When seeking to design a transaction recording and facilitation system such as vote recording, voter registration, asset transactions, and others, blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies quickly come to the front as potential building blocks. When investigating blockchain as the potential right technology base for such a solution, the architect will immediately begin to ask, “can we map this to the utopian blockchain vision?”

From an absolutist point of view, the answer is always yes. From a practical point of view, the answer is rarely yes, as the specific conditions to enable a purist application of the technology are extraordinarily rare.

Nick Szabo tackles this topic as a small part of his recent brilliant essay, “Money, blockchains, and social scalability”, published on his blog “Unenumerated.” This is a monster of an essay worthy of inclusion in any science and technology anthology published this year. Pulling from sources as fundamental to the understanding of human motivation as Adam Smith, Szabo explores modern technology's wide impact on human relationships and draws proof points and examples from the dawn of human civilization. Reading it is a commitment, but I suggest you give it a go.

One of Szabo’s conclusions is, “Utopian Schemes are very popular in the blockchain community, but they are not viable options. Reverse-engineering our highly evolved traditional institutions, and even reviving in some new form some old ones, will usually work better than designing from scratch, than grand planning and game theory.” Here at NuArca we could not agree more. Let’s evolve rather than start from scratch.