Article - Smart contracts are not that "smart"? Discussion

Hi all,
Just read this article which is quite negative on Smart Contracts generically. The main argument is that the contracts inherently cannot deal with the ‘spirit’ of the contract (meaning every possible exception has to be encoded up front which is difficult to impossible) and secondly that unless it’s tracking a digital asset, it’s still reliant on trusting an external “oracle” to tell it that a physical requirement has been met.

I’m curious to get peoples feedback on this topic. I don’t post these to create controversy but rather as an investor, I always want to read opposing viewpoints and consider them (not run away from them :slight_smile:

The Cardano platform should offer the worlds smartest contracts, so I want to ensure viewpoints like the above are addressed in the architecture as much as possible.

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Yeah this is something that I have cross my mind often that for many things smart-contracts simply aren’t going to be used, and paying someone to cut your grass in a smart contract is really stupid… Because who confirms that he cut your grass and what about disputes, then you again have to look to a third authority.

I do believe smart-contracts have Its place for doing certain things, but yeah it isn’t this magical thing that can be used for everything.

I do believe we will go in a centralized way, that this is the option, this is the path for Crypto… That new chains can be controlled by centralized authorities with their own rules, while the monetary layer remains intact from that…

So we could gather around one currency in form of the settlement aspect, but that chains can be added with their own centralized/authority structure. Basically using the blockchain as the host that we all agree upon, and there would be many many areas where this could create a lot of efficiency - but it has to become cheap to use and we have to do lots of transactions/per second for it to be possible…

What is smart about “smart contracts” and where is the contract recognized?

Turns out that these questions are raised not just by people who reject the whole concept of crypto currency, but also by people who want to understand smart contracts.

It’s good to see experts like Duncan shed some light on it.

In this meetup of developers Duncan remarks that the term “smart contracts” is a misnomer for these apps, because they are not contracts and most are not smart :slight_smile:

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Smart contracts are just ahead of the times.
In the example that @jb455 gives where you pay someone to mow your lawn you are trusting them to do it and you can set up a contract that pays them weekly, or whatever according to what you agree, if say you leave the country for 2 years and expect the maintenance to continue while you are gone then you might find yourself in a pickle where you pay someone that has no oversight and they neglect their duty and you come home to find your garden gnome lost in a forest of tumble weed’s (or what have you).
Looking to the future… A lawn will be easy to write a contract for if you have the technology that monitors the health of your lawn (which I have read about but am unable to find it again), so the smart contract is tied to the tech that monitors your property and there is no reason to trust anything but code if all is set in place right - the sensors detect a healthy property and the caretaker is paid without the need to trust a 3rd party (human party).

With that said obviously writing a smart contract in these times for a lawn service would not be the best idea (if the aim is to leave out a 3rd party) unless you have the technology to monitor your lawn.

In the construction industry - I can see where smart contracts can be used now to protect contractors, I have been involved in a project where the contractor I worked for had contracted to complete the project from the ground up - Civil - Excavation - Mechanical - Electrical, the civil work was supposed to be paid for before the mechanical began, certain permits have to be signed by municipal authorities before mechanical can begin on the completed civil work, because the contractor held both stages of the contract they had to continue to work on the mechanical and electrical before they began to be paid for the civil even though the contract detailed the civil would be paid for before mechanical began (grapevine information, but happens often), without being paid for work that had been done and signed off on, the contractor had to invest in the next stage of the construction cause of the trust they put in the investor and the contract they signed, at a certain point of not receiving payment the contractor stopped work on everything, if everything had been done in a smart contract there would have been no reason to trust a paper contract or investors that claimed they would pay for the construction, the investment funds could have been tied to the contract and the contractor could have cut their losses significantly rather than having someone base their non-payment argument on certain points that had nothing to do with the contractor.

Smart contracts are not as dumb as the Medium writer would have someone believe, the writer simply must not understand how they could protect someone, it may be that the Medium writer just cannot fathom the millions of dollars people lose when trusting paper contracts that take years to resolve in a court of law, which if you take a 10 million dollar loan out to do a construction job, what does that end up costing you in a 7 year lawsuit monthly??? (and that is just a hypothetical number, I have seen a 300 million dollar project that would be best served by a smart contract).

It may be that most smart contracts are not smart, but there is no reason that smart contracts could not be well written and super complicated with several facets that allow for multiple parties to stall or allow them to function, what is available now seems to only allow one input and in my mind there is no possible way that something similar to 2fa could not be possible - yet I am not familiar with coding so maybe I am just wishing for a multi faceted smart contract - LOOK — we have Ouroboros!! Why cannot that be applied to a smart contract?? It can, and I expect that everything shelley brings will be dialed into smart contracts that require the same type of consensus, but on a smaller scale.

Enough of my rambling, it is my weekend on days off, I just think that a well written article might not have been written from experience but from an outside look that has no idea of what kind of protection a smart contract could actually afford someone.

Cheers! :wink:


As soon as I saw Jimmy Song I didn’t bother to read it. He is a Bitcoin only, anti-altcoin, BTC maximalist. There are many use cases for smart contracts but most will be in the future. Create your own last Will and Testament without lawyers. As soon as your death is registered the Ada will go to whomever you designate. At work you get paid via smart contract instead of bank draft. Even the lawn could be digitally monitored. When the grass blades fall below a certain level the worker gets paid. This could be monitored with video or any number of devices. Maybe the smart contract just requires a 3rd party, whom you trust, to sign off before the maintenance person is paid. That could be your neighbor making sure it is cut.


The article seems to attempt to lead the the reader in a position they arent better off with smart contract from the begining. The title reads a bit loaded," The Truth about…" Accuracy of the position aside, it is not written in a way that is designed to provide confidence or “what if” and “we cant imagine the uses yet” statements, or even scientific openness in general. Its language is laden with emotives like “hyped” and overt mechanisms questioning methids like quoting words “smart” “blockchain”.
Labeling smart contracts “not so smart” is also some form of global writeoff.

I get the possibility that for this writer, the limit of mankind is often ones own mind.


Wow, I see a really large variety of possibilities for writing and using of them here. I think, if you read , it will help you to follow the steps and make sure in every part of them.