When Bitcoin Grows UpJohn LanchesterIt’s impossible to discuss new developments in money without thinking for a moment about what money is. The best place to start thinking about that is with money itself. Consider the UK’s most common paper money, the English five or ten or twenty quid note. On one side we have a famous dead person: Elizabeth Fry or Charles Darwin or Adam Smith, depending on whether it’s a five or ten or twenty. On the other we have a picture of the queen, and just above that the words ‘I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of’, and then the value of the note, and the signature of the cashier of the Bank of England.
“There is a tendency in computer-land to seek technical solutions to political problems,” Ceglowski says. “In my opinion, the focus on the blockchain (and related ideas) falls into that misguided category. The idea that we should look to algorithms and technology to reclaim our freedoms is fundamentally undemocratic. It presupposes a technical elite who would ‘fix the Internet’ for everyone else. While I can see how this appeals to romantic ideas of hacking the system, I see it as a dangerous trend at worst, and a distraction at best.“We are terrible at predicting the social outcomes of technological innovation. There’s no reason Bitcoin-like distributed systems would be immune from that rule. I say let’s wise up and actually fight this battle on the level where it belongs.”Ceglowski’s argument is surely worth braking for as we race down the blockchain road. A world in which math secures all our property, communications and identities looks cool. Maybe it will solve some of our problems. It might even be better than what we have now.The question to ask is, do these blockchain-based enhancements of our technologies end up giving us more freedom and initiative? Or will a world of “distributed autonomous organizations,” empowered financial algorithms and bots that own themselves only hem in our human sphere of control?It could be exciting to sit back and watch the future drive itself. But it might be smart to keep our eyes on the road and our hands on the wheel.
Sommige Bitcoin- en blockchainadepten geloven dat deze gedistribueerde database een technische oplossing kan zijn voor veel maatschappelijke problemen. Maar gaan ze daarmee niet te makkelijk voorbij aan het feit dat technologie óók altijd politiek is?
On the one hand, they are a very powerful agent towards the “transactionalization of life”, that is of the fact that all the elements of our lives are progressively turning into transactions.Which overlaps with the fact that they become “financialized”. Everything, including our relations and emotions, progressively becomes transactionalized/financialized, and the Blockchain represent an apex of this tendency. This is already becoming a problem for informality, for the possibility of transgression, for the normation and normalization of conflicts and, thus, in prospect, for our liberties and fundamental rights, and for our possibility to perceive them (because we are talking about psychological effects).On the other hand, they move attention onto the algorithm, on the system, on the framework. Instead of supporting and maintaining the necessity and culture of establishing co-responsibility between human beings, these systems include “trust” in procedural ways. In ways which are technical. Thus, the necessity for trust (and, thus, on the responsibility to attribute trust, based on human relations) progressively disappears.Therefore, together with it, society disappears. Society as actively and consciously built by people who freely decide if and when to trust each other, and who collectively agree to the modalities of this attribution.