dear Nettimers,

I was challenged to write again about something crypto by Felix, Shu Lea and 
Ewen. So I took the occasion to manifest and share some burning thought

I'll be grateful for any criticism, insight, advice and suggestion received 
from this list.

The link of the publication is here:
complete with images, up to the top there is also a link to the French 

Here below I'll paste the plain-text of this short essay, to ease quoting and 
reading from whatever you may be using to read nettime.

But first a technical note:

Some of you may notice that I stop inserting line-breaks at col. 72, violating 
an old netiquette rule and RFC1855 guideline. I do this after noticing that 
text reflow nowadays is better done client-side, since we use devices of 
different width, including mobile hand-helds, it may be the case that the time 
for newlines being set at the origin is over.

For instance when I read Geert here, someone whom I held accountable all this 
time for his netiquette violations, his texts are very readable from a mobile 
mail client. When I read Carlo von Lynx instead, a man notably very observant 
of netiquette, his mails appear hard to read.

Of all nettimers now I remember RAX whom used to read nettime sitting in his 
lab on the roof in Vienna using Pine on an especially tall monitor in portrait 
orientation. He once also mentioned me how annoying were newlines imposed at 
the origin, since he wanted to reflow text his own way based on different 
mediums he adopted for reading. I feel guilty for my disapproval back then and 
now repeat to myself every day: always challenge your convictions.

wish you a good read


# The Real Crypto Movement

by Denis “Jaromil” Roio for the Makery series “From Commons to NFT” and Kingdom 
of Piracy, written on the road and published on 30 April 2022

Cover image:
Content of an early block of Bitcoin’s blockchain, reproduced in the article 
“Bitcoin, the end of the Taboo on Money” by Denis Roio, published by 
digital press in 2013

“The most powerful forces, those that interest us the most, are not in a 
specular and negative relation to modernity, to the contrary they move on 
transversal trajectories. On this basis we shouldn’t conclude that they oppose 
everything that is modern and rational, but that are engaged in creating new 
forms of rationality and new forms of liberation.”
Negri and Hardt, 2010, "Commonwealth"

Since Bitcoin has broken the taboo on money about 10 years ago a lot has 
happened in the crypto space, in this brief essay I will explore some 
techno-political devices and promises that are staged today. I draw my insights 
and intuitions from an early involvement in the cypherpunk underground 
subculture. In this context I have written and advised the development of code 
in Bitcoin core, I have almost accidentally written what became the Bitcoin 
Manifesto and I have published early forks of the Bitcoin code. It was just the 
beginning of Bitcoin’s success when a few of us predicted “alt-coins” would 
soon appear: I was then among the first people to use the term “blockchain” to 
indicate the technical stack that empowered Bitcoin’s growth of a decentralized 
network at a planetary scale and envisioned its evolution in non-financial 
use-cases in the fields of energy, art and notarization.

Rather than an historical account, my effort here will be to share insights on 
the future of what is commonly referred to as “crypto” and whose hype may be at 
its surreality peak in 2022 with the Non-Fungible Token (NFT) market of digital 

I will also suggest a silver lining to the ethics of a global movement whose 
ideology will be of great influence for the future of technology: through this 
document I will demonstrate that the real crypto movement is not a trade-show 
of sociopaths in Las Vegas, but a contemporary iteration of the commons 
movement in the age of crypto.

I’ll be moving through contested grounds to suggest that the genesis of what 
today is marketed as the hyper-financial exploitation of exchange value of 
virtual assets is underpinned by a technology that still holds use-value for a 
movement of resistance against the global corruption of governments and 

## From underground rebellion to global currency

The birth of the “crypto movement” is inscribed in an eclatant episode of 
financial injustice: the Wikileaks blockade. Here a quote of the historical 
communicate published on their website:

