There are free-riders in the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
At least, that’s the contention of a new paper, shared with CoinDesk on Monday, written by ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, Microsoft researcher Glen Weyl and Ph.D. of economics at Harvard, Zoë Hitzig.
And free-riders pose a problem.
Described in the paper, free-riders are people or businesses that profit from the under-provision of public goods. And, on top of that, “the more people [these public goods] benefit the more they will be under-provided.” It’s an issue that plagues development even outside the cryptocurrency space, but the authors are – at least – initially focused on how the idea creates harmful incentives for the funding of blockchain projects.
Whereas currently, crypto development teams rely largely on donations, the altruistic whims of their creators, and ICOs — the paper details a new financing method to support a “self-organizing ecosystem of public goods.”
Titled “Liberal Radicalism: Formal Rules for a Society Neutral among Communities,” the method described – a system written in code – seeks to allow groups to allocate funds for the maintenance of public goods and services without becoming vulnerable to the “free-rider” problem.
The mechanism is similar in principle to Quadratic Voting, a form of stake-based voting championed by Weyl in a recent booked, “Radical Markets.”
While Quadratic Voting allows participants to vote with crypto tokens according to how much they care about an issue, Liberal Radicalism (LR) expands the same concept to how communities contribute to public goods, such as software development, cryptocurrencies and journalism.