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Karaoke enthusiast, master gardener, 2-acre amateur homesteader in the Sierras, atheist, feminist, book lover, farm kid, terrible skier. Software engineer and consultant. Past: engineering lead on Agoric's smart contract framework. | Github | Bluesky | Twitter

  1. April 09, 2024

    The solution to the problem of AI-generated images isn’t to try to detect the “tells” of AI. That’s a battle that’s lost every time AI improves. The solution is to use technology—specifically, cryptography—to record what’s real. This different approach shifts the burden of proof to better fit a world where AI is cheap and investigations are expensive.

  2. March 08, 2024

    Smart contracts often get confused with a similar concept called "computable contracts." This talk explains the difference between smart contracts and computable contracts, and counters some of the common arguments made by legal scholars against smart contracts.

  3. December 31, 2023

    Recently I came across a puzzling fact: the International Criminal Court hashes electronic evidence with MD5, even though MD5 is badly broken. So, why are lawyers using broken, outdated technology? The answer involves the common law system, cultural isolation, and a single man named Don L. Lewis.

  4. November 07, 2023

    Starling Lab hosted a three-part Seminar Series at Stanford University on new ways to guarantee the authenticity, availability, and persistence of images, as well as metadata and attestations about the images. I was invited to give the initial presentation to kick off the second part of the series, Authenticated Databases, which included a panel discussion with speakers from Ceramic, Fission, and Fireproof Storage.

  5. October 04, 2023

    I had the opportunity to speak at Qcon SF on combating AI-generated fake images, as part of a fantastic track including Ryan Dahl (creator of Node.js) and Miško Hevery (creator of Angular.) The talk explored my work with Starling Lab. Rather than trying to detect AI-generated photos by various means, a more promising approach is to preemptively timestamp real images and their metadata.

  6. October 05, 2022

    I gave this lightning talk at the Foresight Crypto, Security, and AI Workshop in 2022 to a group that included software engineers and economists. I talk about how we have expensive auditing and financial control processes in business, and how we have cheap cryptographic tools that can solve some of these problems instead. Importantly, despite the hype, these tools aren't blockchains themselves.

  7. June 06, 2022

    Glen Weyl, Puja Ohlhaver, and Vitalik Buterin argue that we should create non-transferable, initially public, “soulbound” tokens to represent commitments, credentials, and affiliations. This is a bad idea. Instead, we should make off-chain statements digitally signed with Ethereum private keys.

  8. April 05, 2022

    Some of the largest frauds in history occurred because an agent contracted to act on someone's behalf, decided to act in their own self-interest instead. This talk given to economists at APEE explains how basic cryptography could have prevented some of those major frauds and changed the nature of the principal-agent problem.

  9. August 05, 2021

    In contract law, we are allowed to add custom rules, but we aren't allowed to do the same in property law. Property (both real and virtual) has a limited number of forms. One explanation given by academics is that new forms of property would degrade the market for everyone else, because buyers would have to research what kind of strange rules were attached to the particular property they were considering. NFTs — non-fungible property defined and transferred by smart contracts — might allow us to define custom properties in ways that don't degrade the market in the same way. This is not a talk supportive of specific NFT projects (unfortunately, as is often the case in the blockchain world, many of the projects are scammy), but rather an attempt to connect traditional property law with the new affordances of smart contracts.

  10. June 26, 2019

    97% of the code in a modern web application comes from NPM, and JavaScript has a rich culture of code reuse. But using someone else's code means leaving yourself potentially vulnerable to attackers. Or does it? By using patterns from Object Capabilities, along with code isolation enforced by SES, you can use other people's code much more safely.

  11. May 09, 2018

    New technologies might help integrate communities living under local, customary property law into the global economy.

© 2024 Kate Sills