Blockchain hinders the effort to make institutions more trustworthy by empowering even-more-untrustworthy institutions, by distracting motivated people from real solutions, and, when it collapses, by discouraging society as a whole from believing a better world is possible or that technology can be a force for good. Unfortunately, I don’t think a technology wand will solve the problem and that actually you have to work at them individually from the ground up.
In finance, for example, I think there’s no way around electing leadership that supports the CFPB and SEC, Glass-Steagal, Dodd-Frank, and the Volker rule. On supply chain, people have done HUGE amounts of work around sustainability, labor practices, chemicals, etc., and it’s based on advocacy and consumer choice. In terms of voting systems, it’s building open source systems and advocacy for a voter-verifiable paper trail. And frankly, the people in each of these communities know what the work is—they need all the help they can get, but Silicon Valley coming in and saying “oh, all that stuff you’ve been working on is stupid, we can just do voting on the blockchain” is super counterproductive and arrogant. I wish they would find the best voting-integrity people and offer to help!
For my part, I’ve spent the last six years trying to establish better standards for banks to protect the assets of seniors and people with disabilities. It’s HARD WORK—if I could have done it with a technology wand, I guarantee I would have taken that path.
PS On my last article, one of the internet pioneers responded to the “this is like the internet, nobody knew what it was for at the time” argument. He was like, we DID know what it was for, we wanted a better way to share files and exchange messages, so we built one. What we didn’t know is the scale and impact that it would have. Many technologies find uses beyond their original scope, but very few are worse at everything.