I’m interested in understanding how the blockchain potentially relates to social and political systems, and how it links to resilience. I’m only at the beginning of this; for people who have been into cryptocurrencies and the blockchain for some time the points below may be self-evident (they weren’t for me though).
The blockchain seems to open up new paradigms on how things can be organised.
Centralised or decentralised organisation? Now we have a potential alternative in the distributed network.
In theory this approach could be/ have:
- Very low operating costs with no or very limited need for staff or dedicated infrastructure to run the system; users can run it on their own computers/ smartphones
- Immutable and trustless; systems cannot be doctored (if set up right), changes cannot retroactively be made into the system, actors don’t need to trust each other for the system to work
- Transparent and accountable, what happened in the past is fixed. All is registered and potentially accessible and traceable. As the criteria for operation are clear from the beginning and can in principle not be changed, the system can be set up so that corruption is much more difficult
- Run independent of geography; can be run locally, but as long as the system stays connected, a microcredit scheme in Mali can run on nodes operating in Asia, Asia shutting down? Rev up connected nodes in South America and you’ll never notice that your underlying ‘organisation’ has completely changed.
- Almost instantly scalable and replicable; multiplying the number of nodes to increase coverage is potentially almost instant, need to set up a similar system elsewhere, change the criteria, roll out enough connected nodes and you’re up-and-running
- ‘Trusted’ third parties (e.g. banks, lawyers, administrators, government) for routine transactions between actors? Not necessary anymore
- The system gets completely or partially knocked out? Set up some connected nodes, inject the last block that you can find on any old node, and you’re system is up-and-running again as if nothing had happened… As long as the network is connected and sufficient nodes operational, a significant part can be knocked out and it’s still working
- Exchange of value/ data/ information; potentially very fast and reliable. Depending on how it is set up the info can be very private or completely open
These are just some of the key points. Still have a lot to read/ analyse more, but the potential, both for good and for bad, is huge. This is going to fundamentally change the way many things work in society. The potential for blockchain approaches to support local development, collaboration and making connections is tremendous.
There are obviously issues with this system (e.g. we like to be able to turn things back if something went wrong, total transparency may ‘not be ideal’), it also opens up the potential of extreme control of persons.
We just got a new a new toolbox, what are we going to do with it once we figure out what the tools can do?
What are your thoughts on this? Are there other characteristics of the blockchain with regard to social/ political systems that you think I missed?