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5 Key Takeaways from Devcon4

iCash | 03.06| 456

Here I will cover the highlights of my trip to Prague for the Devcon4 conference. This conference was a showcase for all major players involved in building blockchain technology.

I started off the day with an interview with Sasha at BIG Crypto about iCash. We covered a variety of topics: his entertaining story on how he first heard about the iCash team while at Consensus Singapore, an in-depth look at the most prevalent trends in blockchain technology, and how iCash will scale it’s Proof Of Trust (PoT) protocol for dispute resolution.

We’ll be providing a link to the full video clip as soon as it becomes available.

At the end of the discussion, I was asked to predict the 5 most important discussion points gained from attending the conference. I will now share those points after an amazing week of being surrounded by, and learning, from the best of the best. It should also serve to give readers a better insight as to the goings-on within the Cryptocurrency and Blockchain communities:

1. The Future of Privacy and Scalability: ZK Starks

ZK Starks

The most packed talk of the conference was the Starkware lecture about ZK Starks.

In a room that typically fits 150, I sat/stood with over 300 people crammed in to the space, listening and getting the firsthand knowledge of the latest development in ZK Stark technology.

Meeting Starkware CTO Oren Katz

I learned that they have a partner program where Starkware actively helps projects design their protocol. Oren also asked me more about how iCash uses ZK Snark technology to build the privacy layer for smart contract contestations.

Starks will be commonplace, and a scaling solution for Ethereum. Given the right partnership opportunity, we would not hesitate to build our tech robustly to be the best long term dominant solution.

2. The need for Decentralized Trust

Congress Center, Prague, Czech Republic

Handshake (HNS)

I noticed a rising interest in Decentralized DNS. There seems to be a recurring theme that a secure network system should be built with proper first principles.

In order to truly decentralized the internet, built from the ground up using first principles; trust must be established at all layers in the protocol stack starting with root.

In the case of HNS, the root or backbone of their protocol is the Domain Name System.

This idea has been around since the early days of Bitcoin. Handshake (HNS) is a relatively new project headed by Joseph Poon that has both raised significant funding - as well as donating generously to open source software foundations that have been around since the early days.

I learned that it exists today as a fork of bitcoin with a different approach to mining:

Handshake works seamlessly with the existing DNS system. The domain names of the top 100,000 websites on the internet are being set aside for their legitimate owners to claim on Handshake [3].

Handshake Paper

The fundamental issue that Handshake is solving is that in order to trust any website, one must also trust the Certificate Authority that generated the TLS or SSL certificate that validated the authenticity of that particular website to the user’s browser.

Ethereum Name Service

Ethereum Name Service (ENS) is the domain name service that gives an alphabetic character name to your Ethereum address or dApp. They announced that apart from the .eth domain, two other top-level domains (TLDs) are becoming available in the next weeks: “.xyz” and “.luxe” are purchasable via traditional DNS registrars.

At the Congress Center in Prague, bright and early overlooking the 2nd floor.

Origin Protocol

We talked about a mechanism which enables smart contracts to allow interactions from reputable people. They have submitted a proposal for ERC725 tokens to allow for that trusted transfer.

Origin Protocol Co-Founders Matt Liu and Josh Fraser.

Day 1 Closing Thoughts

In order to truly decentralized the internet from the ground up using first principles, trust must be established at all layers in the protocol stack starting with root.

Therefore, for Smart Contracts to be fully trusted and decentralized, they too must have a protocol to secure incoming and outgoing data (parameters, execution logic) such that the authenticity or validity can be proved in a deterministic manner. In light of this, there exists a deterministic way to contest and reclaim value that otherwise would have been lost.

A blockchain system must properly decentralize trust in all layers in the protocol

3. Vitalik Buterin Talk

Devcon4 Day 2, the future of Ethereum

Vitalik talked Ethereum 2.0 (Serenity), and the centerpiece of his talk was about a blockchain system called the “beacon chain”. The beacon chain is the “main chain” of the PoS system.

Devcon4 Day 2, 10:45 am, main stage

The beacon chain’s 3 core functions serve to:

  • Store and maintain the set of active, queued, and slashed validators
  • Process crosslinks
  • Process its own block-by-block consensus, as well as the finality gadget.

