RIF recently hosted an expert panel discussion on the topic Achieving Blockchain Interoperability. Below is the transcript of the event.
Panelists: Rootstock and RIF Co-Founder Gabriel Kurman, VP of product at Algorand Paul Riegle, Ethereum Swarm Developer Daniel Nagy, Director of Developer Relations at ETC Cooperative Stevan Lohja.
Moderator: IOVLabs Head of Research and Innovation, Diego Masini
Diego: Great, hello everyone! I’m happy to be here with you. I want to welcome you to our RIF expert panel so thank you for joining us today. The goal of this series is to discuss topics in the blockchain space with leading experts as you are, and know what you are working on, know how you are trying to solve some of the challenges of the blockchain technology and space. We also want to have a space to discuss different ideas, opinions and to share that knowledge with the community and promote learning and collaboration. Today we will be talking about Blockchain interoperability, why it is important and how it can be achieved, and for that we have invited Stevan Lohja, correct me if I’m mispronouncing your names. The director of developer relations at ETC cooperative. Daniel Nagy, Ethereum Swarm developer. Gabriel Kurman, RSK and RIF co-founder. And Paul Riegle VP of product at Algorand. I’d like to do a quick round of introductions, we can go in the same order if you want. Stevan, please.
Stevan: Sure, hello. Thank you for inviting me here as well, yes I’m Stevan Lohja I'm the director of developer relations at ETC cooperative. Most of our focus is on the E classic Ecosystem, mainly focused around infrastructure and things that happen around our ecosystem, and happy to be here. Diego: Great, happy to have you. Daniel?
Daniel: Hello, I’m Daniel Nagy. I’m one of the architects of the swarm project, which started as part of Ethereum, but now, is an independent project. Which aims to bring the decentralized store solutions to the blockchain space and interoperability comes up here because it would be very inefficient to have a separate storied solution for each and every blockchain, so our strategy is to make Swarm usable for decentralized applications no matter what- for applications that use different blockchain that are consuming storage. Thank you for inviting me.
Diego: Thank you Daniel. Gabriel?
Gabriel: Well thank you for having me as well, I’m super excited to be in this panel, I’m Gabriel Kurmanco-founder of RSK and many other projects in the space, and I believe interoperability is key in everything we are building. And I’m very excited to be sharing this panel with Daniel and Stevan, which represent 2 projects we have been closely working together and promoting the operability and looking forward to do the same with Algorand and Paul in the future so I think it’s a very interesting discussion I’m looking forward to today.
Diego: Great, thank you, and Paul?
Paul: Yah I’m Paul Riegle I’m head of product here at Algorand, this is a particularly interesting panel to us as a sort of layer 1 protocol developer, we believe in a multichain world and the kinds of capabilities and features we want to provide folks on Algorand, we want to be able to extend those wherever people want to go. So interoperability for us is one of our key pillars.
Diego: Awesome, and I will go last. My name is Diego Masini. I’m part of IOV labs. I’m currently leading the research and innovation team with Sergio Lerner. I’m also a researcher, I have been working on this space for more than a couple of years, and interoperability is also an important step forward in this technology. We can start with the questions, the first one is pretty obvious, I want to have, or to know your opinion on why is blockchain operability important, this is an open questions so the idea is for any of us, any of you sorry, to answer it, so if anyone wants to take the lead…
Paul: Yah I can start. At a high level I sort of feel like interoperability is the promise of Blockchain, so it’s a public permissionless platform which among other things allows people to do peer to peer transfers, allows composability across solutions and that’s all true in blockchain right now, but as long as it’s within each blockchain’s domain. And so interoperability is really just an extension of the core promise of blockchain and if you really believe in that core promise which I think everyone in this call does it’s something that we simply have to do to go forward. I also think it’s sort of interesting to think about what the definition of interoperability is, there are solutions that range from piggybacking on a consensus for a particular chain, to just moving assets around, to arbitrary message passing, to things like trigger smart contracts on other chains, all the way up to like, well I need to atomically use four different blockchains in order to accomplish whatever goal I have. And so we’ve gotta continue to go further, we gotta keep kinda broadening out what we think about interoperability.
