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Found 3 results
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  1. The following video basically shows the DAO hack contract which was written in Solidity being applied to both the Ethereum and the Cardano virtual machines, the latter being in testnet phase known as IELE. I'm not a coder - I just find this stuff interesting:
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  3. I have to take some responsibility for the lack of input into this Codius sub so I wanted to apologise for that. I've spent weeks trying to work out how I can wind back my day job to focus on these issues. For now, it will be a slow grind. Malta can't come soon enough. Meantime, I thought it might be interesting to give everyone a flavour of topics I'm working through because I believe these will become defining themes in this field. They include: What is a "contract" for the purposes of smart contracts? I already know the answer to this intuitively from my work (and I suppose most of you do as well) but it's been interesting to dissect it for the purposes here. I've had to re-think many assumptions. That has been fun. Are smart "contracts" actual contracts in the legal sense? Contract law has developed over hundreds of years and software developers would not be aware of all of that history. It would help to know what a contract is before we attempt to make it "smart". There's a requirement for smart "contracts" to have a dual nature reflected in a human-readable form setting out the terms (enforceable at law) and the object code representation of those terms (enforceable in code). Anyone who has investigated the problems of translation (poetry, literature etc) would instantly see the issues with that.There is a tension here because the question of precedence is important for the courts. How should smart "contracts" handle typical suspension/termination events that would otherwise bring a contract to an end before its natural conclusion? This requires a bridge between dry and wet code. Some have referred to "oracles" playing this role but that comes with a requirement for trust. How do we protect a party's rights with respect to contracts that are void or voidable? By what means can we interpret and read down/modify smart contracts to align with public policy considerations and local law? Enforceability There is a rather strange obsession with enforceability, as if the ability to enforce a binding agreement through immutable code is the be-all and end-all. Not surprisingly, this obsession has resulted in large numbers of irreversible frauds, hijackings, thefts and ponzi schemes in Solidity. There is a blind spot for many developers here because the research in the computer science community hasn't joined the dots back to the nature of these so-called "contracts". There simply isn't enough cross-curricular work occurring. Immutability of Code The immutable nature of smart "contracts" and their inability to deal with ex post developments and shading is a major challenge that cannot be solved by software alone. As a corollary of the above point, there is an inherent inefficiency associated with "complete" compared to "incomplete" contracts (I'm relying here on the work of Nobel prize winners Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström). Contracts have traditionally represented a set of ex ante reference points to be satisfied ex post. However code is based on producing deterministic outcomes hard-baked onto the imprecise ex ante reference points which doesn't provide sufficient flexibility to optimise contract outcomes. This inefficiency is locked into the smart "contract" from day 1 which goes to the heart of the smart contract pitch. That problem can be solved and needs to be solved. Code of Law, Code as Law There is a troubling theme through much of the literature that Code is Law which to my mind has a tyrannical overtone. I'm particularly interested in the paradox that we had a number of Libertarian theoreticians who have protected the tyrannical forces at play in every contract but transferred this power from the State to the individual contracting party, embodied in the smart "contract" code. That shift of power is huge and has not been appreciated by those working in this field. All contracts have a latent violence that is sanctioned by the State if one attempts to breach the contract terms. The State has traditionally had a monopoly on this violence (interlocutory orders, orders for damages, forcible removal of assets and savings, bankruptcy, criminal sanctions etc). There is also the State sanctioned violence which is symbolic, psychological, sociological or just the threatening backdrop against which good contracting behaviour is encouraged. All of this is now subsumed into code and the IoT/IoV. We need to think through what this means for all of us. The Regulatory Question There is a lack of judicial and regulatory support for this developing intersection of jurisprudence and technology. Early days obviously but we are seeing for the first time in history technology not simply supporting the operation of the law but supplanting it entirely. What does a regulatory framework look like so that the benefits of smart "contracts" can be realised? The regulators are taking a wait-see approach at this stage so there's a huge opportunity for meaningful dialogue and input here. What does the future look like? I want to present my own view on the necessary pre-conditions for a successful ecosystem of smart contracts. This is a huge topic but I've started coming around to the conclusion that it requires a form of "judicial" oversight (whether through AI, data analytics or similar) that connects into the ledger and gives contracting parties some element of oversight during the operation of the contract. As a minimum, the system has to allow for the full range of contract principles, remedies and defences as well as protect against malfeasance. The literature I had hoped to summarise for everyone the huge volume of academic research in this area (particularly in regards to The DAO and Solidity thefts/ponzi schemes that continue today) because it is illustrative and deeply important for future development in this field. This research demonstrates the depth of misunderstanding that has had drastic consequences to date and could even kill this idea stone-cold if mishandled. Yes, it's dark, knotty stuff. Anyone got a quick meme I could use?
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