ToTs & TIP


Friday, February 24, 2017, 10:30am to 12:00pm


CGIS Knafel K354

This is the schedule of weekly talks on Technology Science from expert researchers, public interest groups, and others on the social impact of technology and its unforseen consequences.



Law Is Code: Examining Blockchains


“Code is law” refers to the idea that, with the advent of digital technology, code has progressively established itself as the predominant way to regulate the behavior of Internet users. Yet, while computer code can enforce rules more efficiently than legal code, it also comes with a series of limitations, mostly because it is difficult to transpose the ambiguity and flexibility of legal rules into a formalized language which can be interpreted by a machine. The Blockchain, the decentralized technology behind Bitcoin, is getting plenty of attention as a new paradigm with multiple implications. In fact, with the blockchain-based "smart contracts", code is assuming an even stronger role in regulating people’s interactions over the Internet, as many contractual transactions get transposed into smart contract code. In this talk, I will discuss the shift from the traditional notion of “code is law” (i.e., code having the effect of law) to the new conception of “law is code” (i.e., law being defined as code).

Speaker: Samer Hassan (PhD) is an activist and researcher, Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society (Harvard University) and Associate Professor at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain). Currently focused on decentralized collaboration, he has carried out research in decentralized systems, social simulation and artificial intelligence from positions in the University of Surrey (UK) and the American University of Science & Technology (Lebanon). Coming from a multidisciplinary background in Computer Science and Social Sciences, he has more than 45 publications in those fields. Engaged in free/open source projects, he co-founded the Comunes Nonprofit and the Move Commons webtool project. He's an accredited grassroots facilitator and has experience in multiple communities and grassroots initiatives. He's involved as UCM Principal Investigator in the EU-funded P2Pvalue project on building decentralized web-tools for collaborative communities and social movements. His research interests include Commons-based peer production, decentralized architectures, blockchain-based decentralized autonomous organizations, online communities, grassroots social movements & cyberethics. Follow Samer on Twitter: @samerP2P