Fall 2019

Blockchain in Society: Applications, Economics, Law, and Ethics

Nov. 18Nov. 22, 2019

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Abhi Shelat (Northeastern University; chair), Helen Nissenbaum (Cornell Tech), Peter Van Valkenburgh (Coin Center)

Blockchains have demonstrated that it is possible to provide a societal function, namely fiat money, that has so far required a central trusted party. This surprising fact compels further study: what other societal functions are technically feasible to achieve via decentralized systems? Which of these are socially desirable? What are the economic, legal, and ethical implications?

Indeed, the combination of proofs and consensus promises decentralized versions of functions that are currently top-down or centralized: PKIs, contracts, banking, markets, auctions, and elections. Meanwhile, the absence of authorities raises questions in social science, such as the proper distribution of power across stakeholders (miners, developers, users, regulators). Other questions surround the legality and ethics of blockchains (example: when there is no central party to complain to, how does one remove harmful content from the blockchain?).

This workshop will consider the implications of combining proofs and consensus. We will highlight research that studies intriguing new applications as well as the fascinating and urgent economic, legal, and ethical questions.

Further details about this workshop will be posted in due course. Enquiries may be sent to the organizers workshop-proofs3 [at] lists [dot] simons [dot] berkeley [dot] edu (at this address).

All events take place in the Calvin Lab auditorium.

Registration is required to attend this workshop. Space may be limited, and you are advised to register early. The link to the registration form will appear on this page approximately 10 weeks before the workshop. To submit your name for consideration, please register and await confirmation of your acceptance before booking your travel.