ARTIS governance has the goal of growing and maintaining a robust, trustworthy, open and accessible computing and storage resource. Instead of aiming for having a set of perfect rules right from the start, we take the humble approach of co-evolving the rules with the network, learning from our own and other people’s experiences and from scientific research about how to successfully govern common-pool resources.
ARTIS employs both identity and economics for building an incentive system.
In its first iteration, ARTIS is using the proven Aura consensus algorithm of the Parity Ethereum implementation. The set of "trustnodes" (technically: "validator set") is controlled by a consensus contract which itself is controlled by a set of governance contracts. Aura employs automated (and byzantine fault tolerant) majority voting for every new block. The consensus contract controls the mandatory collateral provided for every trustnode.
Once the network grows bigger, Aura will be replaced by the Honeybadger algorithm due to its superior properties.
ARTIS relies on a set of smart contracts which have exclusive control over the essential system parameters, like the set of trustnodes and the block reward.
They also allow to impose punishments on misbehaving trustnodes and include a well-defined mechanism for self-update without hard forks which allows continuous and transparent evolution of this system.
Trustnodes can create proposals and vote on them. Succeeding proposals get enforced by the contracts themselves.
While (initially) only trustnodes can participate in decision making, everybody can monitor the process by observing the chain.
It's important to understand that the governance contracts are not supposed to replace all human decision making. They are like an automated judge who takes decisions based on the input of humans and a set of objective rules. However, these rules are mathematically defined and can thus be applied much faster and cheaper than by any court system and they can get enforced immediately without relying on an additional system (such as the police).
"Trustnodes" are nodes responsible for authoring new blocks. They are operated by "trustnode operators" and need to be located in a European country which belongs to the EEA, but not to the five eyes. Trustnode operators are required to reveal their identity, provide 4.5M ATS as collateral and commit to the currently valid set of rules. They are expected to reliably operate their nodes and to actively participate in the governance process.
Trustnode operators are heavily incentivized to behave in a way which benefits the network. Any form of misbehavior is likely to be detected due to the transparent nature of the system. Besides loss of reputation, this can also lead to considerable economic punishment (initiated by other trustnodes and enforced by the governance contracts), ranging from temporary loss of block rewards to collateral confiscation or even loss of the trustnode role.
The ARTIS Network utilizes on-chain voting via DApps and off-chain discussions prior to that voting involving more and more stakeholders over time. It therefore lives up to democratic values, while staying highly efficient and transparent to observers who are not running a trustnode on the ARTIS Network eligible to vote. A balanced governance system depends on many decentralization aspects and therefore the selection of new trustnodes is done carefully. Some essential aspects are:
All trustnodes must be physically located within the European Economic Area or Switzerland, but not in Great Britain (member of 5-eyes alliance). Individuals and organizations running trustnodes are publicly known and thus risk their reputation, permanent removal and stake if they act against the network.
The security model for the ARTIS Network consists of two elements - one is identity and the other is stake. Every trustnode is rewarded in the same way and faces the same possible punishment if it is acting against the network, which can be monitored by everyone. On a technical level, the currently used Proof of Authority consensus will be exchanged for Honeybadger with superior liveness and little operational variance.
Trustnode operators in the ARTIS Network are a diverse and independent group of individuals and organizations. Their main responsibilities are the flawless operation of the ARTIS Network and the assurance to be and remain an attractive blockchain network for various use cases. This is done through the on-chain governance mechanism of creating and voting on ballots that can for example add or remove trustnodes, decide on hard- and soft-forks or changing gas prices.