The Authority of Distributed Consensus Systems Trust, Governance, and Normative Perspectives on Blockchains and Distributed Ledgers

Crepaldi, Marco (2020) The Authority of Distributed Consensus Systems Trust, Governance, and Normative Perspectives on Blockchains and Distributed Ledgers, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Law, science and technology, 32 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/9432.
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The subjects of this dissertation are distributed consensus systems (DCS). These systems gained prominence with the implementation of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. This work aims at understanding the drivers and motives behind the adoption of this class of technologies, and to – consequently – evaluate the social and normative implications of blockchains and distributed ledgers. To do so, a phenomenological account of the field of distributed consensus systems is offered, then the core claims for the adoption of systems are taken into consideration. Accordingly, the relevance of these technologies on trust and governance is examined. It will be argued that the effects on these two elements do not justify the adoption of distributed consensus systems satisfactorily. Against this backdrop, it will be held that blockchains and similar technologies are being adopted because they are regarded as having a valid claim to authority as specified by Max Weber, i.e., herrschaft. Consequently, it will be discussed whether current implementations fall – and to what extent – within the legitimate types of traditional, charismatic, and rational-legal authority. The conclusion is that the conceptualization developed by Weber does not capture the core ideas that appear to establish the belief in the legitimacy of distributed consensus systems. Therefore, this dissertation describes the herrschaft of systems such as blockchains by conceptualizing a computational extension of the pure type of rational-legal authority, qualified as algorithmic authority. The foundational elements of algorithmic authority are then discussed. Particular attention is focused on the idea of normativity cultivated in systems of algorithmic rules as well as the concept of decentralization. Practical suggestions conclude the following dissertation.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Crepaldi, Marco
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
blockchain; distributed ledgers; legitimacy; algorithmic authority; trust; bitcoin; ethereum.
Data di discussione
2 Aprile 2020

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