Diego: Awesome, thanks Paul. Anyone else?
Gabriel: I can tell you why I think interoperability is super important, but before that, we need to try to understand what we are trying to accomplish with blockchain technology. I am super excited and I believe this technology can transform our financial system and then from their transform the rest of the internet and bring it back to what it was supposed to be in the first place: An open access network where information value can travel and is available to everyone and is not controlled by any government or any corporation. And I think interoperability will lead to decentralization and will lead to anti-fragility. Which will make this dream come true and give us the tools to actually be able to change something, we are trying to tackle issues that are so important for life on this planet and for human kind, but at the same time there is a very strong control group that doesn’t want anything to change and wants to maintain the status quo. So if we want decentralized storage to be the norm, if we want self-sovereign identity to be the norm, if we want an open financial system to be available to everyone we need make sure all this innovations furthers opens source, which is awesome and unique in our industry, so I think it’s a very important class that made this revolution only going forward, because if you cut one project or one idea someone else will take it and keep moving forward as Paul was saying. But also interoperability, which makes the whole ecosystem more antifragile. So I think that’s why it’s so important… it wouldn’t be so important if we were doing online games or any other thing, it would be fun but it won’t change our society or won’t have the potential. So in this in particular I think interoperability is really important.
Diego: Right, thanks Gabriel.
Stevan: I was about to say, interoperability is really important just as Paul said spot on its pursuing the promise of blockchain technology which is why we are all here is for distributed, decentralized, cross border payments and really these are trust minimized systems anyone can use anywhere around the world. And if you have a token or system whether it’s doing smart contracts or currency… if you’re going to go back to… I mean you can’t be isolated if you’re going to provide value to the world. You have to be able to get value to be accessible to everyone, value transferred to everyone. And if we think about crypto currencies and smart contracts like really being better forms of what we currently have today with the establishment systems with all these centralized systems, some are in different districts with different laws like we still have central places where they exchange currencies, exchange precious metals or exchange properties or sign and write agreements and as far as interoperability not everyone believes in the same things, not everyone wants this kind off system. Some people want- have different values, different fundamentals, and being able to respect everyone’s differences, and building for everyone to cross-communicate whether that’s your messages, tokens, smart contracts, everything like we want to have the internet of value, and bring all these technologies and all the societal value it could bring to everyone… we have to have interoperability. And this is how that vision scales.
Diego: Yah, Nice, thanks Stevan.
Daniel: So I can only second the previous speaks in that interoperability is very very important because already we have thriving ecosystem around multiple blockchains, and people have access on different blockchains and in order to provide a really resilient and antifragility for these applications in order to- good idea to be accessible to everyone and for different services being available for the largest possible audience, we do need interoperability.
Diego: Thank you Daniel. So my next question to you is how can we achieve this interoperability or what we discussed previously, and we can start again in the same order if you want, Paul? I think you are muted Paul. Paul: The pros and cons of mute. So I think first of all, making progress in this space is particularly hard, and it’s particularly hard because what it is you're trying to do. Interoperability requires many people to work together in order to achieve that interoperability. And it’s a spectrum, there is one side of the spectrum is everyone trusts you to do your own thing, other side is maybe there is a single entity or decentralized entity in the middle that’s trying to coordinate. But however you kinda skin it, there are a lot of people trying to do a lot of different things. I think that the way to make progress here is to, as Gabriel said earlier, what exactly are we trying to accomplish, with kinda of an end use case and end goal. And often work back from there. And that means that different groups are working on different pieces because this is the use case that is important to this group, this is the use case that’s important to the other group. For example, one of the things on- and maybe I’ll talk a lot about it later a little bit but, one of the things that were focused on, was a layer 1 protocol. And so, when we think about interoperability, we think about it in two ways; 1 you got to enable a group of people to sort of create a connective tissue, connective fiber… but 2 the protocol itself should have an ability to effectively provide the state synchronization from the blockchain. That should be coming from protocol itself. And so I think- I guess to net that out, to make progress here and to achieve this blockchain interoperability, it’s going to take use cases and it’s going to take each kinda of layer in the stack, really focusing on how can they help the overall goal, and how can they make it less trusted, more decentralized and easier to do.
