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> The Initial Contract
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How To Make Contracts Machine Executible

In Askemos we consider only "written" contracts, specifically in machine readable form. We want our virtual actors or avatars to automatically act accordingly. Hence the contract must include an eventually executible code.

In this section we derive the minimum set of conditions a system must meet to be eligible as a contract party. Independent of any particular implementation, we present an abstract, minimal and implied contract. The principle of inalienable privilege.

Standing on the shoulders of giants… On the relationship to J.J. Rousseau's Social contract.

Readers who buy into the rules E. Moglen demands in virtual spaces -independence of avatars from individual contracts and contracts in machine-readable form - (↗here) may skip the philosophy. To readers surprised by the analogy and method we recommend to read B. Schneier's essay on feudal security first. He uses the same analogy to illustrate how technology shapes society today. Assuming that there is an actual advantage in civil societies above "state of nature" we shall apply the recipe to networked security. In essence: create an "autonomous" thing, which can handle contracts.

Historic Remark

I originally discovered a highly similar structure of a "common sense based" global process governed by an initial contract as a logical result when I tried to come up with a security scheme for an autonomous distributed operating system. The structure I named Askemos. Being a computer science guy, I did not get there by the philosophical arguments, I wrote a prototype to test my understanding.

Later my dad traced the idea back to Rousseau. In other words: I read quite a bit of philosophical background literature about contracts and forms of government. Just this best (and oldest) match we have - I did not learn about until I published Askemos.

About The Method

The text here is no attempt to summarize Rousseau in general. Neither will we try to follow in the sense that we actually derive the model from his text.

The concept of the Social contract has been deeply build into the notion of constitutional state ever since. Any model adequate to handle contracting must therefore be able to express this "minimal" scheme.

We summarize Rousseau, focusing on the homogenious structure of the concept of the Social contract and the Askemos system.

It is beyond the scope of this text to follow Rousseau further than the basic concept as outlined here for comparision. Using the notion of abstract concepts enables us to focus on the logic. We'll use "actor" instead of "a persons spirit and rights" and "computer" or even "physical token" where Rousseau relates to physical human beings.

In Rousseau's text we further found the connection of individual rights balanced with the a social contract.

No claim is made how other concepts, let alone consequences are applicable.