The answer lies in a technology called blockchain, which can be used for much more than Bitcoin. A general-purpose tool for creating secure, decentralized, peer-to-peer applications, blockchain technology has been compared to the Internet itself in both form and impact. Some have said this tool may change society as we know it. Blockchains are being used to create autonomous computer programs known as “smart contracts,” to expedite payments, to create financial instruments, to organize the exchange of data and information, and to facilitate interactions between humans and machines. The technology could affect governance itself, by supporting new organizational structures that promote more democratic and participatory decision making.
Primavera De Filippi and Aaron Wright acknowledge this potential and urge the law to catch up. That is because disintermediationa blockchain’s greatest assetsubverts critical regulation. By cutting out middlemen, such as large online operators and multinational corporations, blockchains run the risk of undermining the capacity of governmental authorities to supervise activities in banking, commerce, law, and other vital areas. De Filippi and Wright welcome the new possibilities inherent in blockchains. But as Blockchain and the Law makes clear, the technology cannot be harnessed productively without new rules and new approaches to legal thinking.
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About the Author
Aaron Wright is Associate Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Blockchain Project at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University.
Table of Contents
Part 1 The Technology 11
1 Blockchains, Bitcoin, and Decentralized Computing Platforms 13
2 Characteristics of Blockchains 33
Part 2 Blockchains, Finance, and Contracts 59
3 Digital Currencies and Decentralized Payment Systems 61
4 Smart Contracts as Legal Contracts 72
5 Smart Securities and Derivatives 89
Part 3 Blockchains and Information Systems 105
6 Tamper-Resistant, Certified, and Authenticated Data 107
7 Resilient and Tamper-Resistant Information Systems 117
Part 4 Organizations and Automation 129
8 The Future of Organizations 131
9 Decentralized Autonomous Organizations 146
10 Blockchain of Things 156
Part 5 Regulating Decentralized, Blockchain-Based Systems 171
11 Modes of Regulation 173
12 Code as Law 193