Diego: Right, thank you. Gabriel?
Gabriel: Well, I was thinking that actually when RSK was created; it had interoperability as a core value so the reason why we created RSK is because we wanted to have the security of the bitcoin network with the programmability and functionality of solidity smart contracts on Ethereum. So this is the reason why we created RSK, we always thought in building it in a way that is fully compatible with the EVM, so the ecosystem of project and solution working on Ethereum could also benefit and use a bitcoin infrastructure seamlessly, and I think- I mean we’ve been able to achieve already several interesting use cases so far, interoperability, we’ve been working with the swarm project for many years and the whole idea is the RIF storage layer of libraries will interoperate directly with Swarm, and with IPFS and with other decentralized storage platforms. The idea is to make the life of developers as easy as possible and users, so they can store their reputation and decentralized self-sovereign ID, on any network that they want, and then the different networks will compete in terms of services, decentralization, censorship resistance and cost and why not we should also let you know, the cloud providers, traditional cloud providers also to compete and serve these users. We’ve also been working with Ethereum classic team, we’ve put out their service the universal merge mining solution when ETC started having all the security breaches and 51% attacks to enable them to benefit from the merge mining that RSK already has from the bitcoin community and the mining pools. So at the end we- we didn’t move forward and they decided a simpler easy to implement solution, but the relationship and the discussion was very constructive and we really appreciate that. I think it’s very important as we said before if we work together, we can protect ourselves and make the whole ecosystem more antifragile. Also today, we have an important exclusive announcement, just randomly, it was announced today that the Avee project is also making their service available and integrating with RSK. So this adds up to the chain-link project that already integrated link through the RSK bridge, with Ethereum to RSK and Maker-Dao with DAI, so it’s quite amazing and super excited to see projects, I mean flagship projects from the DEFI space, making sure their service is available in multiple platforms. In Ethereum classic, in RSK, Ethereum 1, Ethereum 2, Algorand why not? And the important thing here is: How we can achieve massive options and serve those billions of users that are highly underserved by the traditional system. So I think all infrastructure layer 1 projects should encourage interoperability to make sure that those users are served the best and as soon as possible.
Paul: Totally agree. And congrats Gabriel, on the project.
Gabriel: Yah thanks, thanks. To the whole team I mean it’s an amazing joint effort for many people in the community involved in this integration.
Diego: Thanks Gaby. Eh, Stevan?
Stevan: Yah achieving Blockchain interoperability it all comes down to collaboration and doing things and partnering based on shared infrastructure. For example, if there is another chain has- you know cuz a lot of people like I know RSK has the- is a good example of the bitcoin merged mining solution for proof of work because it’s secure. There is another chain they can outsource for security. Or if your chain doesn’t have smart contract functionality you could make the call or change the state to another blockchain to return the results of that. So collaborating in a sense where you can be on Ethereum Classic, RSK, or Etherium but you can still access all the features in all these other chains while being on your chain. And I think it’s all healthy for each ecosystem, it’s a win win for everybody. Or you see, even Swarm, they are doing their decentralized storage, ok well a lot of other layer 1 blockchains don’t necessarily have decentralized storage, so what can they do? They can outsource that service to another chain or other chains outsource to other things to-uh- where a lot of the layer 1s would be kinda like your common management mark or depending on how you do it, but it’s all about clarity and shared infrastructure, and your basically sharing the values and features across all these different chains, and the only way that happens in through collaboration. Whether that’s with other core development teams between different applications that are being built on there- uh, a lot of it has been happening more and more, but it all comes down to collaborating.
Diego: Yah. Thanks Stevan. Daniel?
