What Blockchain Oracles Do Not See | Mike Elias


Blockchain guarantees an immutable historical past of on-chain information. However the “ledger of document” is merely the latest model of an previous trick – the manufacture and distribution of certainty.

This sample of producing certainty (laying declare to fact) after which distributing it (demanding conformity) I name the “certainty-industrial advanced,” and it has at all times been basic to sustaining social order.

Mike Elias is the founding father of Ideamarket. Crypto Questioned is a forum to debate the concepts and philosophies that drive the cryptocurrency trade.

For 1000’s of years, organized religions have laid declare to absolute fact after which demanded conformity from the individuals. Right now, mainstream scientific tradition expresses comparable confidence and calls for comparable conformity, shaming heretics. The knowledge-industrial advanced even formed most of our childhoods, as public training frames academics as authorities and requires college students to evolve.

In all circumstances, the implication is obvious: You might be depending on an authority for the reality. Your solely hope of information is to cease pondering and begin obeying.


On condition that certainty is essentially the most resolutely nonexistent factor within the universe (see Heisenberg, Godel, Wittgenstein, et cetera.), its manufacture and distribution has historically required a number of mendacity.

“Bitcoin is lifeless.” Uh-huh.

“It’s simply the flu.” Uh-huh.

Within the coming years, decentralized oracles will cryptographically confirm all kinds of knowledge factors and save them on-chain, creating “definitive fact” – a ledger of document.

Whereas the intent is noble, the execution is merely the following evolutionary step of the certainty-industrial advanced – an innovation in obedience mongering. The ledger of document lays declare to the reality, and you have to conform.

Paradoxically, technologists like Balaji Srinivasan, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong and billionaire investor Mark Cuban fail to know what the web means for public discourse: Entry to details just isn’t the issue anymore – trusting their interpretation is. The bulletproof certainties blockchain gives don’t make it secure to begin trusting establishments once more. A government – just like the World Well being Group (WHO) or the New York Occasions – can nonetheless impose an accepted interpretation of the details, even when the details themselves can be found for everybody to view.

Ethical Kombat

The web revealed that behind each authority is a alternative between authorities. 

(Mike Elias)

Having a alternative between authorities means authoritative certainty is now a mere information level for our personal uncertainty, our personal judgments.

The web cemented free alternative about whom we belief because the decisive think about whether or not we agree with a given narrative.

This new freedom kills the certainty-industrial advanced.

And there’s no going again.

A city known as Panic

The knowledge-industrial advanced is aware of one thing is completely different, but it surely doesn’t know what. The ways of producing and distributing certainty have merely stopped working. The previous authorities gasp for a breath of their former stature, feebly flashing credentials on the incredulous throng.

Ledger of document advocates imagine that by manufacturing certainty at a degree of purity unseen in human historical past, the ledger will make certainty efficient once more – that quickly we’ll reside in a world the place authorities say, “look, it’s on-chain!” and everybody will agree and reside fortunately ever after.

They’re improper – and there’s proof.

Truth consensus =/= narrative consensus

Even when we assume for sensible functions that details exist, consensus on details doesn’t produce consensus on narratives.

Social media feeds are an ideal instance. When Donald Trump tweeted on Nov. 16, 2020 “I WON THE ELECTION,” 80 million individuals would agree on the literal textual content content material.

However what it means – what story it tells concerning the world we reside in – stays the topic of infinite debate. Whereas the Related Press known as the American presidential election for Joe Biden, skeptics, annoyed by court-demonstrated Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) collusion with the Democratic National Convention (DNC) and years of company media censorship, remained distrustful. 

The web cemented free alternative about whom we belief because the decisive think about whether or not we agree with a given narrative.

Public discourse is divided by interpretations of data, not data itself. Cryptographically verified data doesn’t even touch this problem.

Consider The DAO hack of 2016. How did the Ethereum Core team respond? Depending on who you ask, they rolled back the chain, intervened in-state, performed a hard fork, et cetera. Yet, all the relevant data is on-chain – shouldn’t we all agree on what happened if it’s all on-chain?

Advocates trumpet the ledger of record as the savior of public discourse, but we’ve already seen cryptographically verified data fail to produce a cryptographically unified narrative – even after five years, with a technically sophisticated audience.

The DAO hack is proof it doesn’t matter how justified one person’s certainty may be; convincing others of that certainty is an entirely different problem.

Due diligence

Before reconstituting all of humanity’s knowledge on a new technical foundation, it seems reasonable to conduct some due diligence. Here are three key questions which ledger of record advocates rarely answer satisfactorily:

1. What’s the plan for when data consensus fails to produce narrative consensus?

Throughout history, when certainty is manufactured, the next step is always the same: Impose it.

When the historical church failed to persuade, it responded with crusades. When corporate media fails to persuade, it responds with censorship.

What’s the plan for when “cryptographic truth” fails to persuade?

2. What’s the plan for ensuring public trust is well-placed?

The public will never have the technical knowledge to distinguish a secure oracle from a compromised one, relevant data from irrelevant data or honest interpretations from dishonest ones.

Here’s why this matters: To the precise extent the ledger of record becomes important, power brokers will subvert it technically while praising it politically. They’ll corrupt oracles, migrate to insecure sidechains and cherry-pick data to manufacture circumstantial evidence.

When they finally say “look, it’s all on-chain,” only a tiny cadre of politically outcast experts will be able to spot the fraud.

How will the public know it’s being defrauded, let alone meaningfully protest?

3. Are you prepared to have your minds blown?

If decentralized oracles indeed produce “definitive truth,” they will quickly elevate a subset of fringe ideas to paradigm-shattering prominence. Why aren’t ledger of record advocates talking about this all the time? 

These are the kinds of sentences I’d expect to hear from people who are seriously interested in discovering and mainstreaming suppressed “truths”:

Getting revenge on the media for lying about COVID-19 is nothing compared to this stuff. So why is that the main symptom of ledger of record fever?

The absence of wonderment in the face of unbounded discovery makes me worry that ledger of record advocates might already expect to cherry-pick on-chain data that fits their preferred narrative and vindicate their personal narrative vendettas.

They expect you to unquestioningly obey on-chain data and to change your mind when confronted by “definitive truth.”

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