San Francisco based Ripple Labs, a startup focused on building payment and digital asset networks, has unveiled a comprehensive plan for the development of a new smart contract system called Codius. The proposed system will be programming language agnostic and work with existing monetary and contractual systems.
There are a few cryptographic projects currently seeking to build smart contract solutions, but Codius is perhaps the framework that many in the cryptocurrency space have been seeking to leverage to build asset structures.
Stefan Thomas, chief technology officer at Ripple Labs, told CoinDesk that programmable contracts in digital form will be ubiquitous someday – and that the company wants to be a steward for this technology.
“contract logic decides who should receive the money. It can query any internet server to do so, including crypto networks, web services, etc. Based on the decision, the contract hosts will allow a transaction sending the money to that recipient to succeed.”
As detailed in a blog post and whitepaper on GitHub, the Ripple Labs plan for Codius is ambitious, building off of researcher Nick Szabo’s early work in programmable methods of contract law.
It relies on the use of what is known as an oracle, which is an instance that can sign a cryptographic key pair if or when a condition is met, hence the concept of a “smart” contract that can execute itself when it has proper inputs.
“Oracles sign things and the signatures trigger actions in the distributed networks,” Thomas explained.
The Codius project calls these “smart oracles”, in the sense that they will be able to operate on an untrusted codebase. This means that there will be open access to this project for most developers since it will not require the use of a specific programming language.
Smart oracles handle the sandboxing, identification and even hosting of these digital assets. Furthermore, the system will be able to integrate with a number of different systems of value: bitcoin, Ripple’s XRP or even fiat money.