Proof of Autonomy

In this article, we are rethinking the POA acronym.

(i) For many, POA or PoA stands for Proof of Authority.
It is a type of consensus in distributed systems.
In this type of consensus, there is an authority or “root”.
The authority manages a list of validators aka “validator set”.
A validator set is an array with multiple entries.
These entries are public keys.
If a key is in a validator set then a corresponding private key is a validator.
Adding blocks to a chain is a responsibility of validators.
Validators get rewarded from a protocol for it.

(ii) The root can add or remove a validator at will.
When a root is a person or one entity the system is centralized.
Examples of this type of network are Factom, GoChain, TomoChain.
It easy to spot them by asking three questions:
Who are validators?
How they were onboard to their role?
Who manages the validator set?
Example answers:
They are friends or founders themselves.
Validators were onboard by one entity.
There is a “root key” to manage the validator set.

It’s all signs of a centralized platform.

(iii) POA team created a new form of PoA consensus.
At the beginning, we called it Proof of Authority.
The validator set is managed by a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO).
Initially, the DAO is populated by a master of ceremonies (MoC).
It is a temporary role.
He starts a new network with only him as a validator.
Next validators were invited to the DAO by a MoC.
Validators should be independent and non-affiliated with each other.
For the POA Core, individuals with known identity are validators.
MoC has a limited number of invites.
After he distributes invites he can’t invite new validators.
Validators participate DAO to invite new validators to the network.
They have equal voting and ballots creation rights.
Using the DAO they can remove validators on misbehavior.
MoC is not part of the DAO and doesn’t’ have voting rights.
The network is autonomous.
It is in control of validators.

(iv) The decision to call this consensus Proof of Authority was wrong.
It is not Proof of Authority but rather Proof of decisions made by the DAO.
DAO is an autonomous organization.
This consensus is now called Proof of Autonomy.