Protocol Labs Research
2021-11-23 / Journal article
On the future of decentralized computing
Bulletin of the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science / 2021.11.23


Decentralized systems (e.g., blockchain systems) have the potential to revolutionize financial and payment systems, as well as the internet — for the good of humankind and planet Earth. This position paper aims at justifying this standpoint and at laying out a vision for the future of decentralized computing.

We start by revisiting the definition of decentralized systems, briefly surveying the literature on the taxonomy and different facets of decentralization. We complement existing definitions by proposing Inclusiveness as a critical facet. We argue that our notion of Inclusiveness rules out some popular candidate technologies for a “base-level” (or L1) blockchain consensus, namely Proof-of-Stake, from replacing Nakamoto’s Proof-of-Work (PoW) as the base consensus technology of decentralized systems.

We further discuss why the high energy consumption of Bitcoin’s PoW consensus is not wasteful and why Bitcoin should be embraced as the money of the future. We then argue that future decentralized systems should aim at leveraging the “slow-but-very-secure” PoW consensus of Bitcoin, building systems on top of it rather than trying to replace it. Finally, we propose some open problems for decentralized cloud computing research.