2nd International Workshop on Distributed Infrastructure for Common Good

6-10 December 2021, Online

Colocated with Middleware 2021

To attend the workshop, you need to register (free of charge) for the Middleware conference. You can register using this online form. Further details such as the link to the Zoom session will be provided by the Middleware organizers to the registrants.

About

The DICG21 workshop is co-located with ACM/IFIP Middleware 2021, which takes place on December 6-10, 2021 online.

This workshop is focussed on distributed infrastructures that enable human interactions and economic activity in general with a focus on the common good. Daily life is transitioning to digital infrastructures, including friendships, education, employment, health-care, finances, family connections, and more. These infrastructures can contribute to the common good enabling us to work together to improve the wellbeing of people in our society and the wider world.

Call for Papers

Private ownership of infrastructures does not seem to solve the traditional problems of Tragedy of Commons: pollution (spam and bot network on social media), over-exhaustion of resources (net neutrality), and fairness (gig economy). Privatization of digital commons also introduces the potential for monopolistic abuse, such as: stifled innovation, price discriminations, and distorted market knowledge discovery. We aim to explore within this workshop viable alternatives to 'winner-takes-all' platform ecosystems. Failure of market mechanisms to address these issues suggest that such infrastructures could be treated as commons. We recognize the promising avenue of research build on Nobel laureate Ostroms idea that commons is the third way to organize complex human cooperation, beyond capitalist regulation or governmental regulations.

Scientific challenges include, but are not limited to: the Tragedy of the Commons in such shared-resource systems, fake identities with Sybil attacks, robot economy, trustworthiness in general, self-organizing machine learning, market infrastructures in cashless society, and governance issues in decentralized systems.

This workshop focuses on the tools, frameworks, and algorithms to support the common good in a distributed environment. Both theoretical work and experimental approaches are welcomed. Reproducibility, open source and public datasets are endorsed. Each submission must clearly contribute to the middleware community, to facilitate the development of applications by providing higher-level abstractions for better programmability, performance, scalability, and security.

Scope:

The topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Distributed algorithms
  • Trust and reputation systems
  • Fault-tolerance
  • Gossip-based learning and behavioral models
  • Self-sovereign identity
  • Peer-to-peer networks
  • Game-theoretic approaches to tragedy of commons
  • Markets, mechanism design, and incentives
  • Computational social choice
  • Incentives for participants
  • Fairness in market systems
  • Decentralized governance
Important Dates:

  • Paper submissions: September 3, 2021 September 16, 2021 (AOE)
  • Notification of acceptance: September 28, 2021 October 9, 2021 (AOE)
  • Camera ready version: October 15, 2021

Submission Guidelines:

Full papers can have a maximum length of 6 pages in the standard, 10pt ACM SIGPLAN format. The page limits include figures, tables, and references. All submitted papers will be judged through double-blind reviewing.

Please submit your manuscripts to https://dicg21.hotcrp.com.

Publication of Accepted Papers:

All accepted papers will appear in a Middleware 2021 companion proceedings, which will be available in the ACM Digital Library prior to the workshop. At least one of the authors will have to register for the workshop and present the paper.

Program

All times are specified in Eastern Time (ET). Click here to see the start time of the event in your time zone.

Opening
  • 11:00 - 11:05 - Welcome
  • 11:05 - 11:35 - Keynote: Protecting user agency with local-first software

    Martin Kleppmann (University of Cambridge)

  • 11:35 - 11:50 - Keynote Discussion
  • 11:50 - 12:00 - Coffee Break
Paper Presentations
  • 12:00 - 12:20 - Decentralized Collaborative Version Control

    Bulat Nasrulin (TU Delft), Johan Pouwelse (TU Delft)

    Abstract

    Decentralized systems offer alternatives to Big Tech. However, maintaining availability and correctness despite faults and manipulations in decentralized settings is challenging. In this paper, we introduce a collaborative model that is capable of exposing all observable lying, all cheating, and all faults, while only requiring merely unreliable message exchange. Our model is based on conflicting operations on arbitrary data, set reconciliation, and conflict resolution strategies to deal with branches. It is sufficiently general to support applications like Wikipedia, Github, and Datahub in a non-profit, collaborative, and decentralized form. Our protocol guarantees strong convergence despite any Byzantine nodes. We exhibit four conflict resolution strategies that cover the spectrum of possible use cases. A remarkable property of our model is that two honest nodes are guaranteed to converge despite an arbitrary-large number of faulty nodes.

