Validation rules for blockchain research – the third report in our Blockchain&Society Research Nodes series is out!

In December 2018, we organised a two-day workshop dedicated to blockchain scholarly research. The workshop brought together teams from four different projects: the Blockchain&Society Policy Research Lab from Amsterdam, P2P Models from Madrid, MoneyLab from Amsterdam, and Weizenbaum Institute’s Trust in Distributed Environments research group from Berlin. The workshop’s overall goal was to incite interactions between the projects, to explore common research possibilities intersecting between distinct projects, and to provide a breeding ground for discussions on each project’s research focus. These are the highlights:

  • (Dis)trust in institutions and the abolishment of intermediaries present issues of particular legal, governance and technological interest; knowledge transfer for interdisciplinary scholarly research in these topics is necessary.
  • Decentralized technological infrastructure and cryptocurrencies could be used in the context of commons-based communities. The preconditions, effects, and implications of this model require further attention and empirical research.
  • Translating legal norms into code and creating autonomous governance systems on-chain is a particular research challenge; it is related not solely to smart contract regulation but also to decentralized platforms with potential to create enforceable agreements.

Read the full report here.

Private Blockchains: Uncertain Area Under EU GDPR Privacy Regulations

Private Blockchains Occupy Uncertain Area Under EU GDPR Privacy Regulations

A new study that was undertaken by Queen Mary University of London and the University of Cambridge, UK, came to some interesting conclusions about how blockchain could fit into the EU’s complex regulatory structure.

Source: Private Blockchains: Uncertain Area Under EU GDPR Privacy Regulations

Trust in decentralized data infrastructures – the second report in our Blockchain&Society Research Nodes series is out!

In May, 2018 we organized a high level expert meeting on the topic of Trust in decentralized data infrastructures. We  discussed the role of markets, the government, laws, and society in governing trust on blockchain tech. These are the highlights:

  • Contrary to the dominant discourse blockchain technologies are not trustless. In fact trust is a major, unresolved challenge related to the technology.
  • Practical applications that are able to prove the worth of decentralized datasets are yet to emerge
  • Extensive interdisciplinary education programs are necessary to facilitate the knowledge transfer among different societal domains, and to unlock the full potential of this technological innovation
  • Blockchain policies should ensure that the technology does not interfere with justice and democracy, and should actively balance economic interests with fundamental rights
  • The development of blockchain governance frameworks is probably the most important challenge in the short to mid-term.
  • There is a potential of, and a need for multidisciplinary collaborations inside UvA, and with other partners in the Amsterdam region of these topics.

Read the full report here.

Blockchain&Society Research Nodes #1: blockchain technologies and GDPR

We are proud to announce the Blockchain & Society Policy Research Lab’s research notes series: the Blockchain&Society Research Nodes!

The inaugural issue is about the intersection of EU data protection regulation and blockchain technologies, based on the “GDPR, data policy and compliance” workshop organized by the EU Blockchain Observatory in June 2018.

Download the report here.

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The Dutch Blockchain Research Agenda

In the last few months Balazs was participating in the creation of the Dutch Blockchain Research Agenda for NWO, the Dutch Science Agency.

The Agenda spells out the research priorities, and topics where more interdisciplinary research is needed.  To quote the Agenda: “Given the complex fabric of technological and societal questions around blockchain, future research seems to require at least the awareness of this multi-disciplinarity, or even seek collaboration across the boundaries of disciplines. Blockchain research carries many challenges on the level of research design and methodology. As is the case with systems focused research, the proper demarcation of scope of future research projects and programmes is essential. This scope also sets the disciplinary mix that needs to be involved. At the same time, it should be ensured that the required disciplinary progress can happen, especially since different disciplines require research at different time scales.

Since blockchain technology is a moving target, in terms of research methodology one must also consider more exploratory, theory generating,
high risk and open-ended approaches, including tools such as mathematical modelling and analysis, business modelling, techno-economic analysis, functional and non-functional design and testing, action research, simulations and experiments in research labs and living labs, horizon scanning, etc. As this research agenda includes both fundamental and applied research, it requires active involvement from non-academic stakeholders from public bodies, industry, market sectors and the general public.

Another methodological challenge is the futureproofing of research. In such a volatile field, it is often difficult to distinguish issues relevant only in the short term, versus long term blockchain specific problems, versus fundamental research questions that cut across multiple digital technologies and have been and will be with us for decades.

There are several streams of investment that fuel research in the blockchain technology domain. Private investment through venture capital and
ICOs (crowdsourcing) as well as public investment by governments, universities, and research funding bodies should be aligned in a smart way.
In that context it seems inevitable to identify the fields that Dutch academia, research institutes and research departments of Dutch organisations are
best positioned to answer, either because they already excel in certain domains, or because they want to build skills and research capacity through
strategic investment.

The Agenda is now public And can be downloaded from here:

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