the distributed architecture underpinning the initial Bitcoin anarcho-capitalist, libertarian project, ‘blockchain’ entered wider public imagination and vocabulary only very recently. Yet in a short space of time it has become more mainstream and synonymous with a spectacular variety of commercial and civic ‘problem’/’solution’ concepts and ideals. From commodity provenance, to electoral fraud prevention, to a wholesale decentralisation of power and the banishing of the exploitative practices of ‘middlemen’, blockchain stakeholders are nothing short of evangelical in their belief that it is a force for good. For these reasons and more the technology has captured the attention of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, global corporations and governments the world over.Blockchain may indeed offer a unique technical opportunity to change cultures of transparency and trust within cyberspace, and as ‘revolutionary’ and ‘disruptive’ has the potential to shift global socioeconomic and political conventions. But as a yet largely unregulated, solutionist-driven phenomenon, blockchain exists squarely within the boundaries of capitalist logic and reason, fast becoming central to the business models of many sources of financial and political power the technology was specifically designed to undo, and increasingly allied to neoliberal strategies with scant regard for collective, political or democratic accountability in the public interest. Regulating Blockchain casts a critical eye over the technology, its ‘ecosystem’ of stakeholders, and offers a challenge to the prevailing discourse proclaiming it to be the great techno-social enabler of our times.
In this paper we initiate a quantitative study of the decentralization of the governance structures of Bitcoin and Ethereum. In particular, we scraped the open-source repositories associated with their respective codebases and improvement proposals to find the number of people contributing to the code itself and to the overall discussion. We then present different metrics to quantify decentralization, both in each of the cryptocurrencies and, for comparison, in two popular open-source programming languages: Clojure and Rust. We find that for both cryptocurrencies and programming languages, there is usually a handful of people that accounts for most of the discussion. We also look into the effect of forks in Bitcoin and Ethereum, and find that there is little intersection between the communities of the original currencies and those of the forks
At the tip of the hype cycle, trust-free systems based on blockchain technology promise to revolutionize interactions between peers that require high degrees of trust, usually facilitated by third party providers. Peer-to-peer platforms for resource sharing represent a frequently discussed field of application for “trust-free” blockchain technology. However, trust between peers plays a crucial and complex role in virtually all sharing economy interactions. In this article, we hence shed light on how these conflicting notions may be resolved and explore the potential of blockchain technology for dissolving the issue of trust in the sharing economy. By means of a dual literature review we find that 1) the conceptualization of trust differs substantially between the contexts of blockchain and the sharing economy, 2) blockchain technology is to some degree suitable to replace trust in platform providers, and that 3) trust-free systems are hardly transferable to sharing economy interactions and will crucially depend on the development of trusted interfaces for blockchain-based sharing economy ecosystems.
The European Review of Private Law has a special issue on Smart contracts.
