Building the Decentralized Stack: The Missing Social Layer

Today, a new wave of decentralization is underway, with lots of attention being paid to the development of peer-to-peer networks, blockchain technology, etc. 

Technology is neither good or bad, but is is also not neutral:  the underlying design of a technology will shape the mix of affordances and constraints that become available to the users of that technology.  Decentralized infrastructures are less likely to fall under the control of centralized parties, yet, they are not immune from market dynamics.  With no institution protecting them, they can be easily coopted by powerful actors.

So perhaps today the main challenge is not the design of technology, but rather the design of the governance structure on top of it.  In her talk, Primavera De Filippi argues that instead of focusing only on the technological layer, we must also look at the missing social layer--how to govern decentralized networks--to ensure the long-term sustainability of these decentralized systems.

About the Speaker:

Primavera De Filippi and Aaron Wright have written Blockchain and the Law, welcoming the new possibilities inherent in blockchains while making clear, the technology cannot be harnessed productively without new rules and new approaches to legal thinking.

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Talk: Primavera De Filippi—Building the Decentralized Stack: "The Missing Social Layer" >

Primavera De Filippi
Researcher & Faculty Associate, CERSA/CNRS and Berkman-Klein Center / Harvard

Primavera De Filippi is a Permanent Researcher at the National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris, a Faculty Associate at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and a Visiting Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute. She is a member of the Global Future Council on Blockchain Technologies at the World Economic Forum, and co-founder of the Internet Governance Forum’s dynamic coalitions on Blockchain Technology (COALA). Her fields of interest focus on legal challenges raised by decentralized technologies, their potential to design new governance models and participatory decision-making, and the concept of governance-by-design. Her book, “Blockchain and the Law,” was published in 2018 by Harvard University Press (co-authored with Aaron Wright).


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