Since 7th December 2010 an arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade has been 
imposed by Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union. The 
attack has destroyed 95% of our revenue. [. . . ] The blockade is outside of 
any accountable, public process. It is without democratic oversight or 
transparency. The US government itself found that there were no lawful grounds 
to add WikiLeaks to a US financial blockade. [. . . ] The UN High Commissioner 
for Human Rights has openly criticized the financial blockade against 
WikiLeaks. [. . . ] The blockade erects a wall between us and our supporters, 
preventing them from affiliating with and defending the cause of their choice. 
It violates the competition laws and trade practice legislation of numerous 
states. It arbitrarily singles out an organization that has not committed any 
illegal act in any country and cuts it off from its financial lifeline in every 
country. [. . . ] In the US, our publishing is protected by the First 
Amendment, as has been repeatedly demonstrated by a wide variety of respected 
legal experts on the US Constitution. In January 2011 the U.S. Secretary of the 
Treasury, Timothy C. Geithner, announced that there were no grounds to 
blacklist WikiLeaks. There are no judgements, or even charges, against 
WikiLeaks or its staff anywhere in the world.

The blockade was an immediate reaction to the “cablegates release”, where an 
enormous amount of classified USA diplomatic documents had been published by 
Wikileaks. This episode did not please many powerful people in the USA 
(arguably, Wikileaks has hit its military-industrial complex in many ways). 
Though the Wikileaks organization received much appreciation from all over the 
world, also in the form of monetary donations. While the media wave of 
cablegates was reverberating through the world’s screens, international 
transaction monopolies like Maestro and Visa blocked Wikileaks from receiving 
donations, without a legal mandate, or a court case order. Wikileaks also had 
its registered Internet domains obscured, with the exception of the one 
registered in Switzerland.  

This was a disruptive episode (καιρός) for the growth of Bitcoin: several 
hackers adopted it right in those days. The growth of Bitcoin started as it is 
visible in the above figure, just 5 months before the first Forbes article 
popularized this project on the stage of mainstream finance.

Today we can see how profit-driven interests fragment this movement: one 
segment is devoted to fraud and speculation, one segment devoted to 
transformative politics and one devoted to advancing the long-term goals of 
financial capital. The latter has been gaining considerable traction in the 
past decade as a growing number of financial capital investments are 
orchestrated using crypto currencies as global capitalist assets. There is 
nothing rebellious in the way the financial world exploits this technology and, 
while doing so, history is being carefully rewritten following postures that do 
not recall any of the real events that led to Bitcoin’s success. Through an 
endless stream of trade-shows the financial industry mimics the presence of its 
synthetic leadership ostracizing the public persona of Julian Assange who led 
the Wikileaks project.

The technical device of the crypto commons movement is put into the service of 
those forces that it wanted to destroy. In the mainstream and marketing driven 
space we can observe for instance the “Tesla Token” operation present through 
social network ads: a mere sale of high-risk crypto investments that is 
specular to what is already happening in Wall Street. This may be just the tip 
of an iceberg as more GAMAM mega-corporations move forward to challenge 
regulations and create crypto-investment tokens whose main feature may be just 
that to ease the deployment of capital for global financial speculation.

What happened however is that the real crypto movement was born underground and 
could share its ethical underpinnings with a vast mass of people around the 
world: the Crypto Commons movement.

## Disintermediation and P2P ideology

“One main problem with anarchism as a social system is about transaction costs. 
But the digital revolution alters two aspects of political economy that have 
been otherwise invariant throughout human history. All software has zero 
marginal cost in the world of the Net, while the costs of social coordination 
have been so far reduced as to permit the rapid formation and dissolution of 
large-scale and highly diverse social groupings entirely without geographic 
- Eben Moglen, 1999

Until a decade ago it was believed that disintermediation would be driven by 
the adoption of the “world wide web” and Internet technology. Today an updated 
strategy for this movement is provided by the adoption of cryptography.

A core objective of many free software developers and activists following peer 
to peer ideologies is that of eliminating intermediaries by following peer to 
peer network architecture patterns. This phenomenon is branded as 
“disintermediation” in several economic and political narratives foreseeing 
this sort of transformation across societies. Most communications today take 
place in a digital form, at the same time the infrastructure required for them 
is omnipresent and increasingly generic, capable of connecting people with each 
other. The fact that most private interactions are intermediated by platform 
providers is seen as an unnecessary cost in terms of efficiency and liability. 
In addition, when intermediaries operate following hidden rules (algorithms) 
just like in a “black-box society”, there is an unfair relationship between 
participants and the governance they submit to, often hidden behind trade 
secrets and forced “user agreements”.

