Judge Judy You'd smile too if you made $47 million to call people idiots (via Wikimedia)
Cryptocurrencies,  Technology

Aragon Court: Judge Judy on blockchain

On a decentralized arbitration platform, jurors randomly selected by stake earn rewards—or pay penalties—for deciding who is right and who is wrong.

Aragon wants to resolve the world’s disputes on a blockchain, and save users boatloads of court costs and lawyer fees in the process. 

“Is the word stupid written across my forehead?”
–Judge Judy Scheindlin (CC-BY-2.0)

As of Tuesday, anyone who owns the project’s native ANT tokens can switch them out for Aragon Network Juror (ANJ) tokens. These can be used in its decentralized dispute resolution platform, the organization said. 

It’s basically a binding arbitration platform. Two people, groups, or companies have agreed to abide by the decision of a neutral third party, giving up their right to sue. They pay a fee, deposit an equal amount of ANJ into a smart contract, and then make their arguments to a trio of anonymous judges. It’s like Judge Judy without being snapped at.

This “pre-activation period” will continue up until Feb. 10. At that point, Aragon Court disputes will begin and the system will pick its first round of jurors, who actually stand to make money in the process. They may also lose money if they try to game the system—or vote the wrong way.

Subjective thinking required

According to the project’s white paper, the Aragon network provides “infrastructure and services” for creating decentralized autonomous organizations. A DAO is an organization that is run via a set of rules encoded into smart contracts, which get uploaded onto a blockchain. DAOs can range from complicated multi-facet structures for hundreds of users to simple ones for just a few.

A core piece of the Aragon network is Aragon Court, a dispute resolution protocol that handles “subjective disputes” with yes or no, right or wrong outcomes that smart contracts cannot solve, the white paper said. That is, disputes which cannot be resolved without human judgement. 

Any organization, including the Aragon network itself, can use Aragon Court. 

Similarly, any person can become a juror on the system and earn rewards as long as they stake and activate at least 10,000 ANJ tokens. At present, the conversion rate for ANT to ANJ is fixed, so that 1 ANT is worth 100 ANJ. Since ANT is currently worth $0.55, according to Coingecko, a user needs to spend at least $54 for a shot at becoming a juror. 

After Feb. 10, when Aragon Court launches, the conversion rate will change dynamically depending on the demand for ANJ and how many are activated in the system. 

Minority report penalized

Once a dispute is raised, three jurors are selected by the system. The more ANJ tokens a user has activated, the greater their odds of being called to jury duty. After reviewing the dispute, jurors cast their votes for one party or the other, standing to earn a portion of dispute resolution fees in the process. Just like in a traditional courtroom—but unlike binding arbitration—rulings are preliminary and can be appealed. 

The number of appeal rounds is limited, and more collateral must be put up. If one side refuses, the other wins by default.

But unlike a traditional court, the juror who casts the minority vote is penalized, according to the white paper.

“To incentivize consensus, jurors that don’t vote in favor of the consensus ruling have their locked tokens slashed,” it said “Jurors that vote in favor of the consensus ruling are rewarded with ruling fees and juror tokens from the jurors that voted for a minority ruling.” 

Aragon originally launched on Ethereum in November 2016. In a mid-2017 initial coin offering that lasted all of 15 minutes, the project raised $25 million by selling its ANT token.

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Amy Castor has more than 20 years' experience in journalism. Her work on crypto and blockchain has appeared in consumer and trade publications throughout the U.S., including CoinDesk, Forbes, Bitcoin Magazine, and The Block.