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Decentralized Crypto-Finance: Blockchains, Automatic Markets, and Algorithmic Trust


Melanie Swan
By Melanie Swan
Broader Perspective

Posted: Aug 17, 2016

A revolutionary set of concepts and underlying technology enablement has arisen in the form of blockchain technology. Blockchains allow the digital payments layer the Internet never had, and more broadly contemplate an era whereby all forms of secure value transfer could take place via the Internet. This includes all monetary assets (the cash or spot market) and all assets and liabilities over any future time frame (the futures and options market, mortgages, debt and equity securities, treasury issuance, and public debt).

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The implication is not just that all modes of financial activity could be modernized, but that the very application of finance could be rethought. Scarcity has been the assumption for structuring economic systems for the production and distribution of scarce material goods. This no longer holds in an era of digital services, non-rival goods, and complementarity. Likewise, the governing assumption for the organization of financial systems has been the control or at least prediction of the future value of assets and liabilities. This too could change per the advent of decentralized technology like blockchains. A more rooted assumption that could also change is that any project requires financing, which would necessarily be in the form of debt capital. 

One aim is to challenge the monolithic philosophical foundations of financial and economic systems. Within this context, another aim is to investigate the concept of synecdoche as applied to developing a theory of cost, pricing, and valuation that is not derivative of and so many layers away from, but more closely linked to the underlying asset or liability. My thesis is that new mechanisms such as algorithmic trust and automatic markets could allow departure from the mode of finance as currently conceived to alternatives that emphasize access over ownership, topological ranges over point values, and assurity over insufficiency.


Melanie Swan, MBA, is an Affiliate Scholar of the IEET. Ms. Swan, principal of the MS Futures Group, is a philosopher, science and technology futurist, and options trader.
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