The potential degeneration of blockchain smart contracts

by Srikumar Subramanian

I’ve been thinking about a few aspects of smart contracts and blockchain tech - especially public blockchain tech - and I have some lingering doubts that I’d like to capture here for any of you to attack.

(With contributions from Sita Krishnakumar, Vishwas Bhushan and Manoj Kumar)

Warranties for smart contracts

by Srikumar Subramanian et al

The distributed ledger protocol used by blockchains has resulted in systems where we do not have to place trust in particular parties involved in maintaining these ledgers. Moreover the ledgers are programmable with “smart contracts” - transactors whose state changes are recorded and validated on the blockchain. A collection of smart contracts describes a system that is expected to ensure certain invariants relevant to the domain are upheld. For example, an election system is expected to maintain voter confidentiality. While the code that describes these “smart contracts” is open for anyone to read, those who’re participating in the systems run by these smart contracts are not in general competent to evaluate them, with the OSS community being the sole eyes on the contracts being deployed. In this post, I examine how these smart contracts can provide “warranties” that are easier to ratify and describe clear and automatic consequences of violating the warranted properties.