While delegated proof-of-stake is gaining spread over the industry, non-leader based consensus could potentially solve massive issues in the field and give a decent fight. The blockchain industry has offered several mechanisms to achieve consensus.
Proof-of-work was the first one to be introduced by Bitcoin’s Satoshi Nakamoto. In the industry, it is quite clear there is a counterproductive incentive structure between the need to compensate those who build the blocks, and the need for users to want to transact information in systems with inherently low scalability. Add the electricity being wasted and the practical monopolies on mining control, and you can reasonably understand the growth in the use of proof-of-stake mechanisms.
The downside in consensus mechanisms which rely on economic capability is that in the end, they can be controlled by the few. While proof-of-stake imperializing in different projects, there are shortcoming to this process, which non-leader mechanisms can finally resolve. For instance, the economy based consensus is in some way dividing the population between those with more coins and those without.
Whether it is proof-of-work or any type of proof-of-stake, the consensus types which relate to computational work and economic proofs has relied mainly on leaders through the network. In a way, the creation of off-chain transactions can sometimes be seen as a peer-to-peer understanding of mutual data flow creation and by that as a non-leader formation of trust, yet the finalized data will also be achieved by leaders when reaching into the blockchain’s ledger.
One of the most interesting projects which recently announced its public blockchain is Hedera Hashgraph. Probably, the most interesting part of it is that it claims to offer a fully decentralized network of nodes, which have no leader at all. All nodes come to an agreement on a certain matter by using two protocols – gossip about gossip, and virtual voting. In short, gossip about gossip lets all network participants know what everybody else knows, so at an exponential rate, everyone is aware of all data in the network. This allows for a case when a node crashes; it can immediately restore all data by just connecting again to the network. The second protocol – virtual voting – allows for an efficient consensus reaching – because everyone knows what everyone knows, there is no need to send, collect and decide on a voting result, but rather each participant can decide the consensus because it knows what others will vote.
Hedera Hashgraph announced their public ledger, and a token to come in soon. This could potentially be a revolutionary change in the industry which is still open to new types of consensus methodologies. It is still unclear whether Hedera Hashgraph will be able to deliver its promises, in terms of transaction-per-second throughput and fairness in large amounts of nodes over the net. However, the company does seem serious in its SDK demos and the ease of developing on top of it. Yet, Hashgraph is relevant in cases where common truth is needed between all parties at all time. Public auctions and the exact selling price of stocks are a few use-cases in this matter, but a question arises whether Hashgraph or any other form of non-leader consensus could be relevant for payments system. In cases of disputes between different parties who previously interacted in crypto exchanging, it is crucial to include several leaders to achieve a coherent truth about which side is right. This is why our team developed a Mediation layer just for that. We recognized the need for human touch in these type of cases where merchants or consumers just don’t act accordingly and fail to transact their good. Therefore, an integration of proof-of-stake into the world of dispute resolution made by humans, the network achieves an ability which is currently absent in the crypto world. It would be interesting to see whether Hashgraph will penetrate the market and pose some threat to Ethereum’s platform, or will the non-leaders use cases won’t grow high beyond public auctions.