Research Summary and AMA with José María García (Universidad de Sevilla): Elastic Smart Contracts for the Internet of Things

José María García](https://www.josemgarcia.es/) is an Associate Professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering at the Universidad de Sevilla. His research focuses on services engineering, blockchains, the semantic Web, and recommender systems.

José and his co-authors recently sat down with Chainlink Labs to discuss their paper on elastic smart contracts: a new concept for smart contract design that can handle the scale and complexity of smart contract deployment between Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

José has offered to answer questions about his paper for a limited time. Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions about this fascinating paper.

Description

This interview is from an episode of the Chainlink Research Report series which features short presentations of exceptional working papers by blockchain scholars around the world.

In this episode, Professor José María García and his co-authors discuss their paper which proposes a new smart contract framework for handling transactions within the complex world of the Internet of Things.

Video:

Take-aways:

  • The Internet of Things (IoT) is a complex ecosystem which poses unique challenges for smart contract and oracle design.
  • One of the most significant challenges is related directly to the variation in types of devices that IoT comes from.
  • For example, IoT data can come from sensors, software services or directly from people.
  • This poses a number of challenges for oracles which transfer data when smart contracts on multiple different blockchains are being used.
  • Adding a dimension of “elasticity” to smart contracts can allow them to accommodate many different data types that pass through blockchains via oracles.
  • Elastic smart contracts are demonstrated within the paper using a smart city scenario.

José María García’s background:

José María García is an Associate Professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering at the Universidad de Sevilla in the Applied Software Engineering (ISA) research group. He has participated in several national and European research projects, including public-private partnerships and has published more than 20 research articles, has also co-organized national conferences.

Some of José’s work:

Relevant links and contact info for José:

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@jasonanastas I’m so grateful that you’ve brought another interesting AMA to the forum, and welcome Prof. José María García! We’ve been discussing the combination of AI, IoT, and blockchains a great deal on this forum. @Gearlad @kanad and @Sean1992076 it would be really interesting to hear your thoughts about these elastic smart contracts, especially given the work that you’ve been doing.

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Thanks @jmcgirk. Just to kick things off, I’d be very interested in hearing more about Jose’s thoughts on how blockchain oracles can incorporate “elastic” design features and whether these oracles might need to have some special properties to transfer data in an accurate manner from IoT sensors.

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We’ve been talking about smart cities for decades, yet real-world implementation remains out on the horizon line. We can achieve a smart parking lot, or smart HVAC and lighting in a specific building (assuming a common vendor). But the reality of an entire city means orchestrating a fantastic number of data domains, incompatible levels of abstraction and granularity, and—most difficult of all, in my opinion—proprietary, non-interoperable technologies.

That last issue stems more from human beings and their organizations than from technologies per se. Blockchains can give us the “transparency” you rightly laud in your paper, but what if the powers-that-be don’t want transparency? What if they value profit, vendor lock-in, and market share over interoperability?

An example: Project Haystack (https://project-haystack.org) has created standardized semantic models for describing the data coming off industrial sensors. If all manufacturers simply adopted the semantic standards advocated in the Haystack model, we’d be a huge step closer to a smart city. And yet most manufacturers refuse to use these standards, and many of those that do use them refuse to publicize the fact that they do.

Do you agree that interoperability comes before every other consideration? If you don’t, what do you think represents the fundamental obstruction of real-world progress?

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Thanks for the tremendous research efforts!

Personally, I think this work (and the previous work Elastic Smart Contracts in Blockchains) has built a good foundation, in a sense, “declaring” that, instead of “reinventing the wheels”, we could use this paradigm seen in elastic computing clouds to solve the data sharing/abstraction/data resolution…issues for IoT blockchain applications, and also to reduce waste of computation resources (repetitive works) by different sensor or data analyzation providers.

The researchers to this paper are of IoT expertise, and the work used a crossroad as an example to apply such elastic framework.
Due to my limited abilities, I myself cannot imagine a … say, defi applications (compound+other alike applications), or ENS+namecoin integrated with each other, to be able to apply ECS on them and gain the benefits from the additional elasticity (and of course, more data aggregated on the abstract layer, and is thus more approachable/accessible for regular researchers/hobbyists) Any thoughts are appreciated!

Also, you’ve mentioned that the next step(s) would be to further generalize this framework/abstracted smart contract layer to make it applicable to more usage scenario - it’d be greatly appreciated if you can share your magination about the toolchain/contract language/intermediate language to be implemented in the futureb by your research team or by the community, and the (possibly applicable) ideal usage scenarios outside of IoT applications in your mind.

Again, thank you for thinking ahead and working hard on a good(ethically, with good intentions) standard/framework for the followers to build upon!

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