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BURST now makes smart contracts possible through the block chain.

BURST now makes smart contracts possible through the block chain.

One of the promising applications of the block chain technology are smart contracts. Different startups have been working on launching smart contracts, like Ethereum, but it would appear that a small crypto startup has beaten everyone else to it.

BURST has issued the first coin that enables you to create smart contracts straight out from the wallet. The coin uses a Proof of Capacity. BURST uses fewer resources as it only reads from your hard drive once per block and does not use power hungry graphic cards while mining.

BURST claims to be ASIC proof, an aspect that would encourage home miners to mine for the network without needing any specialized mining equipment. Currently, the largest pool mines less than 2% of the total blocks, something that BURST improves on by making it profitable both for large scale miners and individuals using their computers.

Also read: Ethereums Brave New World

About Smart Contracts

Smart contracts are being hailed as the next innovation that may radically transform the way we work and live. Some are even predicting that they could render lawyers and bankers out of work in the next few years.


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Smart contracts are computer programs that can automatically execute the terms of a contract. Anyone familiar with computer programming would be aware of what is known as an if-then-else statement, where a program executes a certain task if certain conditions are met and does not if the conditions are not present. Smart contracts implement this on the block chain and have the potential to extend this into another growing field, and that is the internet of things, bringing the world of sci-fi closer to reality.

Smart contracts were first proposed in 1994 by Nick Szabo, a pioneer scholar in the field of digital contracts and currency. Between 1998 and 2005 he developed a mechanism for a decentralized digital currency called “bit gold” that some see as having been a direct precursor to Bitcoin. Bitcoin’s introduction and adoption have sparked a renewed interest in his work on smart contracts since it is now possible to bake digitally native payments into a program.

How BURST Implements Smart Contracts

BURST at present can support five kinds of smart contracts with plans for additional five later on. The smart contracts are atomic cross chain transactions, auctions, crowdfunding, dormant funds transfers and lotteries.

Atomic Cross Chain Transactions allow for truly decentralized trading between cryptocurrencies. This can, for example, enable a trader exchange BURST with a coin that provides a mixing service for the purposes of privacy, and then send it to a new wallet. Another smart contract that BURST would be able to support, are auctions. BURST enables you to create a smart auction contract. Participants in the auction would then send money to the contract, and anytime anyone sends more money than the previous bidder, the previous bidder’s money is automatically refunded. It also supports the “Buy Now” function.

Crowdfunding is supported by BURST as well. If an account receives enough money from a certain block, the project funds are released. If not, the money is refunded to the senders. BURST also supports Dormant Funds Transfer, which

enables an account to be dormant for a specified period, to automatically forward the balance to another account. This could be useful as a Last Will and Testament and or backup for funds in case the account holder loses a password.

Future smart contracts that BURST intends to support include autonomous corporations, gambling, self-mixing and smart properties. Smart contracts are being touted as the “killer app” of the cryptocurrency industry, and the race is on to develop applications that will radically transform our work, life and play going forward into the future.

Images from Shutterstock.

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Posted by John Weru Maina

John Weru is a Kenya-born writer who has been writing since his teenage years. He believes that digital currencies hold the key to unlocking the potential of e-commerce and m-commerce globally, and powering Africa’s participation in international trade.

27 Comments

  1. also heard about Bytecoin cryptocurrency which is going to implement smart contracts: https://bytecoin.org/roadmap/

  2. hughmanwho 06/03/2015 at 20:58

    While Iam impressed and that article had lots of great ideas.. I don’t believe that fixes the issue.. it is a little long for posting here though… Perhaps we could discus it via skype or IRC?

    I have my doubts but if you guys truly have fixed this issue.. I want to apply for a job working for ethereum.

    Send me a message on Bitcoin talk: mczarnek if interested. I may not check back here regularly.. Might try to separately contact you too. Thanks.

  3. hughmanwho 04/02/2015 at 18:19

    SSD is a fairly expensive way to mine compared to HHD but if you have extra space, might as well use it!

    Regarding hard drive life, remember you only write once to the drive then read only ~360 times per day. Reading has far less of an effect on the life of your SSD than writing… in fact reading may not even have an effect on your drive. So I wouldn’t worry about it.

  4. I wonder what the implications would be to one’s SSD as PoC utilises unused hard disk drive space, which we know shortens the life of an SSD?

  5. Please, someone say something that makes me feel better about IBM, Google/NSA, M$, Samsung smart tv’s and the like getting so cozy with us crypto-DEcentralist-activists lately. I really feel like we’re gonna get back-doored. They pose as our savior, “securing” our IoT, oh and look how we use Ethereum and BitTorrent blah blah blah. I dunno man. Watson was no friend to humanity. IBM will gain from this, but it won’t be from DEcentralizing anything……….

  6. JohnAkors2000 30/01/2015 at 14:27

    yeah peer to peer it can do python contracts but it doesnt bloat the blockchain. And it can do many more types of contracts than burst lists. In fact, there isnt a limit to the agreement, since its selfenforcing using the deposits and destruction as deterrent. If I recall, the dev lets people see the source all the time however doesnt let it get cloned. And it is decentralized of course, its decentralized escrow… 2 party escrow.

