Ben van Lier: Blockchain Technology and Decentralised Autonomous Organisations

At a lecture in 1951, Heidegger said the following: “But so long as the essence of technology does not closely concern us, in our thought, we shall never be able to know what the machine is” (2004: 24) . With these words, Heidegger referred to the rapid development and application of technology, such as production machines, electricity, television and aircraft, in his day. The manifestations of this technology rapidly changed the world at the time, while people never stopped to think about the essence of these technological developments and the ensuing social impact.

Today, we again find ourselves on the eve of a similar global change, where machines as physical and stand-alone devices are no longer centre stage, as they are evolving into devices that, through the use of algorithms and software, can communicate and interact in networks. This development is turning the devices produced by modernity into cyber-physical systems that can function and make decisions autonomously based on data and information. These changes, in turn, reveal new organisational possibilities based on a kind of interconnectedness that enables cyber-physical systems to jointly make decisions. Again, the question that arises is whether we can still fathom, or even want to fathom, the scope and essence of such a technology-based development.


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