Trustlessness: The Paradoxes of Cryptocurrency for International Security



Finn Brunton, New York University

Date and Time

May 14, 2020 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


Virtual Seminar


Seminar Recording:


About this Event: This talk will offer an explanation for a contradiction in cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies: similar tools and platforms — indeed, sometimes the same ones — are adopted both for and against security and stability. How can a technology be interesting to ISIS, Facebook, blackmailers, central banks, ransomware developers, philanthropists, offshore casinos, drug cartels, logistics officers, smugglers, and food safety inspectors? I will argue that we can understand some of the present and near future dynamics of cryptocurrencies and blockchain tools through the history of their creation, which stretches back almost fifty years. I will take us through the agendas, goals, and ideologies woven into the development of the technology — from destroying governments, to creating unique digital objects with the provenance of gold ingots, to funding immortality — and discuss how they are playing out in the threats and promises of systems now.


About the Speaker: Finn Brunton is associate professor at New York University’s Department of Media, Culture, and Communication. He is the author of Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet (2013) and Digital Cash: The Unknown History of the Anarchists, Technologists, and Utopians Who Created Cryptocurrency (2019), and co-author of Obfuscation: A User’s Guide for Privacy and Protest (2015) and Communication (2019).”




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