5 Movies that could have been solved through smart contracts & blockchain

We will be going over the plots of some movies. So if you still haven’t seen one of the titles, don’t read that section! You have been warned. The examples go from harmless to hitting deep and make sure to check out the video at the bottom.  Something that I think is crucial for people to understand the power of smart contracts, is context. There is sadly a lot of unnecessary hype that gets in the way of a lot of the real work that is being done in the crypto space. 

There are potentially life changing applications being built, and some that are just fun. Also, it can be a fun thought experiment to think “what if”. And that’s exactly what we are going to do here.

1. Wall-E

Photo By Lenin Estrada On Unsplash
Photo by Lenin Estrada on Unsplash

Wall-E is a movie about a post-apocalyptic world, where humans were sent away from earth since it being overrun with garbage. They were waiting on a ship in outer space for the earth to become habitable again. Once habitable, they were supposed to return. However, a dictator-like AI was in full control of the ship, and refused to turn around when the time came.  

Places where blockchain/smart contracts could have stepped in

  • The first major point is looking at the design of the auto-pilot/dictator AI. Whoever designed the ship built a centralized robot, who had the power to overruled even the humans. To me, this is a major flaw. Having one sole power in an infrastructure can lead to the corruption we saw, where it was no longer working for the best interest of the humans. Granted, it was just following orders, but one corrupt entity in the wrong position can be enough for catastrophe.
  • The second major issue I saw, was that Eve was a single data collector. Eve was their drone system to find evidence of life on earth. Once they found it, they would report it back to the isolated space ship. 
    It would make more sense for a network of Eves be able to find multiple signatures of life, and then come to a consensus. The way the movie worked, was that one plant was enough for the ship to be considered habitable, although we know that’s a bad mechanic. 
    Granted, the evil robot could have been trashing multiple Eve’s for a long time (which could have lead to a consensus),but we will never know. 

What could have been done to improve it

  • One the first point, this one is pretty easy. They could have easily built a smart contract compatible blockchain that said “if signs of life are found, then turn the ship around”. This would have removed the evil AI from having full control of the ship. This empowerment to the decentralized smart contract actually doing the work would make sure that no single corrupt entity destroyed their mission. Most blockchains can already do this functionality like Ethereum, Tezos, and Polkadot substrate parachains.
  • The second point is a lot more fun. If they had this decentralized system setup as mentioned in #1, they would also need a decentralized network of Chainlink oracles to get this data. If they sent out a network of Eves who were each controlled by the same entity, they could get corrupted data. Maybe the evil AI bot got control of their central servers and made them all run into walls or something. I’m not evil I don’t know what it would do. Only after an aggregate of independent Eve’s come back, with a majority finding plants/evidence of life would it make sense to actually go back.
    It’s sort of fun to think about a reference contract/price feed that just reports a binary of whether or not the earth is livable again. But that’s essentially what something like this system would look like.

2. Molly’s Game

Photo By Elahe Motamedi On Unsplash
Photo by Elahe Motamedi on Unsplash

I’m not sure Medium’s rules on me posting images of movies, so I’m sticking to the safe side and posting generic ones. Molly’s Game is based off a the real-world events of Molly Bloom. She ran a series of underground illegal poker games. The issues involved here, and the overall narrative actually applies to a lot of the gaming/gambling industry, as two of the biggest issues, are debt collection and cheating. 

Places where blockchain/smart contracts could have stepped in

Molly Bloom runs a legal poker table for a long time, but as her game becomes more popular and as the pots grow, she starts to get nervous. If a player loses big, and isn’t able to pay for their debts, the winners are still going to want their money. If they don’t get their money, you can imagine Molly won’t be having a good time, as they will hold her personally responsible. 

So to combat this, Molly takes rakes of the larger pots to make sure that she will always have enough money to cover just in case someone can’t pay. Taking rakes is generally explicitly illegal, and this is what gets her into trouble. 

There is also a point in the movie where an attacker violently breaks into her apartment, beats her, and steals her money. Sadly, blockchain currently doesn’t offer a solution to physical violence, but at least you could keep your money with the security blockchain provides…

What could have been done to improve it

Since crypto wallets and smart contracts are secured, and no one needs to walk around with $500,000 or a massive painting for collateral, showing up to a game can simply mean you have enough cryptocurrency to enter the game. Once entered, your crypto will be locked away in a smart contract with winners auto-payed out. So it’s easy for everyone just to pay their buy in up-front. 

