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Stochastic – Create and manage contracts backed by Bitcoin (stochastic.xyz)
65 points by r32a_ 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 41 comments

How did you pick the name "Stochastic"? Surely randomness is the last thing you want in a contracts system?

Yea sometimes one should consider the meaning of a word even if it sounds cool ...

We want to help tame the randomness :)

Radically honest assessment:

- BTC volatility makes the contract pricing (budget) and proof of funds a moving target.

- Its not even a semi-autonomous smart contract, so enforcement requires the same legal expense to enforce as a normal contract.

- Jury.io is a year ahead, and I've not checked recently but I believe Allegro is as well.

There is no innovation here. I wish there was b/c we could use a fully vetted product like this.

> Jury.io is a year ahead

The jury.io that redirects to http://yourather.com/, a toy website? Or did you mean https://juro.com/? That's a website where "customers can generate, negotiate and sign contracts through one integrated platform and then learn from the rich data that contracts contain". That's great, but it doesn't seem to be at all what Stochastic wants to do, which is to keep money in escrow until the contract is fulfilled. (I guess you could combine those.)

> Allegro is as well

Have a link? I do find stuff when searching the web for "allegro contracts", but it turns out that the name is much too generic to guess what you mean.

I think the jury.io reference should have been to https://jury.online/ ... but only guessing here.

Right, but that's just an escrow service for ICOs, not for any other type of contract, no?

Yup. My bad. Correct.

We are aware of the price volatility issue, this problem is widespread in all of crypto. There are ways around this issue this issue.

We are currently only doing fixed price contracts. However, it is possible to create other types of contracts like a Fixed Price + Variable contract. The variable can be the USD/BTC exchange rate and Stochastic can act as an Oracle to the smart contract.

I agree escrow and contracting application aren't anything new in Bitcoin but so far no one has been able to make it work.

As for Jury.online, I wish them success, but I don't think we are in the same space. I see Stochastic closer to traditional contract management software like Conga and GateKeeper

Somehow I have a feeling that a major motivation for this project was to have a chance to say "Bitcoin smart contracts"

You are correct!

Technically every Bitcoin transaction is a smart contract, the language of the contract is Bitcoin Script (Forth-like, stack-based language, https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Script).

Currently, we are only using P2WSH to create 2/2 and 2/3 Multi-sigs but in the future, we hope to create other types of contracts with different clauses and also an easy to use UI to accompany it.

How do you get these contracts accepted? According to https://curiosity-driven.org/bitcoin-contracts :

> Transactions containing non-standard scripts like these will not be relied through the Bitcoin network but if they are included in a block they will be accepted by the standard client.

If you haven't already, take a look at Stanford's CodeX group. They have a deep history working with smart contract startups, and are generally very open to providing a bit of marketing heft and connections in this space. Happy to provide a contact, email me if you'd like an intro.

Thanks. Will do! :)

Not to be confused with ethereum smart contracts where the code can be complex and encoded logic decides what is allowed, not a intermediary human being.

Right. Nothing about the example contract at https://stochastic.xyz/contract/5afcd83c45d61c3b7457c7e0 seems "smart" in the sense that that word is usually used, i.e., a contract implemented in a piece of machine code.

As far as I can tell, this is basically a job board for contractors who want to be paid in Bitcoin. There is a bit of innovation with the "proof of funds" meaning that the contractor can be sure-ish that the money they are meant to be paid actually exists. There are no further guarantees, and disputes are handled by humans.

Correct. During a dispute, there is no way around human intervention, unless A.I evolves to that point.

As it stands we just handle processing of multi-sig contracts

How are the contracts expressed? The web page does not seem to provide any details on that part, which seems rather crucial. Are they written in some domain specific language?

The contract proposal is entered by the contract owner, in a regular text field, we also allow you to submit attachments (PDF)

As for the Bitcoin transactions, it is multi-sig 2/2 then a multi-sig 2/3

How the service handles arbitration will be the most interesting thing about this. Contracts will always be disputable and terms open to interpretation.

The reputation of the business will ultimately depend on how sound and fair that process is.

We will do our best to resolve any possible dispute, it is in our best interest that all parties are happy with the outcome of a dispute so they come back to use the application.

Centralization :(

We are also exploring to let the contractor and project owner decide who the mediator is.

