Truth vs Consensus
Truth can be thought of either as something which we can prove by experiments or it can be the result of a consensus. A scientific fact is arrived at by the process of conducting scientific experimentation. A mathematical fact is discovered by finding a proof. Consensus is discovered by analysis of sentiment (or by voting) to determine what the majority currently believes at a point in time about a subject. The truth of the scientists might not match up with the popular consensus at the time. The mathematical proof might say one thing but a majority of people might agree to disagree with the math. We have seen this happen in the past and this blog post is a discussion on that topic. Particularly for Tauchain we have the question of what is the truth and what is more important? Do we care more about the truth or more about consensus?
Tauchain offers helpers in the form of reasoners and logic to improve the quality of discussion. These helpers will not necessarily work unless people agree to accept the results generated. In addition, the bias people inherently have could influence what they discuss in the first place which could create a consensus but not necessarily an improvement.
Consensus as Truth
According to the "truth by consensus" paradigm the truth is produced by consensus gentium. Consensus gentium means agreement of the people. In my previous post I discussed exactly this topic: Consensus Morality and Tauchain | Consensus Gentium. To be specific we can think of consensus gentium to mean: "the truth is what everyone currently believes". In this model of truth we can only get the truth by finding out what everyone believes but how do we determine what people believe? It is a challenge to find a way to determine what people actually believe in a blockchain context. One method of attempting this is called Futarchy which provides an economic reward and an economic cost for having correct or incorrect beliefs. In essence under Futarchy the people must bet on their beliefs rather than just vote. Under Futarchy prediction markets are used to apply market elements to produce a market consensus truth.
Consensus gentium in an environment where there is persecution and or coercion can result in widely held "beliefs" which are enforced into existence such as the belief in geocentrism. Victims of this kind of persecution may include Galileo who was forced to recant his beliefs or face the inquisition. Ancient Greek philosopher Anaximander proposed that the universe revolved around the earth and this idea caught on. Once the idea caught on it became the gospel truth and over time it became blasphemous to dispute this belief. We continue to see this happen even now in the cryptospace with for example the belief of "code is law" or that "blockchains must be immutable", but these too are beliefs based on a particular set of values which the holders of these beliefs hold dear.
Consensus as a regulative ideal
A descriptive theory is one that tells how things are, while a normative theory tells how things ought to be. Expressed in practical terms, a normative theory, more properly called a policy, tells agents how they ought to act. A policy can be an absolute imperative, telling agents how they ought to act in any case, or it can be a contingent directive, telling agents how they ought to act if they want to achieve a particular goal. A policy is frequently stated in the form of a piece of advice called a heuristic, a maxim, a norm, a rule, a slogan, and so on. Other names for a policy are a recommendation and a regulative principle.
In this case we have a distinction between the way things are and the way things ought to be. Policies can be directed to shape the way things ought to be.
The problem with consensus as truth | argumentum ad populum
If consensus equals truth, then truth can be made by forcing or organizing a consensus, rather than being discovered through experiment or observation, or existing separately from consensus. The principles of mathematics also do not hold under consensus truth because mathematical propositions build on each other. If the consensus declared 2+2=5 it would render the practice of mathematics where 2+2=4 impossible.
A big problem is that of coercion. Another big problem is that popular opinion can in fact lead to really bad outcomes. If something is true at a point of time merely because a lot of people believe it then we are basing our decisions merely on what a lot of people believe. This can result in decisions which satisfy what is popular yet also unwise. A lot of people believe a lot of crazy wrong stuff but this does not mean they do not passionately believe it. The question of truth is more about what is true even if not very many people believe it. Geocentricism turned out to be false even though a lot of people believed it at some point in time. On the other hand the laws of physics appear to be true for 13 billion years even during times when a lot of people didn't believe it.
The State, or the ruling government, has the special role of taking care of the people; however, what distinguishes the Chinese ruling government from other ruling governments is the respectful attitude of the citizens, who regard the government as part of their family. In fact, the ruling government is "the head of the family, the patriarch." Therefore, the Chinese look to the government for guidance as if they are listening to their father who, according to Chinese tradition, enjoys high reverence from the rest of the family. Furthermore, "still another tradition that supports state control of music is the Chinese expectation of a verbal 'message.'" A "verbal message" is the underlying meaning behind people's words. In order to get to the "verbal message," one needs to read into words and ask oneself what the desired or expected response would be.
Tau Chain vs. Tezos - which platform will provide a better solution? By Isar Flis. Posted on Steemit. February 10, 2018.
