Trust is hard to gain but easy to lose. This is especially true when it comes to trust and digital technologies. In the new smartphone documentary Trust in the Blockchain Society, experts from Amsterdam Law School and others discuss pressing issues surrounding technology, trust and distrust.
Balázs Bodó is chief researcher in the Blockchain and Society Policy Research Lab (Institute for Information Law, IViR). In the documentary he talks to a number of international and Amsterdam experts, including former broker and journalist Brett Scott, internet pioneer Marleen Stikker, cryptographer Jaromil and crypto-economist Shermin Voshmgir.
With the development of far-reaching digital technologies, distrust is also growing, says Bodó. ‘How do you distinguish real news from fake news? Can we trust digital tracking apps and immunisation passports? How do we build trust in the COVID vaccine? Trust seems to be in crisis.' According to Bodó, there are some good reasons not to have blind faith in technology: 'Digital services are often opaque, heavily automated and poorly regulated foreign private entities with their own economic, political, social and cultural agendas.'
But some digital technologies can also actually help us address the crisis of trust, Bodó said. For example, reputation systems can help us evaluate the trustworthiness of strangers we meet on e-commerce or sharing platforms. Blockchain systems minimize the need for trust but strictly enforcing the terms of interactions through cryptography and smart contract.
Blockchain and Society Policy Research Lab
The Blockchain and Society Policy Research Lab at the Amsterdam Law School is a research project funded by the European Research Council that focuses on the social and policy questions surrounding automated, often so-called 'trustless' technical infrastructures, such as smart contracts, distributed ledgers, data intermediaries or self-sovereign identity solutions. They are meant to facilitate social and economic cooperation between strangers, but their trustworthiness is still in question.
About the documentary
The documentary Trust in the Blockchain Society was produced by the independent architecture and design magazine Volume/Archis and the new media production studio Submarine Channel. A QR code takes you to the documentary, which immediately stands out for its clean design and interactive features. There are 8 episodes in the making, the first 3 are now online.