• Andrea Omicini
    Andrea Omicini, 11/03/2019 16:26

    Dear Andrea Omicini, 

    We are pleased to inform you that your paper 35: “Towards Agent-oriented Blockchains: Autonomous Smart Contracts” has been accepted, subject to certain specified amendments being satisfactorily completed, in the PAAMS 2019 main track and will be included in the PAAMS 2018 proceedings - Volume 1 published by Springer LNAI. 

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    Chairs of the PAAMS’18 Scientific Committee


     REVIEW 1 -
    PAPER: 35
    TITLE: Towards Agent-oriented Blockchains: Autonomous Smart Contracts
    AUTHORS: Giovanni Ciatto, Alfredo Maffi, Stefano Mariani and Andrea Omicini

    Overall evaluation: -1 (weak reject)


     SUMMARY -
    The paper analyses the capabilities and drawbacks of current smart contracts produced using the existing tools (platforms) of the second and third generations, and states that modern smart contract capabilities are, in fact, limited to automation of some relationships between contracting parties. The paper advocates encapsulation of autonomous agent capabilities into the smart contract in order to enrich the latter with the pro-active behavior thus making it smarter in several respects.
    Accordingly, in section 2 the paper describes the architecture and components of current version of smart contract, its object-oriented implementation and resulting properties, outlines the advantages of smart contracts provided with computational autonomy and propose the agent architecture as the prescription to achieve smart contract autonomy. In section 3, the paper outlines what the authors called roadmap to apply the notion of agency to smart contracts. Finally, the paper proposed some first-order logic-based language and associated interpreter for the execution of smart contract (section 4) and describes the developed proof-of-concept case study (section 5).


     RELEVANCE -
    The paper is relevant to the PAAMS scope: it advocates the integration of the blockchain technology as applied to smart contract and autonomous agents technology. The problem stated is a subject of PAAMS interests.


     ORIGINALITY and SIGNIFICANCE -
    The paper originality and significance with regard to practical applications of agents and multi-agent systems is limited. Section 2 aims at motivation of the paper idea that is integration of agent and blockchain technologies. However, this idea is not new. In addition, this section contains a lot of well-known information about smart contracts and agents properties and architectures.
    The “roadmap to agency for smart contracts” (section 3) is actually a list of requirements to the properties of agency to be encapsulated into smart contract. I think that it is not correct to include into any roadmap a predefined mathematical model to use, but the paper explicitly indicates that logic inference and BDI agent architecture are the components of roadmap. Moreover, Figure 2 intended to illustrate the roadmap as a “journey towards agency” mislead the reader. Their ultimate goal is “logic inference” and “BDI agent” that are very nice agent implementation illusions for those who never deals with practical applications of agent and multi-agent technologies. They are purely theoretical notions having only methodological value but no practical value. Therefore sections 4 of the paper that is positioned as a contributive one is absolutely useless for the participants of the conference called “Practical Applications …”.


     QUALITY and READABILITY -
    The paper is technically sound, well written and well understood.


     REVIEW 2 -
    PAPER: 35
    TITLE: Towards Agent-oriented Blockchains: Autonomous Smart Contracts
    AUTHORS: Giovanni Ciatto, Alfredo Maffi, Stefano Mariani and Andrea Omicini

    Overall evaluation: 1 (weak accept)


     SUMMARY -
    The paper argues the need to explicitly include autonomy in the implementation of smart contracts for achieving their full potential. It provides an example of how this can be achieved.


     RELEVANCE -
    Yes, this is an application of agent theory in a current hot application area.


     ORIGINALITY and SIGNIFICANCE -
    The approach is quite original in that most smart contracts are provided as reactive programs. Therefore the inclusion of autonomy feature enhances the possibilities of smart contracts. This is not mandatory, as the authors seem to argue, but a wishful property. Maybe we need to consider more cases to show the need of autonomy, which carries several issues that are not sufficiently addressed in the proposal.
    For instance, something that needs to  be discussed also is that smart contracts are already difficult to verify and validate. Therefore, adding autonomy could make these tasks even more complex. This is something that deserves some discussion. Who would trust a SC with unexpected behavior?
    The asynchronous interaction may have some issues in the lower layer of th blockchain when ordering the transactions. This is not discussed enough in the paper.
    The use of prolog is good for academic public but has not been very successful for common software developers.
    Finally, a big concern is how to implement Tenderfone on an existing BTC. This is a major issue.


     QUALITY and READABILITY -
    The paper is very well written, with a good structure also.


     REVIEW 3 -
    PAPER: 35
    TITLE: Towards Agent-oriented Blockchains: Autonomous Smart Contracts
    AUTHORS: Giovanni Ciatto, Alfredo Maffi, Stefano Mariani and Andrea Omicini

    Overall evaluation: 2 (accept)


     SUMMARY -
    The paper provides a good analysis of the current understanding of smart contracts and their technical implementations. The authors discuss how MAS could be a source of abstractions and mechanisms to advance towards computational autonomy blending agent-oriented and BCT abstractions. The notion of rational and autonomous smart contracts is introduced. The authors propose a new language for describing smart contracts based on first-order logic. The platform for the interpreter is Tendermint platform.


     RELEVANCE -
    The paper is highly relevant, providing a proof-of-concept implementation of a custom blockchain blending agent-oriented and BCT abstractions.


     ORIGINALITY and SIGNIFICANCE -
    The only thing that causes questions in this work is the language constructs of the new language. It is not entirely clear whether the above functions are the only possible ones, or when creating a contract you can use the full power of the Prolog language. If only the given constructions are available, then the possibility of a quick verification of the code appears, however, the flexibility that contracts differ in, for example, in the Go language, is lost.


     QUALITY and READABILITY -
    The paper is well-written.

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