Distinguished Blockchain Seminar: Angela Walch

January 27, 2020

12:00 p.m.

Panther Hollow Room, CIC Building

This event is part of the CyLab Distinguished Seminar Series and is made possible by a generous grant from the Ripple University Blockchain Research Initiative.

 

Speaker: Angela Walch, Professor of Law, St. Mary’s University School of Law; Research Fellow, Centre for Blockchain Technologies, University College London

Topic: Intermediaries Who Must Not Be Named? A Legal & Policy Research Agenda for Crypto Miners

Cryptoeconomic systems are often said to lack intermediaries and to facilitate the peer-to-peer transfer of digital assets. This view of them undergirds much legal, policy, and risk analysis, as systems without intermediaries are said to lack the risks posed by intermediaries. In her paper, Walch critiques the common view, and argues that crypto miners function as intermediaries in cryptoeconomic systems, providing examples from real-world events and computer science research to support the claim. She then presents a research agenda to explore the ways miners act as intermediaries, and the legal, policy, and risk questions that arise. She introduces the concepts of ‘intermittent intermediaries,’ ‘fractured intermediaries,’ and ‘limited intermediaries’ to frame the discussion of the role played by crypto miners, and provides guiding principles for research that acknowledge the different roles played in mining ecosystems, that each blockchain system is unique, and that the tech and practices in the field are rapidly evolving.

 

Biography

Angela Walch is a professor of law at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas, and a research fellow at the Centre for Blockchain Technologies at University College London.

Her research focuses on money and the law, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain technologies. Walch’s work is internationally recognized, and she speaks at events around the world.

Walch has presented her research at Stanford University, MIT Media Lab, the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing at UC Berkeley, and the London School of Economics, among others. Her work has appeared the NYU Journal of Legislation & Public Policy, the Review of Banking & Financial Law, and American Banker, and has been cited in reports by the BIS, the Financial Stability Board, the OECD, and the European Commission. Walch has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, WIRED, and The Washington Post, along with other media outlets.

Before entering academia, Walch practiced transactional law at the firm of Ropes & Gray in Boston and in the Office of the General Counsel at Harvard University. She also practiced in London, where she worked in-house for Sainsbury’s and served as general counsel for Brand Events.

Walch is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

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