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. However, technology like this can be used for a range of potential applications.
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).
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.