Technologies of Trust: Experiments in Web3 Governance | Anna Weichselbraun


William J. Perry Conference Room

  • Anna Weichselbraun

Seminar Recording

About the Event: Anna Weichselbraun interrogates how trust is constituted as a cultural norm and becomes mediated through future-building technologies. She probes the effort to “engineer” trust in Web3—a movement of software engineers, designers, and artists to resist centralized authorities through decentralization based on blockchain—a tamper-proof digital ledger. Web3’s advocates imagine themselves “builders and owners” of radically inclusive and participatory online worlds and alternative economies. Participants deploy blockchains and tokenization to build virtual communities—often in the form of DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations)—that run on carefully considered social values. These values are encoded in algorithmic processes, the “smart contracts” by which participants’ behavior is governed along presumably universal incentives. Web3 proponents envision networked organizations of technologically-mediated trust that can supplant “untrustworthy” institutions like the state and the corporation. Web3 seeks to transform the future through technology and Weichselbraun's research follows projects and approaches that seek to democratize and decentralize work, community, and politics.

About the Speaker: Anna Weichselbraun is an anthropologist of knowledge, technology, and governance. She holds a postdoc at the University of Vienna and is currently a Fellow at the Berggruen Institute. She received her Ph.D. in sociocultural and linguistic anthropology from the University of Chicago, and has previously worked at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. Her book manuscript on the knowledge practices of nuclear safeguards inspectors at the International Atomic Energy Agency is under review with Cornell University Press. Her newest research project examines novel forms of governance in Web3.

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