The decentralised technology behind bitcoin is creeping out into the real world. The possibilities could change the way society is run

Blockchain startups promises a world where no one is in charge

The blockchain eliminates bosses (Image: Tom Sibley/Gallerystock)

THE centre cannot hold. The rise of bitcoin took the right to issue money, once the sole preserve of governments, and placed it in the hands of everyone. Now a spin-off technology could do the same for other core concepts of society: identity, ownership, reputation and even the rule of law.

This technology is the blockchain, and it has the potential to enable the ultimate workers’ cooperatives, or perhaps an ultra-libertarian parallel society, beyond governmental control.

Bitcoin’s blockchain is a cryptographically secured list of every bitcoin transaction ever made. The list is stored on every machine running bitcoin software and is continuously updated as each transaction is completed. No central authority is in control: the machines essentially monitor each other to stop fraud.

But blockchains can be used for more than financial transactions. Last year saw the introduction of …

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