Reinvent blockchain

in #blockchainlast year (edited)

Public permissionless blockchains, such as bitcoin and Ethereum have forever changed the way we think of our societies.

They have shown that random, anonymous humans can be brought together to co-operate not only by a legal framework, which institutionalises the fear of not complying (and triggers reflexes of avoidance), but also by the power of economic incentives.

However, as much as they have been embraced by people who were feeling repressed and under-represented in the previous world of laws and institutions, their progression has markedly slowed down, almost stalled. Interest in the topic in the general population has dwindled and a general "blockchain fatigue" seems to have set in.

Let bitcoin be bitcoin. Let Ethereum be Ethereum. We need to focus on recasting the underlying blockchain technology into new roles which are integrated in the fabric of old, law-based societies. And in order to do this, we have to truly understand what blockchain is about ...

Thus I argue that blockchain is not only, nor primarily about 'chaining blocks'.

Rather, blockchain technology allows us to design new systems that can tap the human inclination to "respond to incentives" in order to trigger productive interactions which were previously not taking place.

Out of runway at take-off

Just like a heavy airplane, bitcoin, Ethereum and other public blockchain have had a few good years of "runway" to gain speed before taking off. But now the smooth strip of tarmac has run out ...


Public, permissionless blockchains are not going to "take over"

I do not mean to extend the "airplane at take-off" analogy to saying that bitcoin and Ethereum face a catastrophic future.

Quite the contrary, I believe that public, permissionless blockchains, most notably bitcoin and Ethereum are here to stay.

Bitcoin alone provides a check on the natural tendencies of human societies to concentrate power into few hands (i.e. "centralize power"), hands who then invariably end up abusing their power.

By providing a "safety valve" for cases where the institutions would be "captured" for furthering the interests of the powerful-few against the many, bitcoin and Ethereum have made the world more resilient, more robust, more "antifragile".

Bitcoin-enthusiasts think that "we are only at the start of an ineluctable march toward a gradual but complete upending of society". They believe that bitcoin, Ethereum, and other such public, permissionless blockchains are going to replace the existing society, based on laws, institutions - and ultimately trusting 'others'' - with a new, "trustless" order based on "cryptography and code". To them I say: public, permissionless blockchains have "run out of runway".

That doesn't need to mean that public, permissionless blockchains are going to disappear or anything. But I believe that bitcoin and Ethereum will remain in the "niches" they have successfully crafted for themselves. Efforts spent on expanding their use by, for instance, building "second layer applications", might be better applied elsewhere.

The law abiding blockchain

I believe that the technological prowess on which pseudonymous bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto has opened the world's eyes, the blockchain, has scope to "polinating" our society, in order to turn it into a fruitful new form. And the faster we realize that we, blockchain professionals have to "reinvent blockchain", the greater the benefits.

At first, there was "The Law"

At first, human life was, in Thomas Hobbes' words, "nasty, brutish and short" a life of "war of every man against every other man". If human societies have progressed, it is thanks to "The Law" - the "rules of the (social) game". The Law has codified the usage of violence. Yet the Law would have been but empty words without Enforcement. Thus Institutions have emerged to enforce The Law.

People were more-or-less free to do whatever they pleased as long as they abode by The Law. And they knew that: were one to break the law, one risked punishment.

This simple rule allowed people to interact with each other and organize and engage in productive undertakings.

Bitcoin doesn't need "The Law"

Probably the biggest revelation of bitcoin was that there can be something else which allows people to interact with each other and organize and engage in productive undertakings. Something that didn't need help from "The Law" and its enforcer Institutions.

To be fair, "open source software" had opened the way in this respect. The "open source software" community had always had an arm-length relationship with the law - witness the never-ending Waltz of licensing terms - "GNU", "BSD", "Copyleft", "Apache", "MIT", etc. - whose main focus seemed to be rendering any type of copyright enforcement moot.

Yet the open-source community is fueled by altruism and pro-bono efforts. What bitcoin, Ethereum and any other token-carrying blockchains have brought to the table was a back-end accounting system with a sui generis unit of account. In so doing, blockchain-based systems have attracted the far larger share of people motivated by profit.

For the first time in history, it became possible to pursue profit outside the protective frame of The Law.

In other terms, mathematics, cryptography and running code offered an alternative to the frame of The Law for engaging in lucrative undertakings!

Blockchain is not (only) about chaining blocks

One of the reasons why I believe bitcoin and Ethereum have "run out of runway" and are not likely to "take off / over" is that, not only these systems do not need the law, they are in essence a law unto themselves and alternatives to The Law. They are imbued by a spirit of challenge to the existing established order (perceived as skewed in favor of the rich and powerful).

