City Research Online

The fragility of decentralised trustless socio-technical systems

De Domenico, M. and Baronchelli, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-0255-0829 (2019). The fragility of decentralised trustless socio-technical systems. EPJ Data Science, 8, 2.. doi: 10.1140/epjds/s13688-018-0180-6

Abstract

The blockchain technology promises to transform finance, money and even governments. However, analyses of blockchain applicability and robustness typically focus on isolated systems whose actors contribute mainly by running the consensus algorithm. Here, we highlight the importance of considering trustless platforms within the broader ecosystem that includes social and communication networks. As an example, we analyse the flash-crash observed on 21st June 2017 in the Ethereum platform and show that a major phenomenon of social coordination led to a catastrophic cascade of events across several interconnected systems. We propose the concept of “emergent centralisation” to describe situations where a single system becomes critically important for the functioning of the whole ecosystem, and argue that such situations are likely to become more and more frequent in interconnected socio-technical systems. We anticipate that the systemic approach we propose will have implications for future assessments of trustless systems and call for the attention of policy-makers on the fragility of our interconnected and rapidly changing world.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: ©The Author(s) 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, pro-vided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, andindicate if changes were made.
Publisher Keywords: Blockchain; Interdependency; Emergent centralization; Networked socio-technical systems
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Departments: School of Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering > Computer Science
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/21461
[img]
Preview
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview

Export

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login