ICO Analysis: Agrello Self-Aware Contracts

Agrello wants users to create their own legally-binding contracts with the power of smart contracts. Further, the company wants to enable users to design such agreements “without coding or legal skills to form legally-binding agreements on the blockchain”.  Agrello’s graphical interface is designed to allow users to assemble contracts and compile code to be managed and executed on the user’s behalf by AI agents. Comprised of a team of Estonian lawyers, academics, information technology experts, the project centers on “Self-aware contracts (SAC)”, which are designed to function similar to conventional contracts.

The Estonia-based project believes its ‘smart agreement’ solution will interface with standard legal procedures via legally-binding smart contract-esque protocols.

The White Paper

“Tracking [the execution of contracts] is restrictively slow and in addition, [conventional contracts] are challenging to enforce,” the white paper outlines about the shortcomings of modern contracts.

It adds: “[C]urrently existing machine-readable contract solutions, i.e., smart contracts, lack suitable obligation constructs for execution and enforcement. Additionally, current systems do not comprehend the dynamics of legal relationships. It is important to mask legal obligations with daily human conduct.”

Agrello highlights in its project how modern technology can reduce costs and time spent on information and value transfer.

“Novel blockchain technology-enabled smart contracts, combined with intelligent multi-agent systems and internet-of-things devices, yield so-called self-aware contracts that allow for a high degree of automation for such peer-to-peer collaborations,”

according to the project.

“We demonstrate the approach in a running case for renting an apartment that is first presented with traditional protocols for initiating and terminating a rental contract. Since existing blockchain-based solutions lack essential constructs for specifying legally binding, machine-readable contracts, we pragmatically formalize obligations and rights with an ontology.”

One use case for Agrello might be renting an apartment – it has a beta for this due this Fall. “Since existing blockchain-based solutions lack essential constructs for specifying legally binding, machine-readable contracts, we pragmatically formalize obligations and rights with an ontology,” the white paper notes.

Agrello describes in its white paper how it discovered the ways in which the combination of belief-desire-intention agents, together with the declarative Agrello Language, yields self-aware contracts. “[T]he agents create a composed oracle governed by a lifecycle-management layer,” the team outlines. “The latter comprises the stages for preparing a self-aware contract template, initiating the setup phase of a collaboration, enacting a contract, managing rollbacks that are caused by e.g., a breach of an obligation, or the deliverance of faulty information by an agent, and an orderly termination of a self-aware contract collaboration.”

Intelligent agents designed after BDI-software counsel users through the contract’s life cycle, just like a lawyer would in the real world, based on the legal obligations and rights identified by the software within the framework of Agrello’s templates. The platform will also be able to execute specific compliance actions, but not all.

“Each side to an agreement is represented by an autonomous intelligent agent, which is placed in charge of executing the party’s obligations, notifying them on tasks that require human involvement, and listing available courses of action permitted by contract terms,” writes Agrello. The team has pondered which aspects of a conventional contract (CC) are most important when applying such arrangements to blockchain technology.

The team has pondered which aspects of a conventional contract (CC) are most important when applying such arrangements to blockchain technology, and come to conclusions. “An important prerequisite for a contract that most commonly exists as a written document as evidence, is that the parties involved voluntarily engage to establish a consensus,” the white paper states. “In most business cases, CCs are documents that identify the contracting parties uniquely and state explicitly the commitments of the latter. When those commitments are performed, their status changes over time.”

The white paper continues: “Another problem with the traditional form of setting up and managing CCs is that they are often underspecified and the ability to manually track their status is restricted.”

Agrello is designing text to code compilers that read legalese and convert it into blockchain coding languages like Solidity, which powers Ethereum’s smart contracts. By enabling the reversal of ‘smart agreements’, Agrello hopes to achieve a process that mimics conventional contracts. Such documents could prove that two parties entered into a contractual agreement. Executed in code and understood according to Agrello’s translation into human language, the platform depends on libraries of ontological identities written in Web Ontology Language (OWL).

“Operating at the intersection of the legal system, financial institutions and disruptive technologies, Agrello is highly dependent on the establishment of good industrial relationships with the off-chain world,” wrote Agrello CEO Hando Rand in the blog post. “We regard the work done by the Ethereum foundation on this matter as invaluable, and seek to be an active player in the field, lending our hand to promote this effort even further.”

Mr. Rand added in the blog: “Agrello employs Artificial Intelligence modules, graphical interfaces, and text-to-code compilers, which will naturally have to operate off-chain. The function of the blockchain in the Agrello system is mainly as a record-securing device. Proofs of performed obligations, hashes describing Agrello smart agreements, and logs of activity are stored and time-stamped on the blockchain, providing the immutability the Agrello system demands, while the rest of the system can securely run on the client side.”

