A short story I wrote late last night.

Friday, July 18, 2014 · 3 min read

The judge banged the gavel. It didn’t help, of course, since there was nobody to hear it. But the lead designer wanted to add a human touch so that the public would be more accepting, and so the gavel banged. 24 other gavels banged, too, throughout the day as the 24 other judges reached various points in their cycles. Hal, the janitor, disapproved of leaving them in the basement; they were truly magnificent; but they need to be kept below freezing to prevent the heat from melting them.

As Conway Courts opened its doors on Monday morning, there was a bustle in the air, the kind of electric bustle that is distinctly in the air when the biggest hacking incident of the year (maybe even the decade) is about to be put on trial.

The New York Cryptographic Currency Exchange’s board of directors had some of the best (and most expensive) prosecuting software in the industry. They had enough computational power to brute-force all 21st century cryptography in under three days (though the Seattle Doctrine forbade them from doing so).

‘Draper’, as he was known, was writing his own defending software, a move which would be widely regarded as suicidal if Draper was not generally accepted as one of the most brilliant programmers of the century.

Terminals across the world began establishing connections to Conway’s servers, and receiving a live transmission of judge:criminal:a54bfe, popularly known as ‘Judy’. Judy sent viewers copies of all the evidence presented by NYCCE and Draper, cryptographically signed. Viewers could examine this evidence, assured that it was presented by a genuine judge. Free software allowed anyone to compare this evidence to a vast peer-to-peer database of past cases. Highly trained neural networks inside Judy processed this data in real time, trying to derive a solution that optimizes based on the framework set forth by the Third Constitution.

%nycce connected, broadcast Judy, followed by %draper connected.

Bits began to screech across the world; nycce presenting evidence in the form of Terabytes of data, and linking it to historic trials. nycce‘s sole purpose was to use data and legal axioms and rules of production defined by the Third Constitution to derive the fact that Draper was guilty of manipulating the cryptocurrency market. draper had to defend himself by presenting evidence to the contrary; disproving nycce‘s chain of reasoning by targeting specific links. If draper can parse the data into a more logical chain of reasoning, leading to his innocence, he wins.

As the seconds ticked by, nycce‘s logic became stronger. Data supported other data: statistical models of Draper’s online activity over the past year and cutting-edge analyses of economic patterns in the cryptocurrent market were soon correlated in a clear trend. draper was reeling under the intense computational tasks it faced to process those numbers. There were a few, sporadic counterarguments, mostly nonsensical. The world watched Draper tweak his algorithms frantically.

Judy ceased broadcasting the data for a moment. She needed all her computational resources to weigh both chains of reasoning. nycce‘s argument broke down, in human terms, to the fact that Draper had made a suspicious amount of connections to key financial databases. draper appeared to be trying to decrypt logs of these databases to prove that the connections were innocent.

Guilty. broadcast Judy, to the joy of financial overlords across the country. This case set a legal precedent which future neural networks would doubtless utilize to twist arguments in their favor. The entire legal system depended on previous computation, to optimize large computations and train the neural networks maintained by the government to perform the judging. Once humans were deemed emotionally unfit to decide the fate of citizens, the cryptolegal system was developed and implemented over a decade of research.

Draper sighed, and took another sip of coffee. Possibly his last as a free man. But possibly not. In the huge outpour of emotion across social networks, a few key packets of data sent from draper eluded the NSA’s monitoring servers. What nobody noticed was that these packets of data cleverly manipulated Judy’s RAM. A small program was seeded, and without a trace, it flipped the bits necessary to reduce Draper’s prison sentence to zero years.

(Portuguese translation by Wasen42.)

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