Blockchain faith is an ethical engine. It operates to build trust communities resembling extended families, for various purposes. In these trust-based families, all members have equal power to influence the allocation of resources by their individual choices, and none can rule others. Such communities enforce ethical behavior without a hierarchy of power. This combination of equal status, choice without coercion but not without consequences, and decentralized enforcement of ethical behavior is a free market. It’s an ideal, but one that cryptographic public ledger technology has and will continue to enlarge into new and larger segments of society.
In equal-power market systems, people enforce ethical behavior on one another using a reputation system. Each controls their own social posture by registering the rights they will honor with corresponding obligations — their social promises — in a distributed public ledger. The social promises determine the rule for resolving conflicts between any two people, limiting responsibility for breaking promises to the least of the obligations promised by the parties involved in a dispute. Everybody is motivated to earn serviceable reputations by keeping honest social promises. Evildoers reap evil reputations and pay consequences for breaking their own social promises, while everyone benefits from ethical behavior. Those who do not make social promises of their own cannot claim rights under the social promises of others. Such is Blockchain Faith, in the abstract.
The human world evolves. I write from a faith that free markets will out-compete all other protocols, eventually. It is not a position to hold without doubt. Corporate fascism dominates the world today. Its beneficiaries and clients will fight to keep it, but it won’t last forever. Corporate fascists raise their terrible weapons of taxation and regulation against all forms of mutual benefit societies, old and new. They require tracking of all personal economic transactions so they can tax away enough to ensure their power. And they suffocate small enterprises with regulations piled deep enough to ensure that large corporations dominate where it counts.
These weapons arrayed against decentralized order force economic activity into corporate molds. It explains why transactions that occur naturally at human scale are run by corporations instead of mutual benefit societies. Health care — check. Social networking — check. Ride and room sharing — check. Everywhere you look, basic social functions are under control of large corporations, their existence assured by government regulation and taxation. We live in a top-down world. Ingrained ideas and institutions make it so.
But change is inevitable. Bitcoin proved that community-based money can withstand determined assaults and grow to a large scale. The technological revolution it catalyzed will dislodge more chinks in the dragon’s armor, even as the struggle between old and new ways continues. Compliance and evasion will dance until supporters of the new achieve political dominance. Then greater harmony will prevail as the old fascist systems are carefully de-fanged and retired. A very long road precedes this goal.
In the meantime, people will invent and build new systems for promoting mutual trust and benefit in self-selecting communities. Reliable, unbiased reputation systems will enable many interpersonal transactions: friend finding, ride sharing, room sharing, trading, insurance, health care, mutual benefit organizations, setting public policy, mutual defense organizations and charity work, virtually the whole of social action. At least one system has already received a detailed theoretical treatment. I took five years to write a book to consider various use cases of a specific protocol based on social promises and equal sovereignty. Before that I wrote about “voluntary law” in a blog. After speaking and writing about principles for six years, it’s time to take the next step: designing and organizing communities with their own decentralized reputation discovery and conflict resolution systems.
The design problem is complex and fascinating, and the impacts on commerce, law and society will be far-reaching. Ethereum may be the best network for a first application, with its open-source Turing-complete philosophy, dedication to improvement and large community of developers. The mother application will be open source and dedicated to public benefit, designed to provide a secure database function for applications needing access to social promise and conflict resolution records.
Brand-new applications for things that people don’t yet see a need will not attract much investment capital. The non-profit sector must lay the very first foundations, just as the first Bitcoin and Ethereum developers were unpaid. The non-profit uRULEu Institute is dedicated to promoting new ways to resolve conflicts and build interpersonal trust using open-source, cryptographic public networks like Ethereum. It will be hosting its first seminar this July 21st in Southern California.
The potential for great rewards is no less for Blockchain Faith than with Bitcoin. Imagine the benefits of being a founding member of a huge, global social network ruled by reciprocal ethics. At the very least, development is sure to be interesting. No other channel focuses on application development and research in the area of cryptographic networks for reputation discovery and conflict resolution. If you work or research in the area, please send in your articles and comments. This channel is meant to bring diverse people together to develop new and better solutions to ancient human problems. Please join the conversation!