How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Blockchain

Implications and Applications of Blockchain

by Pavan Katkar

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The technology underpinning contentious cryptocurrencies (like bitcoin) is widely known as blockchain. This dissertation explored the implications and applications of blockchain. By "implications" I mean what kinds of policy problems is it enabling, and by "applications" I mean what kinds of policy problems can we address using blockchain.

The first part of this dissertation explored some of the widely discussed policy problems associated with blockchain to find out that blockchain is not creating any new kinds of policy problems. However, it has the potential to scale up some specific law enforcement issues associated with transaction of illicit goods and services.

The second part of this dissertation conceptualizes a blockchain based ecosystem to demonstrate that this tool can be used in orchestrating an ecosystem geared towards mitigating large scale (n » 1) cyber attacks. This exploration led to the insight that if addressing a policy issue requires the alignment of economic incentives of multiple independent entities in a cooperative way, then blockchain can be quite an effective tool for that purpose.

Based on these analyses, this dissertation suggests that while blockchain (and cryptocurrencies) may be increasing the scale of some select law enforcement issues, there is no need for new policies as such; existing policies are robust enough to address those issues. Secondly, governmental and commercial organizations may benefit by exploring how to apply this tool in addressing complex policy problems that need coordination of multiple independent entities.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Introduction to Blockchain

  • Chapter Three

    Intermediaries

  • Chapter Four

    Blockchain-Created Value

  • Chapter Five

    Selected Policy Considerations

  • Chapter Six

    A Potential Application of Blockchain

  • Chapter Seven

    A Blockchained Ecosystem

  • Chapter Eight

    Concluding Thoughts

Research conducted by

This document was submitted as a dissertation in May August in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of C. Richard Neu (Chair), Angela O'Mahony, and Philip Evans.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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