Finally, a use-case for cryptocurrency that even Paul Krugman can get behind. Not only is the blockchain useful for raising capital and making charitable donations, one startup is devoting its resources to one of the most serious issues on the internet: separating cats from dogs.
To answer a scientific question, Kleros introduced dogesontrial.dog, the first pilot of the company’s “dispute resolution layer.” The company describes DogesOnTrial as a “cryptoeconomic experiment” to determine if jurors can be incentivized to make fair, accurate judgments.
The system is a game of choosing between cats and doges. Submitters can play fair by uploading doges, or they can cheat by sneaking in a cat. The Jurors’ job is to spot the canines and kick out the kitties.
Both sides have financial incentives. Kleros has a reserve of one million Doge (~$3,000 USD) to divide among everyone who submits a picture of a real-live pupper, and Jurors are rewarded for correctly knowing who’s a good boye. To prevent spam, all players must stake a small amount of crypto, which they lose if they break the rules.
“Kleros is based on the idea that economic incentives will make jurors vote honestly for the ‘coherent’ answer,” the company said in a press release. “[Our] hypothesis is that ‘truth’ based on coherence and economic incentive will work as a Schelling Point for jurors voting independently under an incentive system such as the one developed in this test.”
DogesOnTrial is the first pilot of Kleros’ “justice protocol” to resolve online disputes. “Traditional Internet companies organize information with centralized rules and moderators,” the company said in a press release. “However, how can the decentralized versions of Yelp!, eBay and Google define which restaurants, products and websites to accept in their offering in a decentralized way?”
The answer, it seems, is to incentivize jurors with cryptocurrency payments, at the expense of the losing side. For future use-cases, the company proposes using “crowdsourced jurors” to resolve contract disputes or for informing on-chain oracles.
The jury’s still out (pardon the pun) on whether this system can work or not. However, if DogesOnTrial is any indication of the skill of their marketing department, Kleros really knows how to win over the internet–and on a budget. The company raised $2.7 million in a crowdsale earlier this year, with no private sale.
The idea of a decentralized courtroom is an intriguing one, but will also require serious considerations, especially given the ethical implications of their reward system. That discussion will have to wait a bit longer, though. Right after I finish PhotoShopping a Doge face onto my cat.
The author is invested in Ethereum, but not Doge….yet.