Blockchain is a powerful technology, but it’s not the law! The power of rules (human and code) over our lives is a hot topic in the 21st century, and it’s the big topic in Bitcoin inventor Dr. Craig S. Wright’s first session of The Bitcoin Masterclasses Day 2 in London recently.
The first session of Day 2 is a review of the previous day and a Q&A discussion of the issues surrounding blockchain, the law, and ways in which human and code rules interweave and interact. Sections of the audience appear to have libertarian principles. However, Dr. Wright is always quick to remind everyone that human law is still supreme and is based on thousands of years of history—in other words, they won’t be overcome or replaced by a few technological workarounds.
It begins with a question about whether governments would need to legislate on data ownership and privacy issues before the benefits of scalable Bitcoin could be seen. Dr. Wright says it’s the role of the private/technological sector to lead the drive for change, but notes that we shouldn’t expect it to come from existing Silicon Valley power players like Twitter, Facebook/Meta (NASDAQ: META) or Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL).
“There is a completely brain-dead culture in that place,” he says, delivering a handful of anecdotes about Peter Thiel and elitism.
He also points out that many blockchain-related techniques are just better ways of recording information and arrangements already well-covered by existing laws. A limited liability company under corporation law offers better protection to investors than would a blockchain-based DAO (decentralized autonomous organization), which is essentially an unofficial general partnership with no liability protections.
Taking the thought further, he says you can’t have scarcity or a universally-accepted ledger of truth without having one single blockchain that’s recognized as the official one. Multiple blockchains won’t work. Nor would copied versions of the same original chain. If you think “market forces” would make that decision, well, currently, those market forces are ruled by “bucket shop exchanges.” Ergo, while capitalism is still the driver, at some point, governments need to oversee these issues (and arbitrate disputes).
“Perfectly competitive markets don’t exist,” Dr. Wright states.
Another section covers voting rights, safeguarding the rights of minority populations within a democracy, and the power wielded by shareholders in corporations. Dr. Wright points out both the advantages and flaws in these systems, eventually leading back to the topic of proof-of-stake (PoS) on blockchains, which potentially give disproportionate power to a few (and may also do so without anyone being aware of real identities).
Those interested in libertarian topics will find this session particularly interesting, as Dr. Wright faces questions on sovereignty and the rights of property holders, the state and whether it’s possible to secede from it, and the different rights of visa holders vs. full citizens. There are also some questions about the “right to be forgotten,” codified under GDPR laws in the European Union. What records should follow you throughout life, and what records should you have the right to expunge? The discussion covers both the legal and moral sides of this.
Though some of the discussion topics in this session might appear to be sidetracks and tangents, they all wind back to questions of provable identity and why it’s necessary for commerce and wider society. This is relevant to legally-regulated corporations, and it’s equally applicable to a DAO (despite what some DAO creators may claim).
Blockchain is, therefore, far superior to existing systems and proposed non-blockchain digital IDs. With Bitcoin, people can have all the societal and legal benefits of a system where real identity is electronic and verifiable, but where access to information can be more strictly controlled. Bitcoin won’t help you escape the law, but it promises to make a living with human law much more tolerable.
Watch: The Bitcoin Masterclasses with Craig Wright: Confidentiality, Privacy, Anonymity, Party to Party
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