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Recent & Upcoming Events

April 6, 2023, 11am-1:30pm

Blockchain Decision Rules and Their Impact on Performance and Stability

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The aim of this webinar is to present new and ongoing research on the impact of governance structures of the workings of blockchains, which relates to the larger discussion of technology regulation and digital regulation underway in the US, Europe, and elsewhere. Permissionless blockchains are nominally consensus mechanisms that operate according to rules and algorithms encoded in software. However, the rules governing blockchains go beyond what is encoded in the software and include rules that determine how the software is updated, the setting of fees, staking requirements and other decision-making processes related to the on-going management of the blockchain. The performance and stability of blockchains embodying different rules frameworks, or equivalently, governance structures will affect performance and stability properties associated with the trust properties those rules frameworks embed.

The webinar explores this proposition with new empirical data reflecting the diversity of rules frameworks that characterize the largest open blockchains currently operating. The empirical work on different governance structures of operating blockchains is paired with economic theory work that helps interpret the impacts on blockchain performance and stability. This is explored for its implications on regulatory policy and industry structure for the evolving blockchain ecosystem.

Organizers: David Salant (Toulouse/CITI) in collaboration with William Lehr (MIT), William Drake (CITI), Eli Noam (Columbia University), and Jason Buckweitz (CITI)

Draft Agenda:

Introductions – Eli Noam (Columbia University)

Blockchain Governance Dilemmas: an Economic Framing of the Issues

Hanna Halaburda (NYU) and David Salant (Toulouse/CITI)

Blockchains are decentralized mechanisms that rely on a consensus by participants to ensure that transactions achieve the desired outcomes. Rules for governance are required. And these rules affect how much confidence an entity buying or operating with tokens will have that the transaction will achieve an outcome consistent with ex ante expectations.

The paper describes the different types of consensus mechanisms. It shows how any consensus mechanism that relies on generic types of voting will necessarily have limitations.

Commentator: Christophe Bisiere (Toulouse)

Blockchain Governance Practices

Chitra Marti (NYU), Neil Gandal (Tel Aviv U.), Hanna Halaburda (NYU), Noa Barnir (Tel Aviv U) and David Salant (Toulouse/CITI) 

This presentation covers the governance of the largestProof-of-Stake (POS) blockchains. It also provides a preliminary analysis of blockchain performance. It presents new data characterizing the diversity of rules frameworks governing the largest POS blockchains.

Comments: William Lehr (MIT)

Blockchain Governance – Practical Concerns.  

Nicolas Biagosch (Q-Dev.AG and Postero.IO)

Code has been the equivalent of law on blockchains. This talk discusses some of the issues and concerns raised by relying solely on code. We describe the challenges of implementing a blockchain that conforms to a constitution and yet remains a decentralized consensus mechanism. Conflicts always do arise, and some ex ante rules can mitigate potential harm from conflicts.

Blockchains, trust and money 

Ken Rogoff (Harvard), Thomas Dünser (Director, Office for Financial Market Innovation and Digitization, Government of Liechtenstein)

Perspectives on implications of blockchain rules frameworks for public policy and regulatory frameworks. Thoughts on the future research agenda.

Audience and Panel Discussion: Tying the Theory, Empirics to the Policy/Regulatory Challenges and a Path Forward

How do blockchain protocols need to evolve for them to create a reliable place for transactions? Where will blockchains be particularly useful? Where will blockchains fit within the financial sector?

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April 26, 2023, 11:00am-12:30pm

"Social Media and International Governance: The UNESCO Guidelines for Regulating Digital Platforms"

The many issues raised by social media platforms have stimulated calls for new governance mechanisms. Some platforms have responded by establishing self-governance systems like oversight boards, and some governments and regional bodies like the European Union have responded with laws and regulations, in particular for the largest platforms. At the multilateral level several in initiatives are underway, in particular the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) effort to develop Guidelines for Regulating Digital Platforms. The Guidelines are intended to promote regulations that both support freedom of expression and deal with content that is illegal and risks harm to democracy and human rights. A draft was debated at UNESCO’s February 2023 Internet for Trust conference. 

In the course of this process, stakeholders have raised a wide range of concerns. Some have argued that:

  • The need for UN-created guidelines has not been demonstrated;
  • The process has been inadequately inclusive and transparent;
  • The scope of entities covered and the respective roles and responsibilities of relevant actors are unclear;
  • The intended creation of regulatory agencies and frameworks and their treatment of potentially harmful content are problematic;
  • The inattention to competition policy, privacy and data protection, and business models based on data harvesting is severely limiting;
  • Above all, that the guidelines, despite good intentions, could provide international legitimacy and support for nondemocratic governments seeking to penalize and suppress a wide variety of speech.

This webinar assembles a panel of leading expert participants in the UNESCO debate and related discussions. The group will assess driving issues and interests, negotiation dynamics, potential outcomes and larger digital governance implications.

As always, the panelists’ conversation will be followed by an extensive and open dialogue among all participants.


Eli Noam is Paul Garrett Professor of Public Policy and Business Responsibility, Professor of Finance and Economics, emeritus, and the Director of the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information

Moderator and Organizer

William J. Drake is Director of International Studies at the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information and Adjunct Professor, Columbia Business School.


Alison Gillwald is the Executive Director of Research ICT Africa (RIA), a digital policy and regulatory think-tank based in South Africa. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Cape Town’s Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance. (South Africa)

David Kaye is Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the International Justice Clinic at the University of California, Irvine. He is also Chair of the Board of Directors of the Global Network Initiative, a multistakeholder initiative that brings together 85 leading businesses, NGOs, and academics. From 2014 to 2020, he served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. (USA)  

Laura O’Brien is Senior UN Advocacy Officer at Access Now, an NGO that advocates for the digital civil rights and organizes the annual RightsCon Convention. Previously, Laura engaged in strategic litigation support, including at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and for human rights organizations, clinics, and experts including two U.N. Special Rapporteurs. (USA)

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May 4, 2023, 11am-12pm

CITI-IMMAA Seminar: Shelly Palmer, CEO, The Palmer Group, and Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University

The Intractable Problem of Alignment in AI

Artificial Intelligence has emerged as an major subject of interest and hype.  While some of the talk has focused on ways that AI will improve people’s lives, much of it has been dystopian..  This session will focus on how these two views can be merged, and how to align the various models of AI with values important to humanity.  

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing, and co-founder of Metacademy, a free educational platform that teaches practical applications of blockchain, crypto, NFTs, Web3, the metaverse. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Fox 5’s Good Day New York, and is a regular commentator on CNN and CNBC. He’s the co-host of the award-winning podcast Techstream with Shelly Palmer & Seth Everett and he hosts the Shelly Palmer #Web3Wednesday Livestream.

Shelly is a prolific author. Along with his daily newsletter, his books include, the Amazon #1 Bestseller, Blockchain – Cryptocurrency, NFTs & Smart Contracts: An executive guide to the world of decentralized finance and Television Disrupted: The Transition from Network to Networked TV, the seminal book about the technological, economic, and sociological forces that have changing everything about the business of television, Overcoming the Digital Divide: How to use Social Media and Digital Tools to Reinvent Yourself and Your Career, and Digital Wisdom: Thought Leadership for a Connected World.

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