Will Blockchain Contracts Kill Us?

Wanna hear something really scary? What if (in the very near future) our newfangled blockchain networks actually developed enough intelligence to make human-like dumb mistakes?  

Adam Kolber, a Brooklyn Law School professor, has shared a chilling vision of a not-so-distant future, in which humans live under threat of blockchain-based overlords. He even coined a new term – “artificial responsibility” –in reference to the sheer amount of control we assign to smart contract systems. Artificial responsibility is related to artificial intelligence because we might be inclined to give greater control to more intelligent machines. But even unintelligent machines can be dangerous when they’re given a lot of responsibility. 

Smart contracts can be quite powerful. Take the concept of distributed autonomous organizations (DAOs), for example. A DAO is a decentralized investment firm allows strangers to fund venture capital proposals via a voting system, with no central authority. Essentially, it’s a blockchain-powered machine that controls investment of a large group of people. Kolber explains how DAOs can really be the stuff of nightmares:

A bug [in “TheDAO”] was exploited to drain more than $50 million in value. And here we can see our willingness to endow blockchains with artificial responsibility: despite the loss of funds, there was no easy mechanism and certainly no central authority that could recover the money. It would take substantial agreement among the community running the blockchain platform used by TheDAO to mitigate the damage.

“[…] The greatest threat from machines might well be not their general intelligence but their incompetence. In the future, blockchain smart contracts may interact with an artificially intelligent internet of things,” warned Kolber. “Doing so will create new risks, as machine behavior becomes harder to predict. Now that people can hack things like insulin pumps, the cost of coding mistakes may be more than just financial.”

Yikes — as if dealing with humans wasn’t bad enough, NOW we could be facing disputes from artificial intelligence! Because where you find people (and machines working on their behalf) you will find legal disputes. And when those things including landlord/tenant matters, contract issues and even collections disrupt YOUR business, call in the real-time, full-stack litigator Dean Sperling, who will work to resolve YOUR matter with YOUR best interests in mind! 

More on the case:

Blockchain doesn’t kill people, but smart contracts can, law professor says