dispute resolution

Meet the team: VP of Special Projects Dat Nguyen

Today we highlight Sagewise’s VP of Special Projects, Dat Nguyen. A former patent litigator, Dat’s strong technical and legal experience allows him to bridge the divide between technology and law. Having spent his career at the intersection of technology and law, Dat brings a unique set of skills to deliver Sagewise’s vision of building a platform that provides a safety net for smart contracts, governance, and transactional confidence into the blockchain.

Prior to joining Sagewise, Dat was a business consultant advising and investing in startups from a wide range of industries including hospitality, healthcare, e-commerce, retail and video gaming. Dat also counseled clients in resolving their disputes efficiently outside of courts through mediation and arbitration.

Dat started his career as a commercial and patent litigator at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP and then at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP. Dat has represented numerous Fortune 100 companies in resolving their commercial — and specifically patent — disputes. In addition, he counseled numerous clients regarding patent strategy and licensing. He has experience in a wide range of technologies including: cellular, semiconductors, memory, audio and video standards, video gaming, virtual reality, graphics processing, blockchain, and data encryption.

Along with Amy and Dan, Dat is also an active member in the Southern California blockchain and legal community. He has spoken on a wide variety of topics including: blockchain basics; the limitation of smart contracts and online smart contract dispute resolution; governance, data management, and decentralization; cryptocurrency; and IP considerations in the blockchain.

From his extensive litigation experience, Dat understands firsthand the inefficiencies and expense related with litigation. He is hopeful that blockchain technology can bring numerous benefits to the business world in minimizing and making disputes more efficient. However, before such benefits can be realized, there is a lot that still needs to be done on the blockchain. Dat brings his real-world experience of contract disputes and dispute resolution to the team and works closely with both founders Amy and Dan in developing each component of the Sagewise ecosystem.

Meet the Team: Co-Founder and CTO Dan Rice

Today this blog will highlight the background and current role of Dan Rice, Sagewise’s Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer. Dan brings a strong background in technology to the company and, working with our CEO Amy, is well-positioned to deliver Sagewise’s vision of a fully built-out platform for a smart contract safety net. His successful background and deep knowledge of and involvement in the blockchain and fintech spaces position him as one of the leading experts and a first-rate choice to lead our technical development.

Dan began his career in kernel software development. In the kernel, a single bug will crash the entire computer. This environment was great training for working with public blockchains that are generally written in the same programming language as kernel systems, and blockchain bugs similarly have catastrophic impact — the potential loss of all funds.

Since 2014, Dan has been focused on blockchain and fintech. During this time, he has acted as CTO and consulting CTO for a number of projects, including Totum Risk and Velox. He authored the vzero framework solving cryptocurrency volatility issues, which you can find here. In 2016, Dan participated in the YNext Incubator as CTO for Totum Risk. He also founded the Bitcoin Developers Los Angeles Meetup as well as the Orange County CTO Forum, where he is also the chief organizer. Dan has built more than 20 software products over the course of his career, and the apps he has worked on as an entrepreneur and/or developer have been downloaded over 5 million times globally.

Along with Amy, Dan is often invited to speak at blockchain- and fintech-focused events around California and the nation. He has spoken on topics including blockchain basics; limitation of smart contracts and online smart contract dispute resolution; governance, data management, AML/KYC, and decentralization; client risk management and analysis software for financial advisors; software development in iOS, OSX and Windows; cryptocurrency usability and mass-adoption barriers; and ways to moderate volatility in cryptocurrencies.

Dan is a hands-on CTO, taking an active role in the development of each component of the Sagewise ecosystem. He was instrumental in the recent launch of our SDK, which marks the first time a working solution for smart contract dispute resolution has been released. As we continue to grow and execute on our longer-term vision, Dan will play a key role in overseeing all of our development efforts as well as contributing to the overall roadmap. He will help to build out a best-in-class team of developers to support and implement our objectives, providing leadership and oversight for our growing office. We are very glad to have Dan on board in this key role as we move forward.

Sagewise’s Vision to Build the Safety Net for Smart Contracts

Last month, we announced the launch of the Sagewise SDK. This marks a major milestone in the development of our business and the safety of the blockchain ecosystem overall. It is a step towards achieving our long-term vision of providing an infrastructure to address the inevitable issues that will arise around smart contracts. In this post, we want to provide a little more information about this vision and and our plan to achieve it.

Although most participants in the blockchain space probably don’t realize this, many smart contracts have errors or oversights in their code bases that will lead to significant problems for their businesses and for users down the road. Even if the smart contract code is perfect, situations inevitably arise that could not have been predicted by the developers writing the contract. Since 99% of people cannot audit (much less read) a smart contract’s code for themselves, they have no way of confirming the quality of a product other than trusting the word of a developer.

