NEO is a next generation smart economy platform (formerly Antshares) and means new and young in Greek. NEO has had a monumental rise to fame and most know NEO for its explosive growth. However, when you look under the hood there is a lot to discuss.
Called the “Chinese Ethereum” NEO has a lot of hype but, does it live up to it?
Law as code
First, let’s discuss smart contracts. According to Black’s law dictionary, a contract is: “An agreement, upon sufficient consideration, to do or not to do a particular thing.” Sounds simple right? Contract law is a deep rabbit hole that spans a myriad of offshoots which many dedicate their lives to but there is one key shift in this digital age, the law is now programmed code.
In the US, the ESIGN act passed federally in 2000 which legalized the use of digital signatures as a legally binding construct. In China, a similar contract law and legal use of digital signatures were put on the books in 2007. This means the legal system now has a bridge with the digital realm and opens a plethora of new opportunities for digital contracts.
Meet Smart Contracts – a digital, borderless and trust-less new way for two or more parties to interface.
Contracts govern an agreement between two (or more) individuals and/or parties. If X occurs then Y is provided. If X does not occur, here is Z recourse. This ties in quite nicely with the conditional programming structure in computer science where “if-then-else” expressions can easily be built around traditional contract law in effect making law into code.
Digital keys and signatures are the new pens inking their presence on digital (used to be paper) contracts. Contracts that have now been coded and re-imagined in a new way for the digital age through platforms like NEO.
The NEO system includes:
Delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance (DBFT) algorithm – This is a consensus mechanism (instead of the traditional proof of work/stake) that allows the system to resist the Byzantine Generals problem and maintains consensus even if some nodes bare malicious intentions
NeoX – This system will create the ability to execute and operate across various Blockchains
NEO Contract – Is the mechanism for creating smart contracts seamlessly in scalable, high performance environments that integrates pre-existing codebases (e.g. C#, VB.Net, F#, Java, Kotlin)
NeoFS – This is a service which allows decentralized storage (like a peer to peer Dropbox)
NeoQ – A lattice-based cryptographic mechanism which creates problems that cannot be solved by quantum computers and ensuring being quantum-proof