Devcon1 and Szabo’s Contract Language

Ethereum’s Devcon1 is full of epic speeches, but I like to read. Nick Szabo, wizard computer scientist and legal/economic thinker rumoured to be Bitcoin’s founder Satoshi Nakamoto, followed up his speech with a tweet about Proplets, a way of managing any asset on the blockchain. Proplets is interesting, but the rest of Szabo’s home page is mind-blowing.  A Formal Language for Contract Analysis set my brain afire and made my spider sense tingle. His work is a roadmap for those who care to follow.

The future is here. It got here a while ago. Sometimes I get the sensation of reinventing the wheel to discover I’m bicycling the autobahn. This time  I’m reminded of the This reminds me of the beginning video for the Rush Time Machine tour. Sausage vendor Geddy Lee says to Alex Lifeson in a fat suit: “To me and him, you’re smart, but to smart people, you’re not so smart.”

The law has evolved, and most lawyers haven’t evolved with it. Law and computer science are natural partners. The need for lawyers in the crypto space is evident – I watch non-lawyers code up smart contracts that haven’t anticipated the things the law, in its experience, has seen humans do. In the event of dispute, they’ve created a litigation problem that is expensive to prove and beyond the current comprehension of the bench and bar. It’s time for lawyers to learn a new language.