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What kind of contacts will we be seeing eventually on LN? Will it be anything like what Ethereum has?

  • are you asking someone to predict the future? – JBaczuk Jul 30 '18 at 21:22
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    Just want to know what is currently possible. For example in BTC this wouldn't be possible yet without a hard fork. Is it possible to do now in LN? are there big obstacles in it's way (like a hard fork)? – Toodarday Jul 30 '18 at 22:57
  • @Toodarday certain smart contracts are possible using BTC, but they are more limited in scope than an ETH smart contract (for example). It would help if you could specify what exactly you mean by smart contract. What functionality are you looking for? – chytrik Aug 5 '18 at 3:43
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(This is according to my understanding, so any comments are very welcome.)

Lightning Network Summary

Currently, the lightning network operates by first creating a transaction on the blockchain, this is called a channel. See LND Overview.

When someone does a transaction on the lightning network, they create a transaction that they sign, which could be signed by the recipient and "closed out" at any time, which broadcasts the final state of the channel to the blockchain.

The fact that either party can close the channel at any time by broadcasting it to the blockchain means there isn't any loss of trust. With this level of trust, this limits the transactions on the lightning network to the current Bitcoin Script System which is intentionally not turing-complete.

Possibilities

Theoretically, another layer could be built on Lightning network (or the Bitcoin network for that matter) that established it's own form of scripting (e.g. some turing-complete scripting like Ethereum), and then generated Bitcoin-compatible transaction scripts. But, then the user would have to trust the new scripting language to generate a valid transaction that is in their favor. However, that introduces a very large attack vector and possibilities for developer errors like we've seen on Ethereum smart contracts. This does not depend on the Lightning network, though some of the concepts of LN might be useful.

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    I agree - problem with these types of question: what is a smart contract? The lightning system itself is based on a HTLC, which is already a smart contract. IMHO somehow this question is not making too much sense, without specifying what is required, too much room for speculation. – pebwindkraft Jul 31 '18 at 10:33

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