It’s a tale as old as time: you’re attracted to someone, but you don’t want to tell the person unless they feel the same way.
This is a lightly revised version of my article, Smart Contracts: How to tell someone you’re attracted to them, but only if they feel the same way, which originally appeared on June 10, 2017, on Tech Talk Translated, where I write about Technology, the Law, and the Intersection of the two.
It’s a tale as old as time: you’re attracted to someone, but you don’t want to tell the person unless they feel the same way. This could be for a number of reasons. Perhaps you work together, perhaps you go to school together, perhaps you’re both part of the same choir, etc, etc. Such a classic tale.
So what are your options?
Tell a Mutual Friend
Telling a mutual friend is problematic for several reasons, the first of which is that they might tell someone else, or worse, they might tell the person you’re attracted to even if the mutual friend knows that the person you’re attracted to isn’t attracted to you! In that case, maybe that friend isn’t so mutual. Still, people cannot be trusted.
Wait Until They Admit They’re Attracted to You First
Just waiting for the person you’re attracted to you to first admit to you that they are attracted to you also has its own downsides. Perhaps the person is shy. Perhaps you want that person to remain in your choir, so that complication is always going to be there. When the complication has no end in sight, the person you’re attracted to has no incentive to ever be the first to admit that they’re attracted to you.
Smart Contracts to the Rescue
Smart contracts let you tell a computer program that you are attracted to someone and that the computer program should only disclose to that person that you are attracted to them if that person also tells the same computer program that they are attracted to you. At their core, this is how Tinder, Bumble, and other “swipe right” services work: they only match you with someone when both of you swipe right.
Of course, smart contracts can also be used for real estate transactions, self-executing wills & trusts, and all sorts of other transactions where trust among the parties to the transaction was previously necessary. Smart contracts replace the need for trust among the parties.
Smart Contracts & Cryptography: How to Only Tell Someone You’re Attracted to Them If The Feeling is Mutual
Bear with me, I’m going to merge the concepts of smart contracts and cryptography to give you some insight into both:
Cryptography basics (the real stuff can be found here) can be boiled down to this: I know something very difficult to guess (a large prime number/the fact that I’m into you, potato/potato) and so do you (also a large prime number/hopefully the fact that you’re also into me, tomato/tomato). When you multiply these two large prime numbers (when you match “A is attracted to B” with “B is attracted to A”) you wind up with an output, and the first X number of characters is known as a “public key.” It’s tough to analogize that last part, which is why I’m jumping to explaining an application of this technology: smart contracts. Smart contracts allow you to only execute a contract if the conditions of the smart contract are met.
Alex inputs into the computer: Alex is attracted to Blake
Blake inputs into the computer: Blake is attracted to Charlie
There is no output, because Alex’s attraction to Blake is unrequited. Most importantly, Alex and Blake can continue on working together, going to school together, singing in the same choir, etc, without wondering “what if?” and without making their lives super awkward. Wins all around!
Devin inputs into the computer: Devin is attracted to Frankie
Frankie inputs into the computer: Frankie is attracted to Devin
The computer program would output! It doesn’t really matter what the output is, since, in this case, the computer program only outputs if there’s a match. But let’s imagine it outputs “Devin and Frankie are attracted to each other!” How exciting for both Devin and Frankie! Devin and Frankie also get to avoid endlessly wondering “what if?”, plus they get the added benefit of whatever people do after they find out they’re mutually attracted to one another. Is riding off into the sunset still a thing? Let me check Google Trends… (FYI: apparently “riding off into the sunset” is so Fall 2004/Winter 2007)
Conclusion: Translating Blockchain is Super Hard
This article is the first in a series I’m working on to help the average person understand blockchain technologies. There are actually multiple technologies that make up “blockchain”, and it’s been really hard to identify effective analogies. So a big thank you to the awesome people in my life who talked about things completely unrelated to blockchain with me and wound up inspiring this analogy!