Grassroots Distributed Systems for Digital Sovereignty: Future Work & Discussion

13 May 2024

This paper is available on arxiv under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 DEED license.


(1) Ehud Shapiro, Department of Computer Science and Applied Math, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel and

5 Future Work & Discussion

Grassroots dissemination for sovereign cryptocurrencies. While the Grassroots Dissemination protocol GD is better-suited for implementing sovereign cryptocurrencies than the All-to-All Dissemination protocol AD, it should be refined to support a genuinelypractical implementation, allowing an agent to: (i) Follow another agent starting from an arbitrary block (not from its initial block), in particular from the first block recording a transaction between the two agents. (ii) Unfollow an agent, for example when financial relations between the two have ended, permanently or temporarily. Such extensions to GD are possible with little additional implementation effort and with some additional mathematical effort for specifying them and proving them correct.

Grassroots and the Internet. Formally, the underlying Internet protocol stack is not grassroots, as IP addresses are allocated top-down, with a central entity (IANA) at the top. Does this mean that striving for grassroots protocols is futile? We do not think so. First, the full benefits of grassroots protocols can be reaped as long as IANA does not abuse IP address allocation and Internet access is not restricted or abused. Second, if the local regime restricts access to servers/services, but does not shut-down the Internet, grassroots protocols may still operate. Third, mobile mesh networks or SPANs (Smartphone ad-hoc networks) [1] allow communities to communicate in times of strife (e.g. demonstrations against the regime) without an Internet provider (but current designs are vulnerable [1]). Extending the UDP-based Cordial Grassroots Dissemination protocol to a mobile mesh protocol is a goal of our future research. Achieving it would realize the original vision of Xerox PARC’s Bayou [10] project, of peer-to-peer update upon physical proximity.

Acknowledgements. Ehud Shapiro is the Incumbent of The Harry Weinrebe Professorial Chair of Computer Science and Biology at the Weizmann Institute. I thank Nimrod Talmon and Oded Naor for their comments on an earlier version of the manuscript and Idit Keidar for pointing me to related work.