Vancouver Blockchain for Product Developers Notes for April 2018 Meetup

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Our speaker, Pablo Duboue, presented on “Turning Words into Smart Contracts”.

Dr. Duboue is an independent language technologist. His work focuses on applied language technology and natural language generation. He received a Licenciatura en Computacion degree from Cordoba University (Argentina) in 1998 and M.S., M.Phil and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from Columbia University in the City of New York in 2001, 2003 and 2005. He is passionate about improving society through language technology and splits his time between teaching, doing research and contributing to free software projects. He has taught at Cordoba University, Columbia University, Siglo21 University and has worked for IBM TJ Watson Research as a Research Staff Member.

Along with some lawyers on his team, he put together an interface to have Solidity code generated from English, Spanish or Chinese – and vice versa. Demo is here: http://textualization.com/smart_undertake/

He used a Haskell based Grammatical Framework http://www.grammaticalframework.org/

We had a number of really interesting questions during the Q&A.

  • Could this be used to point at a smart contract, and generate a “more readable” / non-developer readable version so that an end user could understand what the contract they were interacting with was going to do?
  • Does this tie into formal verification? Sort of but not really – there are formal verification tools which are not the same as human-readable language

We went down a legal rabbit hole. Under what license are compiled smart contracts deployed to the public Ethereum blockchain?

  • several people pointed out that in Etherscan (for example) one can link to the Github source code of a deployed contract
  • several others seemed to indicate that without a ToS or explicit license assignment, then copyright was retained, and that maybe people (or nodes? or miners?) might be violating copyright in not having an explicit license to run a smart contract
  • TO DO: hey lawyers, is this meaningful at all?

@asselstine talked about the improvements to Truffle migrations he did, which was part of working on Crypto Trophies – awards on the blockchain – http://cryptotrophies.netlify.com/

Adam Mauro was visiting from Bellingham, talked about how Toronto had a lot of regulatory focus and cash, but that Vancouver seemed to have much more grass roots and actually doing things in the crypto space.

@boris went through a number of different tools and links:

Matt talked about his new crypto-composables, where collectables, like a CryptoKitty, might own a collar or a food bowl or even kibble tokens.

@Chisel announced Dogecon! June 21st - 24th, they’ve formed a non-profit to run it, there will be lots of out of town guests. FB event for now, website launching very very soon.