Code is Law. Ok cool, but what if

Hi, i’m trying to understand the deeper implications of this “code is law” philosophy… I appreciate the approach Cardano is taking to make the most secure system possible, and I think this is the right way forward. I’ve also skimmed a few articles about the DOA hack and the Etherium / Etherium classic split.

Now, I can’t help think 10-20 years into the future what the consequences of this “code is law” approach may be. For example, it seems a little arrogant to assume we (any humans) can build perfect un-hackable systems. So lets assume Cardano is a huge success, 90% of the global financial system is running on Cardano, almost every person on the planet has a Deadalus wallet, and then some new super intelligent quantum computing A.I. monster crawls out of Zuckerberg’s basement and finds an exploit in the system, and starts controlling all the worlds wealth.

Do we just stand by and watch, and say “code is law, so I guess this machine owns the world now.”

At what point in this story does the community (of humans) get to vote on the idea of “code is law”

Can someone summarize why this can’t/won’t happen with the Cardano approach?


After posting I just read this:

I’m now convinced. I’m also really excited about my ada purchase. It feels like I just bought a ticket for the maiden voyage of the titanic…


…Or Mars one… that’s also possible. I named my Daedalus wallet “Mars One”


Thats pretty confident =)

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Hi @XZact

I agree that nothing is perfect and un-hackable, but my argument aganist it is simple, let’s take bitcoin for example, currently it is possible to create a fake bitcoin (A bitcoin that’s outside the 21,000,000 supply), and this is called the 51% hack, where you basically own 51% of the mining hardware and start saying that the bitcoin you created is the real one, and since bitcoin is a consensus algorithm, that means the other 49% mining hardware will start accepting this new bitcoin, suddenly the total supply of bitcoin is 21,000,001, however, the reason why people dont do this is becuase the cost of doing it is significantly higer than the value of bitcoin.

Another argument would be that AI in its current state is basically a fancy version of statistics, and even if we assume the worst case scenario, that it is possible, the power consumption of a large scale deep learning and quantum computing would be unimaginable and extremely expensive. (Just like the 51% hack)

In conclusion, the assumption of AI taking over the entire world’s wealth is like saying there is a chance of getting hit by a car on the street, so that I shouldn’t go anywhere else besides my house, instead what we should be thinking is that how can we reduce the chance of car accident (e.g. Self Driving Car).

So my opinion is that as technology progresses we will also find a solution to tackle the problem.

Hope this help, if anything I said is inaccurate, feel free to let me know, and comment below.

Antonie (Yu-Chi) Huang


Formal verification isn’t about the demise of the Titanic. It’s the antithesis of Titanic. But I think you meant that given the excitement ( ;

dont be so apocalyptic. We evolve slowly and can pull the plug whenever things goes bad with the project. like in the movie Matrix.


To clarify my opinion, I am very optimistic for the future of Cardano, and I don’t think an A.I. is going to take over world anytime soon (but I do like to think about it). I’m not trying to bash Cardano, as I also want/expect/hope it will succeed. The titanic reference was a joke, comparing the unhackable code to the unsinkable ship. I’m just new to Cardano, and reading alot about it, and looking for some healthy debate to see how the community backs up the philosophy behind Cardano. Are you all just here for the lambo, or are you investing in the philosophy behind Cardano? And if your investing in the philosophy, maybe you can help me understand why “Code is Law” is better than “The law is determined by a jury of your peers”.


@eduardomk I think the idea is that its really hard to pull the plug on blockchain systems though :stuck_out_tongue: Just a thought.

@XZact I don’t think the idea here is that a rollback cannot happen if there are no bugs in the code. It is that a rollback will only happen if the governance model votes it in. There are specific examples in the documentation that talk about invalidation of state as a result of rollback. Which leads me to believe that its not that there will not be rollbacks, its that rollback will be deliberate and (thanks to the planned governance model) inclusive.

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@Rigario pull the plug as a expression :slight_smile:.
Since it depends on the people to function, and the people dont want it to work because x, y and z, they will no longer sponsor the project. Then full nodes, coin usage and so on will plunge.

You shouldn’t allow philosophy to blind your investing judgement. Yes, I want to break the power of the global financial system that uses fraud and government power to enrich itself… but that doesn’t mean blockchain is the way to do it, or any specific crypto coin will get the job done.

Back to your original point, “Code is Law” is deceptive in that you’re thinking we’re stuck with the system no matter what happens. Let’s say a malevolent AI takes over 51% of crypto. The people who don’t like that can fork it. It will lose market share to another currency with more favorable “law.”

On the other hand, evil hackers or tyrants or AI can also theoretically control the current banking system. In fact it would be even easier. So crypto should be a step in the right direction.


