Zoe vs. the Low-Level Status Quo

Dean Tribble, 15 Oct 2019

Deciding to send a payment to a blockchain address can be nerve-racking. You think you’re getting something in return, but will you? You think you’ve looked at the contract code, but maybe you missed something. Contracts have bugs. If only there was a way to guarantee that the money that you send isn’t stolen. If you could guarantee that you would get what you wanted, or get a refund, that’d address much of your concern. That’s what we call offer safety, and it’s enforced in a new smart contract platform: a breakthrough JavaScript library we call Zoe.

At Agoric, our goal is to leverage the decentralized network to bring the world’s economy online. We do this by enabling developers to write safer, simpler smart contracts so individuals can cooperate safely with anyone, anywhere. Zoe is the fruit of decades of our collective work in programming languages, security models, and economics.

To explain Zoe, I will contrast it with what I characterize as the current, “low-level” status quo. By appreciating the benefits and shortcomings of the low-level status quo, we can learn how to improve safety in a decentralized world, and how to make it easier to participate in and facilitate that envisioned world. Read more