Our goal is to make tools and services around Bitcoin that showcase some of it's features. There is more to Bitcoin than just HODL and trading.

So why not just use the existing legal system? What benifit does adding Satoshi’s Glorious Blockchain to the mess add? A nice thick layer of hype, speculation and outright fraud?

All code has bugs and unforeseen unhandled corner cases. When code is law, all bugs and unhandled cases become law too. Do you want your law to veer into unhandled territory because your developers didn’t consider some random edge case?

Ergo, smart contracts are a completely broken idea. Sorry.

This application doesn't make the current legal system obsolete! I don't envision anyone using Stochastic to do a multi-million dollar contract at least for the foreseeable future!

We are not doing an ICO, we are not even holding people's Bitcoin we only hold part of the keys to a contract, how can you consider this application a fraud, it's currently free to use. We may add paid features later on but it's free right now.

I agree with you on the topic of code is law can be a bad thing. But it can also have some positive aspects, like removing trusted 3rd parties! We are using Bitcoin Script, which unlike Solidity (Ethereum's smart contract language) it is very dumb, very strict and limited for the exact reason you stated.

If code is not law, how does it remove 3rd parties? Every “code contract” of any real importance is going to be “exploited” because, again, all code has bugs and unhandled cases. Meaning a contract for anything real will wind up in some kind of human-needing state.

Sorry, smart contacts are pretty worthless. The only real use ethereum has is for creating ICOs, which are all scams. You could argue that ethereum is a world class platform for running scams. How will this be anything different? If the language is bastardized so it is not Turing compete and is thus impossible to build anything complex, what point does it have?

Again, this has nothing to do with the type of smart contracts you are referring to. There's no code on the blockchain involved. The contract in this case is an actual contract, a legal document between two parties.

You should actually click the link. It's a job/contract board where you pay with Bitcoin. The only "smart" part is that you can lock up your funds to show that the money exist but the actual execution is still centralized and backed by the existing legal system you talk about.

Not saying the service is good or bad but your rant is off topic!

Currently, Bitcoin has been operating fine for almost a decade and with a massive bounty for anyone that can break its system.

Technically you can still build a lot with Bitcoin's limited scripting language. The lightning network being one.

This has nothing to do with smart contracts so your rant is misplaced.

I think people are going to find out we dont actually want decentralization on lots of fields.

I love Bitcoin and the concept of decentralized currency, but a decentralized logistics system, media, files, etc... sound like it will run into major issues when disputes happen or changes need to be done.

Not to mention the cost of blockchain is far more expensive than having a centralized database.

> Bitcoin startup

> Needs Trusted third party


“Do you need Blockchain? ———> No.” :-)

So the contract is written in plain text an not even mentions who gets paid what and when.

Is this system a joke? Not a single judge could decide based on this.

This is an example contract proposal.

Contractors must login to place a bid on this contract with their public key.

Real contracts on the application have very thorough proposals.

This is just a proof of concept.

Wait, is the implication that you are holding the contract's budgeted funds on an account that belongs to you as a 'verification?'

I'm not affiliated, and I've only taken a cursory glance at it, but it seems like a normal multi-sig escrow service.

It's not an account that "belongs to them", but an account that belongs to multiple people (using multi-sig contracts) so that any single party can't decide to spend it.

The idea being that if you didn't fulfil the contract, you can't take the money and run. If I didn't fulfil the contract, I can't prevent you from taking the money, and if this service goes down, the 2 of us can still decide who gets the money on our own terms without them.

Basically this idea locks away money in an account "owned" by 3 people, and in order to send the money somewhere else, 2 of the 3 need to agree on where it's going.

That's like blaming a paper mill because someone wrote something stupid on a piece of paper.

This is a service that lets you write whatever you want as your "contract". Saying the system is a joke because some people write bad contracts is stupid.

Nice, I'm glad this exists. It would be a great credibility boost if people could specify a mediator that is not stochastic, and the mediator's identity was clearly displayed in the UI.


You have some small errors in the "Security first" section:

  No Bitcoins of any of contracts will be withheld by Stochastic.

Thanks for picking that up!

I agree with you, we are exploring allowing law professionals join to become professional mediators and of course be compensated for their services.

The mediators could be spread around the world and they can even visit contract locations if it is required. These services already exist but for large transactions, think international trade.

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