The Blockchain and How it Can Influence Conceptions of the Self

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Technological in Society

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Blockchain technologies are rapidly being developed and tested in a broad range of business and governmental settings. Their unique cryptographic characteristics and configurations enable users of these systems to transact directly and anonymously. The data these users generate are timestamped and immutable. In open blockhains, individual users take responsibility for managing and protecting their own data and for ensuring the reliability of the parties with whom they transact. The socio-material characteristics of these systems will influence user attitudes and behaviors in ways that are profound and difficult to predict. Outcomes have not yet been researched, and the academy has adopted a stance of technological determinism despite the fact that implicit assumptions about outcomes are literally coded in as these systems are developed. We envision potential impacts that may result from self-sovereign ownership of data including: commoditization of the self and relationships with others, the need to police personal data and reputation, and new perceptions of time and history that result from transaction sequentialization and permanence. Further research on the societal impacts of blockchain technologies is needed as these systems become ubiquitous.


copyright 2019. Published by Elsevier Ltd.2020



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