ORCID (Links to author’s additional scholarship at ORCID.org)
Work at the intersection of blockchain technology and law represents a highly interdisciplinary area of inquiry. Often, researchers, law-makers, lawyers, and other stakeholders unnecessarily debate issues because of linguistic misunderstandings. As the third of four studies examining the impact of clashes of linguistic meaning on law and policy around emerging technologies, this Essay uses smart contracts as a case study to demonstrate the real legal harm that arises from a failure to communicate. Specifically, this Essay uses techniques from corpus linguistics to reveal the inherent value conflicts embedded in definitional differences and debates as to whether the law should “accommodate” smart contracts. This Essay’s approach also further contributes evidence that corpus linguistics might be particularly effective as a tool for identifying linguistic ambiguities before they are embedded in law, rather than as a tool for resolving ambiguities after the fact. In the smart contract context, resolving such ambiguities early frees law to focus on the interesting and new issues the technology actually presents, rather than ineffectively future-casting for a use case most of industry does not actually seek to develop.
Wisconsin Law Review Forward
Carla L. Reyes, Emerging Technology’s Language Wars: Smart Contracts, 2022 Wisc. L. Rev. Forward 85 (2022)