What is even decentralized?

It’s not clear to me how decentralized the Incognito project is at the moment. The intention of this topic is to summarize the current state of decentralization, I’ll update it once I learn more. :slightly_smiling_face:

Component Design* Operation* Comment
Network :x: :x: Full nodes can mirror the blockchain data, but only the Incognito team can create new blocks.
Bridges :question: :question:
pDEX :white_check_mark:** :white_check_mark: Trades can be created by anyone on any full node.
Mobile App :x: :x: Only operates with official network node. Not able to distribute iOS outside App Store.
Web Wallet :question: - In development.
Web DEX :question: - In development.
Governance :question: :question:

*) Decentralized design and operation.
**) Built on a centralized blockchain.


The main question on my mind is; if you turn off all of the Incognito-operated servers today (nodes, web, bridges, everything!). In how deep shit are we (and our funds) in?

I want to ask the Incognito team (@alias) a series of questions to start this topic off.

The network is run centralized today, is it decentralized by design?

  1. You have previously talked about the fixed nodes filling the role of block proposers. If you turn off the 22 fixed nodes today, what will happen to the network?
    Update: The network will stop producing blocks.


  1. If you turn off the public bridges today, does unshielding stop, or are there already redundancies?
  2. How can I set up my own bridge to convert pBTC back to BTC?

This is basically the iOS and Android App today, and they are not decentralized. Android could be, but Apple will always control iOS.

  1. Is there a plan to allow you to choose to run the Incognito App directly with your own full node? If so, why not now already?
  2. Will the web wallet be centralized or a browser extension designed to run without official incognito servers?

In my view, what users see and use today is a CEX built on a decentralized protocol.

  1. Will the web DEX be the first real pDEX?
  1. You have previously talked about the fixed nodes filling the role of block proposers. If you turn off the 22 fixed nodes today, what will happen to the network?

The network will stop producing blocks.

We are increasing the validators from the community. When the dynamic committee size feature is deployed, and committee size reaches 48 members or more, we achieve this goal: “We get a world where, block production is centralized, block validation is trustless and highly decentralized, and censorship is still prevented.” by Viatlik at https://vitalik.ca/general/2021/12/06/endgame.html.

In the final step, we have to decentralize the block production. We are studying to use PoA or similar protocols to achieve this goal.


Ouch, that’s bad news.

There’s a distinction between being centralized by operation because you only have a few players, and be centralized by design where no one can take over the role. The latter is a single-point of failure.

If you have a network or power outage at your datacenter, everything stops? If your system has been compromised, the whole network is taken down for days until it’s fixed?

I understand the security implications. You don’t want bad actors ready to take over and corrupt the chain the moment fixed nodes fails. But “all eggs in one basket” comes to mind.

On the incognito.org/infrastructure page it says that Incognito is a decentralized blockchain. Please remove this, it’s dishonest and misleading.

Which takes me to my next concern, the ownership, operation and security of the bridges. If I’m getting this correct, the trustless non-custodial bridges uses a multisig wallet where the private keys are split between seven fixed Incognito owned and operated beacon validators? This means that the Incognito team have the only and exclusive access to the underlying shielded assets? How can these assets be recovered if your datacenter burns down? If your government seizes all your servers? If one of your team members have sticky fingers?

You do have to consider that not everything can be decentralised right out of the gate. It comes in steps.


Yes, which is kind of the point of this topic in the first place, to map what is what. With the word “decentralized” and “DEX” thrown around, I must admit I thought we had come a bit further. :wink:

I like that there is no reference to the term DEX anymore on the website. But it does still tell me it is a decentralized blockchain.

Update: Oh, almost, I missed this one.
Then again, PancakeSwap is referred to as a DEX because it uses a decentralized protocol on a centralized blockchain…

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