The Blockchain and the New Architecture of Trust (Information Policy) (英語) ハードカバー – 2018/11/20
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How the blockchain―a system built on foundations of mutual mistrust―can become trustworthy.
The blockchain entered the world on January 3, 2009, introducing an innovative new trust architecture: an environment in which users trust a system―for example, a shared ledger of information―without necessarily trusting any of its components. The cryptocurrency Bitcoin is the most famous implementation of the blockchain, but hundreds of other companies have been founded and billions of dollars invested in similar applications since Bitcoin's launch. Some see the blockchain as offering more opportunities for criminal behavior than benefits to society. In this book, Kevin Werbach shows how a technology resting on foundations of mutual mistrust can become trustworthy.
The blockchain, built on open software and decentralized foundations that allow anyone to participate, seems like a threat to any form of regulation. In fact, Werbach argues, law and the blockchain need each other. Blockchain systems that ignore law and governance are likely to fail, or to become outlaw technologies irrelevant to the mainstream economy. That, Werbach cautions, would be a tragic waste of potential. If, however, we recognize the blockchain as a kind of legal technology that shapes behavior in new ways, it can be harnessed to create tremendous business and social value.
However, Werbach argues, the most significant innovation of blockchain is not governmental or even technological but emotional: the creation of 'a new form of trust,' in which you put your confidence in a store of information without relying on any single person to authenticate it ― trust the system, not its parts. The outstanding question is whether this method of cultivating trust is viable, and if it is, in what ways we can best deploy it. The answers we come up with are likely to determine blockchain's future.―New York Times Book Review 商品の説明をすべて表示する
Amid hundreds of muddled explanations by others, including sometimes myself, he drills in to the fundamental breakthrough that makes the technology important. Explaining why blockchain is far more than merely a slow immutable database or a cumbersome method of security, he focuses on its supreme efficiency of synchronization. While it is much slower in recording each individual transaction, its single synchronized process is far more efficient in establishing the global state of the system.
The blockchain trades off a few minutes of delay in the recording of individual transactions against a radical advance in the speed of validating the entire ledger. The blockchain is not merely a process millions of times slower than Visa in recording transactions. It offers a path to a system millions of times faster than Visa in establishing the global state of the ledger, including all the transactions.
Werbach follows up by explaining the relationship of the blockchain to Internet architecture. He is luminous on the flawed dynamics of trust on the net, pointing out that "as as long as the Internet's spanning layer [the Internet Protocol, IP] lies below the trust layer, trust will be a force for centralized control...By establishing the IP spanning layer at the level of basic transport, [the Internet] allows for proprietary solutions and concentration of power at higher levels." In my terms, it creates "a porous pyramid where all the data, money, and power rises to the top." Werbach cogently shows how the blockchain can function as a new spanning layer of money and value, transactions and trust to which the higher layers must refer for such functions as identification, authentication, attestation, and property rights.
He follows up his brilliant insights on the technology with extensive and authoritative observations on the law. He demonstrates that cryptocurrencies will not prevail unless they can be embedded in a framework of law and trust. He shows how the success of the Internet was dependent on Section 230 of the Telecom Act of 1996 ordaining that "no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." Maintaining this principle will be necessary to the success of the blockchain in any form of social network or content provision.
What is still needed after Werbach's masterly tome on the technology and the law is a deeper grasp of the nature of money. The blockchain movement needs an understanding that money is a real measuring stick rather than merely a tool of national sovereignty and a magic wand for central banks. Cryptocurrencies cannot finally perform as money until they are founded on an understanding of what money is.
Werbach has written the crucial book to prepare the movement for this vital further step where it can not only address the crisis of Internet security but also the global scandal of floating monies. Money must become a measuring stick as fixed and real as the second, the meter, or the degree Kelvin that enable trade in supply chains around the world.
But in the course of his blockchain study, he also brings out so many stories and observations about society’s institutions that keep coming to mind as I’m going about my day. I’m definitely seeing bike sharing, AirBnb, Waze, and driverless cars in a whole new light. I’m also enjoying ruminating about the best role for governments, corporations, trusted friends and unknown – but maybe accountable – strangers.