Trust - the Ultimate Contract that Blockchain does not “provide”

Blockchain can not provide "trust"

Blockchain technology can lower the trust barrier – commercially this is referred to as ‘providing trust’. As a Blockchain architect, I am often involved in system design discussions around trust issues.

In the first few months of my role as a Blockchain architect, I would gently point out in a meeting that Blockchain doesn't provide trust, it just makes games less dependent on trust.

After half a year had passed, it dawned on me that such an explanation did not yield any effect so I resorted to silence when someone would state 'Blockchain provides trust' in a business meeting.

After working a full year I would join in and say 'Blockchain provides trust' at the beginning of a business meeting; this at least keeps the warm atmosphere that everything about Blockchain is understood.

You might be asking "What's the difference?", after all providing trust and lowering the barrier to trust might seem like the same thing.

Let's take a wedding for example. By courtesy of my Israeli friend and editor Daniel Bar, I was told of the Jewish splendor of a wedding, hundreds of guests, the breaking of glass, the Rabbi's blessing of Mazal-Tov and the ecstatic traditional dance that follows. My own wedding - or should I say weddings - was splendid as well. It was done three times, in three different locations, with the same loving bride. The first was hosted by a professional actor, with my wife dressed in red as the Chinese wedding custom goes. I remember myself bursting in tears, not out of happiness (I was too nervous to feel that) but due to the insurmountable pressure of having to do everything precisely right. The second wedding she was in a white wedding gown following the new western style ceremony. I actually forgot what she wore by the third time!

One may ask, why on earth do we who consider ourselves rational people go about marriage that way? Why can't lovers just travel overseas, to Spain, to Italy, to enjoy their honeymoon and avoid such a laborious chore? (We did that too, after the 3 wedding events) Well, it turns out the wedding ceremony was there for a reason.

It is big so that we have hundreds of witnesses; it is splendid so that every one of them can remember; it is done in 3 different locations so I can't simply deny it in any one of those communities. It is designed so that the couple will find it intensely shameful to back from their vows. If marriage is a contract - and indeed so, as we learned in Spain, that 'contraer matrimonio', the Spanish phrase for 'getting married', literately means 'contracting marriage' - then the wedding ceremony would be a warranty clause added to the contract, causing a tremendous damage to your reputation if the life-long contract failed to execute due to incompetency of any of it's guarantor sponsors.

It goes without saying that a successful marriage is built on trust, to which I owe my bliss. But, was it the wedding which provided that trust?

No, love provided that trust! Not the wedding! The wedding just makes it difficult to divorce.

Not any technology, not even a wedding, can provide trust. Blockchain, as a technology, let's you play with partners that otherwise you wouldn't play with due to a lack of trust. The business case can be that of trade finance use cases, information sharing schemes or asset-cash exchange. Such achievement is made possible by lowering the barrier of trust required for those business cases.

Now think about your cryptocurrency trading partner, he was honest with you for the past 10 years and never let you down on any deals. Next time he visits your home, asking to lend him a $1000, you better think very carefully before making that commitment. After all, not a bit of trust is provided between you two in the entire 10 years!