As progress increased the complexity of technology however, the practice of 
intermediation was made necessary to deal with it. The peer-to-peer potential 
provided by the omnipresent adoption of personal information devices is 
defeated by increasing technical complexity putting people in difficulty unless 
the growing sophistication of their needs is served by a global oligopoly of 
platforms. One or more layers of applications have been built this way, 
following a “startup economy” model of service provision at the cost of money 
and private information.

At present scale this situation may well be irreversible. What the crypto 
commons movement can do today is adopt cryptography to provide communicating 
peers with an autonomous layer of privacy on top of centralized layers and 
perhaps even independent from the carriers.

The application of end-to-end cryptography has been adopted at scale on top of  
centralized infrastructure and privacy-by-design application platforms to 
provide massively used and even mission critical services as Whatsapp or 
Signal. It is a way to encode or encapsulate information so that the messengers 
cannot ever access it, but only deliver it. This also lowers the liabilities of 
messengers, rendering their role as “neutral” to the content being delivered.

But the industrial drive to profit by marketing people’s attention most of the 
time leads to very different configurations for on-line communication, where 
advertisement strategies are adopted by platform providers along with “content 
targeting” techniques powered by the knowledge of private information about 
peers. Regulatory interventions so far have been loading platform providers 
with additional liabilities, for instance mandating content moderation rather 
than disintermediating their role and neutralizing their access to content.

Disintermediation is then just a naive challenge for the crypto commons 
movement today: such an idealist concept must be adapted carefully to reshape 
the way communication platforms work by taking into account different models of 
ownership and liability at different layers of the infrastructure. Seen from 
this point of view, a “blockchain platform”, also called distributed ledger 
technology (DLT) is an infrastructure that aims to be neutral to its contents 
and provides immutable storage and verifiable distributed computation to all 
participating peers.

## Distributed Autonomous Organization

Token engineering and DAOs are shattering the basic structure of the old world. 
The old world is corporate, hierarchical, and rigid. This new world is rich, 
intense and creative.
- Dark Finance Manifesto

The so-called Distributed Autonomous Organization (DAO) was envisioned at the 
early stage of the crypto commons movement as a governance device to serve a 
decentralized and pseudonymic group of shareholders. The organization is 
envisioned to be autonomous because of its complete independence from a 
centralized infrastructure: access to decision making processes is sealed and 
granted only to legitimate participants by means of cryptography (not by a 
platform-enforced convention) and capable of being hosted by a blockchain 
platform (DLT).

In practice a DAO is like a crowdfunding platform that allows investors to 
participate in the governance of the funds.

The DAO concept presumes that access to a DLT is available to all shareholders 
to allow members to vote on collective decisions and transactions in a 
distributed and asynchronous way. Votes may be held during certain time-frames 
and more sophisticated governance rules may be adopted, for instance that each 
voter may exercise a weight that is proportional to his or her investment or 
commitment into the project, which may be measured in various ways and not just 
by means of a financial stake: from using a simple time-bank to adopting 
different reputation and delegation systems up to more sophisticated governance 
models as “Conviction Voting”.

Let's observe a visible trace of the historical ethos of the crypto commons 
movement: it is not a coincidence that the richest DAO existing so far is the 
“Assange DAO”, an initiative promoted in coordination with Julian's family and 
the Wau Holland foundation to raise funds for the legal defense of Julian 

