Smart Contracts Can’t Do The Trump-Obama Agreement on Ethereum Says Researcher

Here’s a big problem, how do you get Trump and Obama to reach an agreement that neither can breach? Especially when the agreement is potentially as politically toxic as this:

“I will release my tax returns when Obama releases his birth certificate.”

That’s what Trump actually said, but we’ve all done those ifs before. You know, you go first then I’ll do it too. As sometimes happens, they don’t follow, leaving you outplayed. Trump of course would never do such a thing, but how do we make sure of it?

Well, Yongge Wang, a Professor at the University of North Carolina, says smart contracts are very useful for a lot of things, but even they can’t force Trump’s hand.

“The infeasibility of implementing Obama-Trump Contract as a blockchain smart contract can be mathematically proved,” Wang says before going ahead to provide what he says is the proof:

“Cleve shows that no secure 2-processor bit selection scheme exists when one of the processors is faulty.

Assume that there is a blockchain smart contract to implement the Obama-Trump contract, then we can use this smart contract to design a secure 2-processor bit selection scheme with one faulty processors which contradicts Cleve’s result.

For each n, An checks the smart contract transaction, if the smart contract releases Obama’s birth certificate, it outputs 1, otherwise, it outputs 0. For each n, Bn also checks the smart contract transaction.

If the smart contract releases Trump’s tax return form, it outputs 1, otherwise, it outputs 0. If we assume that Obama releases his birth certificate with 50% probability, then the above 2-processor bit selection scheme is secure if the smart contract is enforced.

This reduction shows that theoretically it is impossible to implement an enforceable smart Obama-Trump contract in the blockchain.”

Maybe. We’ll leave the maths for experts to analyze, but from a surface view you’d think there are ways to 7d chess Trump.

One such way could be to use an Oracle, or a third party site, that is somehow connected to a smart contract whereby if birth certificate is public then automatically make from private to public the tax returns.

With smart zero knowledge proofs you could perhaps even do this within a smart contract itself. Whereby both documents are placed on the blockchain, but in a private mode through zk-snakrs (if that can be done). Then, if Obama makes his public, Trump’s tax returns are automatically made public.

A somewhat similar strategy is used in escrow. This would work best with two natively digital assets, such as btc and eth. You send both to the escrow, locking them, then the code distributes to the two parties accordingly.

Eventually documents will probably be blockchenized too, but it is of course the case that smart contracts work best where no human input or action is required.

The code, naturally, can’t force humans to do things, but it is very good in forcing data to do things. As documents can very much be data, it does seem a bit difficult to see why this if/then would be impossible.

That’s, of course, if we discount the fact that neither Trump nor Obama would in any way have their point settled by such simple arrangement. We’re sure they both would say it isn’t the full certificate, or the tax returns are way too redacted or…

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