The social consequences of blockchain technology

The social consequences of blockchain technology

As is so often the case, when new, really new meets people and their surroundings, the first, unintelligible astonishment is followed by bright enthusiasm with its inevitable exaggerations.

What we currently have around the subject Blockchain or the experience of cryptocurrencies corresponds exactly to such a sequence of wait-and-see fear and excessive hype. Reports are now being made about capital increases totaling billions of euros from companies whose reality only exists in virtual space and which may not really exist in this respect.

Share prices from relevant providers are shooting up sharply, and of course there are already contemporaries who knew everything before and who are noisily lucky winners. Let us give them a treat. Disillusionment will follow the rush of heights, that’s for sure. Less talk is then made about the indispensable losses.

The blockchain wins

blockchain wins

What is also certain is that the phenomenon of blockchains and the cryptocurrencies belonging to their area will no longer disappear. The technology is too sophisticated, its effects are too powerful to be banished from the world again. And above all: thanks to the conceivably high level of decentralization, your resilience is too high for – ultimately, selective interventions of the technology could ultimately cause real damage.

That is why it is worthwhile for all the despondent who cannot benefit directly from the current blockchain hype as a result of being sidelined to deal with the matter. In one way or another, you will encounter blockchain technology again and again in the future.

Blockchain is a real disruption and therefore a big challenge for our current legal system

Ensure ownership

What do blockchains do? Actually only one thing: thanks to their unambiguous linkage to the past, they provide clear certainty. For example, by assigning things to other things or to specific people. The question of ownership is thus solved instead of through an institutional link through the existence of a genuine algorithm.

Instead of a complex, to a certain extent also uncertain chaining of cooperating instances, which provide information about the respective status of property rights, there is a cipher that provides certainty. Because it is organized in a decentralized manner and therefore cannot fall into the hands of monopolistic violence, expropriations, for which the institutions can be misused, are subject to very limited limits.

In other words, the property question, one of the great and ever-present problems of mankind, is changing. The individual, often protected by the institution but also betrayed again and again, is put in a position to regulate his own situation. The keyword is “empowerment”, and its scope cannot be overestimated. Just as in nature, thanks to DNA, “ownership” of the inheritance properties has been placed in the hands of the individual and the nature of reproduction is therefore a private and not an institutional matter, the relationship between things and people will now be de-institutionalized can.

“Using blockchains and self-fulfilling contractual relationships, for example, corruption, one of the worst scourges of humanity, could be eliminated.”

One of the most important challenges of the new technology lies in its anarchic character. Because what we call society essentially consists of institutions. These institutions live from the connection points to the individuals.

At every step of everyday life, we experience these starting points: when shopping in the form of VAT, in road traffic with the red light or the camera to enforce it, in banking in future in the automatic exchange of information to collect taxes.

More empowerment at the individual peer-to-peer level means the loss of points of contact with the institutions. Depending on the political attitude, this may or may not be welcomed. That is not the point here. Rather, the protagonists of blockchains must be aware that the conflict is not only programmed, but inherent. It is in the nature of things.

The question of power will arise. So that it does not degenerate violently, the implications of blockchain applications must be discussed at an early stage. “Whatever you do, do it wisely and consider the end”: Aesop’s motto is not the wrong thing, especially in view of the unheard-of potential that technology holds for many social issues.

Blockchains and self-fulfilling contractual relationships could, for example, eliminate corruption, one of the worst scourges of humanity. For this and many other dreams to come true, a broad civil society debate is needed.

Bitcoins are just the beginning

Bitcoins are just a application of blockchain technology.

How fierce the resistance of the institutions against the new technologies may be is illustrated by the recent round-up of JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon regarding Bitcoin: “If we had a trader who trades with Bitcoin, we would fire him in a second.

“The idea of ​​entrusting the production of money and the operation of the money system with predictable algorithms instead of human-dominated institutions with monopoly power can no longer be banished from the world.”

This is for two reasons. First, it violates our rules. Second, because it’s stupid. » You can’t do business in an area where a thin air currency is invented. Bitcoin is “fraud” in which only murderers, drug dealers and residents of North Korea, Ecuador and Venezuela are allowed to invest. So much for the CEO of a leading global investment bank, which, as such, has always been a long way from trading in “thin air” …

Bitcoins and blockchains are not the same. Bitcoins are just a (fairly sophisticated) application of blockchain technology. It may be that the bitcoins will disappear, it may be that you prohibit them, that you put their owners in jail, or whatever. But the idea of ​​entrusting the production of money and the operation of the money system with predictable algorithms instead of human-dominated institutions with monopoly power can no longer be banished from the world, Jamie Dimon or not.

In other words: setbacks, times of disillusionment, yes, a kind of “war against cryptocurrencies” and the like are not only conceivable, but likely. The faster the blockchain community succeeds in making its technology understandable to the general public and producing positive, indisputable use cases, the more smoothly the juxtaposition of obsolete institutions and the new technology will be. This can be understood as a kind of call.

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