To describe the governance dynamics of this particular DAO is beyond the scope 
of this essay and its FAQ should be taken as the ultimate source of information 
on the topic. In brief, the Assange DAO’s mission was to raise funds for 
Assange’s legal costs and it planned to do so by “pumping” the price of a 
“benefit NFT sale” by crowdfunding the auction’s highest bid. The DAO accepted 
ETH as crypto currency through a third party escrow service (Juicebox, built on 
Ethereum and governed by a centralized organization) that granted donors 
warranty for good conduct and technical reliability of the DAO smart contracts. 
As a token of gratitude donors received a freshly minted currency ($JUSTICE) 
created only on this occasion and for a fixed amount proportional to the DAO 
funds. Those who held $JUSTICE were then invited to interact through an on-line 
forum and text and voice chat channels hosted on Discord to decide on the 
governance of the token and some remaining funds that backed it as reserved; 
such governance were  facilitated by a board that included some of the DAO’s 
promoters and elected new community members; they were also very crowded 
meetings, perhaps even beyond what the board or the technical design of the 
platform could really facilitate as inclusive interaction.

What is interesting to note as an outcome of this and other big DAOs is that 
the technology per-se (be it completely or partially decentralized) did not 
provide a solution to the many challenges posed by large and distributed 
governance models.

Most DAO platforms today resort to the adoption of semi-centralized platforms 
and escrows that grant custody services for their assets and help overcome the 
growing complexity of needed cryptographic setups. The DAO governance features 
are defined by complex collections of “smart-contracts” written in programming 
languages that are understood only by a technical elite. The communication 
channel most adopted in DAOs is a proprietary and centralized platform called 
“Discord” initially popular among gamer communities and, to the detriment of 
peer-to-peer aspirations of the crypto commons movement, it hosts most of the 
debates and human communication processes that are fundamental for the 
formulation of voted decisions.

It is important for the crypto commons movement to cross a stage of 
disillusionment and learn from present faults. The DAO model calls for more 
research and development in the direction of governmentality for big and 
distributed networks that are culturally mixed and multi-language, since 
existing social network models aren’t doing well when it comes to facilitating 
willing participants to steer decisions andare far from providing a device that 
helps participants solve this challenge at scale.

## What lies behind a Smart Contract

“Smart” is an euphemism for magic / enchanted / cursed (unfortunately, it 
usually means cursed) - Caleb James DeLisle

The ambiguity of the “smart” concept is due to its semantic abuse in an endless 
quantity of techno-hypes. Then it often happens that someone asks a logical 
question: what does “smart” really mean?

Let's dig into the “smart contract” definition adopted by mainstream blockchain 
technologies. The “smart” feature has little to do with the language used: it 
is not about intuitiveness or outreach in execution capabilities. An educated 
guess may lead one to think that "smart" refers to the ability of a contract to 
contemplate different conditions and adapt to them, or perhaps to the proximity 
of the contract language to the syntax of human language. Instead it seems that 
the “smart” euphemism is improperly used as it does not signify features as 
wit, intuitiveness, adaptability or ease of access.

To distinguish this sufficiently advanced technology from magic I’ll hereby 
formulate a definition of what is mostly intended by “smart contract”: it is 
bytecode that can run deterministically on a decentralized computation network 
that is resistant to malicious instructions and whose execution results are 
verifiable by means of reproducibility and peer to peer consensus.

I will briefly explain my use of terms in the previous phrase by specifying 
their intended meaning.

Determinism: unknown random values are never mixed during the computing process 
so that, given the same data inputs, the exact same outputs can be always 
obtained in any execution condition on any machine architecture. This also 
means that execution is a “duplicable” process (could be also defined as 
reproducible or reversible) and can be verified.

Decentralized: no central point of execution is defined so that any machine 
executing the code will have the same level of authority than any other when 
stating the results of the execution. Consensus algorithms will weight results 
through deterministic computations and eventually overcome discrepancies and 
exclude outliers.

Malicious code: no declared intention for the execution is imposed on the code, 
it may even aim to consume the resources of an entire network of machines. All 
code has to be executed: it is up to the machines to defend themselves from 
malicious intents by limiting the conditions of code execution, for instance a 
limit in computation cycles.

Let's envision this design as a small series of forms and functions.

