CrowdJury as a Crowdsourced Justice System for the Collaboration Era
* Article: CrowdJury, a Crowdsourced Justice System for the Collaboration Era. By Federico Ast and Alejandro Sewrjugin.
"Jeremy Bentham and James Madison built the 18th century institutions on the hegemony of three actors: court system, postal service and uncensored newspapers. The postal service and newspapers were heavily affected by new ways of doing things because of the digital revolution. In this paper, we propose CrowdJury, a framework for court processes of adjudication adapted for the blockchain era. It combines the advantages of crowdsourcing and blockchain to create a system of justice both transparent and self-sustained. CrowdJury seeks to lay down the principles for a p2p court system based on collective intelligence."
Federico Ast and Alejandro Sewrjugin:
"In this paper, we seek to answer the following questions: can advances in information technology be leveraged to increase the truth-sensitivity of courts? What would a judicial process look like if its fundamental concern were finding the truth with the tools and technologies available to us today?
The exponential lowering of computing and communication costs enabled crowdsourcing, the process of getting work done online from crowds.
Crowdsourcing principles can be used for knowledge discovery and management (solving an information management problem by mobilizing a crowd to find and assemble information), distributed human intelligence tasking (mobilizing a crowd to process and analyze a large set of information), broadcast search (using the crowd to come up with a solution to a problem that has an objective right answer), peer-vetted creative production (for ideation problems where an organization mobilizes a crowd to come up with a solution to a problem which has an answer that is subjective or dependent on public support) (Brabham, 2013).
The principles of distributed knowledge discovery and tasking, distributed human analysis and broadcasted search can be applied to an epistemic system for finding the truth about facts and adjudicating disputes. The crowd is perfectly capable of discovering and processing facts to reach a solution that has an objective answer: the wrongdoing happen/did not happen.
Recent advances in crowdsourcing and cryptocurrencies enable the possibility of developing a workflow for dispute adjudication where the collaboration of each individual to the discovery and evaluation of information is attached to a financial reward. Coins are mined and distributed by some criteria related to the effort each individual puts into fact discovery, fact checking and verdict voting.
The CrowdJury framework may sound odd when compared to early 21st century trial procedures. Yet it is not very different from trial procedures used in Ancient Athens. The framework may help solving many distorting factors that affect a trial outcome. When incentives are right, the crowd can be leveraged to contribute with evidence and analysis. A single prosecutor and a small jury can be bought. It is harder to buy a large number of prosecutors and juries.
CrowdJury has the potential of helping existing governments cut costs and improve management of their court systems by leveraging the power of collective intelligence. It can also be used for conflict adjudication in political communities where court systems doesn’t yet exist, such as private cities and neighborhoods. But where is can make the biggest impact is in justice administration in global communities stretching across jurisdictional boundaries." (https://medium.com/@federicoast/the-crowdjury-a-crowdsourced-court-system-for-the-collaboration-era-66da002750d8#.s7ynvepmx)
Federico Ast and Alejandro Sewrjugin:
"How the CrowdJury works:
CrowdJury is a framework which seeks to replicate online some of the functions of the court system in Ancient Athens.
Online crowdsourced whistleblowing platforms have been in place for some time now (eg., I Paid a Bribe in India, Mexico Leaks, etc.). Citizens can blow the whistle on corrupt officials and provide evidence on wrongdoings. Global Leaks developed an open source anonymous, censorship-resistant, distributed whistleblowing platform.
Let us imagine that John is a civil servant who has discovered that his boss, the Secretary, is taking bribes from government contractors. He logs into CrowdJury and reports it. The evidence he provides (pictures of contracts he took with his phone, reports not easily available to the public, etc.) is stored in a cryptographically secure vault. This makes it impossible to be altered or destroyed. By means of some tagging mechanism (geolocalization, by public office, etc), other witnesses are invited to provide evidence. The increased number of witnesses increases the likelihood of ferreting out the truth, since solving the puzzle of a crime usually requires pooling information scattered among many individuals.
Raw data is not useful. To have an impact, it needs to be organized and curated. When groups interact with information, their members can leverage their diverse skills to transform raw data into useful knowledge. Facts will be analyzed by groups of 9 to 12 volunteers self-selected by the required expertise. They decide whether the information contained in each vault is accurate and relevant.
If fact reviewers conclude information is sufficiently accurate and relevant to take someone to trial, an instance of restoration is opened. Modern court systems are based on the principles of punishment for wrongdoings. Restorative justice has a different approach, based on understanding each other and forgiveness. It is important to articulate the facts, the story and the sequence of events behind the wrongdoing. If the defendant pleads guilty, he can propose a form of restoration. This is how the Athenian system worked. The defendant could choose a form of restoration. The jury could choose to accept it or not.
Open Trial and Jury Verdict
An online trial is held with a massive jury. Whoever wishes to participate in the jury can apply. In Athens, any citizen over age 30 could apply to be on a jury on a certain day, but he could not choose in which specific case. The decision of who got to be a jury and on what case was made with a randomization device called kleroterion. So the distribution of jurors to cases was not biased by anyone’s ex ante interest in a particular case. Just as in Athens, the actual jury in CrowdJury is selected by a randomization device, which mimics the working of the Greek kleroterion.
The entire trial is broadcasted online and all pieces of evidence (picture, videos, etc.) are made public to all. In the spirit of the “open courts” advocated by Bentham, anyone can attend the trial and ask questions to the defendant but only the jury can vote for the verdict. The prosecution lays out a “theory” about a wrongdoing in which, allegedly, the defendant took part. Jurors are the finders of fact. Their job is to determine whether there was a wrongdoing and whether it was committed by the defendant. Finally, the verdict of the CrowdJury is determined by an online vote." (https://medium.com/@federicoast/the-crowdjury-a-crowdsourced-court-system-for-the-collaboration-era-66da002750d8#.s7ynvepmx)
- Crowd Jury, crowdjury.org