Daniel: So I believe that interoperability is not really binary whether we don’t have it or we have it, I think interoperability is evolving so, just to give it a historic perspective, I think 7 or maybe 8 years ago my current proposed atomic swaps, I think that was the first interoperability solution between blockchains and its been used ever since, first between bitcoin and litecoin and now with this this basically, between any two blockchains with their swaps you can do atomic swaps, so that’s where it starts, and where it ends… well that I don’t know, but hopefully we will have extraction where the particular blockchain that is being used at the moment, can be even abstracted away. So for example, we can have tokens that can live in multiple blockchains so you open them in one, and then you can open them in the other, that’s a simple example. Where the end user only knows they have a token no matter what blockchain they happen to be using. So I think that achieving interoperability between blockchains is really a process, and we are going to see multiple interoperability very soon. For example, one very promising development that is being long anticipated is the Ethereum to the Bitcoin chain, which will eventually turn into the the consensus layer with Ethereum 1, so Ethereum 1 will be mining a proof of work behind and use the Ethereum 2 blockchain as a consensus layer and… so these kind off transitions when a blockchain with all its value can simply shift such an important piece as the consensus protocol, right now its super hard and… I mean Ethereum is doing pioneering work in this, but I think that in the future the way blockchain solutions evolve will be something similar in that some interoperability solution will help people migrate their balances and contract states and eventually this will be to some extent [obstructed audio]
Diego: Great, thank you Daniel. I think we already kind of answered part of the next question, but I would like to know what aspects are of interest to all of you regarding interoperability, and in which- or what parts are you trying to tackle currently in the projects you are working on. We can start in a different order, so I would like to hear from Daniel, if you want to go first, that’s not a problem.
Gabriel: I want to hear about the bus token.
Daniel: Yes, so uh. Indeed, the most important interoperability challenge for us is having the same tokens living in multiple blockchains, precisely because Swarm has basically pivoted to use its own token for a storage incentive instead of using Ether, precisely as an interoperability enhancing move. Which means that as soon as we have reliable bridges between Blockchains such as Ethereum Classic or RSK, it will be possible to use the same bus token even though the client happens to be on a different blockchain because it can be blocked and unblocked seamlessly. So this is the big interoperability challenge that we are very much looking forward to tackling, in cooperation with those present here, and I think that it will also alleviate some of the scaling things that blockchains are currently experiencing. So I think that having multi chain tokens is a very good step forward and evolution of interoperability and a huge step forward.
Diego: Awesome, thanks. I don’t know who wants to go next?
Gabriel: I can mention two other projects that- on top of the ones that I mentioned before that the community- the RSK and RIF community are working on. First of all the RSK infrastructure framework or RIFF has been conceived as fully blockchain agnostic. So the idea is that these services will operate on top of RSK, Ethereum, Ethereum classic, Algorand, any other project- because that’s how it’s been conceived. And for that reason when we created the RNS, the RSK name service, it was the first one to be blockchain- multi blockchain. So you could resolve with your Diego dot RSK domain, any blockchain address. So those were not the first approaches to interoperability, and the other one- this the lumino network that from inception was thought to be a second layer that could interact with Radden, the Lyte network and any other second layer of chain- payment layer. So the idea is to make life super easy for a user, that can start a payment in the lyte network and get someone on the other end to receive Dyes or to receive dollar and chain or any other stable coin or non-stable coin or token. Again as we said before; interoperability just makes the life of the users so easy that I think we should pursue it from a security standpoint as we discussed before for antifragility and decentralization, and from a user standpoint so they can use blockchain technology without the complexity of it, in the same way that we use the regular internet today without knowing what layers are talking to each other on the back hand.