Hi XZact. I’ve been following Ethereum/Classic and Cardano since inception and I have a take on your Code vs. Jury issue. I don’t think, at the end of the day, anything is going to replace the jury as your ultimate arbiter of law. What a blockchain can do is remove a whole lot of uncertainty about the facts of a case. It’s an immutable ledger which prevents a whole class of fraud related to tampering with the ledger, misrepresenting balances, transfers, obligations, etc. Moving on to Code As Law, smart contract systems like the EVM provide people with the ability to engage in certain forms of contracts with a significantly reduced counterparty risk. You know the (crop insurance/financial futures/digital goods) contract will pay out because the contract has been audited by several firms that are well trusted; the funds are provably there for it to be solvent, and you will not be subject to administrative hassles or an insolvent insurance company because the contract payout is automatic and there’s a healthy network of oracles that reliably report the trigger conditions. You’ve eliminated a huge amount of administrative costs, overhead, delay, risk, and potential for fraud from the whole stack of the contract system. At the end of the day, though; the law will still dictate who is assuming what risks and the allowable parameters of the relationship between a smart contract and it’s users. When pressed, governments tend to believe they have the right to total sovereignty over all matters of their citizens, and I don’t see why smart contracts would somehow manage to fall outside of that omnipotent reach.

In the end, a jury may overturn what the computers said if they think the case is strong enough and they have jurisdiction over the parties. A jury can do anything it likes, actually, so “code is law” is really IMO just “code is evidence” with a lot of highly efficient “I don’t need to trust all these intermediaries not to screw me” thrown in.


Anything about oracle you heard from them?

The area of Formal Verification is pretty big and have been around since the 80’s. Unfortunately, nobody seemed to give it a try until now with cryptocurrencies and smart contracts (except for some areas like aviation or the military). Right now, one of the trends is automatic proving, that you write code (under a bunch of constraints) and then the compiler is able to prove it is correct automatically. Of course, there is also a line of research intended to prove compiler correctness.

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Thanks to all for your great replies, this has cleared up a few things in my mind. I’m really interested to see how the staking and democratic voting system pans out. It’s easy to imagine this platform being used to create an entirely new political system as well as disrupting the financial system… are there any theoretical limits to this technology? What’s the most ambitious thing you can imagine for what Cardano will be/do/represent in 10-20 years? Am I wrong to assume that Cardano (or something similar) is going to be the foundation of the next internet and affect every person on the planet? Charlie Lee recently tweeted “Either the market is crazy or Cardano will end world hunger.” and I assume he was being sarcastic and implying it’s all over-hyped, but is it really a stretch to assume Cardano could end world hunger? With the ambitious goals they’ve set, it seems like ending world hunger should be a reasonable and achievable expectation. (but it’ll take some time and a lot of work)

Well… let’s take this ridiculous "“ending world hunger” thing and look at it…

The Earth produces enough food to feed everyone. It can produce a lot more than it does now. People are hungry mostly because of government and financial system problems (although you can trace those back to other root causes if you wish). Since Cardano improves governance and financial systems, theoretically, it can help with hunger. For example I think there are some people in Africa who use cryptocurrency when they take goods to market, so they don’t get robbed.

But if you feed everyone, it just makes the population grow until they’re hungry again, so in the long run we can never solve hunger.

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I have to agree with everything you said except for that last point. The idea that a growing population will always have hunger (malnutrition/starvation) is not a given that we should just accept as fact. As you said, hunger is a symptom of poorly designed systems and inadequate resource allocation. I do not think the laws of physics prevent us from ending hunger. I think the laws of nation states do. There is no reason to believe we can’t re-design our financial and legal systems to end world hunger. It might not happen in the next few years, but we should expect it to happen someday. (This may not be on the Cardano roadmap, but it’s not impossible)

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Ceiling on Desires my friend

I’m coming back to this old thread with some new questions…

Does Cardano (after Shelly) require support or acceptance by law enforcement/government?

After seeing this issue with the ITN and Cardano network being blocked by ISP providers

and seeing how China has had some limited success shutting down bitcoin mining farms,
I’m wondering if this will be a technical possibility for ISP providers to simply block Cardano network? Lets assume major world governments pass laws making it illegal to use Crypto and Cardano… What would it take to shut it down?

Can stake pools be geographically located (and shut down by “law enforcement”?) Does a simple VPN protect against this?

I understand IOHK and Cardano are working well within the law, but after Covid runs it’s course, we could see some new laws coming into force that we might not have expected…

I know Charles mentioned that it would be easy to increase the desired optimal stake pool # (currently 1000) Could the one thousand stake pool target be changed to one million+ stake pools? In a dystopian future, sending 1000 swat teams to each stake pool and shutting them down doesn’t sound all that difficult.

When decentralized ADA exchange that doesn’t require kyc?