OpenAI’s other models will become extremely powerful. Hopefully, for any readers who were unclear, those explanations cleared some things up. For others, it’s a free tool for you to explain what decentralization is to others who are new to the space.
Decentralization is a core goal of the majority of the web3 industry. However, its implementation is presently far from perfect. For example, Ethereum, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency, is often touted as a decentralized network, but in reality, it has some centralized components. Its dependence on Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud computing arm of Amazon, is staggering with 61% of nodes hosted on AWS. As a significant portion of Ethereum nodes, including some of the most critical infrastructure nodes, run on AWS servers, Amazon can be seen as having a considerable amount of control over the Ethereum network.
The reliance on a centralized infrastructure provider like AWS can be problematic, as it creates a single point of failure that could be exploited by hackers or other bad actors. In addition, it goes against the principles of decentralization, as a centralized provider can exert significant control over the network, potentially compromising its security and integrity. While the Ethereum community has recognized this issue and it is actively working to decentralize the network further.
Intu specifically chose not to use a bespoke node infrastructure system so as to avoid these problems and not add further centralization into the web3 ecosystem. Other projects claim to be decentralized but, in reality, also contain centralized elements. For example, services may rely on a single centralized provider to perform a critical step such as the authentication process. This means that if the provider goes down, the authentication process for all dApps using the project would be affected.
Additionally, if there is only one provider, it could become a single point of failure for the entire ecosystem. This centralization aspect could also lead to potential privacy concerns since the centralized provider could potentially collect user data during the authentication process. Intu instead believes that our users should choose their own decentralization, hence decentralizing amongst their own “circle of trust.” This is completely independent of Intu while our core technology leans on the most decentralized option out there, the L1 and L2s whom we deploy on. This means Intu inherits their security and decentralization rather than trying to build it ourselves
The implications of decentralization are significant. By distributing power and control, decentralized systems can promote greater transparency, accountability, and security. This is especially important in today’s world, where we rely heavily on centralized institutions for critical services such as finance, communication, and data storage.
Further, decentralization can help to promote greater equity and inclusivity. Centralized systems often create power imbalances, with a small group of individuals or entities controlling the majority of the resources and decision-making. This can lead to marginalization and exclusion for those who are not part of the central authority. In contrast, decentralized systems are designed to be more equitable and inclusive. By distributing power and control across a network, each individual or node has an equal stake in the system.
Decentralization can also enhance security and privacy. Centralized systems are often vulnerable to cyber attacks, as they have a single point of failure. If this central point is compromised, the entire system can be brought down. In contrast, decentralized systems are designed to be more resilient to attacks, as they have multiple nodes that can pick up the slack if one goes down.
As a result, the importance of building solid and decentralized infrastructure in web3 cannot be overstated. Decentralization is the cornerstone of web3, but it’s not enough on its own. Building a strong infrastructure is necessary to ensure that decentralized systems can be deployed at scale and function effectively.
Solid infrastructure is especially important in web3 because decentralized systems rely on a network of nodes to function. Each node has to be able to communicate with other nodes in the network to validate transactions, reach consensus, and execute smart contracts. This means that the infrastructure has to be highly scalable, secure, and resilient. To achieve these goals, web3 infrastructure needs to be built with decentralization in mind.
Instead of relying on a few centralized servers, web3 infrastructure needs to be distributed across many nodes. This not only ensures that the infrastructure is more reliable and robust but it also ensures that the system is more fair and open.
Building solid infrastructure also requires collaboration across the web3 ecosystem. Developers, infrastructure providers, and other stakeholders need to work together to ensure that the infrastructure is interoperable and standards-based. This will make it easier for developers to build decentralized applications that can run on different networks and communicate with each other.
Ultimately, building robust foundations is essential for the success of web3. Decentralization is important, but it’s not enough on its own. To create a fairer internet, we need to build infrastructure that is designed to support decentralized systems and that can scale and function effectively. With the right infrastructure in place, we can unlock the full potential of web3 and create a better future for everyone.
Intu’s goal is to continue making significant contributions to a more decentralized Web3. The protocol gives developers access to a fully decentralized, self-sovereign EOA with complete account recoverability and composability with any EVM chain. This innovation has the potential to optimize security without compromising the interactivity or composability of accounts.
It does not need third-party dependencies, blockchain upgrades, or smart contract accounts. Intu is introducing Distributed Externally Owned Accounts (dEOA), which provides many benefits of account abstraction to the world of Externally Owned Accounts. With an account built on the Intu protocol, users can perform actions previously limited to smart contract accounts while retaining the security and composability of an EOA. Intu, launching at ETHDenver, offers a new protocol that allows developers to add dEOA accounts to their web3 dApps with a simple SDK. To read more about dEOAs go to our article on Account Abstraction. Further technical documentation will be available for ETHDenver. To get access follow our Twitter @IntuOfficial.
Intu’s innovation means that the underlying foundations of Web3 are being built in the most straightforward, elegant, and robust manner available, while ensuring that the base layer of the account infrastructure is not filled with complicated smart contracts and third-party dependencies. Intu’s approach is an important contribution to the development of a more decentralized Web3.
In an infrastructure context, improperly decentralized networks for storing key shards can have serious consequences for the security and integrity of the network.
If a few nodes or entities have control over a significant portion of the network, including the storage of key shards it could lead to a concentration of power and control, making the network vulnerable to manipulation and attacks.
It may also be more susceptible to security breaches or data loss, which could compromise the security of the stored key shards. This could result in significant financial losses for users and could damage the trust in the network’s security and integrity.
Moreover, if key shards are not stored in a truly decentralized manner, the risk of single points of failure increases, making the network more vulnerable to cyber attacks, natural disasters, or other types of disruptions.
Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the network is truly decentralized when storing key shards to minimize the risks of manipulation, attacks, data loss, and single points of failure. This will help to maintain the integrity, security, and resilience of the network and enable users to trust in its capabilities to securely store and manage their sensitive information.
In Web3, the next generation of the internet, decentralized systems, and blockchain technology are used to power smart contracts, allowing for secure and transparent transactions without the need for intermediaries. Smart contracts can also be used to automate processes, such as escrow and payment systems.
Decentralization in Web3 also enables the creation of our dEOAs through utilization of MPC and TSS to provide account recovery, account sharing, and progressive onboarding.
Decentralized systems have the potential to transform industries and create new opportunities for individuals and communities. For example, in the finance industry, decentralized finance (DeFi) is already disrupting the traditional banking system by enabling individuals to access financial services without the need for intermediaries.
Decentralized social media platforms, such as Lens and Damus, are designed to be more democratic and transparent, allowing users to control their data and the content they see. Decentralized healthcare platforms, such as MedRec, are using blockchain technology to create secure, transparent, and efficient medical record systems.
Further, effective decentralization requires good distribution in order to be truly popular/democratic. It’s important that individuals keep the ability to participate in the network as directly as possible, without total dependence on infrastructure providers. From nodes and RPCs down to the individual, the more accessible Web3, the more distributed the network is, and the more the advantages are maintained.
In conclusion, decentralization is a fundamental shift in the way we think about power, control, and governance. By promoting greater equity, inclusivity, and security, decentralized systems have the potential to transform industries and create new opportunities for individuals and communities. Web3, with its focus on decentralization and blockchain technology, is leading the way in this transformation. As we embrace this new paradigm, we must ensure that we are building systems that are transparent, equitable, and secure and that promote the needs and perspectives of all participants.