Blockchain’s current status in Legal Tech is akin to the holy grail. It’s on the lips of everyone in the industry – and yet its arrival seems perennially just beyond the horizon, unobtainable, tomorrow’s technology.
At Legal Geek, we know our limits, so before diving into this thorny thicket of a topic we thought we’d have a chat with blockchain consultant Florian Glatz to tap into his blockchain-focused brain cells.
We start off by asking about the reference on Glatz’s website (blockchain.lawyer) to blockchain being a ‘techno-social Black Swan Event’. Glatz explains:
“A ‘black swan event’ refers to a theory that once in a while, there is an event which comes out of nowhere and changes the course of history. Blockchain will be something like that as it will change how governments function and how cities are run. It’s a piece of technology but one which will shift our perspective on the world by a few degrees and change how society thinks.
Take Uber as an example. For me it is an amazing experience. I click on a button, everything happens in the background, and then a taxi arrives to take me to where I want to go.
Yet the system is self-contained. If an Uber driver wants to be successful then he or she needs high ratings and once established, this will help bring in more work. But if that same driver wants to pick up shifts via rival app Lyft, their Uber track record counts for nothing and they have to start again.
In a world where Blockchain exists, our taxi driver would not be locked in in this way, and their hard-earned reputation could be transferred to any taxi job they do. They have economic freedom.
This is a very specific example to illustrate the wider point that blockchain can be a major disruptor to industries.”
Despite its potential, Glatz, 30, is aware of the catch currently holding back blockchain: that for it to become commonplace, it needs to be widely adopted first.
Yet despite this chicken-and-egg scenario, Glatz believes the concept of blockchain is advancing rapidly:
“Some people may be frustrated by it, but I am amazed at how quickly things are progressing,” he says. “There are two worlds in which blockchain exists at the moment. One is the real world, which you or I inhabit, and the other is the crypto world and here blockchain is frequently being used as the machine for bitcoin and other crypto currencies.
This crypto world is viewed sceptically by the real world as it is massively unregulated, and this plays a big part in why blockchain hasn’t gone mainstream.”
For Glatz, a trained lawyer, the key for blockchain to emerge from the shadows of the crypto world lies in its relationship with the law.
“We have this great technology called blockchain but how can you get the law back into it? This is where my focus is – understanding the legal and social impacts of blockchain, and for this understanding to lead to regulation and trust.
I am convinced that whoever can make blockchain and law play well together will be at the epicentre of the next big black swan event.”