Martin Zeilinger

Blockchain Futures Between Immutability and Radical Change

keynote talks
Bergen Center for Electronic Art (BEK), Norway
[posted: 11 November 2022]
>>tags: blockchain, DAOs, blockchain art, anarchism, activism

Nov 11, 2022, 19:30 CET Free live-stream from the symposium of this year’s “The Only Lasting Truth Is Change” festival hosted at BEK in Bergen, Norway.

Event listing

Festival program

Stream here (Vimeo)

Abstract: Blockchain technologies reject hierarchical organisational principles, infrastructures of centralised control, and systems that are subject to abuse by corrupt human agents. They promise to disrupt such infrastructures by decentralising decision-making processes, by utilising algorithmic governance tools, and by securing stored information as immutable on public digital ledgers. This may sound like blockchains inherently favour progressive politics of inclusion and openness. But so far, many of the resulting ‘trustless’ network technologies (such as cryptocurrencies) have served only to further financialise human activities in the digital landscape. There are, nevertheless, growing communities of artists and activists who experiment with using blockchains for radically different ends. For example, in DAOs (distributed autonomous organisations), blockchains can frame new infrastructures of horizontal distribution, mutual aid, and non-hierarchical decision-making. Here, the technology’s libertarian and hyper-capitalist tendencies make way for its anarcho-communist potentials. In the talk for the symposium Zeilinger discusses what becomes possible when the seeming contradictions inscribed on this spectrum are explored further. How can ‘change’ be leveraged through ‘immutability’? What radically new types of community can emerge from computational protocols designed to function without human intermediaries?

(I’ll post a video when it becomes available.)