If AI (artificial intelligence, but not yours truly) is the technology word of 2017 in the antitrust community, then blockchain may very well be the technology word of 2018. In fact, leading the way once again, OECD is hosting a conference on blockchain and competition policy on June 8. See http://www.oecd.org/daf/competition/blockchain-and-competition-policy.htm.
Many of us probably heard about Bitcoin before the word blockchain, which is the name of the technology that underlies Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies in the market right now. But the blockchain technology go well beyond digital currencies. Some have argued that it has the potential to revolutionize many industries. Numerous start-ups have popped up in the last couple of years, all trying to take advantage of the blockchain technology.
As new technologies change how we live our lives, new legal questions arise at the same time. So far, the legal community has identified several potential issues with cryptocurrencies and the broader application of the blockchain. In my latest article, I discuss the particular issue of collusion. Does the so-called the smart contracts that are often built upon a blockchain facilitate collusion? If so, in what ways?
As the readers of my articles on antitrust implications of AI and machine learning are probably aware, I am always of the opinion that to better understand the legal and in particular antitrust implications of a new technology, it is crucial that we develop a sound understanding of it. In this article, I provide an intuitive introduction to the technologies, with the legal/antitrust audience in mind. You can download this paper at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3187010
Ai Deng, PhD
Principal at Bates White Economic Consulting
Lecturer at Advanced Academic Program, Johns Hopkins University
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