[NetBehaviour] Dreaming the devil on Ethereum

Matt Guy theabstractarts at gmail.com
Thu Apr 12 12:23:06 CEST 2018

Dear Netbehaviour,

I thought some might appreciate this attempt to explore the heinous
possibilities of unstoppable evil on the blockchain and the need for
governance, with the aid of artistic renderings.

*Ethereum: on-chain governance or unstoppable evil?

Ethereum provides a hugely extensible terrain for the implementation of
cryptoeconomic logic. We hear a great deal about the innovation, the value
and the freedoms this will bring us. What is less understood is the fact
that unstoppable code can also be used to fulfil malevolent ends.

As the DAO hack showed, smart contract design can produce effects so
egregious that the community is compelled to respond with a fork, for
example. The fork that followed the DAO was a nuclear option only intended
for extreme cases. The ensuing debates were rich and instructive but we
were left without clear red lines that smart contracts should have to cross
before such a fork would be contemplated again.

The Bottom Red Line diagramatically details an Ethereum smart contract
which explicitly incentivises the creation of other smart contracts which
are themselves sufficiently egregious to force a fork. Were this initial
smart contract to be deployed, it would leverage features of Ethereum and
associated blockchain services so as to motivate other developers to deploy
new and beastly contracts with the objective of forcing a fork to halt such
contracts. After the fork, the contract can be redeployed, achieving
similar effects, until malevolent funders are satisfied, for example, that
Ethereum has forked so much that it is no longer a threat to their
preferred chain.

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