October 2017 – Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab - Cambridge MA - In one of the more unique and unusual conferences I have participated, the inaugural MIT Legal Forum on AI & Blockchain was a meeting of 200 minds from across academia, law firm, and corporations big and small. It included IBM Watson as well as CodeX, NASA scientists, Baker & Hostetler, a host of other Am Law firms, and startups galore. Led by the gregarious MIT’s visiting scientist, Daniel “Dazza” Greenwood, who served as the master of ceremonies for the two day workshop.
What was so unusual was that after the keynote each day, the planning for the remainder of the breakouts happened in real-time. Dazza asked the crowd who would like to run a session and to describe the topic. Once that individual did so, Dazza then asked who would like to join that working session. The sessions were added to the agenda immediately followed by the commencing of those sessions. From the attendees the following topics bubbled up on day one:
- Identity Management & Records Keeping – Chris Jagers and Joseph Raczynski
- How do we begin the discussion of digital records on blockchain?
- Automated LLC – James Miller and Harrison Perl
- Project to checklist requirements to incorporate or register legal entities in all 50 states
- VAT Coin – Joseph Kessler and Brian Ulicny
- Governance is 75% of entities. Is that correct? Does it fit this context?
- Energy Utility Token – Jonathan, Michael, and Harrison
- How can such a process be securitized and how do we get the revenue back in a way that is sustainable and trusted by investors?
- Supply Chain – Jaipat and Gurvinder
- Is there a need for a new area of law called, “Provenance Law”?
- Bankruptcy – Bob Craig and Nina Kilbride
- With cryptocurrency as collateral, how do you classify the property? How do you perfect ownership rights?
I had the opportunity to join several of these discussions over the two days. Honestly there were one or two slight misses, where the tables were large and attendees from various backgrounds of familiarity on blockchain and AI led to a mixed conversation. However, the hits – they were transformative. How often do you have top legal minds from AM Law firms, NASA scientists, MIT data scientists and nonprofits mix together on a process surrounding “smart contracts” that leverage algorithms to develop an automated workflow. The session called ditDIY Composable Smart Contracts, Modular Law – Vienna Loi - The NASA scientist and her team are actively building this out now. Think of it as code (smart contract) that when a certain event is triggered kicks off another event which continues to start other events all of which are recorded and maintained on a blockchain. It is the future of this space.
The excitement in this space was palpable. You could see the evolution that is beginning to take place in Legal as we go from a general awareness of these technologies, to conceptual design of possible solutions. MIT is fostering the creativity through this platform in their first attempting at bringing all parties to the table.
In the next post, I will dive deeper into Digital Identity using blockchains.