Wow. Aside from the fact that there should definitely be a movie made of these escapades (The Anti-Social Network?), the DAO debacle spotlights something very important. It is past time to acknowledge that governance of public blockchains is happening, by actual identifiable people, and that these people’s actions impact consumers.
In other settings, such as a corporation, we call the people who take comparable actions officers, directors and controlling shareholders. Along with these titles, we burden them with fiduciary duties because we recognize that others trust them to make good decisions on their behalf. We should treat those that govern public blockchains the same way.
Throughout the DAO episode, the Ethereum core developers have made critical decisions that impact Ethereum users. These include political choices (Should the blockchain be immutable? Should we treat the code exploitation as theft?) and technical choices (How do we write the code to take back the funds?).
The powerful miners of Ethereum, in voting for the hard fork by running the new software, made similarly critical choices for the network.
With millions of dollars of other people’s money on the line, these were enormous decisions for this small group of people to make. This exercise of power makes them look an awful lot like fiduciaries of ether holders, and maybe even of investors in the DAO. Notably, the core developers and big miners have been making similarly consequential decisions since the blockchain’s creation — the hard fork drama just makes this more transparent.
Treating the core developers and big miners of public blockchains as fiduciaries would set a clear standard for performance, make them accountable for actions that significantly impact other people, and ensure that they take their creation and operation of these public systems seriously.