Blockchain, Trust, and the Future

Hawlitschek, F., Notheisen, B., & Teubner, T. (2018). The limits of trust-free systems: A literature review on Blockchain technology and trust in the sharing economy. Electronic commerce research and applications, 29, 50-63.

Saraji, S., & Borowczak, M. (2021). A Blockchain-based Carbon Credit Ecosystem. arXiv preprint arXiv:2107.00185.

For the research that I am doing, I came across an article written by Hawlitschek, Nothheisen, and Teubner (2018). The article discusses about Blockchain and how it impacts the sharing economy. The article defines Blockchain as a database that is shared among its users and allows them to transact valuable assets in a public and pseudonymous setup without the reliance on an intermediary or central authority. Thus, the author’s reason that Blockchain technology is able to some degree replace trust into platform providers.

This is an interesting thought for me, since in my eyes there are many systems and platforms that need more transparency to reach their full potential, which include voting, banking, and carbon offset credits. For instance, in the case of carbon offset credits, there have been many cases of over-crediting and double-spending, and substantial transaction costs that transfer wealth to brokers and agents which are caused by a lack of transparency (Saraji, & Borowczak, 2021).

Additionally, Blockchain technology in some cases able to remove the middleman and optimize peer-to-peer interactions (Hawlitschek, Nothheisen, & Teubner, 2018). This can be seen in the example of Bitcoin. Traditionally, currencies are controlled by governments and managed by banks. If you want to send an amount of money to someone or purchase something in the internet, your money would at least go through one middleman, probably your bank. However, you would have no idea nor control over what is being done with it, while it is being transacted. This was always a mystery to me, because I wondered how it is possible that when I send an email to someone in a foreign country, it almost arrives instantaneously, but when I transfer money to the same person, it takes a couple of days to arrive.

On the one hand, learning about Blockchain technology makes me see a future which is more transparent and that allows for easier peer-to-peer transactions, as well as, the creation of more transparent and inclusive systems. However, on the other hand, I wonder about the costs, because there are no perfect solution for everyone. What will happen to people that have no access to the internet? If we all need devices to access the internet, how does that impact critical raw material, such as rare earths and metal, and our environment?

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