DOI: 10.3390/philosophies9010002 ISSN: 2409-9287

Blockchain Ethics

Peter G. Kirchschlaeger
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Philosophy

There is no question about the innovation force and the economic potential of blockchain technology. As the basis for new currencies, financial services, and smart contracts, blockchain technology can be seen as the fifth disruptive computing paradigm, after mainframes, personal computers, the Internet, and mobile devices. However, there are questions about its ethical implications, which have the potential to also impact the economic success of blockchain technology. This article aims to provide ethical guidance on blockchain technology. In order to reach this goal, the focus of the ethical analysis will first concentrate on the unique characteristics of blockchain technology compared to other technology-based innovations. The unique nucleus of blockchain technology can be defined as a move from the trust in people to a trust in math, as a move from an internet of information to an internet of value, or—as I would propose—a shift from an intermediated network to an immediate network. Second, the ethical opportunities (e.g., transparency, participation, global access to services) and risks (e.g., ecological impact, lack of legal monitoring and enforcement) associated with this unique nucleus of blockchain technology will be discussed. Third, an outlook on possible concrete solutions will be provided.