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Blockchains, Smart Contracts, and the Future of the Judiciary
AuthorRanniger, Leslie J.
AdvisorMarsh, Shawn C.
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The blockchain distributed ledger technology, evolved through the new array of cryptocurrency offerings, touts security, trust, and expediency features which have fostered the growth of smart contracts. Unlike traditional written agreements, smart contracts are coded to execute based on certain algorithms and digitally-defined events; consequently, upon satisfaction of specified criteria, payment is immediate, and usually effected through the cryptocurrency of the platform on which the smart contract is based. However, because a smart contract is self-executing, it may be more difficult to unwind in the event of a dispute, especially when most judges are not versed in the language of computer coding. This article will look at the growth of reliance on blockchain technology and the increasing prevalence of smart contracts, and will then explore some current, and hypothesized, options for decision-making in the event of a smart contract dispute, such as platform-embedded arbitration, a dedicated international court of the blockchain, crowd-sourced juries through which a decision is made by gaming theory, and even the evolution of artificial intelligence to transition the role of judge to a computer program.