“Make Something People Want”: How Blockchain Has Become a Fetish

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Desire for an entity that is believed to convey supernatural powers, eliciting a condition of intense excitement. We call this fetishism. An old idea is that our consumer society is afflicted by a fetish for commodities, coveting the trappings of a phantasmagoric existence. More recently the idea of “Blockchain” has emerged as an object of contemporary fetish. We’ve heard that it’s bigger than the Internet itself! It’s, almost, bigger than The Beatles! Given this state of affairs one might start to wonder – from whence did this adulation of Blockchain arise? The situation is analogous to the great technological fetish concept of “artificial intelligence” and the never ending stream of dubious research and claims it provokes, in stark contrast to the more somber and practical field of machine learning, which is more firmly rooted in the realm of the empirically possible. As the idea of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies becomes more normalized, they cease to function as a tabula rasa upon which we can project our wildest fantasies and increasingly we turn to the idea of Blockchain to satisfy this need. In order for a technology to catch hold of the collective unconscious (kollektives Unbewusstes) in the fantastic way that the …