The soft spot of hard code: blockchain technology, network governance and pitfalls of technological utopianism

Moritz Hutten at Global Networks: “The emerging blockchain technology is expected to contribute to the transformation of ownership, government services and global supply chains. By analysing a crisis that occurred with one of its frontrunners, Ethereum, in this article I explore the discrepancies between the purported governance of blockchains and the de facto control of them through expertise and reputation. Ethereum is also thought to exemplify libertarian techno‐utopianism.

When ‘The DAO’, a highly publicized but faulty crowd‐funded venture fund was deployed on the Ethereum blockchain, the techno‐utopianism was suspended, and developers fell back on strong network ties. Now that the blockchain technology is seeing an increasing uptake, I shall also seek to unearth broader implications of the blockchain for the proliferation or blockage of global finance and beyond. Contrasting claims about the disruptive nature of the technology, in this article I show that, by redeeming the positive utopia of ontic, individualized debt, blockchains reinforce our belief in a crisis‐ridden, financialized capitalism….(More)”.