Natural / Artificial Selection by Smart Contracts: A Hard-Fork in Code and Consciousness

in dao •  2 years ago


The recent DAO exploit is certainly proving to be one of Ethereum's major hard-forks. The very heart of discord right now are the overexpectations of using immutable smart contracts as a complete rule of law over socioeconomic affairs. If the code executes - it is lawful. But what about intent? And is the intent classifable as theft? As Vitalik Buterin pointed out recently, intent is a fundamentally complex problem.

In my opinion, smart-contracts cannot be a 100% standalone enforcement of law at the moment. That should be the stance of all involved in the project. I believe in being a centrist - so let's be practical and consolidate our collective expectations of Ethereum, and build towards the moonshot ideal that we all want it to be.

Consider that we are all here exactly because we can navigate through the chaotic mess. Our collective judgement can solve corner-cases, like the current DAO exploit at hand. Are we even ready to allow the Ethereum to survive autonomously without hard-fork intervention? This baby is less than a year old. In any case, let's make it clear that consensus and social influence are not mutually exclusive. The big worry is about the poisoning of the well, the purity of Ethereum.

I would like to think of Man and Code as complementary. Code is finite in judgment, but omnipotent. Man is infinite in judgment, but impotent. In cases where we find ourselves inconvenienced by the Code's current limitations as a rigid trusted party, let's exercise our judgment and do what's best for the community. Is the exploit at hand, theft? We can have a month-long philosophical debate about this with no resolution. The intent of theft is clear - the attacker used a modified DAO splitting contract that is clearly formulated to gain an unfair advantage over the other members of the DAO.

Tools are complementary, and not always a full replacement. The magic leap is still far down the road.

I think most DAO participants are agents with good-intent, and I personally think investors should be protected. There are solutions that do not disrupt the Ethereum network, only to right a wrong. It is obvious that code as a 100% complete replacement of the law for the people is too fetched an idea to be a reality at the time of writing. It is a hard problem. And we are still building towards that ideal. That should be clear. We are battling against a humanly agent with infinite intent with just a piece of finite code - clearly, the consensus, or stewards, are necessary to steer the ship out of trouble.

Do what you have to. Write an article, message Vitalik, and churn out stuff to support the forks. What we should support more now is the creation of tools to best represent the collective intent of the Ethereum community. And I'm sure most of us are in this for good reasons. As always - do what the heart says.

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