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Technology is an ever-moving target. This can create a demanding work environment for law departments and corporate counsel, as every few weeks or months enterprises need to understand and account for new technologies changing the nature of their functions.   However, the benefits are that new opportunities to combine methods or technology occur almost daily. One such combination is so-called narrow artificial intelligence for contract detection and extraction of information held within physical contracts. This is brought together with “smart contracts,” the encoding and execution of contractual data and events on a programmable blockchain. It’s a technology solution that provides a public ledger of all the transactions on a network. A block is the “current” part of a blockchain that records some or all of the recent transactions, and once completed goes into the blockchain as a permanent database.   Blockchain’s current main usage is in connection with the electronic concurrency bitcoin. However this is not its only use. One of the main advantages of Blockchain is that it allows entities, people, companies, governments, etc. to store a record of events without requiring each entity to know or trust each other. One example of this is the witnessing of documents, which is when a third party is present to attest to another party’s signature (i.e., a trusted witness). With Blockchain, it is possible to remove the third party witness, due the to the trusted nature of the transaction, via consensus, and its immutable state on the chain.   However, smart contracts may not fully deliver on all that is promised to legal teams, as they face several technical limitations and challenges. The usefulness of the data or functions encoded, and how they get accurately encoded onto the smart contract, are often questioned. These doubts typically result from hacks, like the recent DAO hack. To some extent the risks have been mitigated. Microsoft, for example, provides off-chain code execution, and on-chip Enclaves (Intel) to perform the smart contracts’ execution. This is a better way by far to provide the smart contracts’ functionality, without the risk of further DAO-type hacks. But limitations still remain.  

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