We’re moving towards a more pragmatic world where we accept that no one trusts anyone and where blockchain verification helps. We’re moving towards a world of verification — not trust.Call to action: Verify that what you are hearing is true and not just smoke and mirrors.
Blockchain is not only crappy technology but a bad vision for the future. Its failure to achieve adoption to date is because systems built on trust, norms, and institutions inherently function better than the type of no-need-for-trusted-parties systems blockchain envisions. That’s permanent: no matter how much blockchain improves it is still headed in the wrong direction.
The entire worldview underlying blockchain is wrong
You actually see it over and over again. Blockchain systems are supposed to be more trustworthy, but in fact they are the least trustworthy systems in the world. Today, in less than a decade, three successive top bitcoin exchangeshave been hacked, another is accused of insider trading, the demonstration-project DAO smart contract got drained, crypto price swings are ten times those of the world’s most mismanaged currencies, and bitcoin, the “killer app” of crypto transparency, is almost certainly artificially propped up by faketransactions involving billions of literally imaginary dollars.
This paper outlines how the digital currency and network technology of bitcoin functions and explores the context from which it emerged. Bitcoin was conceived in 2008 as an attempt to alleviate trust in government and banks which was at a low during this period of financial crisis. However, with bitcoin trust does not dissipate, rather it shifts. Trust moves from trust in banks or states to trust in algorithms and encryption software. There is a move from conventional trust in the gold standard—“In Gold We Trust”—to the trust announced on U.S. currency—“In God We Trust”—to trust in software and networks—“In Digital We Trust”. The hyperbole of bitcoin discourse is deemed to be an expression of the Californian Ideology, which itself often conceals a right-wing agenda. The paper analyses the hype behind the celebration of decentralised digital networks. It proposes that a form of network fetishism operates here. The failure of bitcoin as a currency (rather than as a hoarded commodity in an emergent bubble) and as an idea might be attributed to the failure to see how ultra-modern digital networks conceal very traditional consolidation of power and capital. The rise and fall of bitcoin, in terms of its original ambition, serves as a cautionary tale in the digital age—it reveals how ingenious innovations that might challenge power and the consolidation of capital become co-opted and colonised by capital. Finally, the paper offers a discussion of the possible progressive uses of the digital technology bitcoin has facilitated.
Permission-less blockchains can realise trustless trust, albeit at the cost of limiting the complexity of computation tasks. To explain the implications for scalability, we have implemented a trust model for smart contracts, described as agents in an open multi-agent system. Agent intentions are not necessarily known and autonomous agents have to be able to make decisions under risk. The ramifications of these general conditions for scalability are analysed for Ethereum and then generalised to other current and future platforms.