- Theseus Criterion
Definition of "Theseus Criterion"
- A test for determining how decentralized an organization is. The test is as follows: suppose the organization has (N) people, and aliens try to pick (K) people in the organization at a time (eg. once per week) and zap them out of existence, replacing each group with (K) new people who know nothing about the organization. For how high can the organization function? Dictatorships fail at (K = 1) once the dictator is zapped away; the US government does slightly better but would still be in serious trouble if all 638 members of the Senate and Congress were to disappear, where as something like Bitcoin or BitTorrent is resilient for extremely high (K) because new agents can simply follow their economic incentives to fill in the missing roles. A stricter test, the Byzantine Theseus criterion, involves randomly substituting (K) users at a time with malicious actors for some time before replacing them with new users.