  • 12:20 - 12:40 - A libP2P Implementation of the Bitcoin Block Exchange Protocol

    Barbara Guidi (Università di Pisa) , Andrea Michienzi (Università di Pisa) , Laura Ricci (Università di Pisa) ,

    Abstract

    The progressive decentralization of web services brought a need for new instruments to support the development of P2P protocols and applications. The only tools available are network or event simulators, which help the development in artificial or extremely controlled environments. They usually provide low-level support with completely unstructured networks. LibP2P is a library that tries to solve all such problems, letting the users easily deploy nodes on the Internet. It also comes with a set of functionalities, to solve the most important problems of P2P networks, such as NAT traversal, peer and content discovery and routing, and much more. In this paper, we employ LibP2P to implement min-bitcoin, a minimal version of the protocol used by the Bitcoin network to exchange the blocks. We evaluate our implementation to assess the applicability of LibP2P in a real-life blockchain scenario. The evaluation uncovers that setting up communication channels is time-consuming, but data transfers are fast. Additionally, LibP2P efficiently manages cases in which nodes are behind a NAT, under VPN, or in geographically distant places.

  • 12:40 - 13:00 - UniCon: Universal and Scalable Infrastructure for Digital Asset Management

    Pablo Rodrigo Valero (TU Delft), Martijn de Vos (TU Delft), Johan Pouwelse (TU Delft)

    Abstract

    Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) leverage blockchain technology to certify and transfer ownership of digital assets to individuals. NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain have garnered significant attention recently, with a trading volume of over $2 billion in Q1 2021 only. At the same time, established NFT solutions have low flexibility, limited scalability, and high transaction fees. These deficiencies make them impractical to use at a larger scale to manage digital assets. We present UniCon, a universal and scalable infrastructure for digital asset management. The key idea of UniCon is to track asset ownership in a tracking blockchain while making minimal assumptions on the capabilities of this blockchain. UniCon enables the exchange of asset ownership in any digital currency, unlike current NFT platforms. We devise a system architecture and build a prototype of UniCon. We use a scalable distributed ledger that is highly suitable for the tracking of asset ownership. Our prototype enables a decentralized ecosystem to manage and trade assets.

  • 13:00 - 13:15 - Coffee Break
Invited Talks
  • 13:15 - 13:30 - Platform Cooperativism and the Future of Blockchain Governance

    Nathan Schneider (University of Colorado)

  • 13:30 - 13:40 - Q/A
  • 13:40 - 13:55 - Towards Plurality Preserving Platforms

    Michael Zargham (BlockScience)

    Abstract

    Middleware combines primitives exposed at a lower level and exposes features which serve as primitives to a higher level of activity. Fundamentally it creates rules and automates the administration of those rules to streamline the higher level activity. Economic protocols (whether they are implemented with web2 or web3 tech stacks) are a form of middleware. In this talk, we will examine the design and maintainance of economic protocols with attention to how what is measured affects what is valued. The question of how power in such systems may be more or less centralized (again, irrespective of tech stack) is considered, with an emphasis on how to preserve a plurality of perpsectives.

  • 13:55 - 14:05 - Q/A
  • 14:05 - 14:20 - Scarce resources in Web3: Nobody Goes There Anymore, It’s Too Crowded

    Lane Rettig (SpaceMesh)

    Abstract

    As Henry George first articulated more than 100 years ago, and as we’ve seen play out in cities from San Francisco to Paris to Hong Kong, land-like assets (those that are scarce, durable, and required for production) do not tend towards allocative efficiency without careful design of markets and incentives (and cause great economic harm as a result). While blockchains, DAOs, NFTs, and now metaverses hold incredible promise for novel forms of asset ownership, coordination, and governance, thus far nearly all high profile projects have utterly failed to address this age old challenge and have unsurprisingly experienced digital land ownership crises that threaten their viability. This talk will present several relevant case studies and explore novel, Web3-enabled strategies taken by various platforms and communities to allocate land and other scarce assets more efficiently.

  • 14:20 - 14:30 - Q/A
Closing
  • 14:30 - 14:45 - General Discussion and Closing Remarks
Organization

General Co-chairs:

Organization Chairs:

  • Can Umut Ileri (TU Delft, The Netherlands)
  • Georgy Ishmaev (TU Delft, The Netherlands)

Program Committee (Tentative):

  • Ozalp Babaoglu (University of Bologna, Italy)
  • Kapal Dev (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland)
  • Nigel Gilbert (University of Surrey, UK)
  • Davide Grossi (University of Groningen, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
  • Seif Haridi (KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden)
  • Márk Jelasity (University of Szeged, Hungary)
  • Martin Kleppmann (University of Cambridge, UK)
  • Oznur Ozkasap (Koc University, Turkey)
  • François Taïani (IRISA/Inria, Université de Rennes 1, France)