Engineering Ethics in Web3

Ethics as Mission and Motivation for the Token Engineering Commons

Token Engineering is an emerging discipline in the overlap between the social institution of engineering and web3 token ecosystems.

The Professional Engineering Values System

Engineering Values according to Martin, M. & Schinzinger, R. Ethics in Engineering. NY: McGraw-Hill, 1983:

The Web3 Values System

Investors, Builders, and Early Adopters of web-based cryptographically secured social and economic infrastructure and applications have a wide range of beliefs and values but some key concepts form a common thread: privacy, transparency and agency.

Reconciling Value Systems

At first glance, these value systems are in conflict. Simply, the authority of a traditional engineer is derived from the power of the nation-state to regulate its territory — most jurisdiction limit engineering activities that could affect public wellbeing to licensed professionals. However, the web3 value system is native to the internet, the social institution is extra-national and openly rejects the authority of the state to regulate it. Adherents to the web3 value system adhere to regulations out of pragmatism rather than in deference to those regulatory authorities.

A Path Forward

Upholding a value system is a journey not a destination; it can never be totally reduced to a set of methods and procedures but drawing on methods and procedures is a good place to start. In particular the Token Engineering community has been committed to improving design methodologies and associated tools drawing on the engineering subfield of Cyber-Physical systems (CPS). Wikipedia defines CPS as follows:

A Trans-disciplinary Call to Action

As such we must look beyond the boundaries of our technical fields to experts in the humanities and social sciences with a particular need for those studied in ethics, law and governance. My hope is that the TEC community will be open to all who wish to take up the burden of safeguarding the public, not because a regulatory authority demands it, but because it is a role in society necessitated by the existence of technology.



The Token Engineering Commons (TEC) is building a world with safe digital socio-economic public infrastructures that are diversely designed and aligned with collective needs.

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Michael Zargham

Founder, Researcher, Decision Engineer, Data Scientist; PhD in systems engineering, control of networks.