Diego: Yep great, thank you
Paul: yah so we got a couple of things- categories and stuff going on. You know one I’d say is around sort of standards and one example of that is the clarity language that were working on with clock-stack as an open source smart contract language, another one is a company called Reach is doing a bunch of work on Algorand and also on Ethereum, where they built a smart contract language that has some form of verification and static verification built in. You write in Reach, it then compiles it down into both an Ethereum smart contract and an Algorand Smart contract. So you write once, deploy in many. And what's cool about that is their actually abstracting a way- there is many things that are cool about it, one of the things that is cool about it is they are extracting sort of the underlining blockchain complexity, I don’t have to think about one blockchain creates assets vs another blockchain creates assets, I simply create a asset in Reach and then the Reach compiler figures out how to do it on each blockchain so that’s an example of a cool project that we’ve got going on. We’ve got a lot of sort of asset based use cases, so assets that exist on Ethereum, that exist on Algorand, and there are many different ways that people are accomplishing that from centralized bridges to separate treasuries, to blended tokens, and then the final one that were working on ourselves is this concept of allowing our blockchains to attest to the state of our blockchain. So I don’t need to trust an intermediator, I don’t need to trust a group of people, the blockchain itself will say here is my state as off block Y, and be cryptographically provable, so we can say 90% of the stake of our system has agreed that this is the stake, and its provable and not fakeable. So we feel like that is a really really interesting project for moving sort of core interoperability forward and pushing some of that onus down into the layer 1 project itself to make it easier for those building on top.
Diego: Yah that sounds really awesome. I will check that in the coming days. Thanks Paul. Stevan?
Stevan: So we are still developing our roadmap for Ethereum classic, that’s some of the things that are on the table that we are looking forward to as we partnered with ETC cooperative IOHP. Partnered to test a lot of innovations on the new test node. But basically were very supportive of [multiple clients] and non-interactive proof works. And I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the key EVM but just things that are more interoperable and more efficient ways of proving work on other chains and being able to submit changes to the state between changes which are interoperable. ET Cooperative in particular also works with connects, connects to green state channels DTC, which makes changing the state more efficient. Also when it comes to side chain solutions I think that is going to help a lot. But yah we think we are going to have a lot of cool side chain stuff coming up hopefully sometime next year.
Diego: Great great, lot of cool things happening and different angles tackling the interoperability problem, so very excited to see how this ends in a couple of years. We are halfway out of time, so probably I will skip a couple of questions so we can have room for the more important ones. But I have this open question for anyone that wants to have it and we don’t need to do the whole round. Do you think– probably this is true but there are still bigger problems like the ones that we are just discussing here. We already know the direction to take, the use case we want to solve, but are there any big problems that we are still considering an unsolved problem that needs some research or experimentation? Daniel?
Daniel: So I think that the biggest one is trust plus fully decentralized bi-directional bridges. So currently Ethereum and Ethereum 2 are bridged only one way, so you can deposit one in the- Ethereum 1 and then use them in etherium 2 but the reverse has not yet been achieved because- and even though, that their we have the blockchain that was specifically designed for this purpose, and when we don’t have that then we begin, for example two different EVMs exchange, it's kind of the holy grail to have bi-directional bridging fully decentralized and fully interoperable, I think by far that’s the biggest problem that we have and we have yet to solve.
Paul: I'll just chime in that I agree in that- obviously I’m biased from where I sit in the stack, but I agree and I think that the onus is on the layer 1 protocols to figure it out.
Gabriel: I cannot say much about it but I can tell you that we are working on it. But I- so tinkle problem but I think one of the big problems that we need to solve to reach massive option is the complexity of the gas in different blockchains. Not talking about the amount which can also be a problem and it’s been a problem in some layer 1 blockchains, but the fact that for a user that doesn’t know what blockchain is, they have the complexity of paying with one currency and the need for the “gas”. And I drift we are working on enveloping solution which is an improvement of the work zeppelin team has been doing in the past, which hopefully will be announced very soon and will let users to pay directly with whatever token they are using. Their transactions and the transaction fees, and I think this is very interesting in this conversation because we are planning to deploy it on RSK and make it available on Etherium as well, probably we should talk with Ethereum classic and do the same with you guys, it’s a very interesting technology because it doesn’t need to change the contract so it’s available for every contract that’s already in existence. So there's gonna be news about that soon I'm sure. I wish to discuss Paul also if it makes sense for Algorand I think it’s not fully EVM compatible but maybe we can-
Paul: That’s ok we don’t have an EVM. We have a different model so yah absolutely, I would love to hear about that.
