There has been a lot of discussion on the topic of Smart Contracts, and these threads seemed intertwined with Block-Chain technologies. The discussions have been supportive of the linkage, disparaging of widespread use, and on more than one occasion indicated the end of the practice of law.
To be clear, I am not an attorney and I do not have a law degree. I am, however, a big fan of practical applications of Artificial Intelligence, judicious use of Learn-By-Example model generation and democratization of technology access.
This later may seem incongruous in light of the former two, but good use of technology can provide easier access to a greater user population, whether it be within the logical confines of an extended enterprise ecosystem or a more global Internet scale.
Lets keep it simple and lets start small.
Block Chain is at a high level, simply a way in which micro-contracts are registered in a distributed ledger environment. Parts of this are not new. Equity and Commodity trades have been programmatically executed for decades, with and without regulation. If the value of a share in “Humongous Gas and Electric” falls to $90 then Buy 1000 shares is an easy transaction to imagine. The purpose of the exchange or market maker is to facilitate the exchange of goods for value. Each side has made a contract of sorts with the market place to either buy or sell.
Block Chain effectively distributes the knowledge of the terms of these contracts across a series of ledgers (like a market place) so that the terms are immutable and non-refutable since they cannot be changed by anyone without the other ledgers knowing it.
Block Chains are also more autonomous in that, unless time-fenced, they exist until the satisfying conditions are met.
So why are Block Chains and Bit Coins seemingly intermingled? This is better handled by a more knowledgeable person on a different day, however, the short answer is that digital currency is effectively managed as a blockchain transaction -with distributed ledgers to document the digital currency movement, to memorialize the value, etc.
(More on Block Chains and Smart Contracts.)
Zycus’s perspective on Smart Contracts aligns with our approach to the practical application of advanced technologies in the area of contract management, including Artificial Intelligence and Machine Based Learning. Smart Contracts make sense for certain practical applications, and if implemented consistently, can enable innovative transaction types.
Smart Contracts should be made up of Smart Clauses and Smart Agents.
Smart Clauses are aware of the constructs and relationships within a Smart Contract. Smart Clauses need to understand the constraints within which they can control interactions within the Smart Contract and to a limited extent they set the interaction parameters of Smart Handling Agents.
Smart Listening Agents are instantiated to be aware of external information flows. For example, querying the price of a share, or more likely subscribing to a share price data feed.
Smart Handling Agents are purposed to interact externally. For example once a Smart Clause, based on information received from a Listening Agent, triggers a Handling Agent to authorize a “Buy” request to the seller, or a funds transfer (digital or otherwise) from the buyer.
The Smart Contract Framework guides the intra-contract communications and interactions.
Alright – we’ve defined a simple series of interactions. The Smart Contract, made up of Smart Clauses, Listener and Handler Agents is empowered to act in and of its own accord. It can interact as long as it exists and as long as there is no time fencing.
These contracts can work in a highly distributed environment across enterprise borders, and only need electronic / digital communications channels to execute their mission.
When working in conjunction within or adjacent to a secure, resilient and non-refutable transaction framework then autonomous business is not just possible, it is plausible and in fact is being done today!.