In blockchain systems like bitcoin and Ethereum there are no written contracts and no enforcement agencies. Participants do not need to "show ID" in order to enter, do business, and exit at any time and without asking permission.

By design, the only thing bitcoin and Ethereum rely on is the assumption that participants will act in their own best (economic) interest, that they will act rationally, trying to preserve the system and further their own personal interest.

It is the technology itself (based on mathematics and cryptography) which both:

  • makes plain the rules, and
  • ensures their enforcement

bitcoin and Ethereum have been successful in supporting and automatizing productive human interactions without the need for an externally-enforced system of rules, without the need for The Law.

This ability to "function with little need for The Law" is the revolutionary feature of blockchain technology. Not the "chaining of blocks".

For the past three years or so, I have heard about and come across many corporate projects labelled as "blockchain projects". Most, if not all "blockchain"-labelled applications I saw in the law-based society were missing the point of blockchain though.

They were "chaining blocks" of data all right, in a secure and more-or-less transparent manner. Important, but hardly revolutionary. Control was exclusively based on written contracts and the assumption that external law agencies will arbitrate in case of need. They were completely ignoring the power of incentives. Either they did not include a token at all or, if a token was present, they were ignoring its presence in the system design and assigned it no role at all.

Blockchain can be law abiding

What I have depicted above might be seen as a dichotomy, but needs not be.

At one end, we have the current world of "The Law" where very little (of importance) happens without a written contract and the explicit (or implicit) reference to external enforcement mechanisms and agencies.

At the other end, bitcoin and Ethereum are emphatically insisting on doing away with any form of written contract. "Code is law". Participants do not even need to identify themselves, so assigning responsibility becomes arduous. No enforcement agency exists in these systems, aside perhaps the "moral authority" of the core developers.

Yet a continuum stretches between the two ends. A law-based society like the one we live in can very well benefit from the helping-hand of "law-like" code. The two are not mutually exclusive.

By adding the powerful math and cryptography which have been used in bitcoin and Ethereum to well-designed systems, we can bridge the gap that seems to separate the two ends.

Indeed, in certain situations The Law seems to struggle to trigger productive interactions.

This is the kind of situation, the type of project that blockchain specialists need to focus on: inside the law-based society, designing systems that tap the human tendency to respond to incentives and act in their own best interest in order to trigger interactions which were not taking place without those systems.

Yes, it goes without saying: transacting securely and with a configurable level of transparency are essential technical features. They are necessary, but not sufficient.

What makes blockchain "an innovation that Europe cannot afford to miss" - in the words of European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, is the ability of well-designed blockchain systems to tap the power of economic incentives in order to trigger novel, productive interactions. Interactions which would not have taken place without it.


Blockchain technology provides a shared, secure accounting system for participants to be able to trust each other. Bitcoin, Ethereum, steem and other successful public permissionless blockchains have proven that such systems, when well designed, can increase the trust level just enough for new, productive interactions to begin.

The European Financial Transparency Gateway is, to my knowledge, the first real-world application of the principles successfully proven by bitcoin and Ethereum. Not only "securely chaining blocks" but also the power of incentives to make people engage in productive undertakings for which The Law was not enough.

I believe this is the type of project Europe and the world need more of: designing novel systems with the ability to spark new, mutually-beneficial collaborations.

If you know what witnesses are and agree that people commited to keeping this blockchain ticking play an important role ...

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Interesting read. Personally, it is my hope that we replace governments with decentralized systems over time. Laws are being made all the time with citizens not knowing they are being made and without realizing they will soon be subject to these new laws. That is not a sustainable or healthy system.

I came to realize that most citizens do not much care about new laws they will be subject to. It was quite a shock for me to realize that a vast majority prefers to live in blissful ignorance ...

Happy flag day, human.

Given the amount of effort that went into the production of this post, there is little doubt that it would have performed well without the buying of votes.

Expect many more flags to come.

There you are!

Agree with this

Not everyone prefer to earn 5$ net instead of spending 10 and getting some visibility.

This is $100 not $10.

Steemium reports $34 used to buy votes. That's way more than needed to get a reasonable visibility jump start, and probably doesn't count all the bought votes.

34$ is USD so 34*2/0.6 = 133 SBD

I say spent 10$ as example because that's about the cost after downvotes.

