Brokerbot: A Cryptocurrency Chatbot in the Social-technical Gap of Trust
Cryptocurrencies are proliferating as instantiations of blockchain, which is a transparent, distributed ledger technology for validating transactions. Blockchain is thus said to embed trust in its technical design. Yet, blockchain’s technical promise of trust is not fulfilled when applied to the cryptocurrency ecosystem due to many social challenges stakeholders experience. By investigating a cryptocurrency chatbot (Brokerbot) that distributed information on cryptocurrency news and investments, we explored social tensions of trust between stakeholders, namely the bot’s developers, users, and the bot itself. We found that trust in Brokerbot and in the cryptocurrency ecosystem are two conjoined, but separate challenges that users and developers approached in different ways. We discuss the challenging, dual-role of a Brokerbot as an object of trust as a chatbot while simultaneously being a mediator of trust in cryptocurrency, which exposes the social-technical gap of trust. Lastly, we elaborate on trust as a negotiated social process that people shape and are shaped by through emerging ecologies of interlinked technologies like blockchain and conversational interfaces.