Trust in distributed environments

Research Group 17

Algorithmic systems are often publicly associated with a lack of transparency and a loss of human control. At the same time, networks like Bitcoin and its offspring enjoy unprecedented popularity. Being transparent both with respect to their inner workings and the data stored within them, such decentralized systems promise to abolish middlemen and trusted authorities and to thereby foster radical grassroots solutions.

But are such systems actually empowering users? How is trust built and structured in distributed environments? What are the implications of algorithmic rule enforcement, a feature inherent to most popular decentralization approaches?

The research group conducts interdisciplinary research on these and related questions, drawing on expertise from computer science, law, social science and economics. A current selection of more specific research interests includes:

  • Data storage on blockchains: legal challenges and technical solutions
  • Automated contracts, algorithmic decision making processes and consumer welfare
  • Governance of and governance through blockchain-based systems
  • Monetary policy in decentralized financial systems
  • Security and trust in widely used systems like Ethereum, Bitcoin and Stellar