The Power of the (Uncoruptable) Conjecture

John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton, KCVO, DL (10 January 1834 – 19 June 1902)—known as Sir John Dalberg-Acton, 8th Baronet from 1837 to 1869 and usually referred to simply as Lord Acton—was an English Catholic historian, politician, and writer. He was the only son of Sir Ferdinand Dalberg-Acton, 7th Baronet[1] and a grandson of the Neapolitan admiral Sir John Acton, 6th Baronet.[2][3] He is perhaps best known for the remark, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”[4] His key idea has been tested in laboratory settings under strongly incentivized conditions and with real manipulations of power and confirms what he has suggested: that power corrupts.[5],_1st_Baron_Acton

We should think about this statement of power corrupting in relation to the decentralization movement going on today, spurred by bitcoin and the decentralization of its mining and other processes. It seems it might be still necessary to show somehow that there is a scientific reason behind the natural tendency of power to corrupt, yet I think from another perspective we might find a perfectly secure use for such a statement as a conjecture.

As a conjecture there is not the evidence needed to support such an assertion and yet leaving it not fully secured in this manner we still might find a perfectly sound use for it. In other words power might not tend to corrupt, yet with a centralized point of failure there might be the possibility and furthermore the likely possibility that corruption will happen.

A society does not nor should seek to only fix problems of certainty.  For many reasons security and trust rely on, only relying on, secure and trustworthy mechanisms.  Power, or absolute power, in some centralized form (ie a central point of failure), needn’t be shown to be a “SURE to be exploited weakness”, but rather only that, since there is the POSSIBILITY of failure, and of course with the scope of the effected aspects of the “machine” taken into consideration, in order for society to want to address such a weakness.

In short it seems at this point, the most useful, and provably useful aspect of Acton’s assertion is to use it as a conjecture to suggest a simple axiom that centralized power implies a probabilistic weak point in the security of the system which cannot be favourable for a system what’s utility relies on its security.

The purpose of this writing may or may not have been made clear.  In regard to what should be seen as natural evolution, whether towards a certain direction, or some random walk, there should be some pooling of power necessary before some “security” weakness are naturally exploited. I mean to liken this to the inflation of a tire that has some defect.  At first the tire might serve its purpose fine, up until the weak spot is finally tested.  We would expect of course the next tire to be constructed better lest it pops again!

edit: There might be a way to show that without a defined direction, randomness might be the preferred natural order.  A corollary might be optimization through some randomization/feedback process.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s