Diego: Stev I see your screen completely green, I don’t know if it’s by accident or if its on purpose? And I think you are muted.
Gabriel: I think there is a problem with the camera probably, it goes green and comes now.
Stevan: Is it back now?
Diego: No, you’re still green.
Stevan: I'll turn it off, someone tried to call me so I maybe I'm not so- um yeah so, yah one of the big problems I think is trust minimization, because we want to do things in the most trustless ways possible because that’s why we are here in the first place. It’s to have trust minimized solutions. People want more privacy, more decentralization, and while we can be interoperable in the technical perspective like being able to submit a solidity code on this blockchain or transfer it to this blockchain. I guess- What about government interoperability, because I spoke to some people who work in that space and they don’t understand, they can’t comprehend. And say, well that’s an important place and let's say we have all this traditional finance, how do we get them to interoperate with us? Cuz I would argue that they have almost all the users to this day, and while we have all these trust minimized solutions, how can we bring those types of people into our space and interoperate with us. So- it also creates more of a better relationship between us cyberpunks and traditional systems, but I think there is probably a lot of shared infrastructure that we could all create a lot of value on. That’s probably a bigger rabbit hole, something to think about.
Gabriel: Diego can I add something to what Stevan said? Because I completely agree, we’ve been spending a lot of time with central banks as part of RSK enterprise and offering them the whole suite of solutions available in the public blockchain to be deployed on an enterprise of private solution, and pushing forward for the use of open source technology for the CBDCs, the central bank’s digital currencies and make sure that those solutions are interoperable with the public blockchains and Stevan was saying. And I have to tell you that I see the open blockchains much more open, the communities in working with interoperability, and it’s the cbbcs and the central banks that are more reluctant because they come from a different background and different paradigm. And its resembles so much to me the internet vs internet discussions from the early days, and I think maybe the lack of vision for interoperability, it might be one of the main reasons that will end up dooming this cbbcs or enterprise of private solutions because they want to protect whatever they think they have from the rest instead of sharing and building together.
Paul: Hey Gabriel do you think that- sorry to go off script here- do you think that- so let’s say this world occurs where you got many CBDCs, they are all running either private chain or private chain with some sort of bridge output but for the most part it's walled off. Do you think that will actually kill interoperability? Or do you think it will simply be- like hey we've moved the traditional finance into this sort off, mostly walled garden, but there is still this sort of more decentralized finance or open finance underneath it. So the interoperability is still there, it just sort of.. slows down when it comes to the more governmental solutions.
Gabriel: So it’s very difficult to do forward looking, and try to anticipate the future, especially with the speed at which everything is evolving, but every time I'm trying to predict what’s happening, I go back to the user. And – I mean whatever- the technology that we will end up using, is whatever is best for the user. So if the user will have a wallet, where he or she can interact with any crypto asset, and requests a loan and put their capita to work, and suddenly these applications does not interact with a certain CBDC, well it’s going to be impossible for that CBDC to replicate the amount of innovation that is happening in the open blockchain. So probably that cbbc will die. And central banks will see it once, twice and then “ok I need to be part of the norm”. So that will make those CBDCs interoperable, because they want to see them survive. And then the user will have multiple assets in a wallet and say why should I keep a balance in argentine pesos when they are defacing every day? Why should I keep US dollars or any other fiat currency or stable coin, so it’s- I think the user will understand, will decide to use different assets and also different networks for different use cases. So maybe I'm paying for the coffee and I will do it with a lighting network or Radden or RSK or Algorand, and then I'm buying a house or putting a treasury for my inheritance, and then I will decide to use bitcoin. People will understand, but it's very important that we go through this transition, which is the tricky time, where users are not tech savvy, where the technology is not very user friendly, and where regulations are still very strong. That I don’t know in the middle, but in the long term for easier for em.
