Connecting Humankind through Algorithms and Information Networks (CHAIN)

Who is CHAIN? We are an interdisciplinary research-team that focuses on the exercise of public authority in distributed networks. By combining expertise from philosophy/STS, law, and computer science, we are equipped to rethink and operationalize the public values of the rule of law. 


Our aim is to safeguard the public values of transparency, trust and legitimacy, when implementing blockchain applications to address strategic policy objectives. Lastly, we provide a platform for interactions between academia, industry and governments to foster innovative developments.

Our valorisation panel includes top-notch academic experts to monitor scientific standards and share state-of-the-art knowledge.

This NWO-MVI project focuses on complexity due to hyper-connectivity of public and private actors when exercising public tasks using distributed ledger technologies, such as blockchain. In order to solve pressing societal issues, public actors increasingly exercise public authority through network governance together with private actors, resulting in complex public-private relationships. Additionally, the increasing interest of public actors in blockchain technologies to mediate public-private relationships, enlarges this complexity, bringing forth three fundamental problems. Firstly, public values of the rule of law such as foreseeability, transparency and reason-giving do not necessarily align with values in network governance such as efficiency and scalability, resulting in value conflicts. Secondly, due to unclear rules and value conflicts citizens might experience vulnerability and uncertainty, negatively impacting the trust relationship with their government. Thirdly, the increased use of private actors and distributed technologies to exercise public authority may cause uncertainty for citizens in terms of legal protection.

Therefore, the central research questions are:

  1. which value conflicts arise when public authority is exercised through distributed technologies?
  2.  what are the rule of law conditions necessary to steer the role and responsibilities of public actors using distributed technologies?

Project leaders

Project members