The term “censorship resistant” is used a lot in the decentralized computing/web3/crypto space to talk about a core feature of these systems. I don’t love the term censorship resistant because it is a wonky term.

Software that is encoded in smart contracts (and other ways) on fully decentralized blockchains can’t be shut down or turned off.

So why is this a big deal?

Let’s make up a story:

Imagine that an AI is trained to teach children to read better than humans. But the powers that be decide that teaching children to read is something that humans need to do. So they make this AI illegal and block access to it.

Well if this AI is written in a smart contract on a fully decentralized blockchain, it can’t be shut down. As long as there are nodes somewhere around the world willing to maintain the blockchain, this AI will continue to run and anyone that has access to the Internet will be able to use it.

That’s a made-up story, but hopefully, you get the point. I picked AIs and education, but you could also go with self custody and your money. Or you could go with image detection and speeding cameras.

The point is that the powers that be have, from time to time, decided that certain things are bad and attempted to shut them down. Alcohol, for example. Or sex between two people who love each other, for example. Or books about racism, for example.

Fully decentralized blockchains offer something powerful. Software that can’t be turned off. Data that is open to everyone. AIs that can’t be shut down.

We are in a moment with enormous posibilities brought on by the computer science revolutions in machine learning, decentralized systems, and new user interfaces. It will be tempting for powerful entrenched interests to seek to put the genie back in the bottle on some of this stuff. But if the genie is deployed on a fully decentralized blockchain, there is no going back in the bottle.