This situation is bound to lead to errors and misunderstandings. Over the coming weeks, we will publish a series of blogs outlining theoretical situations that can arise from such problems. Crucially, there is currently no way to resolve disputes arising from an error in a smart contract. The fact that the contracts are “smart” and automatically execute based on pre-set requirements can actually exacerbate disputes if the contract is not correctly constructed. Because the blockchain space remains so young, many parties remain unaware of the existence or the potential magnitude of this issue.

Sagewise’s vision is to build a fully-functioning plugin solution that allows smart contract users to achieve their true transactional intent, including the ability to resolve the disputes that will inevitably arise around smart contracts as they are bound to arise from any form of human interaction. Sagewise can “freeze” a smart contract in place while disputes are mediated. It can devise a number of forms of resolution depending on the preferences of the parties involved and on whether dispute resolution was built in to the original contract. Our goal is to provide peace of mind and the expectation of an equitable outcome for blockchain transactions – a toolkit to make sure smart contracts are doing their jobs. The safety net provided by Sagewise is intended to grow into a full suite of capabilities that will be indispensable as the crypto space expands. Disputes around token offerings are a problem; disputes around smart contracts that underpin entire supply chains are a crisis. We are building a platform that addresses the enormous future of blockchain, a future in which broad mainstream adoption is a reality and the integrity of contracts is paramount.

Sagewise Announces Alpha Release of Ethereum Smart Contract SDK To Combat the More than Half a Billion Dollars Lost in Smart Contracts in 2017

Today, we are proud to announce the alpha release of the Sagewise smart contract SDK. Built on the Ethereum blockchain, the SDK is a core component of Sagewise’s toolkit for unforeseen errors and disputes in smart contracts and marks a key milestone in its overall development. Before getting into the details of today’s launch, let me start with a little background on what we hope to accomplish at Sagewise.

Modern day smart contracts started with the launch of Ethereum in 2015 and, in a lot of ways, represented the dawn of fully programmable money. From the outset, one of the biggest concerns of the community was that combining human-created code with instant money transfer could frequently and unexpectedly result in the loss of user funds. Because less than one percent of the earth’s population can program or read code, cryptocurrency-related transactions–including smart contracts do not represent an area where we can reasonably tell a person to “DYOR” (do your own research), as often stated in the cryptocurrency community. Instead, smart contracts represent something very similar to traditional paper contracts in that they cannot be adequately understood or audited by ordinary people. While anyone can attempt to read acontract, if they lack a background in programming or law, respectively, it is highly unlikely they  will be able to catch all the nuances and find all the holes. As an example, someone with no programming background cannot be expected to be aware of all the possible obfuscated bugs that may exist in a smart contract.

Which is where we find ourselves today. More than a half a billion dollars was lost to smart contract coding bugs in 2017. The initial fears and predictions are now reality, and it’s time to figure out how to fix it. Many people are working on this issue through two different approaches:

  1. Making smart contract code better through better coding, tools, and audits
  2. Resolving issues that arise through mediation and dispute resolution

At Sagewise, we are focused on the latter. We are bringing transactional confidence to smart contracts by building infrastructure that acts as a safety net for unforeseen circumstances, whether that be coding errors, security vulnerabilities, changes in circumstances, or disputes. We chose to focus on this because not all issues related to smart contracts can be foreseen–even with the most careful, thoughtful coding. Smart contracts can get bad data from an oracle, or a situation can occur that was never considered. While code is static, human situations are not–we live in a world where volcanoes can halt air travel, strikes can delay commerce, and seemingly unlikely human actions can result in situations no one thought possible. Code cannot be aware of every future possibility. The question is, how do you put a safety net around a smart contract without completely damaging the immutability and decentralization?

Our release today provides a peek at our approach and can be summarized by the following features:

  • All functions in the contract can be frozen;
  • Contracting parties do not have any special control aside from the ability to start a dispute, which freezes execution of the smart contract;
  • Dispute resolution vendors are given complete access to the contract via ‘Administrator Mode’, but this only is available when a dispute has been initiated by one of the contracting parties. This allows contracting parties to fix any issues that may have occurred.

In coming months, we plan to add several more features to the SDK to improve its robustness and usability. Alongside the Sagewise ContractCanary–a smart contract email monitoring and notification system available to licensees– the Sagewise SDK prevents unforeseen execution of a smart contract. Sagewise also  plans to release other support tools as part of its infrastructure that will help bring the entire transactional process together, from documentation of smart contract intent to dispute resolution process handling.

We welcome feedback and engagement by community members, who can sign up for updates at sagewise.io and engage via our Telegram channel at t.me/sagewise.

Our alpha SDK repository can be found here.