What Doesn’t Kill the Blockchain Will Make it Stronger

By Dmitry Stillermann

American Banker features Dmitry Stillermann, VP of Finance Practice at DataArt, as he notes the lessons learned from Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs). Stillermann argues that the reasons for this failure are not inherent in the blockchain technology itself but stem from the lack of discipline and methodical implementation of software quality processes.

“Virtually every technology poses numerous risks to its users — and doubly so when the technology is still in its infancy and the people have not yet learned how to work around those risks.

How can blockchain technology evolve to make it safer for future users? First and foremost, creators of future DAOs need to take software quality seriously. It is illuminating that the same vulnerability that hit the DAO after its first funding round was duly discovered by Maker, another organization running on Ethereum blockchain. This example shows that the underlying Ethereum platform was completely robust, but that the DAO founders got their software quality processes wrong. Dealing with money, especially other people's money, requires discipline, which does not occur automatically, but must be methodically implemented.

…Given the importance of the smart contracts and the financial risks involved, we believe that the solution lies not in human oversight, but in objective testing and validation tools. Smart contracts are prime candidates for formal verification, one of the most advanced techniques in software quality assurance… but so far the designers of smart contract environments have been lax on this kind of formalities. Fortunately, some new implementations have begun to appear, incorporating the formal verification capability from the very beginning.”

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