  7. JohnAkors2000 30/01/2015 at 14:25

    Turing complete is only needed for loops and things like atomic trades. Halo can do any kind of contract there isnt really a limit and from what ive seen they have many templates like bartering and cash deals etc. Of course Halo can do loops since its enforced peer to peer i dont think everything needs to be on the blockchain per se. Actually, Halo also allows decentralized exchange as a microtrader and it is true contracts since they autoexecute. But its peer to peer and doesnt bloat the blockchain. I think they both are(burst and halo), its simply dishonest reporting to say burst is the first when it isnt. Also, wasnt Qora the first to do atomic trades?

  8. hughmanwho 29/01/2015 at 16:37

    Posted on behalf of burstdev:

    One of the advantages of PoC is that it helps keep the network hashrate distributed when PoW coins are getting dominated by large mining operations and large pools. When the most efficient method of mining uses standard hardware the users already own so large mining operations are unable to get efficiency advantages with superior hardware, and the electrical cost increase from mining is negligable for computers that would be turned on anyway, end-users mining with their normal computing hardware should be far more efficient than what a mining operation could achieve, as mining operations have no advantages and far more costs. Due to plot data being tied to a single address and the high computational cost of re-computing plot data, miners can’t quickly change the address they are mining with, and pool mining is done by users publicly signing over rights to receive the block reward over to the pool. This allows for the entire network to see how the hashrate is distributed, and will likely be used in the future to punish oversized pools.

  9. hughmanwho 28/01/2015 at 17:25

    That was my first thought as well. But the key is that the entire branch isn’t abandoned just because one block isn’t received in time. Those that see it as legitimate will continue to build off of it, those that don’t will ditch it. This means that the entire network is building off of the legitimate branch, only the the ‘nothing at stake’ cheaters are building off of the other branch. Given some confirmations, the legitimate branch will win. We have other plans to provide decentralized instant transactions and we can even allow say 20 or 30 confirmations to go by but still have instant transaction confirmations.

    The history key attack issue still applies to some extent from the point of view of new miners joining the network and trying to figure out which branch to mine on. The might end up mining on the one that has been generated via history key attack. I realize that you could still say that the Nothing at Stake issue applies here as well if you could make a fake branch.. but the legitimate branch will still win and have the power of the entire network behind it given enough confirmations, meaning it will have a higher cumulative difficulty as well.

    Regarding whether or not it is more efficient, you are disregarding the fact that there is an upfront cost to mining as well that must be That. On a upfront cost vs continually cost basis, hard-drives are more energy efficient than miners.

    One other major advantage? Everyone has a harddrive, if we start getting a massive number of people to start using their extra space to mine with, then that is basically free energy if they mine during the periods of time they happen to have their computer on anyway. We have some plans to increase adoption there as well.

  10. Infinite Wealth 28/01/2015 at 16:31

    Very interesting point of view, everything is very very quiet on the Ethereum front and you are right other than Google Ventures investment into Ripple the big players are also very quiet.

  11. Vitalik Buterin 28/01/2015 at 14:44

    > No, Nxt’s fix fixed the Nothing at Stake multiple fork issue and that
    fix works for Proof of Capacity as well..basically if a miner doesn’t
    receive a block within 15 seconds, then all the legitimate miners don’t
    count that blocks ‘difficulty’ toward the calculation of that chains
    ‘cumulative difficulty’.

    Okay, as much as I love revert limits and subjective scoring, that sounds genuinely scary. What if an attacker publishes a block 14 seconds after the countdown starts and half the network sees it and half doesn’t?

    Also, “fixing” NaS via ultra-short revert limits alone may prevent long-term double-spends but it doesn’t do anything against attacks where the attacker is simply trying to permanently disrupt consensus by encouraging the production of multiple forks.

    > And unlike Proof of Stake, it doesn’t have a history key attack vulnerability.

    If you are willing to have a 15 second revert limit, then the history key attack vulnerability is a complete non-issue.

    > And unlike Proof of Work it is more energy efficient.

    No, it’s not. People who try to make PoW more “efficient” via idling generally fail to understand economics. The fact is that no matter what scheme you use, mining difficulty is going to increase until MC = MR, and so the economic consumption of mining, on capital and ongoing costs combined (the market can arbitrage between the two just fine), is going to approach the mining reward that you set.

  12. hughmanwho 28/01/2015 at 07:44

    One other major advantage… has anyone at Ethereum thought through how you can do blockchain trimming in a Proof of Stake system? Because I have.. if you use the mini-blockchain algorithm used by Cryptonite, which is pretty much the only good algorithm out there, then you need to build a proof chain.

    How can you build a Proof Chain in a Proof of Stake system? You need to prove that a person has a certain amount of stake at a certain time… only way I can see to do that? Look at the blockchain… which defeats the purpose of trimming away the blockchain.

