There's a common thread running through much of the "blockchain-for-good" pitches out there: the idea that we can replace fallible, untrustworthy people with immutable, decentralized ledgers that serve as referees and/or escrow agents in complex transactions between strangers who have no reason to trust one another. That's no trivial proposition. The lack of trust among strangers is the source of many costs and inefficiencies in our society.
It's easy to think of a computer as neutral and unbiased—a system built up of crisp ones and zeroes, untroubled by squishy, qualitative factors. But qualitative factors can be stubborn things.
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