Semantic Web and Smart Contracts

Gokul B Alex
3 min readAug 30, 2022

At the outset the combination of semantic web and smart contracts may sound counter intuitive. Semantic web represents all things connected to knowledge and knowledge driven systems. Smart contracts are all about codification of rules, agreements, conditions, identities, processes etc. What if we can weave a web of semantic systems and processes powered by transparent and trustless rules, logic and agents ?

Smart Contracts have are perhaps the most resourceful paradigm introduced by the blockchain technology thanks to their ability to digitize many business processes and workflows. They are considered to be a powerful tool for process automation. They can create registries, escrows, time locks, crypto currencies, fungible and non fungible tokens, decentralized autonomous organizations and a lot more interesting digital constructs.

Web3 has captured the imagination of the digital economy in the recent times, thanks to the decentralization of value chains powered by blockchain technology. In the early years of internet, web 3 was envisioned as a paradigm to decentralize information repositories through the application of semantic technologies.

As blockchain technology is becoming a critical component of web3 architecture, we should be able to find a meaningful model to integrate smart contracts into the entire ecosystem. In the current context, web3 is becoming a digital economy for content creators and commerce stakeholders. It could evolve into a more meaningful model of collaboration and convergence once we progress beyond the hype cycles.

Semantic Web Architecture by Goran Zugic

As we see in the semantic web architecture, the first four layers are trust, proof, logic and rules. All the four of them can be developed and deployed as smart contracts. The layers of ontology, metadata and system description language require a set of knowledge processing entities. When it comes to the layer of unique identification, there would be a crucial role for the decentralized digital identity and associated components.

There would be crucial role for smart contracts to link humans to provide consent, convergence and commitment to the semantic web repositories. This can be implemented in conjunction with a network of information, content and knowledge processing nodes.

When we look at the semantic fabric of internet we cannot miss the significant role of search engines as knowledge repositories. Search engines create semantic pathways in the internet of information repositories. It is true that current set of search engines created huge amount of centralisation of knowldge. Search engines of today are not transparent and tamper proof. We have no idea what they hide when we seek information, content and knowledge. It seems we are in a hide and seek game with these search engines.

From the current model of monolithic and monotonous search engines, we need to transition to a decentralized and dynamic model of search engines which can collect, and curate knowledge, content and information leveraging the models of multi party computation. What if the network of search and index nodes are informed about every new website getting added to the knowledge repositories.

In a semantic web powered internet, these search engines should have stored the insights derived from crawlers, indexers and searche operations in decentralised storge systems powered by decentralised identities and smart contracts. The network of crawlers, indexers and search systems could have created myriads of knowledge driven tools, frameworks and autonomous organisations.

Cryptocurrency powered interent has proven to the world that a brave new digital economy of decentralised finance is possible through a set of innovative data distribution tools, economic engines and market making protocols. Semantic systems powered internet can navigate us to uncharted territories of creativity, collaboration and convergence where people knows each other and their capabilites and credentials in more meaningul ways.