Execution / Function   ||  Infrastructure / Form
   Decentralized              (Virtual) Machine
   Malice resistant           Limited execution
   Deterministic              Reproducible

This configuration has important economic and political implications, primarily 
the separation between infrastructure (production means) and application 
(executed logic) by means of virtualization and portability. In Marxian terms 
the ownership of the infrastructure necessary to execute “work” is the 
condition that makes it possible to extract plus-value from workers. Now this 
relationship between property and power is - at least theoretically - 
transformed by the fact that execution is made completely interoperable across 
a variety of infrastructures. This is arguably only true when the computing 
requirement of that infrastructure is small: Bitcoin mining is a good example 
of how the rise in infrastructural requirements leads to centralization and is 
intertwined with ownership of external production chains, for example hardware 

The innovation lying behind the term “smart contract” focuses on the contract 
language and virtual machine as building blocks to scale up platform 
infrastructures at great sizes, while providing access to advanced 
cryptographic computations that seal contents in a programmable way.

In light of this it should become obvious how slow is the pace at which the 
larger public picks up the possibilities offered by crypto. Non-fungible tokens 
(NFTs) have stormed the art world by implementing an artificial notion of 
property borrowed from simple notarization crypto contracts. 
To debate NFTs is not really interesting the crypto commons movement; perhaps 
such a debate will hint at a critical reflection on the mainstream art world 
functioning as a commodified market for money laundering; or on the power of 
the entertainment industry in synthesizing digital commodities while lowering 
their marginal production costs. I believe it will take a long time before we 
see more of the basic crypto innovations hitting mainstream markets and 
industrial verticals: the collective imagination seems to be numbed by the 
road-shows of financial-industry and the NFT phenomenon leaked its sociopathy 
into the art world with the only merit of unlocking access to a few unknown 
artists and entertainers.

## Web3 and its challenge for developers

“Zencode is a project inspired by the discourse on data commons and 
technological sovereignty. The established goal is that of improving people's 
awareness of how their data is processed by algorithms, as well as facilitating 
the work of developers to create applications that follow privacy by design 
principles.” - Zencode Whitepaper

So far I have defined the socio-political background and some key challenges 
and features defining the goals of the crypto commons movement. I will now give 
a definition of the so-called “web3” platform by putting the puzzle pieces 

I explicitly leave out the digression on an etymological definition of the 
“web3” term led by interpretations of how Internet decades can be associated 
with different versions of the “web”.

The real meaning of the “web3” marketing brand for software architecture can be 
made obvious for all those who know how DLTs work: it refers to a decentralized 
infrastructure for distributed computation that is entirely hosted by 
participating peers and scales without friction.

The core components of a blockchain/DLT in the “web3” acception are four:
1. The peer to peer network layer
2. The consensus algorithm
3. The virtual machine
4. The immutable ledger
Then there are two optional components mostly related with state persistence:
5. (optionally) a peer to peer distributed file system
6. (optionally) oracle notarization for legacy databases

On top of this infrastructure then “smart contracts” scripts run to operate 
rather simple functions, most commonly found building blocks (primitives) are:
* Authentication: sign (single or multi) and verify
* Access: access control lists and ownership
* Governance: voting and time-lock
* Cross-chain: atomic swap and multi-layer blockchain communication
* Financial: token transactions, vesting, split-pay, lend/load, royalties etc. 

The so-called “web3” constitutes a new condition for the creation and execution 
of applications: it separates the liabilities of the platform from what is 
executed on it, allowing it to scale its computational capacity by welcoming 
unknown and untrusted peers to run its executions. Aligned with the 
financialised dimension of crypto-platforms, the peers are motivated by 
“transaction fees” paid to them in exchange for their computing cycles.

But this all comes at a cost: that of very difficult development due to the 
cryptographic complexity layer that needs to be added on what would be normal 
scripts. For the casual developer having basic notions of cryptography this is 
just becoming even more difficult with the advent of advanced cryptographic 
techniques for zero-knowledge proof and multi-party computation. The real arms 
race in DLT development cannot be measured just quantitatively with the “speed 
of transactions”: developer experience and facilitation needs to be considered, 
once again the human role is crucial. The rise of web3 applications highlights 
the role of the virtual machine and weighs the complexity of languages that 
make distributed computing possible.

