Bitcoin is supposed to change how money works, but it may change social systems too. Or so claims ID3 Executive Director and MIT research scientist John H. Clippinger in the latest episode of Epicenter Bitcoin.
Clippinger has studied social systems, including and how to build trust frameworks for protecting and sharing personal information, and co-edited the book of essays From Bitcoin to Burning Man to Beyond. In his eyes, Bitcoin is a technology that could strike the root of our institutions and allow the flexibility for much-needed change to outdated, hierarchical social structures.
When asked how to design systems that self-correct and learn, Clippinger responded that it’s something researchers have been working on since the 70’s and 80’s, but the computational power wasn’t there.
But technology has improved since then. And Clippinger finds Bitcoin, and its third-party-free glory, interesting. He thinks that we’re long-due for institutional change:
“It’s the idea that you could have a highly decentralized, open source, incentives mechanism that could actually launch change and challenge a lot of the current institutional structures—which I believe are failing. They’re artifacts of another era. They’re artifacts of the Enlightenment when we had three million people,