Discussing blockchain tech: Don’t just leave it to the experts

"A debate with a libertarian about blockchain is like talking to a priest about euthanasia - it is useful only if you fully grasp beforehand the background of strong opinions across the subject area"

We should care more about blockchain’s interface with society than the technology itself, according to Miroslav Pikus, Chief Technology Officer, NKB Group.

In a blog post, he argues that blockchain is now like euthanasia. “Far more important than the technicalities of the actual act is to think about what role it has over one’s life, or how society, the state, or one’s family influences it. Euthanasia is not about how many milligrams of which substance needs to be administered it is about the essence, origin, even the very meaning of life,” he writes.

“It’s the same with blockchain. It’s not about the technology anymore, it’s about what role society or the state should have over our lives; it’s about how we trust various institutions and eachother. Your opinion about blockchain is likely not formed by what you know about it, but rather by what your beliefs are in these various social or political areas. Technology is now ideology: You tell me who you are, and I will tell you what you think about blockchain,” he adds.

NKB Group was recently asked to put together a discussion panel for an OECD summit entitled ‘Could blockchain help save the environment?’. “We may have shocked the organisers when we suggested to them that they shouldn’t invite any blockchain experts,” Pikus says. “It’s more important to discuss areas “bordering” the technology, and talk about things that “touch” it, we argued, than focus on the distributed ledger itself.”

When it comes to discussing blockchain’s impact on the economy, society, medicine, and ecology, it’s mainly IT geeks, or crypto mathematicians, who are asked to comment. “In economics, they favour laissez faire, in politics, they prefer direct democracy, in cities, for instance, they oppose drone regulation. It’s the equivalent of priests being our only experts on euthanasia,” he continues.

So who should be on a discussion panel about how blockchain can save the environment? Environmentalists, economists, politicians, philosophers, but not programmers. “All you need to explain to them about blockchain is that it’s an immutable database shared by many parties, which no one governs. Then ask them – can it save the world?” Pikus concludes.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author should not be considered as financial advice. We do not give advice on financial products.

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