My notes for the talk:

Vitailk Buterin Speech

What this means for iCash is that we are on the right track. I’m getting confirmations from multiple sources, such as my in person meeting with Parity VP of Product, that Beacon chains and relay chains are the future of scalability in the near term.

The Smart Contracts of the future will be more likely written eWASM over Solidity.

eWasm is based off of WebAssembly(Wasm), a new Assembly standard being built for the web. The main advantage of using Wasm is performance (both speed and size).

Wasm is a kin to LLVM IR and Low Level Instruction Set Architectures (ISAs). It is an defined as an Abstract Syntax Tree (AST) which has a textual representation using s-expressions. As an AST it has some higher level semantics than pure hardware ISAs. Including functions and basic flow control. Wasm is not finished a specification and still in flux. This EIP suggest using a subset of wasm to allow us to tailor the semantics to Ethereum. This spec is designed so that the minimum amount of changes a wasm VM would need to be implemented. This should make existing implementations of wasm easy to integrate and provide a way to run Ethereum-flavored wasm on an unmodified wasm VM.

Source: EIP-140

The EIP first came out in May, since then it has been additionally pushed forward by Dr. Gavin Wood (Ethereum cofounder) and his team at Parity. eWASM will make Smart Contract development more secure, cheaper, faster to develop (being able to re-use existing libraries that have been around for 30 years), and most importantly, will improve runtime performance of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).

4. CTO Investor Dinner

I participated in an exclusive dinner for blockchain CTOs during Devcon 4.

There I led a discussion on iCash’s Proof of Trust Protocol, dispute arbitration and its importance in the ecosystem, how Security Tokens bring extreme value to user-based, top-down platforms built on blockchain, securities in blockchain, and more.

What went down

This event brought together the best and brightest of the space, to enjoy a night away from the hectic schedules of Devcon 4 attendees. It created an intimate setting where after every conversation, a CTO could walk away feeling like they could freely express their ideas and learn from each other, without the daily pressures of business and competition.

Devcon 4 CTO & Investor Dinner

Attendee thoughts

From left to right

Eugene Joo, CTO at Blockcrafters Capital

Zane Witherspoon, CTO at Dispatch Labs

It was really great to discuss the idea of network liveliness with the VP of Eng of Algorand and technical leads of different investment firms
~ Zane Witherspoon, CTO at Dispatch Labs

Makoto Inoue, CTO at Ethereum Name Service (ENS) and Kickback center left

Mesbah Sabur, Cofounder of Circularise center right

I talked with Makoto from ENS team and talked about its use case for IoT. The ENS team was interested in discussing my suggestion for IoT further since ENS team is concurrently looking for added use cases.
I am planning to reach out to Nick Johnson to talk about this. Circularize CEO and I had very interesting conversation on implementation of blockchain to build circular economy, and he is looking for blockchain network to develop it. He might come to Korea next year in March where a future relationship can be nurtured.
~ Hyungsuk Kang, Ethereum Foundation Research Scholar

5. Adoption and Partnerships

Algorand Meetup

Algorand is a first-of-its-kind technology that fulfills the promises of blockchain technology, through a platform that solves the “blockchain trilemma” — offering the decentralization, scalability and security necessary for both businesses and developers. They are often compared to Dfinity (a well-regarded decentralized and high throughput blockchain).

Meeting with their Algorand founder Silvia and VP of Engineering Naveed discussing the technical details of their project

Algorand sees themselves as a platform that can handle accounts and transactions as well as smart contracts. Their founder is an MIT professor who actually came up with the concept and methodology of their consensus 20 years ago. Algorand may be a public permission-less blockchain (that can be configured to be private permissioned) that can handle the scale and complexity that we require at iCash. We also agreed that projects like Algorand are always proactively looking for end use-case DApps and Protocols to be built on their platform.

Currently, they are in the infrastructure phase. They need desktop wallets, mobile DApps, DEX’s, Centralized Exchanges. Currently their testnet supports sending (signing) and receiving Algorand native currency transactions. It also supports their model of non-binding provably fair staking method of block production.

Conclusion

There will be ideas exchanged, and partnerships forged, that completely change the trajectory of the space as a whole. With many of the best and brightest attending this event, I’m grateful to celebrate and learn from this collection of amazing human beings as we move blockchain technology one step closer into the mainstream.


5 Key Takeaways from Devcon4 was originally published in iCash io on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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