Blockchain: The ethical considerations
Deb Nicholson explains why, before disrupting existing systems by replacing them with the blockchain, we must ensure that the power and potential to improve lives is real and reasonably evenly distributed. We owe it to the future to make good early decisions and to refrain from overselling the blockchains potential to be a force for good until were certain it is.
|Talk Title||Blockchain: The ethical considerations|
|Speakers||Deb Nicholson (Software Freedom Conservancy)|
|Conference||O’Reilly Open Source Convention|
|Conf Tag||Put open source to work|
|Date||July 16-19, 2018|
What is the blockchain good for? Increased transparency, distributed control, and the elimination of tedious administrative work certainly sound exciting, but we can’t put off conversations about the social impact of our work. Old industries used to call the negative effects of their work “externalities,” and it would sometimes take decades to discover the negative social effects and environmental destruction that had been wreaked by a new technological process. Software is collaborative and fast, which means early technical and ethical decisions will have a huge impact on the way new technologies evolve. How stable or equitable should new systems be before we invite the world in to trust us with their data or their money? Certification, gatekeeping, or network effects that rely on traditional access to power will lock out many of the people who would otherwise benefit from the blockchain’s potential. The anonymity the blockchain offers can empower individuals or provide cover for powerful entities that we might collectively want to hold accountable. We also need to address the amount of processing power required for significant participation in blockchain networks. If we don’t address these issues, we may find that we will have built an extremely efficient system to fleece the most vulnerable members of society. Deb Nicholson explains why, before “disrupting” existing systems by replacing them with the blockchain, we must ensure that the power and potential to improve lives is real and reasonably evenly distributed. We owe it to the future to make good early decisions and to refrain from overselling the blockchain’s potential to be a force for good until we’re certain it is.