Nathan Schneider is a professor of media studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is the editor of Proof of Stake: The Making of Ethereum and the Philosophy of Blockchain, a collection of essays by Vitalik Buterin, to be published this September.
The cryptographic tools that are currently being used to circumvent the international order could become a means of building a better international order.
Imagine a new decentralized finance app quietly spreading around the world like a short-term lender from hell called DevilsBridge. You don’t need to get it from the App Store, but use a web browser with a crypto wallet plugin to directly access its blockchain contracts. DevilsBridge offers cryptocurrency micro-loans that “build” people’s bridges to their next paycheck. The interest rate on such loans is much lower than that of traditional short-term lenders, which is life-changing for many users.
But if these payments are not repaid, they keep growing, and they reach multiples of the principal. Over time, the pressure on borrowers to pay off their debts by engaging in notorious violent crimes to get funds to pay off their debts, and if the debt reaches the magic threshold of $1 million, the debtor becomes a bounty Target, the drone drug dart market will settle these huge debtors.
Of course, wherever there is a law, this is a serious offense. But no one knows who created DevilDAO or who its members are, DevilsBridge is a decentralized autonomous organization, and the identity of the drone owner is hidden behind cryptography. Sometimes local police can track drones to their bases, or investigators can find a real person through the address of a DevilDAO member. But where most assassinations take place, authorities are not well equipped to conduct aerial tracking or scrutinize blockchain analysis.
This might sound like a cartoon scene, but it looks plausible thanks to the advent of decentralized, autonomous systems on the blockchain. Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin jokingly acknowledged this dystopian…