Entering the world of smart contracts

One thing that's interesting about yesterday's Basic Attention Token sale is how quickly it went - $36M transacted in 30 sec. Lots of people were surely disappointed as they attempted to buy into the token sale only to have their orders canceled for missing the sale window. I haven't nailed this down for certain, but I suspect that all of the successful buys in the token sale were programmatically executed through smart contracts, rather than by hand.  The entire sale was tied to milestones in the Ethereum blockchain, making this possible.  From the BAT sale site:

"The sale of BAT will begin at the time that mining commences on Ethereum block 3,798,640 and continue until the time that 156,250 Ether has been received or mining commences on Ethereum block 3,963,480, whichever is earlier. This is the “sale period."

I honestly don't know the mechanics of Ethereum well enough to really diagnose this, but my guess is that there were lots of buy contracts that were triggered to execute along side block 3,798,640. I don't think that we are quite prepared for what a world driven by "smart contracts" will feel like - despite the fact that we have had high frequency trading for years, smart contracts that auto-execute on blockchains will bring really fast transaction execution to lots more areas of life. I am not sure that there's anything wrong with that, just pointing out that it's going to feel quite different than what we are used to today.

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