- ‘The Legal Meaning of Smart Contracts’, Riccardo De Caria, Issue 6, pp. 731–751
- ‘The Formation of Blockchain-based Smart Contracts in the Light of Contract Law’, Mateja Durovic, André Janssen, Issue 6, pp. 753–771
- ‘Interpretation of Contracts and Smart Contracts: Smart Interpretation or Interpretation of Smart Contracts?’, Michel Cannarsa, Issue 6, pp. 773–785
- ‘Force Majeure and Excuses in Smart Contracts’, Eric Tjong Tjin Tai, Issue 6, pp. 787–804
- ‘Quandary of Smart Contracts and Remedies: The Role of Contract Law and Self-Help Remedies’, Larry A. Dimatteo, Cristina Poncibó, Issue 6, pp. 805–824
- ‘Blockchain & Data Protection … and Why They Are Not on a Collision Course’, Lokke Moerel, Issue 6, pp. 825–851
- ‘Electronic Platforms: Openness, Transparency & Privacy Issues’, Eliza Mik, Issue 6, pp. 853–870
- ‘Contract Law and Smart Contracts: Property and Security Rights Issues’, Louis-Daniel Muka Tshibende, Issue 6, pp. 871–883
- ‘Smart Contracts as the (new) Power of the Powerless? The Stakes for Consumers’, Oscar Borgogno, Issue 6, pp. 885–902
- ‘Digital Platforms: Regulation and Liability in the EU Law’, Piotr Tereszkiewicz, Issue 6, pp. 903–920
- ‘Will Innovative Technology Result in Innovative Legal Frameworks? – Smart Contracts in China’, Jia Wang, Chen Lei, Issue 6, pp. 921–942
- ‘Smart Contracts: A Synoposis’, Linda Tissaoui, Joyling Liu, Dan M. Marcotte, Issue 6, pp. 943–949
This paper provides an analysis of how concepts pertinent to legal contracts can influence certain aspects of their digital implementation through smart contracts, as inspired by recent developments in distributed ledger technology. We discuss how properties of imperative and declarative languages including the underlying architectures to support contract management and lifecycle apply to various aspects of legal contracts. We then address these properties in the context of several blockchain architectures. While imperative languages are commonly used to implement smart contracts, we find that declarative languages provide more natural ways to deal with certain aspects of legal contracts and their automated management.
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.
What is the economic potential and the risks of crypto assets? Regulators and supervisors have taken great interest in these new markets. This Policy Contribution is a version of a paper written at the request of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the informal ECOFIN meeting of EU finance ministers and central bank governors.Read file CloseView Fullscreen
With an increasing number of technologies supporting transactions over distance and replacing traditional forms of interaction, designing for trust in mediated interactions has become a key concern for researchers in human computer interaction (HCI). While much of this research focuses on increasing users’ trust, we present a framework that shifts the perspective towards factors that support trustworthy behavior. In a second step, we analyze how the presence of these factors can be signalled. We argue that it is essential to take a systemic perspective for enabling well-placed trust and trustworthy behavior in the long term. For our analysis we draw on relevant research from sociology, economics, and psychology, as well as HCI. We identify contextual properties (motivation based on temporal, social, and institutional embeddedness) and the actor’s intrinsic properties (ability, and motivation based on internalized norms and benevolence) that form the basis of trustworthy behavior. Our analysis provides a frame of reference for the design of studies on trust in technology-mediated interactions, as well as a guide for identifying trust requirements in design processes. We demonstrate the application of the framework in three scenarios: call centre interactions, B2C e-commerce, and voice-enabled on-line gaming.
This article departs from the post 2008 financial crisis context, from its intersection with technological developments, and from the socio-technical arrangements configured by this conjuncture. It explores plans and actions – of mainstream financial institutions, and of a community seeking for alternatives to centralised economy and governance – for the use of digital platforms supported by blockchain infrastructure. In particular, it explores how such plans and actions relate to conceptions of public and peer trust and how they appear to produce, or reinforce, reputational imaginaries and quantification practices within added value philosophies. By illuminating a tension between the two identified case examples, I seek to render alternative communities’ and financial institutions’ conceptions, imaginaries and practices (more) visible and to analyse their organisational marketing strategies – where there is a pragmatic and discursive operationalisation of technology as well as of trust as means to gain more self-sovereignty in action, while navigating markets and regulated actual world contexts.
THE COMMITTEE ON BANKING, HOUSING, AND URBAN AFFAIRS will meet in OPEN SESSION to conduct a hearing on “Exploring the Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Ecosystem.” The witnesses will be Dr. Nouriel Roubini, Professor of Economics and International Business, New York University Stern School of Business; and Mr. Peter Van Valkenburgh, Director of Research, Coin Center.All hearings are webcast live and will not be available until the hearing starts. Individuals with disabilities who require an auxiliary aid or service, including closed captioning service for webcast hearings, should contact the committee clerk at 202-224-7391 at least three business days in advance of the hearing date.