Coding for Spaceship Humanity


I’m often asked what drove a mid-career lawyer to make the switch from litigation to legal engineering blockchain-based systems. I’ve usually given the commerce-driven story: I studied the thriving businesses around me for what they had in common and found a pervasive need for software that delivered secure, predictable, legally significant data-driven relationships. I set out to build it by joining the only company that was building blockchain smart contracts in a way that I thought my clients, banks and businesses of all sizes, would use.

There’s another answer to the “why I learned to code” question, one that I’ve been a bit sheepish about to avoid the appearance of megalomania. However, in recent weeks I have met enough people shamelessly working to save our species that I feel emboldened. I want to help build Spaceship Humanity.

The world is a messy, chaotic place, and attempts to change it directly often result in being swallowed in the quagmire of reality. Sometimes, though, we can tease enough data out of chaos to make predictions. Here’s the prediction that motivates me: Our sun is a star. Stars have lifecycles. One day our sun will complete its lifecycle, snuffing out life as we know it. If humanity is to survive, we will have to leave the planet.

How will we survive? What building blocks will we need, and more importantly, what testing can we do on Earth to make sure we get it right? What will we need in order to enable off-Earth society? Yes, we will need to be able to grow food and harness solar energy, but what will we need to underpin the workings of the relationships of the future?

We will need to communicate via decentralized networks, nodes and software that deliver secure, certain results. We will need to be able to verify identity. We will need ways to enable trade and commerce, to self-govern and to share knowledge. We will need to experiment with sustaining innovative, networked communities on Earth before we take to the heavens. By building software that enables people to manage legally significant relationships, I hope to enable, in some small but critical way, Spaceship Humanity’s survival. I think it will help.