Why Blockchain?

Why to start a journey exploring / exploiting Blockchain technology?

To be honest: I don’t know. That’s the reason why this is an adventure.

I don’t know, but I feel the excitement — similar to the excitement felt in the 1990s in the library of a political daily researching for articles, using a dial-up modem that disconnected in every 5 minutes; or a decade later when I was first able read stories from a news portal on my bronze Nokia 6210 hacking the WAP version of the Google search engine.

I have bought the idea advertised suggestively by Blockchain evangelists, such as Andreas Antonopoulos, Don Tapscott, and Vitalik Buterin, that the Blockchain will be similar to value, what the Internet was to information.

We know how disruptive effects the Internet had, which made it possible to distribute copies of information. Now, we can imagine, how disruptive the new technology can be, which enables us to distribute original, irreproducible value in a similar way.

You can read the list of industries facing radical changes due to this disruption in a lot of articles:

  • finance and investment
  • ticketing
  • healthcare
  • transportation
  • telecom
  • music and film distribution
  • government
  • etc — basically every industry, where transactions play an important role

Instead of digging deeper right now — I will do it later on — let me expose some personal aspects of a future vision.

Nobody is more trustful than everybody

We know, that “nobody is smarter than everybody”. But does it really matter? Is it enough to always make smart decisions?

What if the good decisions are not the smart decisions, but the responsible ones?

Democracy is flawed, because the crowd is supposed to make decisions for me. But the crowd cannot be responsible for these decisions.

I don’t need anybody to make decisions for me, I need the crowd to vouch for the facts I want my decisions to be based on.

And this collective vouching — where you do not have to trust in anybody individually, but can trust in the whole system — , can be brought about by Blockchain technology.

Market design

Marketplaces — physical and virtual — have contributed enormously the the prosperity of humankind. They are institutions that create a balance between mandatory rules and the freedom of making, and accepting or rejecting offers.

Market design — also called “mechanism design” — is a branch of economics, which makes research towards market rules (“mechanisms”) that support the best interest of the participants, honoured recently even by a Nobel prize.

Marketplaces can be modelled and experimented with easily, using Blockchain technology.

Pacta sunt servanda

“Agreements must be kept” — this is a basic principle of civil and international law.

Still, we too often face situations, where agreements are disputed — due to ambiguous formulation — or simply ignored.

What if there was a platform, on which we could create contracts, that are free of contradictions, cannot hide provisions affecting third parties, and nothing could prevent them to fulfil themselves?

Blockchain promises to be such a platform.

The new social contracts

Social contract is a theoretical “voluntary agreement among individuals by which, according toany of various theories, as of Hobbes, Locke, or Rousseau, organized society is brought into being and invested with the right to secure mutual protection and welfare or to regulate the relations among its members” (see here).

Why is it just theory, and not reality?

Maybe because we cannot yet make every contract on earth transparent and enforceable. If so, maybe Blockchain technology can help us out. Also giving a new meaning to the “social” part of the expression, meaning that the whole of society is guaranteeing the rule of contracts.

A note on wording

The Ethereum blockchain introduced the concept of “smart contracts”.

Currently it seems to me that the usage of the word “contract” is somewhat confusing, it simply means “rule”. What we usually mean by “contract” seems to be in Ethereum lingo “promise” — I hope when I dig deeper, I will see more clearly.

Next

Now I’m making good progress with setting up my developer environment to actually making my hands dirty with writing Ethereum smart contracts.

Stay tuned, I will report on the next phase of my journey soon.