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Never Trust Bitcoin: Blockchain Technology – The Misnomer of a 'Trustless' System

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Tariq, Palveshey; Jamison, Mark
Conference: Workshop on the Ostrom Workshop 6
Location: Indiana University, Bloomington
Conf. Date: June 19-21, 2019
Date: 2019
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/10517
Sector: Information & Knowledge
Subject(s): blockchain
Abstract: "Satoshi Nakamoto's stated aspiration was to create 'a system for electronic transactions without relying on trust.' He/she/they failed to do that and may have created just the opposite. The failure isn't because Nakamoto got the technology wrong, but because of humans' mental limits. Trusting bitcoin's or any other blockchain means trusting the code. Only a relatively small number of people can understand blockchain code, and an even smaller number find it worth their while to keep up with the updates. Everyone else has to trust the coders, which means trusting blockchain governance. Anyone familiar with the history of regulation knows that politics quickly imposes new regulations whenever the public loses trust in business or, ironically, government. If blockchain technology is to avoid being overtaken by politics as usual - the very thing that Nakamoto wanted to eviscerate - members of the public have to trust blockchain self-governance systems more than they do the politicians they vote for. This is harder to accomplish than it sounds. Such self-governance systems need to include trusted members, transparent processes, public input, nurtured critics, proven results, faithfully demonstrated public purpose, and understandable agendas. Without such self-governance systems, traditional government institutions will take over blockchain governance, with the risk that the extensive data and technical efficiency of blockchain will be used for traditional political purposes at best and, at worst, for control by authoritarian regimes."

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