8.7

Reading 6: Toilets

This assignment is due on Sunday, April 9 at 11:59pm. Don’t bullshit.

Exercise 1. Read All smart contracts are ambiguous by Grimmelmann. Focus on common assumptions that Grimmelmann calls into question.
  • When you follow the link above with your browser, you should see Grimmelmann’s article, as well as a button “<” in the upper-right corner. Use the “<” button to expand the annotation sidebar.

  • You may need to log in to Hypothesis, using the account you created in Reading 1: Who can define the bigger number?.

  • **Pay attention to this next step**. This is a common mistake that results in many zeros on the assignment. After logging in, you are not done. You still have to expand the drop-down menu “Public” in the top right sidebar, make sure it says “my groups”, and change it to our course group “211”. You belong to this group because you used the invite link in Reading 1: Who can define the bigger number?. If you don’t post to this group, then other students won’t see your annotations, and you won’t get credit.

Exercise 2. Find a complete sentence where Grimmelmann writes something he doesn’t mean. Carefully select it, and Annotate it like this:
  • Here Grimmelmann writes that ….

  • But I think he doesn’t mean that ….

  • My evidence is that ….

All three parts are required. The first two “…”s should be identical and match the complete sentence you annotate. The third “…” should provide evidence drawn from the article.

For example, on page 3, it would be correct to annotate the sentence “smart contracts are not” as follows:
  • Here Grimmelmann writes that smart contracts are not ambiguous.

  • But I think he doesn’t mean that smart contracts are not ambiguous.

  • My evidence is that the title of the article is “All smart contracts are ambiguous.”

In contrast, it would be incorrect to annotate the same sentence “smart contracts are not” but write in the first part
  • Here Grimmelmann writes that smart contracts may in fact be more predictable and consistent than legal contracts.

because that does not match the annotated sentence. And it would be incorrect to annotate the same sentence “smart contracts are not” but write in the second part
  • But I think he doesn’t mean that smart contracts may in fact be more predictable and consistent than legal contracts.

because that does not match the annotated sentence. Again, the first two parts must match each other and match the sentence you annotate.

Similarly, on page 6, it would be incorrect to annotate the sentence “A better smart-contract platform would make contract code visible to affected parties” as follows, because the sense of “parties” in the annotated sentence and the first part does not match the sense of “parties” in the second part.
  • Here Grimmelmann writes that a better smart-contract platform would make contract code visible to affected parties.

  • But I think he doesn’t mean parties in the sense of a fun social gathering with food and drinks.

  • My evidence is that the article is about contracts, and the sides taken by people in a contract are also called parties.

Moreover, on page 8, it would be incorrect to annotate “just transfer resources” as follows, because that is not a complete sentence:
  • Here Grimmelmann writes that these transactions just transfer resources.

  • But I think he doesn’t mean that these transactions just transfer resources.

  • My evidence is that he writes “they can create and execute computer programs.”

Finally, on page 15, it would be incorrect to annotate “But is the oracle correct?” as follows, because that question does not say that the oracle is correct:
  • Here Grimmelmann writes that the oracle is correct.

  • But I think he doesn’t mean that the oracle is correct.

  • My evidence is that he writes “the oracle software has no unmediated access to the truth”.

Exercise 3. Find one place in the article where you were confused, uncertain, or curious. Carefully select exactly the relevant passage, and Annotate it with your question and what you have done towards answering it.
  • Make your question clear, descriptive, and specific.

  • Don’t be too brief, terse, or vague. Don’t just say “What’s this” or “I don’t understand”.

  • Don’t just summarize.

Your description of what you have done towards answering it must be concrete and specific. It is not enough to say “I did some research” or “I asked around” or “I searched the Web” or “I thought about it”. What queries did you perform? What information sources did you find? Cite them.

Exercise 4. Once you have added your annotations, respond to someone else.

Optional: learn more about zero-knowledge proofs, a mainstay of modern cryptography that underpins blockchains and smart contracts.