If you can’t buy in up-front (maybe you have 1,000 LINK but the game is running with ETH0, there are already a lot of defi projects on the market that use a form of collateralized debt. Using collateralized debt is easy with blockchain if you can’t pay back your loan, your collateral is taken. Generally, the collateral you put down is worth much more than you received for your debt. This way makes it even easier to join games. If you don’t have the specified token of a game being played, you can just put up whatever tokens you do have as collateral. 

Now getting robbed and beaten isn’t something that having a ton of cryptocurrencies will help you with (unless you use that to buy bodyguards), but at least you could hold onto your money. The increases security of blockchain makes it much safer for your dough. Since you’d have to give up your private key, or seed phrase, and there isn’t a physical safe, it makes it harder for you to get robbed. 

The other part that wasn’t an issue in this movie, but can be a big issue in gambling, is cheating. Smart contracts make gambling and gaming proveably fair, since you can generate provably random numbers, which has been made easily possible with the release of the Chainlink VRF.

3. The Rickshank Rickdemption: Rick and Morty

Photo By Elahe Motamedi On Unsplash
Photo by Elahe Motamedi on Unsplash

This image was the best I could find. Yes, I know Rick and Morty is a TV show, but I really like it so I wanted to add it here. This zany TV show about sci-fi and crazy inventions is never afraid to call out or hint at big concepts. I feel that the main point below was a not-so-secret shout out to blockchain in the first place. Now this is a whole series and we could dissect so much, since honestly, each episode could probably be an article itself, but I want to go over one episode which I always though particularly interesting. 

Places where blockchain/smart contracts could have stepped in

The Rickshank Rickdemption is one of my favorite episodes, in it Rick topples a government by getting “level 9” access to one of their centralized computers, and changes the value of their “single centralized currency” from 1 of itself to 0 of itself. The next scene is of the president discussing with his advisors what to do, and then they start arguing about who is paying them to discuss what to do, since their dollar is now worth 0 of their dollar. 

An obviously comical portrayal about the value of money, I feel like this was definitely a shout out to the crypto world, and it’s really easy to see why blockchain could have prevented this. 

What could have been done to improve it

Having a decentralized currency has a ton of benefits, and we could add one more to the list. “Rick Sanchez can’t hack the computer and ruin the economy”. One of the main benefits of a decentralized currency, is obviously, that a centralized entity can’t corrupt or destroy an economy in a whim. They can’t pump coin into the market to cause inflation or deflation, decentralized currencies can be easily transferred across boarders, and they can’t be artificially changed to be worth 0 of themself. 

If the galactic federation had figured this out, they maybe could have avoided Rick destroying them. Although, the authors of the show often intentionally draw parallels between the federation and the Empire from Star Wars. Which, one could argue, the Empire would want a centralized currency so they could control the empire credits to pay workers to build their death star. But that might be a little too “tinfoil hat”.

4. The Wolf Of Wall Street

Photo By Patrick Weissenberger On Unsplash
Photo by Patrick Weissenberger on Unsplash

Ah wall street. Ah finance. Ah Investing.

The problems blockchain can solve from The Wolf of Wall Street can be said for just about any other finance/investing movie, since the finance/investing world has a lot of problems that can be fixed by blockchain in general. Like Molly’s Game, this film.was actually based on a true story, so these each hit pretty close to home as well.

I’ve written about how Synthetix might be the answer to a lot of issues before, but let’s have a quick refresher. The Wolf of Wall Street is a film about a man who cheats as hard as possible, and screws as many people over as possible, to get as rich as possible on wall street. He does a lot of it by misleading his customers, securities fraud, and money laundering. 

Places where blockchain/smart contracts could have stepped in, and what could have been done to improve it

Financial transparency and corruption destruction is probably one of the best solutions the blockchain brings to the world. With blockchain and smart contracts, you can have a decentralized stock exchange, which leads to a ton of advantages, one of these being financial transparency. And don’t even get me started on settlements and trade matching

I worked the night shift for a little less than two years doing some operations for a hedge fund, and two hours a night I’d have to double-check to make sure massive brokers weren’t lying to us. How crazy is that? Settlement periods are how long it actually takes for a trade to finish being finalized. On some exchanges, this could take up to two days! And it’s all because there isn’t enough trust with anyone, they have to take two days to make sure all ducks are neatly in a row. You’ll see trust is a common theme for smart contracts. Here are some other benefits of decentralized exchanges

  • Since it’s non-custodial they will never have direct access to your money
  • No KYC so you can keep a level of anonymity
  • Higher Exchange uptime
  • No closed doors data deals
  • Instant settlement periods
  • And hopefully, you don’t need a broker to sell your crypto!

