DECENTRALIZING JUSTICE

Our justice system is a monopoly.

When there is a monopoly, corruption is inevitable.

In many jurisdictions, laws do not apply to entire groups of people.

In the United States, police brutality is common. Perpetuating this trend is a justice system in which the offenders often face no punishment other than a paid vacation.

If officers can get away theft and murder, what can judges and politicians get away with?

What does this say about the billionaires? Are they ever prosecuted for crimes?

 

This article is not meant to convince you that there is something wrong with our justice system.

Rather, it will explore how humanity will move past the corrupt justice/political system – without having to crowdfund guillotines.

Some questions addressed:

How can we build legitimate competition to break up the justice monopolies?

How can we conduct investigations without relying upon the old system to store and validate evidence?

How can we punish organizations and individuals without relying upon violence?

DECENTRALIZATION

Advances in technology are permitting new ways of sharing and controlling information. This permits us to no longer rely upon centralized authorities to mediate our lives. Blockchains are decentralized ledgers, meaning that they are not controlled by one person, nor stored on one computer. This technology is the backbone of Bitcoin, and many other services are being built.

 

Blockchains permit us to store information in a way that is transparent, yet secure – only someone with the special passcode is able to “sign” a submission. Furthermore, when a record or transaction is stored, it is timestamped. This all means that blockchains are an ideal place for us to sensitive records such as evidence, with no possibility of tampering.

 

JURISDICTION

The next generation of blockchains are not just ledgers – they are decentralized computers. The implications of this are just starting to be realized. In one application, we could create jurisdictions that do not rely upon a hierarchy of judges to make decisions. Instead, people can enter into agreements and specify with their digital smart contract what person or group of people will arbitrate if there is a conflict.

BitNation is creating what may be the first virtual jurisdiction – called Pangea because it is without borders. With it, people create contracts by chatting, and these chat records are stored on a decentralized system like a blockchain. When people complete a transaction, they gain a reputation token. These tokens can be used to show that one is honest, as these tokens are associated with an account and can not be transferred.

 

REPUTATION

Currently we rely upon centralized authorities to manage reputation. We assume the government keeps the psychopathic in check, and we rely upon AirBnb and Uber to insure that the people we are meeting are not going to violently unpleasant. Similarly, in the U.S. the FICO credit scores come from many sources but are aggregated into one number per person.

As decentralization technology advances, we will not be dependent on eBay or Uber to manage our reputations, but instead, we will be able to tie together our reputations to a single digital persona. When we go to interact with others – whether it be to buy something on the next generation of Craigslist, or to meet someone on Tindr – we may be able to view their digital reputation. These ratings may come not just from a group like BitNation, but also from services, and even individuals.

Instead of it being an absolute score, each person’s score might even change depending on who is asking the question. Would you trust someone if your friends trusted them, compared to relative strangers’ ratings? It’s with this in mind that we can start to see how important our human networks will be in the future, and moreover, how bad actors such as violent cops may end up being penalized through a soft form of banishment from society if they are unpopular.

 

A PATH FORWARD

As virtual jurisdictions gain in their usability, they will start to pressure the existing legal systems to adapt. What point is getting the old court system involved in small to medium-sized transactions? The lawyers take up money; the courts take up time. All of this can be shed; so that anyone can provide digital evidence that they are in the right. If the old systems do not adapt, they will become increasingly irrelevant.

 

It may not seem that voluntary contracts and virtual jurisdictions do not solve the problem of police brutality and high-level corruption. However, these tools are what we need in order to start retaking our power from these political structures.

 

At first, the respondent is served a notice of a public investigation. The notice includes a list of claims made by the proponent; i.e., what crimes they have allegedly committed, according to which legal systems. There is also details on how anyone can submit evidence about the claims using decentralized technology. This gives the respondent a chance to provide evidence that refutes the claims, or shows that justice has already been meted.

 

At the conclusion of the discovery period, a public meeting is held. The group may decide to continue the discovery process if there is not enough evidence, or to dissolve the claims if there is not sufficient evidence showing that injustices were committed. However, if the group does agree that there is enough evidence that wrongdoing was committed, and there is not sufficient evidence that justice has already been given – then the respondent may be discredited.

Discreditation means that the organization’s reputation, and that of their agents, can be devalued  in the emerging reputation systems. Again, this may not seem like a big deal now, but imagine if a source as trusted as Snopes ranked the FBI as corrupt. We are currently in a vacuum of truth – nobody knows what sources to trust. Decentralized reputation services will start to fill that void.

 

The threat of agents’ reputation being devalued after their organization has been discredited will apply pressure for reform from within the organization. To put it tangibly:  imagine that a cop gets away with murder. Normally, that cop would get away without penalties from their jurisdiction, but this decentralized justice process means that not only would that cop suffer a negative reputation, but so would their colleagues if they continued to operate in an organization that perpetuates one sided justice.

 

Finally, if this soft pressure from outside and inside is not enough to reform an organization, firmer measures can be taken to deter corrupt organizations. Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) can be created with the sole purpose of funding activists who disrupt the corrupt entities. DAOs are built on blockchains, and thus can not be disabled by imprisoning a person, or by shutting down a computer system. DAOs will eventually transform societies, but that is a topic for another article!

For more articles on how society will change as we ride the wave of decentralization, please subscribe!

-AITHERIC aka Tristan Roberts

Originally published on Patreon on 4/25

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