summer reads, cool tools
a vacation/ holiday roundup of resources & reads from us
1. Detecting ‘metamorphic’ smart contracts
Smart contract code is supposed to be immutable once it’s deployed on blockchain, but in practice, you can create smart contracts that “metamorphose” into something else. (Imagine turning a token-staking contract into a token-stealing one, for instance!) Since this could undermine trust in web3 decentralized systems, a16z crypto engineering not only shares how the shape-shifting works, but also built a tool to analyze smart contracts for such “metamorphic” properties. While some metamorphic smart contracts may elude detection (or the detector could raise false positives), this tool is a useful first step for builders to understand and build on.
learn more about metamorphic contracts / use Detector tool / see GitHub repo / share Twitter thread
2. Zero-knowledge information sharing through ‘zkDocs’
Sam Ragsdale, Dan Boneh
Most blockchain transactions are public by design, but this can make them less favorable for relaying private information to institutions. For example: Does your mortgage lender getting your pay stubs really need to know all those details… or just verify that your salary actually meets their loan requirements? This is where zero-knowledge proofs – which allow us to cryptographically prove facts about information without revealing what the information is – come in. a16z crypto engineering (& research) demonstrates how zero-knowledge-enabled documents could improve on traditional, error-prone, inefficient verification workflows — while preserving both privacy and decentralization.
learn more about zkDocs / watch demo / see GitHub repo / share Twitter thread
3. What can web3 (& other) organizations learn from the history of democratic governance?
Porter Smith, Andrew Hall
web3 has created a new "laboratory” for democratic governance — through widespread experimentation; fast iteration cycles; and unprecedented digital participation and blending of civic and corporate, public and private. To date, however, web3 governance has overly relied on direct democracy, leading to low participation and concerns about weak oversight, interest-group capture, and group decision-making. But these are also the same challenges societies and organizations have experienced for millennia… So there’s lots of room to borrow best practices from the history of governance (drawing on both research, and observations of these systems in practice), to build more effective systems today.
read article on ‘Lightspeed Democracy’ here
4. Decentralized creativity & collaboration
Rob McElhenney, Chris Dixon, Sonal Chokshi
“Decentralized media” and “decentralized content creation” are hot topics, but what does this really mean, how would it work in practice… and does it even need web3?! In this first live taping of our podcast 'web3 with a16z' — featuring special guest and longtime writer, actor, executive producer Rob McElhenney (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Mythic Quest; Adim) — we discuss decentralized creativity, collaboration, community; managing writer’s rooms, creator access; IP and NFTs; metaverse, storytelling across mediums; favorite TV shows, nostalgia, and more.
listen to the episode here / in your podcast app
5. Some books we’re reading this summer
Covering everything from algorithms, cryptography, markets, and system design to time travel, space, food, and philosophy – here’s a list of readings that members of the a16z crypto team are personally reading and recommending this summer. Whether you’re looking for vacation reads for education or for entertainment, whether you prefer non-fiction or fiction (or science fiction!)… there’s something on this list for everyone.
check out the list here
--Sonal Chokshi, Robert Hackett, Tim Sullivan, Stephanie Zinn
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