Let’s not forget the goal of the article here. If you had your assets on a decentralized exchange, and Jordan Belfort (the protagonist of the movie) called you up and asked you to lock in a trade for DOGE, even if you like DOGE coin, you could just make that trade yourself! You don’t need a “crypto broker”. (At least not yet, I hope I didn’t jinx us)

5. Rainmaker

Photo By David Veksler On Unsplash
Photo by David Veksler on Unsplash

This is something that hits really hard for me, and it’s probably the most important example. Why did I put it last? Well, to save the best for last.  Rainmaker is a movie with a star studded cast. The plot pertains mainly to Matt Damon’s character, who recently passed the bar, and has come across a case of insurance bad faith. His client ends up dying of leukemia, but could have been saved by a transplant that was denied by his healthcare provider.

This is obviously a terribly sad story, luckily it’s only Hollywood, but unluckily this isn’t that far from real events that are all too similar. 

Places where blockchain/smart contracts could have stepped in

One of the biggest issues we have in our life today and in society, is trust. My sister texted me the other day asking if she needed to pull out of her investing platform Robinhood. She was afraid they were going to fail, and all her money was going to be lost. She didn’t trust that Robinhood and the government would do the right thing and send her money back in case they went under. 

A lot of people have a lack of trust in a lot of corporate and government entities and it’s not always that hard to see why. Smart contracts and blockchain make it so you don’t have to trust them anymore, and that inherently is where a lot of their power lies. 

When you put your trust in a company, and they break that trust, it’s really hard to start believing anyone again, be it that company or otherwise. Integrity goes a long way in this world, and you’re seen as dishonest, it can be hard to gain anyone’s trust again.

When an insurance company gets sued for bad faith, it means they thought they found some loophole, or didn’t think they had to cover someone when they did. This can have life altering affects if they get it wrong. I’m not saying that insurance companies are bad, or they intentionally look for ways to not pay out, I think insurance provides a service for sure, and have done a lot to improve and make sure cases like this don’t happen. However, I am saying that if I knew I was guaranteed they were going to pay out when I needed them to, I know I’d sleep better, and I know my loved ones would sleep better. 

If they don’t do what they say they will, and it affects me, yeah, I’ll get pissed off. If they do something that affects the people around me, yeah, everyone is about to have a bad time. 

A lot of us aren’t fancy lawyers with degrees, and a lot of us quiver at the thought of having to pay a lawyer huge fees to work a case. If you have to go through an insurance bad practice case, you’re already in pain from what you needed help with from the insurance company, and then the added weight of going to court makes life suck that much more. And then if you go through court and still lose, it’s like you lost twice now. 

The fact that these things happen is a tragedy, and like I said I’m sure the industry has gotten better at preventing them, but we have the tools so that we don’t just have to hope they do the right thing, since the right thing is infrastructural with smart contracts. 

What could have been done to improve it

This is exactly where smart contracts can come in and make a drastic impact on the insurance industry. I belabored the point a little in the last section, but this really is an important piece. A smart contract would auto-execute given the parameters are met. If a doctor or a decentralized network of doctors say that you need healthcare, the smart contract would auto extend your pay and you wouldn’t have to worry about them having an agenda, since it’s all code, and it would just work as intended.

We have a massive opportunity in front of us right now to fix these wrongs, to add these pieces of trust to our world, and make it a more accountable, integral, and honest place. Not to mention faster, cheaper, and more efficient!

I want to just repeat this point because it keeps hitting me harder everyday, and makes me excited for the world that we are building. You wouldn’t have to trust these entities to do the right thing, not because you think they are bad or dishonest people, but because with smart contracts, the right thing is infrastructural. 

And I hope that is your take away from this article. I made a semi-humours video on the topic as well, I thought I hit pretty hard at the end though. Let me know how I did, and I hope I made you laugh while showing you something really empowering. 



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