The explosive growth of Bitcoin, and the diversity of users by country, socioeconomic status and background, is proof of blockchain’s potential to restructure money. How might blockchain change governance, the law and our broader social and economic activities?
Take Ethereum, a blockchain-based distributed computing platform with a market capitalization over $70bln USD — second only to Bitcoin. It is first among many such computational law systems enabling self-executing “smart contracts” that may replace or augment the role of lawyers in certain transactions.
At CodeX, our mission is to bring together researchers, lawyers, entrepreneurs and technologists who advance the frontier of legal technology.
Throughout 2017, CodeX the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics, continued to build a community and research agenda around the field of legal technology known as computational law. We consider blockchain technologies and ecosystems as a subset of computational law more broadly, while recognizing that the interest and investment in blockchain offerings is helping to drive adoption and valuable use cases in a variety of industries and verticals.
And so in December, members of the CodeX Blockchain Group gathered to discuss our agenda for 2018 and to map out some of the research, applications and opportunities that our members have been pursuing. Our goal is to create a neutral, collective resource and forum to advance informed perspectives and to support policy-related decisions that will enable blockchain technologies to reach their full potential.
Below are some selected comments from group members in attendance who shared their specific agendas and background in blockchain.
• “We’ve worked extensively with banks to support innovation in cross-border money movement. Beyond finance, the big potential use cases I’m seeing right now are in supply chain, digital rights management, identity, payments, trade finance, and asset management lifecycles.” —Diana Adachi, Global Blockchain Lead, Accenture.
• “I’m a lecturer at Stanford Engineering, teaching classes on the Ethics of Finance, Understanding the Buy-side of Wall Street, and Hacking for Urban Resilience… . Blockchain for me invokes the traceability of decisions and money, for example, how might we record the decisional history of our built infrastructure?” —Bruce Cahan, CodeX Fellow, Lecturer in Stanford’s Department of Management Science & Engineering.
• “I’m part of the largest trade association of telecoms companies, and we’re actively looking into standards for converging contracts into smart contracts.” —John Wilmes, TM Forum.
• “I’ve been into crypto since I was a sophomore in high school, I interned at Swarm, and worked on a legal and policy paper that led to me meeting Vitalik really early on!” —Avanika Narayan, Stanford Computer Science Undergraduate.
• “I have a legal background in data protection and privacy, I was part of the Digital Currency Association in 2012, practiced at the blockchain group at Perkins Coie, worked at a Digital Identity startup, and am now a Principal at a legal and consulting firm focused on blockchain technologies.” —Elizabeth Renieris, Technology & Privacy Lawyer.
• “We haven’t yet seen the efficiencies and lower costs seen in computer electronics applied in financial services and payments, until recently. I’m interested also in the privacy-enhancing potential of blockchain technologies, and the use of blockchain to transform legal practice to help counterparties deal with each other more efficiently.”—John Muller, former General Counsel, Paypal.
• “I now work full time in the blockchain space, consulting, going to events, putting on events. I am an attorney qualified in New York. I began a computer science major before switching to business managemenr; have worked heavily in the non-profit space; was a product manager for an Ethereum-based fractionalized art ownership startup; run a Discord group with more than 5,000 active blockchain ecosystem users; and also run fintechsv.com.” —Samuel Suh, Blockchain Project Consultant.
We’ll be collating shared information around issues, research agendas, initiatives and opportunities in the space as part of a members-only forum designed for serendipity acceleration, with selected materials and research made available publicly. We’re grateful also to the groups, institutions and networks at Stanford and beyond who’ve already reached out to join and contribute. They include PhD researchers from Management Science & Engineering, and Sociology, and organizers from the Stanford Complexity Group, the Accord Project, the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, the Open Identity Exchange, among many others.
If you’d like to join as a member or associate with the CodeX Blockchain Group, please fill out this form.
THE NEXT MEETING
Our next meeting will take place on January 11, 2018 at 2:30 p.m. (Pacific time). We will record and live-stream for remote participation. Group meetings will take place during the academic year on a biweekly basis, with specific working groups potentially meeting more often.
With so much residual uncertainty around regulation and what constitutes an appropriate and potentially valuable use case for blockchain technologies, in 2018, we hope the Blockchain Group will be able to play an important role in bringing together regulators, policymakers, academics, professionals and technologists from across Stanford and the wider blockchain community. We want to support greater clarity, exciting applications, and closer collaboration in this important and rapidly evolving space.
• Cover image: Clipart.com
• Bitcoin logo courtesy of Creative Commons CC0.10 Universal. Public Domain Dedication.