From Athens to the Blockchain: Oracles for Digital Democracy

19 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2020

See all articles by Marta Poblet

Marta Poblet

RMIT University

Darcy W E Allen

RMIT University

Oleksii Konashevych

University of Bologna - Erasmus Mundus Joint International Doctoral Program in Law, Science and Technology; RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub

Aaron M. Lane

RMIT University

Carlos Andres Diaz Valdivia

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: June 18, 2020

Abstract

Oracles were trusted sources of knowledge for public deliberation in classical Athens. Very much like expert and technical knowledge, divine advice was embedded in the deliberation and decision-making process of the democratic Assembly. While the idea of religious divination is completely out of place in our contemporary democracies, oracles made a technological comeback with modern computer science and cryptography and, more recently, the emergence of the blockchain as a “trust machine”. This paper reviews the role of oracles in Athenian democracy and, stemming from the renewed use of the term in computer sciences and cryptography, analyses the case of oracles in the nascent blockchain ecosystem. The paper also proposes a sociotechnical approach to the use of distributed oracles as informational devices to assist deliberative processes in digital democracy settings and considers the limits that such an approach may face.

Keywords: democracy, digital democracy, blockchain, cryptography, oracles, distributed networks, deliberation, decision making.  

JEL Classification: K30, O00

Suggested Citation

Poblet, Marta and Allen, Darcy and Konashevych, Oleksii and Lane, Aaron M. and Diaz Valdivia, Carlos Andres, From Athens to the Blockchain: Oracles for Digital Democracy (June 18, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3630713 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3630713

Marta Poblet (Contact Author)

RMIT University ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

Darcy Allen

RMIT University ( email )

440 Elizabeth Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

Oleksii Konashevych

University of Bologna - Erasmus Mundus Joint International Doctoral Program in Law, Science and Technology ( email )

Bologna
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://www.last-jd.eu/

RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://https://rmitblockchain.io/

Aaron M. Lane

RMIT University ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.rmit.edu.au/contact/staff-contacts/academic-staff/l/lane-dr-aaron

Carlos Andres Diaz Valdivia

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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