"Given how good this product is, there is little doubt that it would have sold well even without advertising" ... if this reasoning held true, the advertising industry would not be worth hundreds of billions of dollars, wouldn't you say ?

But ok, steem is a lot less crowded by good content than the markets are crowded by good products so perhaps you are right in the case of steem, I'll try as well.

However what you are implying is that because bot-usage can be abused it means all bot-advertising is bad and should be fought.

Think about it: because some people abuse bots, all bot usage is bad ? Does that sound ok to you ?

You’re welcome to use bots to boost the visibility of your posts. All you need to do is decline rewards. This way you won’t be taking from the rewards pool.

Wait a moment ... I fail to see how that makes sense ... if I publish content and do not use bots, it's ok to get rewards from the reward pool ... but if I publish content AND in addition send steem to bots (which also requires some effort and thus, as the steem whitepaper notices, it is a form of work), it becomes "not ok" to get any rewards at all ...

In other words, "it's ok to work more, but only if you accept to spend for working more instead of being rewarded for working less" ... what kind of logic is that ?

You’re really reaching here.

I do not know this expression (do not forget that I'm not a native speaker) but I guess it 's the expression you use when you are short of logical arguments and do not want to admit that you don't make sense :-D

No, it means that you are struggling to justify the use of bots to increase your exposure.

I’m also not interested in debate. As you can see by the value of downvotes on your post, many Steemit users dislike the use of bots. My vote value is the least of your concerns should you continue to use them.

I am actually not interested in the vote values.

The debate, on the contrary, is central to the future of steem. In general, these types of debates have always appeared in new social systems, they are bound to appear.

These are debates about how the system behaves when people are not doing what the creators of the system have hoped they would be doing, but are rather trying to "increase their utility".

I do not feel a need now to justify the use of bots. Do you think companies need to justify their use of ad-agencies to advertise their products ?

Have you ever seen a company wringing its (virtual) hands because they felt embarrassed that they advertised their products ? You haven't, right ?

On the other hand, I have already written a theoretical treatment of the topic of "advertising bots", you are welcome to comment it:

In short, bots offer a service which is potentially desirable to people from outside the steem system. Bots can add to the number of people who take the jump and decide to buy steem with fiat. And the steem ecosystem needs those people, as I explain in the above paper.


You and I think very alike. I have been theorizing since before Bitcoin, that we need to incentivize the value of doing the right thing.

Currently the monetary system seems to be incentivizing selfishness, destruction of the environment, and doing the right thing always costs us money. To me it just seems we just had no way to measure the true value that our heart senses, but now with everything being connected through the internet it's becoming very possible.

We could even look at things like the USA's NSA data gathering as double edged sword for thd positive. Once it's no longer in the hands of the centralized power hungry few, we can use the technology to gather data for a good purpose. If we do this right we can make people rich for doing things that benefit the world, incentivize companies to be sustainable, and making sure our happiness is valued above the desire of our employers to profit off our labor.

Also I think the environment needs to be treated like a bank account with an overdraft. Currently the environment is hurting, so we clearly have a negative "balance" with the environment. Thus if we expect to be able to take resources, we have to give more to the environment than we take. That way old unsustainable practices would become expensive, sustainable practices cheap, and the only way to get a tax break would be through helping rebuild the environment we've damaged.

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very good comment, thank you !

Sorry for being off topic, but is @lux-witness disabled temporarily or permanently?

Temporarily ! Pablo is on holiday and my SysDevOps skills are too rusty, I don't dare touch it lest I break something :-)

Happy new year!

Thanks for information!
Happy new year, too! :)

Je suis ravie de lire un article de qualité ! Je ne comprend pas le nombre de vote négatif sur cet article. Utiliser des robots pour promouvoir des articles de qualité n'est pas mauvais pour steem bien au contraire ! Oui un nouveau monde se construit soyons patients. Sur ce bonne année 2020 !

C'est une bataille idéologique - il ya une majorité de baleines qui voudraient voir disparaitre tout mécanisme de distribution de votes qui ne procède pas d'une lecture et d'une analyse par un humain de l'article en question (le fameux "Proof of Brain").

C'est tout à fait louable et désirable en théorie mais il se trouve que je suis né et j'ai grandi dans un pays communiste et j'ai compris que les idées "tout à fait louables et désirables en théorie" ne marchent pas très souvent ...

Le communisme aussi, sur le papier, est louable et désirable: "à chacun selon ses besoins, de chacun selon ses possibilités", c'est admirable comme slogan, difficile de ne pas souscrire ... En pratique, ça ne marche juste pas car ça présuppose un "nouvel homme" qui est correct et altruiste. Ce nouvel homme, l'humanité l'appelle de ses voeux, mais on ne peux pas construire un système en imaginant que les hommes sont réellement comme cela ... Ca finit en tragédie ...

