Decentralized applications of all kinds from peer-to-peer lending, to sharing economy apps, to DAOs and more struggle with dispute resolution. Without a centralized authority, who is supposed to decide who is in the wrong when a disagreement comes up? The difficulty of decentralized dispute resolution is one of the main causes behind the ultimate centralization - governments themselves. Police, laws, and courts are some of the most important roles that a government provides, but obviously the whole point of a decentralized service is that there is no place for a typical governance structure. That is why Dcourt, which provides a platform for decentralized dispute resolution, can fill this critical role in the blockchain ecosystem, but also beyond.
Disputes in Sharing Economy
About 2 million people are staying in an AirBnB on any given night. 15 million people take Uber every day. These sharing business models, whether homesharing, ridesharing or others, employ decentralized providers of services but still employ centralized payment, curation, and arbitration. The users of these services put up with paying service fees and higher rates than they would if they used a fully decentralized service because those three areas that these centralized hubs provide seem irreplaceable. This does not have to be the case, seeing payment can be conducted through cryptocurrencies which provide a way of doing trustless, peer-to-peer payments in a completely decentralized manner, and curation can be handled through open reputation systems. And arbitration? That is where Dcourt comes in. If, in a decentralized version of Airbnb, a renter damages the property of a host, the host could send the case to Dcourt and the jury would decide whether the damage had happened and whether it was bad enough to mean that the host would keep the renters security deposit. A decentralized application could ask the renters to place a security deposit in a smart contract which in cases like this could be released back either to the renter or the host based on the Dcourt jury’s decision.
Centralization of Content Rights Management
Arguments over copyright on our current internet either end up resolved by whatever centralized website the material is being distributed over, or in serious cases, in a court. These decisions can be time-consuming, arbitrary, or expensive to fight out. Many choose to simply give up claim to content than to pay the exorbitant legal fees to defend its use. These solutions also only function by accepting a point of centralization - either a website or the government. Dcourt allows for a completely decentralized content platform to exist and any disagreements over content infringement can be sent to Dcourt to be decided. This will likely lead to better and more legitimate decisions, while also making it more affordable for smaller players to defend their content.
Credibility of Open Encyclopedias
Another decentralized service that Dcourt could facilitate is open encyclopedias. The most well-known example of an open encyclopedia is Wikipedia, but even wikipedia is still managed by a central organization in order to ensure that the content contributed by individuals is accurate. On a completely open encyclopedia, users could challenge content they believed was inaccurate through a Dcourt case, and if the jury found in their favor the content could be removed. It would be possible to include a reward for the person who had spotted the inaccurate content, or to penalize the individual who added it -- both would incentivize more accurate encyclopedias while allowing them to be managed in a fully decentralized way by relying on Dcourt when it came to disagreements.
Majority rule and minority rights on the Blockchain
DAOs are decentralized autonomous organizations that run on blockchains. The token holders of a DAO have voting rights but like all democracies, they can be taken over by a sufficient number of bad actors. Consider a DAO under a majority attack that aims to pass a resolution that would, if passed, defeat the original purpose of the DAO as laid out in its constitution. To prevent something like this from happening, a constitution in plain English could be written and sent to Dcourt at the creation of the DAO, which would specify rules that should be enforced even in spite of a future opposing majority. An example of this could be if a certain government bought 50%+1 of a human rights DAO for the purpose of ceasing all of its funds or blocking all of its future resolutions. The minority being harmed by this malicious attack could open a case in Dcourt and if the jury found in their favor they would be able to block the resolutions set in motion by the opposing government or in some cases, freeze its assets and voting power. Using Dcourt to secure a DAO will always guarantee the accomplishment of its initial mission regardless of bad actors who later attempt to corrupt it.
It is not only agreements like DAOs that could benefit from decentralized dispute resolution, but any agreement whether it be a will, an employment, a divorce, or a marriage. Anyone who wants to make agreements without the government or a central entity to validate and arbitrate them could now rely on Dcourt. Some might argue that smart contracts already provide for this decentralized agreement making, but one critique of trying to use smart contracts alone to replace these classical contracts is that so far smart contracts have no way to act as trustless oracles to verify that events that may be subjective happened in the physical world or to adapt to whatever amount of information is available about the event. Say a smart contract prenuptial agreement had been drawn up that delineated how much a husband and a wife would have to pay for child support if they got divorced. Since the contract had been made, one of the spouses had become disabled which would certainly affect their ability to pay that amount. A Dcourt jury has the ability to verify whether this occurred -- say by witnessing the testimony of the spouse’s doctor -- and then to decide whether this information should affect the percentages paid by each spouse.