    Or am I missing something? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this.. and stumped a couple of Nxt developers already.

    aka mczarnek

  13. Putting the word “The” in front of “Block chain” specifically implies bitcoin, not some crappy altcoin that will be gone next year.

    I was mislead and I want my 3 minutes back reading this altcoin hype piece!

  14. hughmanwho 28/01/2015 at 07:18

    No, Nxt’s fix fixed the Nothing at Stake multiple fork issue and that fix works for Proof of Capacity as well..basically if a miner doesn’t receive a block within 15 seconds, then all the legitimate miners don’t count that blocks ‘difficulty’ toward the calculation of that chains ‘cumulative difficulty’. Therefore those chains get cut out by legitimate miners and the nothing at stake issue is resolved.

    And unlike Proof of Stake, it doesn’t have a history key attack vulnerability.

    And unlike Proof of Work it is more energy efficient.

    Also, it is ASIC proof and anyone can mine it with hardward available to everyone out there.. which means it is more economically efficient than Proof of Work. And the big mining data centers have no advantage over the little guy. If one is profitable, so is the other one.

    So, no.. Proof of Capacity is a much better algorithm and has a lot of advantages over Proof of Work and Proof of Stake.

    Afraid of a little competition?

  15. Vitalik Buterin 28/01/2015 at 02:51

    I’ll copy my post from Reddit:

    > Okay, I thought about POC for 15 minutes, and…
    >
    > wow, congrats, these guys have managed to create an algorithm which
    simultaneously has a nothing at stake vulnerability AND is economically
    inefficient.
    > The problem is this. It seems as though the intent of the algorithm
    is for the bulk of the cost to be storing the hard drive, and for the
    hard drive to be able to “idle” after it scanned through the entire
    plot. However, this means that once the plots are built, there is very
    little cost to redoing the scan multiple times on multiple forks. Hence,
    if an attacker could either (i) convince miners that its fork had a
    >0.1%* chance of succeeding or (ii) bribe miners 0.001x the block
    reward, miners all have the incentive to double-vote.
    > * In order for the algo to be storage-bound and for a shortcut attack
    involving recomputing everything not to exist, we need reading from the
    hard drive to take less time than recomputing the data. But then we
    want a 1000x safety margin if we want that condition to hold true
    against potential ASIC implementations, hence reads need to be 1000x
    cheaper than the plot computation step. Hence, reading more than one
    time would have a marginal incremental cost of only 0.1%.

    Things are this are why we didn’t launch in Jan 2014 :)

  16. hughmanwho 28/01/2015 at 01:56

    Burst is the first to allow programming whatever Turing complete decentralized smart contract you want. Which is what most people know as true smart contracts. BitHalo and BlackHalo have a couple of pre-written contracts that allow people to run them… not really true smart contracts in my opinion.

  17. Archutas formulated it well: “Anyone can write any contract he wants”.

  18. So it currently supports any type of contract?

    If it’s programmable why would it be limited to 5 anyway?

    Thx!

  19. Thx, but I think it’s still not clear: It support only five or anything? now or in the future?

  20. Is it decentralized, turing complete? where is the source code? can you deploy any contract without revision from the devs first?

  21. Have you studied the technology behind Burst’s smart contracts technology or you are just brainwashed and invested a lot to Ethereum ( which runs out of funds ) ??

  22. The article implies that burst supports only 5 contracts, thus the response ” Ethereum, at launch, will support all contracts any developer wishes to program. ” which is also the case for Burst. Anyone can write any contract he want.

  23. “Ethereum, at launch, will support all contracts any developer wishes to program”

    – BURST *at the moment* suppports five Smart Contracts, but as Ethereum BURST does support all contracts any dev wants to launch.

  24. Not first, not the best. Just stuck in mediocrity.
    I am waiting for Vitalik and the gang to deliver in a couple of months or so everything else is “meh”

  25. And I suspect Ethereum has taken the money and ran! Even in the heavily regulated financial world IPO’s are risky and full of bad actors, in the unregulated world it can’t be any better.

    What surprises me is than none of the big software players have already developed what Ethereum was supposed to be, and offered it as a product. Microsoft, Apple, Google. A team from those guys could do this on their lunch break.

  26. Infinite Wealth 27/01/2015 at 17:43

    I suspect that Ethereum is hard at work with their system which seems much more complex than a smart contracts system, although I am always suspicious about IPO’s as generally the concept has only just been proved where as other development teams just beaver away and seem to launch without venture capital.

    I think lawyers will come up with a legal defense though that will prevent them being replaced. Humans wont have any use soon in this autonomous world, we will be but batteries like in the Matrix films. Oh no!

  27. JohnAkors2000 27/01/2015 at 17:42

    First?? What the hell are you talking about??? BitHalo and BlackHalo can contract from the wallet and they have been out for almost an entire year! The writer should correct this article.

    Halo does unbreakable real world contracts so they arent limited to atomic trading and it does allow decentralized exchange as well as employment, cash contracts etc etc.

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