Blockchain is a comparatively young technology, a “new kid on the block”: Since 2009, the development of Blockchain-related applications (“Smart Contracts”) have made decentralised transactions possible through the use of cryptographic functions such as Trusted Computing. Say what?

Simply put: Imagine Blockchain as a container, in which anyone can store information for making exchange processes of any kind transparent or for identifying themselves. In this way, the service providers/intermediaries who, until now, carried out the authentication can potentially be replaced technologically. Although “decentralised” has historically always been better on the web: Can DAOs (Decentralised Autonomous Organisations) really live up to all the hopes that are being laid at their feet from so many different sections of society, to the extent that it even moves beyond political allegiances?  

We want to use this year’s “Blockchain” topic to focus on the developments that the Blockchain technology has made. When dealing with possible and current fields of application, you encounter a wild mix of euphoria, cypherpunk and the iconisation of technological solutionism.  

Ask the developers and enthusiasts, and you’ll hear that transactions on Blockchain are faster, cheaper and, at least mathematically, “safer” than IRL. The straight peer-to-peer communication allows for the exchange of information without any institutions. Does this mean we’ve got a shift from top-down organisations to bottom-up cooperation in store? Are we dealing with a utopia or are we headed towards a cybernetic disaster? And what concrete environmental and societal effects is Blockchain already having today? Blockchain has a special advantage when dealing with non-physical goods, such as music, digital artworks or energy. What role can it therefore play in collective ownership or in the energy revolution? And is crypto really the answer to the problems of our democracies or will the externalisation of exchange processes in technology lead to an intensification of “surveillance capitalism”?

We’ve already prepared a detailed, basic introduction to Blockchain for you here. And for the one's who understand German, our friends over at Netzpolitik currently have an exciting, three-part interview series running on the technology: part 1 and part 2.

We will be discussing applications of Blockhain in the Finance sector in our FinTech-Topic at #rp18.