RELATIONSHIP ON THE BLOCKCHAIN — PART ONE
PART 1 OF 4: AS BLOCKCHAIN IS A DISTRIBUTED TRUST NETWORK, HOW WILL SOCIETY EVOLVE AS CENTRALISED AUTHORITIES DIMINISH?
Once upon a time, centralised authorities — such as governments, banks and corporations — were the almighty gatekeepers of denizen confidence. We valued tradition and tenure over innovation or novelty. We found comfort in familiarity, such as the stencil-like consistency of an international hotel chain. The definition of ‘community’ generally involved territorial factors. We told our kids never to talk to strangers.
These days, strangers are readily driving us from A to B, offering us their spare rooms for the night, delivering us treats and popping over to assemble our IKEA furniture, all for a very agreeable price. The internet may have facilitated these new peer-to-peer marketplaces, but it’s not the technology itself that’s truly remarkable in this transformation. It’s the major societal shift in who we trust, how we decide we can trust them, and why.
As such, trust has become a currency in and of itself. And the way we earn it is through reputation. Reputation is how we measure the trustworthiness of another party and it provides us with a sense of comfort and safety to be able to see that a person has a proven track record in dealing competently, reliably and honestly with other people — especially where we have never dealt with them before. World-renowned trust expert, Rachel Botsman, explains the value of trust and reputation better than anyone else IMO. Read her article ‘How Darknet Sellers Build Trust’ here.
Blockchain has the power to take the P2P economy to the next level, offering unprecedented transactional security thus rendering the role of the trusted intermediary fully redundant. However, we should be careful not to overhype the decentralisation super powers of distributed ledgers. In the wake of the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) craze, it feels like we’ve seen blockchain applied to almost anything and everything — from progressive use cases, such as renewable energy trading between neighbours on microgrids, to the totally ludicrous, including ICOs for sports bras and energy drinks.
Given the early-stage of this emerging tech, we must focus on finding use cases with the deepest pain-points to solve. For me, this always comes back to economic empowerment for people who have previously been excluded from full participation and thus unable to:
- Challenge deeply ingrained structures of social stigmatisation and/or financial exclusion in order to freely transact, earn and build wealth
- Rely on traditional mechanisms of payment and identification
- Have faith in their financial, political and judicial systems
If crypto can deliver empowerment to these severely underserved markets, allowing them to find a new sense of autonomy to realise their own potential, this will completely change the world as we know it, subverting current power dynamics to bring a new — and more inclusive — world order.
These are my personal musings on a highly complex and controversial topic, following a 1hr discussion exploring the topic ‘Relationship on the Blockchain’ as part of The Blockchain Summit on the BrightTALK platform, with myself, Leah Callon-Butler, co-founder of intimate.io; Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof, founder of Bitnation; and Violet Lim, founder of Viola AI; moderated by Akasha Indream. Listen to the panel discussion HERE.
Keywords: Blockchain , Bitcoin