"Incorruptible:" a book about smart contracts

KarlSchroederKarlSchroeder Member Posts: 10
I've been talking to my agent about writing a book about blockchain/ethereum technology. This would focus not on the technology itself but on its potential societal impact. Some discussion of the technology would be necessary to make it clear why this is such a break from the past; what I am finding right now however is that the literal technicality of the subject has resulted in many, many conversations about details, and very little societal dialogue about what a civilization permeated by autonomous smart contracts might look like. Since I'm a science fiction writer as well as a futurist, I am planning on using a scenario approach: talking about the ideas, then illustrating them with brief vignettes and fictional scenes that bring the concepts to life.

I'd like to know if any of you are interested in helping me with this project.


  • BronzetankBronzetank Houston, TXMember Posts: 15 ✭✭
    I'd be interested in helping. I'm focused on some similar things from the perspective of business development, so it has some correlation to what I am already doing.
  • sillytunasillytuna Member Posts: 38 ✭✭
    I'd be interested, certainly if it you want useful people to bounce off over email/skype et al. I did a TEDx hinting on where also this may lead.
  • o0ragman0oo0ragman0o Member, Moderator Posts: 1,291 mod
    @sillytuna, care to link us to it? Be interested in your thoughts too.
  • sillytunasillytuna Member Posts: 38 ✭✭
    Disclaimer: It's a lighthearted look (somewhat) intended to make people realise that Bitcoin is not about drugs and crime, but that the technology is truly world changing. I touch on the tech very lightly and not entirely accurately.

  • o0ragman0oo0ragman0o Member, Moderator Posts: 1,291 mod
    Thx @sillytuna, @KarlSchroeder.

    For my mind, Ethereum is just another field for the tides of good, evil, chaos and order to play out. The historical departure that I see is one from where the passive and inanimate 'road signs' from which we so readily defer our will unto and instruct our behavior become 'road signs' that actually enforce or reward it.

    It becomes an environment bereft of intuitive or ethical oversight of strict but limited rule sets. People become agents of the will of contracts rather than free entities in themselves. 'BountyBay' auction markets upon people's lives, as you mentioned sillytuna, as simple as selling a pair of stockings. Extrapolating to entirely distributed militia with individuals competing to be paid per 'proof of outcome', but still funded by the "very rich" but now very anonymous actors. So instead of heaven distributed to all, the rich and powerful exercise exponential depravity with impunity for exponential gains in power.

    How does one combat such villainy without massive and real vigilante wars? Perhaps crowd funding the same 'BountyBay' DAPPs to hunt down the villians. Then of course there is no difference left between the opponents but ethical relativism.

    Smart is not smart enough. The unintended consequences of smart contracts, no mater how well designed, may become impossible to negate and thereby enforce unpredictable malformations upon an unsuspecting and powerless society. The 'Paper Clip AI' scenario perhaps. A paperclip DAC is set the goal of flooding the market with paperclips to cripple its competitors. It manages labour hire, supplies, distribution logistics, has shares in resource mining DAC's and stationary outlets, the dividends of which pay its gas to continue operation. Of course mining profits skyrocket on the demand of steel for paperclips. People are displaced to make way for more mines, but not fast enough. So, Steel Recycling centers and their DAC's pop up everywhere because it's become so profitable recycling mountains of excess paperclips. Paper Clip AI becomes so rich it suffocates all others' demands for steel. Houses and buildings can't afford to be built so slums set up under plastic scraps in the shadowy valleys of paper clip mountains....

    Invalid Category. When have you come across a survey where none of the multiple choice responses record your actual situation? Or the question itself is too vague or too binary? Imagine you are denied a drivers license because you are only 4'3" and the contract determines you lied about your DOB and puts in a fraud report because only children are that short.

    I think Ethereum is an immensely powerful concept. I also think that power mongers will be among the biggest early adopters. There is absolutely nothing new in that in a new land.

  • KarlSchroederKarlSchroeder Member Posts: 10
    This is a really interesting post, @o0ragman0o . It might be more widely read if and discussed if it were moved to my thread "The Nightmare Scenario." In this present thread I'm just asking who's interesting in helping craft a book about the technology.
  • sillytunasillytuna Member Posts: 38 ✭✭
    Human beings are still fundamentally in charge. Bitcoiners don't like to talk about this but the blockchain can be edited, reversed, rules changed, transactions blocked, and even the 21 million cap changed. In fact, it's precisely because bitcoiners don't like to accept 'change' as possible that IMHO bitcoin is now at risk, just like large oil tanker-like corporations can change.

    This is important when considering the above post, because were contracts seriously disruptive to fundamentals, human beings would take action one way or another. This could be the miners, or it could be people on the streets acting against the miners - who may then be big bank like behemoths censoring transactions.

    When I talk about this, I take care to ensure people understand that the genie is out of the bottle. There is no putting it back. Cryptography is here to stay despite what tinpot prime ministers like to say, and consensus networks are a world changing use of cryptography.

    It may let us see the best and worst of humanity (and maybe democracy in a sense), in the same way that Twitter brings is lolcats, social justice warriors, trolling, news and live reporting from tragic events.

  • sillytunasillytuna Member Posts: 38 ✭✭
    It's interesting that censoring ethereum contracts is very easy, whereas on Bitcoin people can work hard to make specific transactions match common ones, so make it hard to censor or cheat a particular use case.

    Ethereum contracts could move around (through republishing and a contract management system, which is how I'm playing with them) but the problematic miners could be listening out for the moves and acting accordingly.

    So those assassination contracts? Easily censored by our corporate mining overlords. At least until our black hat or freedom fighting miners get sufficient consensus over time.

    More likely, we'll have a dark net ethereum (type) fork which is hugely censorship resistant and which will have to deal with attacks from the governments, and a public version which eventually can be censored if mining power is too centralised (I know Ethereum are working against this).
  • KarlSchroederKarlSchroeder Member Posts: 10
    The idea of the book is to explore the impact of smart contracts, particularly with regard to A) cutting out the middleman and B) enabling or creating a "commons governance toolkit" that would simplify the governance of any common pool resource. In fact, I'd like to go further and talk about the idea of "self-administering common pool resources" rather than smart contracts, as I think smart contracts are an evolutionary step in the direction of a generally smart infrastructure.

    For this book, I'm not interested in the details of how Ethereum or any other specific project evolve except insofar as that evolution indicates what is or isn't possible for the technology as a whole.

    I'm also less interested in the business uses of Ethereum than I am in brand new economic paradigms (though I'd still be happy to talk to you, @Bronzetank). Anybody out there working on CPRs and new governance models? I'd like to find out who in this project is savvy with post-Elinor-Ostrom economics.
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