Blockchain and Buchanan: Code as Constitution
This chapter conceptualizes computer code as constitutional rules and constraints governing blockchain technology. The Bitcoin protocol is essentially a set of rules written in computer code, governing what is, and what is not, allowed by the participants in the Bitcoin network. In this sense, it is like a constitution. No single participant can change the rules, but new rules (in the form of upgrades to the open-source software) can be advanced by different participants. The key to understanding Bitcoin’s rules is to understand consensus at all levels. In this context, Buchanan’s scholarship analyzing constitutional choice is extremely relevant to blockchain technology in general, and Bitcoin in particular.
- Antonopoulos, A. M. (2014). Mastering Bitcoin. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media.Google Scholar
- Buchanan, J. M. (1962). Predictability: The Criterion of Monetary Constitutions. In L. Yeager (Ed.), In Search of a Monetary Constitution (pp. 155–183). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Buterin, V. (2015, April 12). Visions Part 1: The Value of Blockchain Technology. Ethereum Blog. Available at https://blog.ethereum.org/2015/04/13/visions-part-1-the-value-of-blockchain-technology/.
- Hearn, M. (2015, May 7). Crash Landing. Medium. Available at https://medium.com/@octskyward/crash-landing-f5cc19908e32.
- Lessig, L. (1999). Code: and Other Laws of Cyberspace. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Nair, M., & Sutter, D. (2018). The Blockchain and Increasing Cooperative Efficacy. Independent Review, 22(4), 529–550.Google Scholar
- Nakamoto, S. (2008). Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. Available at https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf.
- Palmer, D. (2016, January 11). Scalability Debate Continues as Bitcoin XT Proposal Stalls. Coindesk. Available at https://www.coindesk.com/scalability-debate-bitcoin-xt-proposal-stalls/.
- Popper, N. (2016, January 14). A Bitcoin Believer’s Crisis of Faith. The New York Times.Google Scholar
- Rizzo, P. (2015, December 8). Is Segregated Witness the Answer to Bitcoin’s Block Size Debate? Coindesk. Available at https://www.coindesk.com/segregated-witness-bitcoin-block-size-debate/.
- Swanson, T. (2014). Great Chain of Numbers. A Guide to Smart Contracts, Smart Property, and Trustless Asset Management. Mountain View, CA: Creative Commons.Google Scholar
- Wright, A., & De Filippi, P. (2015). Decentralized Blockchain Technology and the Rise of Lex Cryptographia. Available at http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2580664.