Introduction

Blockchain technology, a secure digital ledger of linked blocks of transactions distributed across multiple computers, has seen a recent boom due its use as the platform for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether.

Explaining the science

Turing Fellow Vili Lehdonvirta's research deals with the design and socioeconomic implications of digital marketplaces and platforms, using conventional social research methods and novel data science approaches.


There is considerable interest from the data science community, the financial sector, and government in the applications of distributed ledger technology, and other instantiations of cryptocurrencies that may offer different levels of anonymity, untraceability, and verifiability. In this talk IOHK's chief scientist Aggelos Kiayias presents “Secure Decentralized Blockchains without Proofs of Work" at the Alan Turning Institute in London.

Aims

This interest group brings together researchers and practitioners from The Alan Turing Institute, and further afield, to analyse and share data on the politics of protocol governance, looking at a range of challenges. These include how to solve collective action problems in a peer produced resource, how to manage conflict, and the ethics and human rights implications of protocols and the systems they create.

Talking points

Blockchain, and the internet alike, are dependent upon protocols to operate. However, due to the nature of these systems, the development and governance of these protocols is complex and sensitive.

The way in which these protocols are designed frequently has significant implications on the users of these systems. This leads to difficult problems of cooperation and coordination regarding how best to govern these protocols. Examples of these dynamics can be found in Bitcoin’s block size debate and, in internet governance, the struggle over control of the root (the only point of centralised control in the internet).

Recent updates

Articles

Read: 'Understanding public blockchain governance', by Turing doctoral student Odysseas Sclavounis

Read: 'The blockchain paradox: Why distributed ledger technologies may do little to transform the economy', by Turing Fellow Vili Lehdonvirta

Policy submissions

Turing Fellow Vili Lehdonvirta contributed to the Government Chief Scientific Adviser's report on distributed ledgers. He authored 'Chapter 3: Governance and Regulation', dealing with rules and rulemaking in distributed ledger systems.

Researchers

Contact info

[email protected]

 

External researchers

Erik Meyer, Oxford Internet Institute

Sarah Azouvi, UCL

Mary Maller, UCL

Gary Pogson, Lloyds Register Foundation