Members of the crypto community are probably familiar with slogans such as “Do not believe, check!” Or “Code Code”. Both signal promises of greater transparency and listening through technology that promotes the replacement of powerful, flawed and corrupt actors with a functional, rules-based system protected through incomparable accounting.
The desire to abandon the need to trust third parties is a mainstay for many creators and users of cryptocurrency. After all, Bitcoin (BTC) was invented in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis in 2008, and the abuse of power by powerful players and organizations continued to manifest itself through the great recession. The cryptocurrency continued to attract more and more enthusiasts among social, political and economic crises.
However, a document published by a group of researchers in August last year and circulated on the Oxford Law School blog on October 27 is opposed to the perception of the blockchain as a matter of trust – or lack thereof.
Instead, the document proposes to understand blockchain as a “trust machine”: a technology designed to increase the degree of trust in the system as a means, only indirectly, to reduce the need for personal trust. The argument in this article is based on a careful analysis of the difference between trust and confidence, each of which is a complex set of ideas. Yet, despite all the inner complexity, trust and confidence, each of them implies a radically different interpretation of nature into the social environment.
Trust, in different definitions, implies a recognition of risk and uncertainty: a person can consciously choose to trust another agent by taking a step of faith or commitment, or as a result of a rational choice based on the expectation that it is in the best interest to do so. third party to act in a particular way. It can also rely on implicit, through routine procedures, when the background risk is not clearly recognized.
Trust, on the other hand, presupposes the predictability of systems or institutions. These predictable systems, in the case of blockchain, refer to the technological design of the protocol (for example, one designed to create a certain number of new coins over a certain period of time), an open source archive, and mathematics. Characteristics of hash functions and encryption of public and private keys.
Blockchain systems also try to maximize the predictability of players’ decisions through game theory mechanisms and financial incentives, as well as by providing verifiable collective records of sequences of actions in a given ecosystem.
However, in the context of the arguments, the authors of the article complicate this view of trust, which they claim is based on the denial that blockchain systems are irreducibly hybrid and include social and technical components. They prove their case by examining the true differences in resources and knowledge – and therefore by power – between different actors in blockchain networks, and discover the combination of trust, confidence and even faith that their daily activities share.
“ The management of most blockchain-based systems is very centralized: the management of the chain is inherently plutocratic, dominated by a few large operators or individuals who control most of the mining resources and / or tokens, while management in the chain usually acts as technocratic, with a small number of powerful players who dominate both in the foreground and behind the scenes. ”
Instead of referring to an idealized alternative scenario where the relationship between addiction and control can be magically eliminated, the article concludes with an exploration of what blockchain management entails, what is understood and what it can develop into if we were completely clear over the sets of power that inevitably make up the infrastructure.