34.28 USD has been spent to promote this content using Steemium thanks to @sorin.cristescu.
Learn more here!

Appreciated @sorin.cristescu.

I find your approach about "the little need for Law" on blockchain platforms very valuable.

In blockchain the law is people. It is precisely the p2p interaction that has allowed the democratization of the financial liberation of the masses. The liberating character of blockchain lies in its independence from traditional financial systems and private banking.

Just thinking that a SWIFT transfer can take up to five days to complete and that a blockchain transaction only takes seconds, has shaken governments that remain supported by financial structures based on Fiat.
There are already several nations that have embarked on their path towards the adoption of blockchain, although behind this there is not precisely "liberating ideals."

Bitcoin and Ethereum are pioneering messes in this matter, but there are currently thousands of blockchain that adopted this path. I agree with you that most existing platforms are only dedicated to "link blocks" and not to foster the true liberating potential of "linking people".

It was very nice for me to read your post. Thanks for sharing.

Your Friend, Juan.

My point is that in between "fully liberating" blockchain applications (such as "p2p electronic cash" - bitcoin) on one hand and "chaining blocks but fully controlled" blockchain applications, there is a lot of value in applications that leverage blockchain technology in a "partly controlled, partly liberated" setting ...

I feel that you are considering a "hybrid" scenario. This made me think of a project I studied recently.

Currently there are many blockchains, but they all act "isolated", there is no interoperability.

There are several projects that are making interoperability between blockchains real. But there is one that goes beyond and allows interlocking permissionless blockchains with private blockchains. In fact, it also allows interoperability between blockchain - private network, raising the possibility of a hyperconnected future that allows value transactions.

You can know a little more in my post.

Downvoted because of bought votes. For Proof-of-Brain to work on Steem, buying votes must be strictly for paid promotion only and thus have negative return on investment.

Setting @null as a beneficiary for a large proportion of the rewards would be the best way to avoid downvotes.

You're right but none of the bot he used have positive returns.

Interesting. Thanks for digging up that data.

That's pretty cheap attention anyway and one must take into account that curation snipers will emerge, which will improve the vote buyer's ROI.

Purchasing votes defeats the intent of “proof of brain”.

4% cost is not enough. It still incentivizes vote selling and taking private gains from the common reward pool (which then leads to a race to the bottom of vote selling) over directing payouts according to even subjective value.

Directing some of the rewards to @null would help offset the difference and make this less harmful and therefore more socially acceptable.

I have doubts about the "we" and the "think about the society" part. To the manor part of the world's population nothing has changed. They do not even know it exists.

I agree with you, but I used hyperbole :-)

@sorin.cristescu That explains everything. Happy day ❤️

Interesting read.

Is lux-witness just temporarily down? It was showing as being disabled for 12 days on

Indeed, Pablo (@pstaiano) is currently on holiday. He'll update it as soon as he gets back ! Sorry for the inconvenience

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nice to see you back , happy new year Sorin , si sa ne auzim cu bine :D

thanks, happy new year to you too !

Your text is very interesting, and I think your ideas on the subject are very good ... let's show the world that we are not a zombie society, but on the contrary ... "we are the generation that transformed the world and will continue to do so for good "

one of best technology posts here

I must save this informations....
Thank you

you're welcome

Interesting read
information is important
tnx for the post

Interesante post @sorin.cristescu algunos no se sienten cómodos, otros temerosos pero al final las crytomonedas poco a poco van ganando terreno… Te sigo.

Hola @sorin.cristescu Buen punto de vista... Bienvenido nuevamente, esperemos este año 2020 sea prospero...

Hello @sorin.cristescu Good point... Welcome back, let's hope this year 2020 is prosperous...

Good Job , congratulations 💪


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A quite clear contribution from you @sorin.cristescu, thank you.

Un aporte bastante claro de su parte @sorin.cristescu, gracias.

Great to continue learning @sorin.cristescu, thanks for sharing, I wish you a successful 2020 and above all good health.
Genial para seguir aprendiendo @sorin.cristescu, gracias por compartirlo, Le deseo un año 2020 exitoso y sobre todo mucha salud.


Interesting post @sorin.cristescu some don't feel comfortable, others fearful but in the end crytomonies are slowly gaining ground... I follow you.

Hi @sorin.cristescu!

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