For instance to preserve the privacy of participants or the confidentiality of 
a vote one may not simply increment a counter or match identifiers on a 
database, but has to operate distributed and fully deterministic computations 
in a “cryptographic dimension” and apply:
* homomorphic encryption to hide the status of a vote until tally
* zero-knowledge proof to hide the identity of voters while authenticating them
* simplicial homology to grant only one vote to each voter
* fast rainbow-table hashing to tally the result of a vote

Any entrepreneur in the ICT sector today knows that finding experienced 
developers is harder than finding clients: even with the ever increasing offer 
in technical education it is hard to imagine that the big-tech industry will 
catch up with the increase in technical complexity.

The current limit of web3 is double-edged: the simplicity of the applications 
that can be developed and the qualitatively higher complexity of development. 
This limit, together with the hype-driven market for computation tokens, is 
what keeps costs rather high, at least today.

## Livin la vida crypto

“We are free to share code and we code to share freedom” -

What I’ve written so far should make clear that, by virtue of crypto design 
patterns, the integrity of an application and its results may be completely 
separated from the blockchain/DLT infrastructure that runs them, while all 
participants can be reassured about the correctness of the inputs, the 
processes and the outputs.

Operating in crypto does not mean “freedom”, pardon me if I curb anyone's 
enthusiasm here, but a shift towards a new trust model in provable computing 
that de-materializes infrastructure into code. The quality of code becomes more 
important than that of the infrastructure and, from a labor perspective, 
developer roles gain importance towards system administrator ones.

All things considered, I believe that “freedom” for this technology means the 
possibility to abstract the virtual-machine running the computations and 
migrate it easily to multiple DLT infrastructures, breaking silos that the 
industry is already actively reproducing from its previous configurations while 
jumping on the crypto bandwagon.

The advantage of crypto is not in speed or efficiency, but in a new and 
generally less risky and more scalable condition of interdependence, trust and 
liability between infrastructure and applications. Is this the “future of the 

I wouldn’t say so, but it is a new opportunity that comes handy and is worth 
developing further for use-cases where trust cannot be easily established 
between peers willing to join forces to provide a scalable infrastructure. For 
example in logistics when tracing goods through processes operated by different 
companies, for digital product passports for the track-and-trace of components 
through complex graphs of repurposing in circular economy scenarios, for the 
immutability, timestamping and auditability of nuclear safeguards as values 
given by dosimeters carried by power plant inspectors may differ from those 
carried by on-site workers.

The collective ownership of base infrastructures and the lower liability 
provided by abstracting them from applications represents a political 
opportunity for platform cooperativism, but the functionalities such a setup 
may offer are far from being advanced and efficient enough to compute 
sophisticated applications as for instance Uber, Airbnb or Deliveroo are today.

On the other hand such a platform architecture makes it difficult to point at 
liabilities when needed, as well illegal services may not be inhibited from 
running: the claim of “Decentralized Finance” (DeFi) is precisely that of 
running financial exchanges that are completely decentralized and whose 
operations cannot be shut down.

In any case the future of the crypto commons movement lies beyond financial 
applications: they are just the first use-cases to emerge out of a range of 
wider future possibilities of decentralized service development. As it was with 
Bitcoin, first movers always come from the fringes of legal frameworks, and 
this may soon prompt regulators to make a dangerous move I advise against: 
identifying liabilities in the act of developing software rather than executing 
it and running it as a service.

## Unchain my blocks

Lunarpunk is more like a forest. A dense cover of encryption protects tribes 
and offers sanctuary for the persecuted. Wooded groves provide a crucial line 
of defense. Lunar landscapes are dark. They are also teeming with life. - 
𝖕𝖞𝖙𝖍𝖎𝖆 ⛛ 🕊️ (@lunar_mining)

In a certain dystopian future the term “software piracy” may acquire a whole 
new meaning and it will be up to the crypto commons movement to defend the 
freedom of decentralized system developers as Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of 
Bitcoin, who has aptly chosen to hide himself and his or her real identity 
following the famous last sentence:

“WikiLeaks has kicked the hornet's nest, and the swarm is headed towards us.”
- Satoshi Nakamoto, 11 December 2010

If a censorship war is ever started against developers then a whole new sort of 
“lunar” software licenses may be needed, or perhaps no licenses at all: just 
public domain software maintained by anonymous developer collectives.

