Offer Safety: Partitioning Risk in Smart Contracts

Kate Sills, 09-Mar-2020

At Agoric, we’re a technology company solving a problem that dates back at least to Thomas Hobbes. In the 1600s, Hobbes pointed out an issue inherent in agreements between two parties engaged in a transactional exchange: The person who performs first has no assurance that the other individual will perform after because “the bonds of words are too weak,” in his famous phrasing, published in Leviathan, his classic contribution to political philosophy.

Hobbes was on my mind recently when I gave a talk at Stanford CodeX, to a group of legal scholars and technologists doing research in computational law. I talked about Zoe, our smart contract framework. This is where Hobbes’ concern about flawed agreements comes into play: Zoe adds a layer of safety to voluntary exchange that hasn’t been seen before. At Agoric we call that layer “offer safety.” Read more