What are Smart Contracts?

tl;dr: The community has an opportunity to come to a conclusive definition of Smart Contracts so the trajectory of the forum can be more defined.

In the beginning phases of establishing the “Smart Contract Research Forum,” there was an inherent intent to explore the range of what constitutes “smart contracts”. The early stages of that exploration demanded that we as researchers do not assert a definition and instead seek out the most representative definitions to establish a working model. As the Web3 space evolved, the definition of “Smart Contract” evolved in tandem. Now, we are in a place where we once again need to decide how to move forward concerning the trajectory of the forum.

At this point, it seems relevant to come to a standard definition or set of definitions on how we define “Smart Contracts” to guide the content creation in the forum. In that context, do we define Smart Contracts within the realm of the Web 3 space? Do Smart Contracts necessarily have to have blockchains? Do Smart Contracts necessitate the discussion of AI and its role in self-executing code? As those questions are not exhaustive, it seems relevant to direct community discussion toward this specific set of questions.

This community discussion should give SCRF the opportunity to define itself relative to the Web 3 space to determine the best route forward. There have been talks of combining Discord channels with other Web 3 projects to consolidate our efforts into a single space; however, that assumes that SCRF wants to keep identifying with the Web 3 space specifically. This seems like an opportunity for SCRF to either set itself apart from the Web 3 space or to embrace the rest of the space wholly as a means of survival.

As the Web 3 space has had its share of controversies, it may be necessary for Smart Contract Research to distance itself from that framework and lexicon to survive. On the other hand, the Web 3 space may be ripe for culling the bad actors to make the space more viable. This decision should be made with community input and with that in mind, I am starting this conversation so the community can weigh in.


Thanks for writing this up and posting Chris! I know we’ve used the community call in recent weeks/months to talk about narrowing our scope (i.e. picking some specific topics within Web3 such as governance, auditing, cryptography) or broadening our scope (e.g. starting to explore self-executing code in applications such as AI).

I’m honestly a bit torn with both my own opinion as well as the ‘right’ way to answer this question. Starting with the latter, I’d be most interested in supporting whatever the community is interested in. However, the reality is that our community has cooled off considerably since late last year for reasons related to SCRF not having a compensated team anymore as well as the general state of the space and how hot AI is right now. Those of who are still showing up at community calls and hopping on the forum are definitely positioned to drive the direction of SCRF, but I’m a bit worried that the low level of interaction at the moment will make it tough to build momentum regardless of topic we choose. I know that this post was inspired at least partially by the challenge of limited engagement and thinking about how to restart it.

My own greatest interest pertains to governance, which is not an topic that is exclusive to this space. I would be very interested in engaging in governance conversations beyond Web3 though I also recognize that I personally don’t have a great track record of consistent forum engagement so I am hesitant to push too hard one way or the other. I can see either focus going well if we have some motivated folks who really want to take charge with some discussions.

It would be great to hear from others in terms of what topics they’d want to hear about and discuss the most. We will also be chatting about this in our community calls in the near future, so please hop into our discord and join the chat there.