The role that trust plays in blockchain-based systems is understood and portrayed in various manners. The blockchain technology is said to enable and establish trust as well as to redirect it, to substitute for it, and to make it obsolete. Furthermore, there is disagreement on whom or what users have to trust when using the blockchain technology: (only) code, math, algorithms, and machines, or still (also) human actors. This paper hypothesizes that the divergences of the depictions largely rest on implicitly adhering to different accounts of trust. Thus, the goal of this paper is to outline how the current lack of a shared understanding of the term ‘trust’ leads to diverging interpretations of the blockchain technology’s core features. Furthermore, it shows how this lack of common understanding obstructs scholars from referring to one another meaningfully in the discourse on blockchain technology. To do so, this paper outlines the most prominent depictions of the setup of relevant trust relationships within blockchain-based systems and traces their roots to different underlying assumptions on the nature of trust.
Mattis Jacobs, How Implicit Assumptions on the Nature of Trust Shape the Understanding of the Blockchain Technology, Philosophy and Technology (2020). Published: 29 June 2020.