The promise of security offered by Blockchain is false

Jun 26, 2019


Through an opinion piece published Wednesday by the online magazine Wired, Bruce Schneier has raised criticism of the promise of new trust structures based on blockchain technology.

According to Schneier, in blockchain systems trust is displaced, especially in institutions and social conventions. According to him, such technomimalism neglects both the residual trust in technological systems of human governance, and the frequent fallibility of technology itself.

The author's opinion on trust is that it can be divided into four elements: moral, reputation, regulations / law, and security systems (mechanical, technological or auditing and forensic systems).

Schneier's article omits authorized blockchains, focusing only on public blockchains. According to him, they intend to explicitly displace institutional and social trust in technology, while still hiding social elements of trust.

On technology, the author states that protocols, crypto, software, etc., "frequently represent (single) points of failure," such as hacking exchanges, or when a smart contract code is listened to. Assuming that only experts can audit the complex code, such blockchain antitrust systems require absolute trust of users, he says.

Through an opinion piece published Wednesday by the online magazine Wired, Bruce Schneier has raised criticism of the promise of new trust structures based on blockchain technology.

According to Schneier, in blockchain systems trust is displaced, especially in institutions and social conventions. According to him, such technomimalism neglects both the residual trust in technological systems of human governance, and the frequent fallibility of technology itself.

The author's opinion on trust is that it can be divided into four elements: moral, reputation, regulations / law, and security systems (mechanical, technological or auditing and forensic systems).

Schneier's article omits authorized blockchains, focusing only on public blockchains. According to him, they intend to explicitly displace institutional and social trust in technology, while still hiding social elements of trust.

On technology, the author states that protocols, crypto, software, etc., "frequently represent (single) points of failure," such as hacking exchanges, or when a smart contract code is listened to. Assuming that only experts can audit the complex code, such blockchain antitrust systems require absolute trust of users, he says.

Schneier argues that there is always a residual need for an external governance system so that issues can not be solved only through technology, such as making changes to a particular protocol. Such a situation, he maintains, necessarily preserves a human element, therefore a hybrid based on trust.

The author also added the inevitable role of reputation in determining the platforms and tools used to interact with technology, ie which exchange or wallet is used. According to him, companies and people will always trust and evaluate systems for social reasons.

Concluding his article, Schneier points to the degree of centralization that plagues blockchains in mining, a sphere dominated by hardware-rich figures, compromising the supposedly distributed nature of the system.

According to a report published today, February 6, 2019, Bitcoin mining has become increasingly decentralized over the last 5 years, promoting competitiveness and making the currency less vulnerable to attack.

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