Self-Governing Public Decentralised Systems: Work in Progress

Moritz Platt*, Peter McBurney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
201 Downloads (Pure)


The selection of members responsible for data replication is a challenge in decentralised record-keeping systems. In ‘permissioned’ systems, this crucial task is performed by a central authority or consortium. In ‘permissionless’ systems, however, the selection process is not trivial and comes with risks. Malicious actors, in a privileged position, can tamper with data, threatening the integrity of the system as a whole. Permissionless membership selection protocols, popularised with the dissemination of distributed ledger technology, have the objective of limiting the influence of a single entity on the wider network. They do so by approximating a participant’s legitimacy to participate in record maintenance. These approximations come with downsides, in terms of attackability, system performance, supported use-cases and resource requirements. In this paper, we propose a prototypical membership selection protocol that uses the measure of personhood as an approximation of legitimacy. Interpreting a decentralised system as a political system, we frame the membership selection problem as one of political representation. We propose a protocol that democratically attributes a personhood score to members, thus creating a self-governing public decentralised system. This work in progress lays out a roadmap for the formal evaluation of self-governing public decentralised systems and describes the anticipated challenges in their implementation. Our proposals provide a means to evolve the membership selection protocol when a closed, permissioned system evolves to an open, permissionless system, as several commercial platforms intend to do.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 10th International Workshop on Socio-Technical Aspects in Security
EditorsThomas Groß, Luca Viganò
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-79318-0
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-79317-3
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2021
EventInternational Workshop on Socio-Technical Aspects in Security -
Duration: 17 Sept 202017 Sept 2020
Conference number: 10

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


WorkshopInternational Workshop on Socio-Technical Aspects in Security
Abbreviated titleSTAST
Internet address


  • Socio-Technical Systems
  • Self-Governance
  • Distributed Ledger Technology
  • Blockchain
  • Decentralisation
  • Consensus
  • Permissionless Networks
  • Membership Selection


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