In this article I would like to discuss the self-amending feature of Tau Chain (Tau), which I believe provides a better solution than the one proposed by Tezos.
A short summary about Tau
Tau will be a blockchain based computer network, aimed at supporting collaboration between people. It will be designed like any other social network you know (Facebook, Twitter, etc.); but on Tau, users can interact with each other using machine-comprehensible languages. Specifically, advanced users will be able to define new knowledge-representation languages simply by translating it to Tau’s metalanguage (TML). As the languages use logic, they will be understandable by both machines and humans.
Since Tau can “understand” the entire conversation, it can also translate the discussions into various languages and discover where people agree or disagree; then, it may present the content of the conversation in different forms (languages or formats) for each user, based on specific requests.
The ability of Tau to logically understand discussions (as it will be translated into its TML) will assist users in four important ways:
*For further information about Tau, please refer to my previous article, explaining Tau and its four-step roadmap.
“Tau, is a discussion about Tau”
Tau is a social platform that will assist users with writing and amending code based on users' discussions about a computer program. But Tau is a computer program by itself. Therefore, by discussing Tau, users will be able to amend Tau, whenever they (the community) reach an agreement about changing Tau’s protocol.
When Ohad Asor, the founder and developer of Tau Chain, mentioned that “Tau, is a discussion about Tau”, he meant that Tau is what the community decides when they discuss Tau. Meaning, when the community will face a decision, such as what Tau’s block size should be, they will just need to express their opinions and perspectives, like we do today in the social networks. Tau will organize the conversation in an efficient way to promote a solution that will represent what the community desires. As such, Tau will be the only dynamic decentralized social network.
Why is Tezos developing only a short-term solution?
You probably remember Tezos as one of the biggest ICOs in history, when they raised $232 million (when BTC price was ~$2,500). Like Tau, Tezos is also a dynamic protocol that can change itself based on users' agreements. Tezos considers voting to be the optimal solution to reach a decision between users.
Voting is a good method to include a large number of people in the decision-making process; however, voters have limited influence, as they can only choose between a few solutions/options presented to them. Who will decide when and why the community will vote? Who will decide what solutions the community can vote for? Tezos’ solution is still centralized and is only viable in the short-run. What will happen if some users do not agree with a specific vote? Does that mean that a Tezos fork is inevitable?
Without considering the perspectives of the entire community, we will not be able to reach a decentralized decision that benefits all users. Tau’s ability to scale discussions is the only decentralized solution to create a true dynamic protocol. Tau will enable all users to express their opinions by just discussing or communicating their views. Users will decide when and what to discuss, and Tau will change its protocol based on users' agreements. Thus, Tau will be able utilize all data in the decision-making process; data that is usually wasted when holding a vote.
To make it more tangible, think about the difference between discussing with your family which movie you’re going to watch and receiving a list of two movies to choose from. The latter might not reflect your taste in movies or how you want to spend your time. This is a low-scale analogy for Tezos’ voting solution. Tezos might provide a solution, but the solution is not optimal. When encountering a large-scale decision, the protocol will be changed based on the vote, but the minority might reject the vote and fork the coin.
Under Tau, the protocol will detect the core consensus among the different perspectives and change accordingly. With the assistance of Tau and its knowledge, users will effectively discuss among themselves how to reach further consensus points. With every consensus point, Tau will change itself accordingly.
*As the community members decide how Tau will be developed, they can suggest the majority rule (or a higher bar) as a decision rule. Tau will automatically detect the different perspectives of the community members and will execute their decision to change Tau’s protocol.
Another important aspect of Tau (compared to Tezos) is the fact that Tau will present its users with output about all the network input. All the data/opinions/information that users provide during their discussions will be accumulated to the knowledge archive. Tau will utilize its knowledge to provide its users with a better access for qualitative and quantitative information. Over Tau, the proposals (such as suggestions to change the protocol) that users will raise can be as wise as the information contained in the entire network.
I will end this article by quoting the last paragraph in my first article:
"I foresee huge potential for this project and urge you to read and learn about this project and its relevant applications. If you find this vision interesting, I recommend that you follow the project on Telegram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Reddit, or read Ohad’s blog for further information."
Disclaimer: I have invested in Agoras. Please do your own research before investing in Agoras and/or any other coin or project. Please do not consider this article to constitute financial advice.
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Suggested readings to better understand the Tau ecosystem, Tau Meta Language, Tau-Chain and Agoras, and collaborate in the development of the project.
Lecturas sugeridas para entender mejor el ecosistema Tau, Tau Meta Lenguaje, Tau-Chain y Agoras, y colaborar en el desarrollo del proyecto.