Byzantine Political Economy: Property Rights as a Knowledge Commons
20 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2019 Last revised: 22 Aug 2019
Date Written: August 22, 2019
Knowledge about property rights is a common pool resource necessary for economic exchange. But how is it governed? This chapter explores a shift in the technology of governance of property rights. Blockchain, the distributed ledger technology that underpins cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, is a new form of social infrastructure that securely decentralises property ledgers. The chapter draws parallels between the governance mechanisms that have managed agreement of shared facts in two distinct fields. This paper examines the close relationship between what the study of distributed systems describes as Byzantine consensus and what the study of institutional economics describes as robust political economy. We conclude that for decades computer science and economics have been working on the same questions in parallel.
Keywords: blockchains, byzantine generals problem, robust political economy, institutional economics
JEL Classification: A12, H11, H41, P11
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