This week they have announced receiving funding for the newest cunning plan, something they are calling the “Universal Sharing Network”. Little information is available, but evidently, this is supposed to “let users write elaborate leases for a wide range of internet-connected objects, in a similar way to how Airbnb lets users sublet their own property.”
This is said to be “the future infrastructure of the Sharing Economy”.
They indicate that they are working with lock manufacturers, presumably to create internet controlled padlocks and similar devices.
“Give access to your flat to a tenant or a friend, lock up the shed, or immobilize an asset, all remotely through an intuitive mobile application. Indisputable ownership rights on the go.”
Why exactly I need to lock or unlock my shed from anywhere in the world, is a mystery. I guess I should point out that granting access when you aren’t there involves a lot of trust in the other party.
The problem they claim to solve is something like, “Airbnb apartments become fully automated”.
Huh. I wonder how the smart contracts actually clean the room, or, for that matter, actually show up to occupy them? I.e., AirBnB is about something physical, used by actual humans. The details of the digital stuff are not really essential.
They mean, of course, that the payment system which currently works fine will be moved offshore and out of control of anyone, and the automated locks will use blockchain rather than a trusted security server. I.e., they offer the same service with less accountability.
We can debate whether less personal contact is really an improvement in “the sharing economy” (it isn’t–see the writings of Sensei Claire Marshall), but how does a “trustless” system engender the trust needed for personal transactions such as letting someone into your house when you aren’t there?
Having driven Ethereum off the cliff once with their bone-headed DAO, Stock.it say they have learned lessons.
Their new technology is completely trust free and automated, except for the exit clauses and the panels of “guardians” who oversee the system and can manually terminate bad contracts.
“These include the implementation of what has been described as ‘backdoors’, but which Tual called “escape mechanisms”, designed to cease the execution of a smart contract in certain extreme cases.”
“Panels of “guardians” will also be implemented to help oversee contract credentials and problems with the smart contract compiler or even with the programming language itself.”
Hmm. The unstoppable organization is stoppable, though we have to trust the unelected and unknown “guardians” to act fairly.
Who thinks these things up?
Confidence /andtrust in this group is scarcely improved by the latest funding announcement which was $2M from an anonymous source. Transparency, thy name is Stock.it.
I was also amused by del Castillo’s unintentionally comic remark that,
“But, as The DAO perfectly illustrated, the intended immutability of the ethereum blockchain is not compatible with learning as you go.”
Actually, the “move fast and break things” philosophy has never been good engineering, before or after smart contracts. He is correct, though, that unstoppable and irreversible contracts are not a great thing to rush into. In the case of The DAO, they not only “just did it”, they ignored well grounded warnings that it would break and just did it anyway.
To sum up. Stock.it is building something to solve a non problem (again). They are using technology that is known to not work well, so they have added some features that essentially undo the entire point of the technology. They are designing new locks (security) to implement “trust” with no evidence of a “threat analysis” for this alleged secure protocol.
Finally, they are funded (at low levels) by opaque sources with unknown motives and connections.
You can tell that I’m overwhelmed with enthusiasm.
- Michael del Castillom Second Life? Failed DAO Creators Are Making a Comeback Bid. Coindesk.March 31 2017, http://www.coindesk.com/second-life-failed-dao-projects-founders-are-making-a-comeback-bid/
- Stock.it, https://slock.it/