rhys_lindmark comments on Open Thread #38 - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: rhys_lindmark 24 August 2017 04:19:19PM 1 point [-]

I'm interested in quantifying the impact of blockchain and cryptocurrency from a ITN perspective. My instinct is that the technology could be powerful from a "root cause incentive" perspective, from a "breaking game theory" perspective, and from a "change how money works" perspective. I'll have a more full post about this soon, but here's some of my initial thoughts on the subject:

  1. https://medium.com/@RhysLindmark/creating-a-humanist-blockchain-future-2-effective-altruism-blockchain-833a260724ee
  2. https://medium.com/@RhysLindmark/10-doing-good-together-coordinating-the-effective-altruist-community-with-blockchain-188c4b7aa4b0

I'd be especially interested in hearing from people who think blockchain/crypto should NOT be a focus of the EA community! (e.g. It's clearly not neglected!)

Comment author: WillPearson 25 August 2017 09:42:10AM *  1 point [-]

Impact seems solid, it is relatively neglected (at least with regards to charities). I think tractability is where blockchains might fall down. It seems easy to do an ICO, but less easy to get people to get people interested in being part of the incentive system.

In order to estimate the tractability, I would back up a level. What blockchain (at least how you are using the phrase) is about is alternate incentive mechanisms to fiat money. There have been lots of alternate currencies in the past. There have probably been economic work on these things and they might be able to give you an outside view on how likely it is that a currency will gain traction in general. You can also look for research to see if there have been any charity based currencies, and how successful they have been.

You can then update that estimate with the improvements that crypto brings (smart contracts/distributed ledgers). But also the risks, having to hard fork the currency due to smart contract errors and having to make sure the people you want to participate in the system have enough crypto/computer security knowledge to treat their wallets safely (which may or may not mean using exchanges). I think the risks (currently) make me think it is intractable, but that might just mean we should look for tractable ways of mitigating those risks.

I'm interested in reading your analysis!