Decentralized Intelligent Organizations for Blockchain Interchange Formats

Author: Benedikt Herudek

Decentralized Intelligent Organizations for Blockchain Interchange Formats

For the decentralized ecosystem a heterogeneous System landscape is a desirable state and therefore its main standardization challenge consists of establishing interoperability formats between Blockchains and Applications connecting to Blockchains. For W3C standardization efforts we suggest to establish a ‘Decentralized Intelligent Organization’ enabling the community to converge to de facto standards. In addition to the concept of a Decentralized Autonomous Organization this organization form would assign Miners the task of hosting and offering interchange formats to enable interoperability.

Decentralized Autonomous Organizations have at its heart actual code and usage within the community drive what could become de-facto standard. For the decentralized eco system, even more than for other areas, W3C needs to prioritize code & real usage over a priori standards to make a useful contribution. This would allow working with an iterative approach with smaller and faster innovation cycles.

Centralized Interchange Format Standards
Decentralized Intelligent Interchange Formats

The challenge realizing this postulate is technical: Currently, Blockchains like any other Systems wanting to interoperate would need to first agree on data exchange formats and then ‘hardwire’ these standards into their code. We suggest to ‘unlock the deadlock’ via assigning Miners the task of hosting Blockchain interchange formats.

In such a scenario, Miners would not only host many different data exchange formats for different use-cases and Applications, Technologies and Industries connecting to Blockchains. Additionally, even for one and the same scenario there could be different competing formats. Communicating Parties would have the possibility to choose from competing formats. Often, formats used will just be those that industry consortiums, foundations and organizations like W3C, R3 or Linux Foundation, large vendors, startups or parties using a Blockchain suggest. However, with this architecture there is nothing that would hinder anyone in the distributed network to invent its own interchange format. We would see de-facto standards emerge, which at any given moment could get challenged and replaced by better standards.

In current distributed cryptocurrency networks, Trust is generated by Miners. Miners deliver a Service to the network, for which they get paid e.g. in bitcoin for solving a hash algorithm (finding a ‘nonce’). Their service allows participants in the network to make transactions. In an intelligent System aiming to decentralize standardization of interchange formats, we would give Miners the additional task to mediate between different Systems data-formats allowing Ledgers to communicate. Miners would get paid for establishing communication successfully.

Mining Transactions Offering Interchange formats
Role Creating Trust & Consensus in a distributed network, mandatory Allowing Communication via offering Blockchain Interchange Formats, optional
Algorithm Cryptographic Hashing Algorithms Registry data exchange interchange formats; smart ways of finding & suggesting applicable Interchange Formats

For this purpose, Miners would hold a registry of common interchange data-formats classified per scenarios like industry, use-case and alike. For Blockchains interoperating this would be new formats. For Blockchains interacting with existing Applications one would likely see variations of existing e.g. XML Industry standards.

Additionally, Miners would use the Transaction History of Communicating Parties in Blockchains to suggest the best possible way of connecting. For example, if two parties communicated in the past via a standard suggested by W3C, the Miner would typically try to re-use that format for these and similar sender & receivers. Picking applicable Formats would be based on attributes of the communication parties like technology stack, typical use cases or industry.

With the usage of Blockchains as a Record of Data Interchange Format open to Miner’s exploitation, Interchange Format can get introduced peer2peer and rise to de-facto standards, if they prove to be useful: A Sender & Receiver could introduce for their own usage a useful Data Exchange Format, Miners could re-use this format (potentially with a fee to the inventors) for other Communicating Parties.

Main benefits of the Architecture of a ‘Decentralized Intelligent Organization’ would be to decentralize standardization, allow fast amendment cycles and have a lower risk of ossifying standards or dominating entities whilst keeping up a concept of light & smart common interchange formats. Building Intelligence into a distributed System for handling interchange formats is a technology enabler for de-centralization.

Conventional Standardization Distributed Intelligent Organization
Code Result of Committee Decisions Interplay between Users, Miners, Communities and Committee. Result of Competition. Ultimate Source of Truth about the State of a System.
Standards Implementing one Standard, typically for technical or organizational reasons obligatory to be followed No fixed standards, best practices and potentially de-facto standards; potentially several Formats based on Community needs
Decentralization Standards set by committees intended to represent the interests of the community Formats are emerging from the interplay of Miners, Communicating Parties and Community.

Some questions of a subsequent Discussion, which I would hope to kick off during the W3C Workshop on Distributed Ledgers, would be:

  • How would Miners need to adjust to be able managing interchange formats?
  • How would Blockchains need to be structured to be able to interact with?
  • How would we decide, if a Miner successfully established communication?
  • How will get Miners get compensated and incentivized?
  • How will we design accessibility of Blockchain(s) to facilitate re-use of Interchange Formats?
  • Would the role of Standard Setting Organizations partially shift towards balancing powers between members of a Decentralized Intelligent Organization?
  • Background of the Author

    Benedikt Herudek is a Consultant with professional experience in Enterprise IT and a degree in Formal Logic, Computer Science and Philosophy of Language. One of his technology related passions is to investigate how decentralized protocols could serve as a model for a decentralized middleware helping to disrupting Data Monopolists. During Linux IoT Summit 2016 (slides here, summarized & updated in a whitepaper) he suggested a Concept intended to extend and generalize Bitcoins concept of information in order to allow intercommunication between parties.