Diego: Right, it was a great point; it was actually one of my questions, so it’s nice to see that it appears organically. So one more and I will see if we can have time for another one. Do you think we are in a period of time- in a moment that it is good to start having standards for interoperability, or do you think it’s better to still have some anti- or free time without constraints to continue exploring and doing innovation? Because when something standard dies, it’s kinda harder to kind of break the standard.
Paul: Yah my perspective on this is the standard vs the innovation definitely competitive tension there, but I actually- I don’t think they are mutually exclusive. As with a lot of things in this world, you need both of those sides, really coming at each other, you need smart, passionate people who are determined to build what they wanna do and to push their vision forward. You need both the standard people and the innovative people doing their thing. And the fact is standards are only going to be standards if they are good. If- I think Gabriel said this about the CBDC, if it’s not hitting the need, it’s going to die out. And so you need people trying to standardize and continually trying to pull the community into a critical mass, and you also need people trying to innovate and getting a better place for people to critical mass around. So, it's kind of a non-answer but I think you gotta have both, and both sides gotta be passionate about what they are doing and that’s the way you eventually make the progress you want to make.
Diego: I understand, yep. It’s like a balance in a sense.
Paul: For sure, no one is doing standards, you're going to get amazing innovation but there are a hundred-thousand different ways to do it right? And if people are only doing standards you’re not going to get any innovation and you’re going to do this… so it’s gotta be a symbiotic relationship climbing up the ladder together.
Diego: I don’t know if anyone else wants to add something to that or should I jump to-
Stevan: Sure… so standardization through collaborating with other development teams through the years too, I think one of the things is, people buy- when you develop a solution that lets say is a API solution example, people use different protocols and API standards for their project, and when you do that I would say, especially for developers like you really buy into your API. Like that’s your connectivity to the blockchain stuff and someone else may come to you and say, “hey what if you do it this way”? But then you're also asking them to change the entire way they interact with their network. But what we can do is instead of asking people to change differently, you could say “hey what's the underlying protocol your using to communicate with your blockchain” so, lets just build around that and then anyone who- whether its libraries, like web 3, like as long as your- if your building around JSON-RPC , and you know your talking to the same EVM, there is a lot of ways you could collaborate there. So I think when you have that symbiotic relationship of innovation and standards, if you have the same fundamentals, you're just going to keep going. And in the blockchain space, I feel like I’ll always be the wild rep, less for standards, cuz no one is stopping anyone from creating things better, and if everything is open source, you have millions of people in the world that are going to have thousand times ways of making things better. So I feel that the improvement- that the room for improvement is never ending in this space. That’s what I think you know, because Crypto and decentralized solutions and open source, you’ve seen a lot of central banks and other companies they try to buy into these private solutions, but then they will stop that progress because they are like “The public blockchain space it’s got all the brains, all the energy there, that’s where everyone wants to contribute. And we have all the incentive mechanisms for that. We have a token- all this other stuff, so there is just so much value and so much brain power getting pumped in. I don’t know if we are ever going to be locked in, but we will certainly have whatever the market- has the majority market share, I even think that will continue to be improved. And especially because we have backwards compatibility and all these other things that we think of, so you know you could come out with a new standard, but guess what? Whatever you are doing before, if we update things you'll continue to be able to use all your systems. All your smart contracts, everything. So we were able to port everything, were able to create something that breaks but creates solutions to put everything else together, and someone else is going to come out and “I got an even better way to do it”, is it backwards compatible? Even better.
Diego: Great, thanks Stevan. Daniel, I don’t know if you want to add something?