Agrello announced it would ‘homestead’ on Ethereum, but will be designed for use with other smart contract platforms, such as Metaverse, Antshares, Lisk, Qtum, RSK, Ethereum Classic, and NEM.

The Team

Agrello Chief Scientist Alex Norta has researched digital contracting for over 16 years. Multiple Agrello executives have more than fifteen years of experience working on digital contracting solutions. Mr. Norta is an associate professor at Tallinn University of Technology and the author of several recognized publications. Mr. Norta has co-authored numerous papers on related technology topics before penning the Agrello white paper.

Anton Vedeshin, a CTO and cryptography expert with a PhD from Tallinn University of Technology, founded his own company, 3DPrintersOS.

Hando Rand is a legal researcher at Tallinn University of Technology. He manages investors and coordinates public relations for Agrello.

Advisors to Agrello include Eric Gu, CEO and Co-Founder at ViewFin; Peter Brady CEO and Founder at BlockForward; Adam Vizri, Director at Diacle; and Paul Kohlhaas, a team member at Consensys.

The Verdict

According to Agrello, its “blockchain-driven self-aware agents-assisted contracts for a decentralized peer-to-peer (P2P) economy” represent “a novel cross-organizational blockchain-agnostic framework for peer-to-peer collaboration that is based on ca. 15 years of academic research.” Time will tell.

Agrello is in an early stage. Much of the logic is in the white paper, however. “For us it is only now just implementing the code,” Mr. Rand told Hacked.com when we reached out via the platform’s public and private channels. Whether or smart contracts will be recognized by courts, to be sure, has yet to be seen.

Moreover, whether or not the team has what it takes to pull this off is unknown, but if token sales are anything, they are a pledge of support to a specific development team and vision. And why would one pledge support to a cause in which they do not believe? I first became interested in Agrello when I learned they were trying to solve problems in smart contracting on Rootstock, which gave the project loose ties to bitcoin.

“Since the Agrello framework is blockchain agnostic, the mapping assures that heterogeneous organizational-internal smart-contract platforms can be integrated cross-organizationally,” the project elucidates.

I hope that, once funds are raised, Agrello will dedicate resources to exploring the possibilities for smart agreement innovation on bitcoin. I’d also hope the team would consider future innovations in its Delta token, though it is nice to see it has a utility for the system described in the white paper.

I have long read Alex Norta’s works on information technology, as he and others had been working on smart contract technology before Ethereum released its platform. Mr. Norta’s early involvement in digital contract, dating back to the turn of the century, earns the project 5 points. 

The white paper is among the most detailed, describing in a lucid and flowing manner a complex system that is clearly better thought out than many other blockchain proposals. Mr. Norta comes across as a true professional in his prose. The project receives two points for their robust description of smart agreements.

Applying blockchain technology to the real world will take innovative solutions. Agrello’s BDI Agents, which allow smart contracts to do the stuff described above, is on the forefront of solving these problems. That is worth two points. 

That’s a total of nine points. However, we also see some problems with this platform.

For instance, the project has failed to deliver a coherent message and doesn’t appear too often in Google searches. While this is a problem for many of the best blockchain companies, who are working on some of the space’s toughest problems, its not the best formula for a token sale. Ultimately, this could be a good thing as those backing it are getting in early, and its a sign Agrello has worked on relationships behind the scenes (see Everex and the many compatible blockchain platforms). But for purposes of this review, the lack of public visibility for Agrello is cause for a reduction of 1.5 points. 

Agrello has a lot of work to get done. Its road map shows a rental and loan agreement app for 2018. It will be focusing on Ethereum until then, and tapping into the platform’s wide array of developer talent.

Agrello earns 7.5 based on Hacked’s rating guide. 

Investment Details

Agrello’s Delta tokens are necessary to use the Agrello platform. There will be a 150 million DLT token supply. 90 Million will be distributed in the token sale. They are worth payment and voting rights.

The Agrello Token Delta (Ethereum ERC20) gives holders a vote in governance decisions and protocol changes on the network. Used to reward contract template creators if their template is used, DLT are offered in four price tiers. There has been a lot of distress over the project’s strict anti-money laundering and know your customre protocol, but this is a professional project with many lawyers working on it. Token purchasers should welcome this. For those buying and withdrawing under two bitcoins worth of Delta, there is no AML nor KYC.

The token sale, which begins July 16th at 20:00 China Standard Time runs 32 days until August 17th at 19:59:59 CST. Agrello reserves the right to stop the sale should the project raise 10,000 bitcoins.

Justin O'Connell is the founder of financial technology focused CryptographicAsset.com. Justin organized the launch of the largest Bitcoin ATM hardware and software provider in the world at the historical Hotel del Coronado in southern California. His works appear in the U.S.'s third largest weekly, the San Diego Reader, VICE and elsewhere.