But this negative scenario is not the only one that should interest us. The 
term “infrastructure as code” popular among “devops” roles of the tech industry 
hints about the growing importance of language creativity when compared to the 
classical role of system administration to operate platform infrastructure.

I believe the crypto commons movement has a clear mission: to shape and defend 
the techno-political evolution of information technology platforms outside of 
the logics of property. The new conditions for anonymous collective ownership 
of decentralized information architectures require us to understand a new 
ethical sense for computational democracy.

The unconditioned accessibility to and governmentality of programming languages 
will be of growing importance, even more than free and open source practices 
are already today for the crypto commons movement.

“[...] the distinctive challenge that the virtualization of a growing number of 
economic activities presents not only to the existing state regulatory 
apparatus, but also to private-sector institutions increasingly dependent on 
the new technologies. Taken to its extreme, this may signal a control crisis in 
the making, one for which we lack an analytical vocabulary.” - Saskia Sassen, 

The “analytical vocabulary” should serve the purpose of making humans 
understand how machines operate in increasingly complex configurations. But 
unfortunately most of the industry and public research efforts are pushed 
towards the opposite direction: that of making humans understood by machines in 
an endless stream of “artificial intelligence” technologies whose subsistence 
is based on the subjugation of human labor to feed machine learning.

As a propositive conclusion I would like to share a few ways I see the crypto 
commons movement can go beyond the mere application of financial gambling or 
digital property attributions.

The crypto commons movement ideal will be that of making humans understand 
machines: to envision new trust models in cybernetics and fight back the 
supremacy of centralized black-box governance. The crypto commons movement 
challenge is to create deterministic conditions for replicable computation, 
implement algorithms whose mode of operation can be scientifically proven, 
communicated with simplicity and democratically debated. Algorithms of dissent.

After more than a decade of studies in this field my contributions to this 
mission and the crypto development world are closely shaped after this vision 
of a crypto commons movement.

One contribution is the foundation effort, in coordination with 
DECIDIM and Platoniq, to improve collective governance methods by adopting a 
techno-political approach for practices that involve large multitudes of people 
and facilitates them into a constituency to make conscious choices that 
improves their life and general conditions of freedom, justice and peace in 
society. As part of this journey we engaged the challenge of running the 
nation-wide platform “Agora’ Democratiche” for Italy’s Democratic Party, giving 
us a lot of on-line and on-site experience and an occasion to refine our 
intents and be ready to reliably facilitate new challenges.

Another contribution is the development of as a free and open 
source software virtual machine written with artisanal passion for details. 
This tiny VM can run very efficiently on any machine, low-power chip or browser 
and is programmed using a human-like language called Zencode, so far translated 
only to English. Zencode is a smart-contract language designed to be understood 
by humans and it can compute advanced cryptographic functions as zero-knowledge 
proof and multi-party computation compatible with Bitcoin and Ethereum 2.0.

Another one is the development of a digital product passport to trace material 
flows and digital twins in a secure, portable and decentralized way. The 
relevance of this project is best explained by its use-cases which are well 
beyond simple financial applications, for instance circular economy or 
distributed design.

Now that we have empowered ourselves with financial autonomy we need a crypto 
commons movement that moves well beyond financial applications and focuses on 
sustainability and justice, progressing new ways to deal with trust and 
complexity in social organizations and institutions.

“There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the means by which to 
detect lies.”
- Walter Lippman

As it was well envisioned at the birth of modern liberal thought, we need to 
grant ourselves and future generations the liberty to progress and grant 
everyone the right to be creative and develop environments that do not deceive 
humans with dogmas and lies.

Denis Roio (Ph.D.)

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