A Behaviouristic Semantic Approach to Blockchain-based E-Commerce

Tracking #: 3211-4425

This paper is currently under review
Giampaolo Bella
Domenico Cantone
Marianna Nicolosi Asmundo1
Daniele Santamaria

Responsible editor: 
Sabrina Kirrane

Submission type: 
Full Paper
Electronic commerce and finance are progressively supporting and including decentralized, shared and public ledgers such as the blockchain. This is reshaping traditional commercial activities by advancing them towards Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and Commerce 3.0, thereby supporting the latter’s potential to outpace the hurdles of central authority controllers and lawgivers. The quantity and entropy of the information that must be sought and managed to become active participants in such a relentlessly evolving scenario are increasing at a steady pace. For example, that information comprises asset or service description, general rules of the game and specific technologies involved for the decentralization. Moreover, the relevant information ought to be shared among innumerable and heterogeneous stakeholders, such as producers, buyers, digital identity providers, valuation services and shipment services, to just name a few. A clear semantic representation of such a complex and multifaceted blockchain-based e-commerce ecosystem would contribute dramatically to make it more usable, namely more automatically accessible to virtually anyone wanting to play the role of a stakeholder, thereby reducing programmers’ effort. However, we feel that reaching that goal still requires substantial effort in the tailoring of semantic web technologies, hence this article sets out on such a route and advances a stack of OWL 2 ontologies for the semantic description of decentralized e-commerce. The stack includes a number of relevant features, ranging from the applicable stakeholders through the supply chain of the offerings for an asset, up to the Ethereum blockchain, its tokens and smart contracts. Ontologies are defined by taking a behaviouristic approach to represent the various participants as agents in terms of their actions, inspired by the Theory of Agents and its mentalistic notions. The stack is validated through appropriate metrics and competency questions, then demonstrated through the representation of a real world use case, the iExec marketplace.
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