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Trust in Distributed Environments

Algorithmic systems are often publicly associated with a lack of transparency and a loss of human control. At the same time, networks like Bitcoin and its offspring enjoy unprecedented popularity. Being transparent both with respect to their inner workings and the data stored within them, such decentralized systems promise to abolish middlemen and trusted authorities and to thereby foster radical grassroots solutions.

This research group conducted research at the Weizenbaum Institute from 2017 to 2022. In the newly launched research program, research will henceforth be organised in 16 research groups. These will be flanked and supported by the new Weizenbaum Digital Science Center.

The research group conducted interdisciplinary research on the following and related questions, drawing on expertise from computer science, law, sociology and economics:

  • Are such systems actually empowering users?
  • How is trust built and structured in distributed environments?
  • What are the implications of algorithmic rule enforcement, a feature inherent to most popular decentralization approaches?

More specific research interests included:

  • Monetary policy in decentralized financial systems
  • Automated contracts, algorithmic decision making and consumer welfare
  • Development processes of blockchain-based systems
  • Data storage on blockchains: legal challenges and technical solutions
  • Security and trust in public systems like Ethereum, Bitcoin and Stellar



Prof. Dr. Björn Scheuermann, Principal Investigator
Dr.-Ing. Martin Florian, Research Group Lead

  • M.Sc. Leonhard Balduf
  • Moritz Becker
  • Lukas Gehring
  • Leon Hellbach
  • Sebastian Henningsen
  • Charmaine Ndolo
  • Ingolf Gunnar Anton Pernice
  • Jana Pinheiro Goncalves
  • Timnah Weckner

Further output of the research group

The research group publishes developed software via GitHub and presents empirical data, analyses and interactive applications at:


Publications of Research Group 17

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