Friday, August 10, 2018

Blockchains, smart contracts, and incomplete contracts (and Prysm Group, a startup consulting firm on all that)

There's a lot of talk lately about smart contracts, i.e. contracts written in executable code, but less talk about how all contracts are incomplete (and therefore subject to renegotiation, dispute resolution and issues of residual control), a subject for which Oliver Hart won a recent Nobel.

So I was glad to see this article in Forbes:

Nobel Prize Winner Joins Blockchain Startup To Fix Smart Contracts
by Michael del Castillo

"Long before blockchain was cool, Nobel Prize-winning economist Oliver Hart was into contracts. As far back as 1976, the doctor of economics from Princeton University had been exploring how corporations use contracts to interact, and what happens when things go wrong."

The article is sparked by the fact that Oliver and Preston McAfee, who recently retired from being Chief Economist at Microsoft, have become advisors to a startup consulting company called Prysm Group, which aims to advise blockchain companies about contracts, incentives, and economics generally.

Here's the press release:

"Prysm Group provides blockchain organizations with counsel in the complex economic fields of contract theory, market design, game theory, and social choice."

The founders of Prysm Group are two economists who I met when they were graduate students at Harvard, Cathy Barrera and Stephanie Hurder (who I've blogged about before, here, and here).

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