The Full Circle Hypothesis

  • Systemic tendencies towards institutionalization. Institutions — including successful networks — represent stable and enduring solutions to recurring problems. But they also contain points of control and resource accumulation. As such, institutions are always objects of political and economic conflict which leads to…
  • Unequal distribution of wealth and influence. Even in systems designed to be maximally inclusive, there are always information and other asymmetries that trigger private interests and attempts to control — via institutions — the most valuable resources.
  • Past experience and cultural inertia. Most problems of blockchain governance are actually not that different from challenges faced by traditional institutions. It shouldn’t therefore be surprising to see blockchain governance gradually evolve towards more tried and tested designs. This is foreshadowed, for example, by concerns over voter apathy and calls for checks and balances.
  • Path dependency and network effects. Lock-ins exist not only on a technical but also organizational and cultural levels. It is expensive and tiresome to constantly learn, switch, and adapt. While technology can certainly increase the freedom of choice and action, in everyday practice, it is always weighed against the forces of convenience, stability, and market power.
  • Social embeddedness. Ultimately, everything humans create is embedded in and determined by the existing social system with its array of cultural norms, biases, and inertia. At the core of every positive social transformation, there also gestate forces that will drive society towards new and more sophisticated forms of coercion and control.

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