question.create-answer
Olga Zeveleva
December 2017.
50

Is blockchain the modern-day web version of "bureaucracy", described by Max Weber as specialised, impersonal codifications of relationships between people?

SocietyBlockchainSociology
Answer
Comment
0
Follow
2
1 answer
Share
THE AUTHOR OF THE QUESTION HAS APPROVED THIS ANSWER

It sounds very similar. I think there is more restrictive potential in blockchain than in traditional bureaucracies, because individuals within bureaucracies still have sway and influence over what rules are enforced, whereas there is much greater rigidity with a blockchain. The tradeoff of greater rigidity is something we need to think more deeply about.

There is also the risk that you intend to code something in a particular way, but make a mistake. Software code doesn’t care about the intent of the coder; code only ‘cares’ about what it programmatically can and cannot do (its rules). So a software developer can design software with the intention that it can only do this, but if they make a mistake and it also allows for that, it can’t say, “Oh, I know you didn’t meant that,” and bad things can happen. That’s where judges and juries can be helpful. Our legal system can look at a legal contract and say, “I see there was probably a typo here, and the intention when you wrote this contract was different, and this is an obvious mistake, so we will ignore this mistake when making a judgment.” Software can’t do that, at least not yet.


Garrick Hileman and Michel Rauchs released the 2017 Global Blockchain Benchmarking Study, which can be downloaded as a PDF here: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3040224.
You can read the brief summary of their study here: https://insight.jbs.cam.ac.uk/2017/central-banks-are-trialling-blockchain/
The above interview was conducted on 12 December, 2017.