The Computable Contracts project works on developing a universal Contract Definition Language that will allow terms and conditions to be represented in machine-understandable way. As a result, computers will be able to process and reason over the contracts automatically with a guaranteed degree of accuracy. The effect is not only a significant reduction of legal transaction costs, but it also opens a variety of new options to create better contracts.
Contract Description Language (CDL) is a new language designed for expressing contracts, terms and conditions, and even laws in machine-understandable way so that automated tools can be used to work with them more efficiently. Its roots lie in declarative rules based logic programming.
The impetus for the Computable Contracts research, and Computational Law more broadly, is a vision where people, softwares, and services, with the help of computers, are able to rapidly understand the implications of contracts and laws and make optimal decisions accordingly, on a potentially large and complex scale.
Natural language contracts are tedious and difficult to form, analyze, and implement. Whether it is a simple scenario such as shopping where consumers are confronted with general terms and conditions or a complex scenarioa such as corporate governance, Internet of Things, privacy & security in open data systems, or finance, laws, rules, regulations, policies, agreements, and contracts need to be considered before making actions. State of the art computable contracts or smart contracts techniques often base on hard-coded contracts (mostly in a procedural programming language such as Java), and thus lack the generality, the power of automated reasoning, transparency and usability for the parties.
We envision a system that is more stable, fair, efficient, reliable and trustworthy in which the capabilities, responsibilities and possibilities of different parties are transparent and balanced. We believe that unleashing the power of computers on legal substance will lead to massive innovation in the legal domain including completely new classes of applications that are hardly feasible or imaginable today.
As evident from the above list, this project is essentially a multi-disciplinary project involving in particular topics from Computer Science, Law, and Human Computer Interaction. In order to achieve our goal, we need to develop methods, tools and techniques to address the following requirements.
The Contract Description Language (CDL) makes possible Automated Reasoning over legal substance. It is a new language designed for expressing contracts and laws, which supports uniformity, and thus analysis, across legal domains. Its roots lie in declarative rules based logic programming. In our previous work, we have identified four types of reasoning that can be very valuable for achieving the goals of efficiency and transparency in contracting: