Over the past 12 months, there has been an explosion in the number of blockchain protocols being built. Of these new launches, nearly 80 percent of utility tokens and smart contract blockchains have announced that their governance processes will be decentralized and migrated on-chain.
Even though many have made announcements of on-chain governance, the actual developments on that side have been quite slow. Few projects have been able to develop true on-chain governance and hence are opting for delegated proof of stake (DPoS) and coin-voting. However, a full set of standards around active governance has yet to emerge.
What Is Edgeware?
Edgeware is an experimental blockchain that demonstrates the competence of on-chain governance. It is an actively-governed smart contract blockchain that relies on Ethereum-based smart contracts.
Edgeware helps in integration of advanced and experimental features like proof-of-stake, sharding, on-chain identity, and cryptographic primitives for on-chain voting. As it is actively governed, Edgeware serves as a testing ground for core network upgrades and governance and thus complements existing networks.
While major crypto projects such as Ethereum and Bitcoin use informal governance systems, they are often criticized for centralizing the process between key miners and developers. These centralization issues have led to the emergence of on-chain governance which is slowly growing as a perfect alternative to the informal processes of EIP and BIP.
Chain governance incorporates all the nodes within the blockchain into a decision-making process. Investopedia defines on-chain governance as:
“A system for managing and implementing changes to cryptocurrency blockchains. In this type of governance, rules for instituting changes are encoded into the blockchain protocol. Developers propose changes through code updates and each node votes on whether to accept or reject the proposed change.”
Once the change is proposed, each node either approves or rejects the proposed amendment. To participate in the process, key stakeholders are given economic incentives which encourage them to join.
To demonstrate the effectiveness of this on-chain governance and core network upgrades, developers at Commonwealth Labs created Edgeware. Edgeware has capabilities to accelerate the implementation and deployment of experimental core technologies like sharding, proof-of-stake (PoS), efficient STARK implementations, and run-time changes by implementing technical advances.
As Edgeware uses the on-chain governance, it makes it easier for the blockchain team to coordinate easier than compared to upgrades which require miners to organize and upgrade their software in a coordinated manner.
Edgeware Key Features
One of the critical differentiators for Edgeware has been that it is implementing a set of core governance systems. As a result, it will be launching a small set of elements to foster an initial community. These elements include:
- On-chain identity: Edgeware will be using a first-class identity primitive which will help people identify each other in the process of governance.
- Delegated voting: Users will be able to delegate their votes in governance processes to other coin holders. This will help in facilitating turnout and also encourage delegates to develop sound opinions on many issues.
- Signaling: Non-binding polls are an equally important part for a blockchain project where users can create and distribute polls for signaling interest in different proposals and strategies
In the future, Edgeware expects to include support of additional governance functions such as:
- Secure voting: This will allow users to vote anonymously thus avoiding any malicious activities including the buying of votes. It would require the team to implement the cryptographic primitives at the protocol layer.
- DAO: This would allow users to self-organize themselves into groups and participate in a variety of decision-making process helping in a variety of community processes.
As far as Interface and processes are concerned, Edgeware provides contributors and coin holders to participate in the governance process by developing well-designed UIs and means for using them. Therefore, it would also enable developers and stakeholders to come together and work on the project roadmap and vote on the inclusion of specific items needed for the project.
It has been observed that, in governance, it is mostly validators that are natively incentivized. Edgeware replaces this concept as it proposes to use the block reward to incentivize all stakeholders groups. Block inflation will be allocated token towards an on-chain treasury, which will be allocated by specific councils. These groups are made up of the following sectors:
- Governance: Edgeware will participate in governance systems including on-chain identity and tools for organizing and coordinating.
- Core Technology: Edgeware will be one of the early implementers of scaling and sharding technologies on the Ethereum Roadmap.
- Developer experience: It will invest in tools and services which enhance its developer’s experience. This would including implementing best in class tools for developing, debugging, testing smart contracts, etc.
- User Experience: Edgeware will invest in wallets and user experience primitives to develop a decentralized application which will be simple and easy-to-use.
- Ecosystem support: Edgeware will be able to engage developers, end users, and other stakeholders through in-person events.
Future of Edgeware?
Edgeware’s team sees the future in on-chain governance and has laid out a stellar roadmap for its future. Edgeware plans to develop a strong concept for on-chain identity, a useful inflation funding mechanism, a treasury, and even a political system.
Once the governance systems are in place, it expects self-organizing groups of stakeholders to come forward and actively participate in Edgeware’s governance process. Over the long term, the network will rely entirely on Edgeware’s coin-holders and community members. For them to participate in the process, Edgeware will provide a set of tools termed “fractal governance.”
According to Dillon Chen, Editor of Source Networks and Commonwealth Labs:
“Edgeware is being launched with a minimal governance system. The goals are twofold: to get a working system in the hands of stakeholders, and so further work done benefits from direct, on-chain feedback.”
The first governance system will include treasury, identity, and proposals that would function as follows:
- The treasury system will accumulate tokens each time a new block is minted.
- In the identity system, users will be able to match their GitHub handles to Edgeware.
- The proposal system is aimed to back discussion and voting on several types of resolutions, including network upgrades, funding proposals, and signaling proposals (resolutions with no binding effect).
Edgeware’s goal is to be a foundation which can allow developers to experiment with many governance systems simultaneously. The concept of decentralization via blockchain technologies is still pretty nascent, but a new actively governed chain with a progressive upgrade policy will be a crucial element in its growth.
As Edgeware is self-improving and it has capabilities of funding, developing, and deploying communal initiatives makes it a compelling alternative for both the existing and emerging blockchains.
Will Edgeware be able to deliver some strong on-chain governance models for current and future blockchains? Do let us know your views in the comments section.