Daniel: Uh yah so I think that if we look at how standard emerged, basically all of our standards are kinda emergent. There is no compulsion, everything is open source and everything is voluntary. So the way standards emerge is that somebody who develops a good solution, writes itself as a standard proposal and if others find it useful they start using it. And you have a standard suddenly. So I think that standards they- especially in our space, are born out of innovation and are really well written- and uh proposals are going to get followed and we have our standards. So I don’t think it should be that it should be a conscience decision that- or a dilemma that “oh I innovate, or adhere to the standard” if the standard is good enough that it can accommodate your innovation than your better off following it because there are more tools and more libraries that are at your disposal and more work than by others in general. But if there’s nothing in the standard that would cover your use case then we'll just break the standard and hope that’s good enough for others to know. So I think that, at least that was my experience with the ERC process, the Etherium movement process. If you write up something others find useful, and do the diplomacy, ask around what other projects might find objectionable… so there is some of that, before the standard gets accepted. But if you kinda look around and talk to people and accommodate everybody’s needs then you might end up with a standard that will be useful and be happy.
Gabriel: Diego, something that I would like to add related to this… so we have a problem in the space that we don’t have enough developers. The standards held to make these technologies easier for new developers to join and adopt this, but we still have millions of Java developers in the world that do not know how to program smart contracts or blockchain technologies. So I think also compilers as Paul was describing before, will be key to make these technologies easier to absorb by new developers and this is the only way we can really have an impact in the world. If we can embrace in the next couple of years millions of developers, that are currently outside the blockchain space with standards and compilers that let them just with the current skill set that they have, be able to contribute to the space, and I know you Diego and Sergio have been discussing this, how to expand this tool kit.
Diego: Yes, exactly… yep, yah. But I agree with all of you when you said that the standards will emerge, and it will not be an issue, because the community will follow the one that is better, and if it does not work a new one will appear. I like that spirit in this ecosystem.
Gabriel: Like natural selection.
Diego: Exactly, exactly, yep yah. We are almost done, I will do one more, and then we can go to the final thoughts. Do you think there is a tradeoff between security and usability, when designing an interoperable solution or trying to make a design that wasn’t conceived as interoperable, to make it interoperable?
Paul: So I think there are a couple things. I really think that there- particularly in this particular conversation of interoperability; there is a difference between sort of complexity or usability, for the underlining of the structure providers and the complexity and usability for the end users. Generally and this is with some caveats, I’m ok with that complexity under the hood as long as you can make that user experience nice and easy. Of course it does come with some caveats, complexity does breed vulnerability, so you know if– you can’t think of these back end solutions which is a problem I think we have in the industry right now, these back end solutions are thought of as: write it fast, get it to market, I gotta be first… and that’s where all the complexity lies which means they’re all-… not all, that’s not a fair statement, but many of them, aren’t able to actually handle the- what they were built to do, because they were built fast to get to the market. And I know that it’s sort of at odds with the innovation picks in the market, but I really think that we need to start taking more- taking a little more time with these back end solutions. And I guess I'm thinking a little bit more like, just DeFi here and not overall interoperability. I know many of the folks on this call took their time and did it the right way. The second problem that complexity on the back end is: the complexity, the way it leaks through to the end user is not for additional complexity for the end user, but it creates a need for trust. There is so much complexity on this back end, I can’t figure out what’s going on, so I have to just assume that it’s doing its job, and here it's telling me it's doing its job, and I have other people telling me it's doing its job. So I’ll just trust it. And I think that’s when you can get into some- not as great situations because it’s so complex you can’t actually verify what’s going on. So I guess I took one position and I put a lot of caveats on there in terms of the tradeoffs. I think- I will say just to throw this disruptor in with 2 minutes left, I think that maintainability, I think it a property that is as important as security in usability, the fragility of some of the solutions that are out there in terms of when one chain changes or the other chain changes. How quickly can these solutions adapt? How do they adapt? And how quickly do they adapt and make sure they can continue talking to the sides that need to talk to. And I think that’s one that’s probably one that is not talked about as much, but can be equally important in terms of long term usage of these interoperability solutions.
Diego: Great, I don’t know if anyone else wants to add to all that.
Stevan: I can go, what Paul said about maintainability , like that’s definitely a security concern because if the protocol has a bug, that bug has to be addressed in the source code and has to be released as- hopefully as soon as possible and tested as possible to all the end users. For example in Etherium we had the network split because of an eco-etherium bug. And the dev team doesn’t have too many people on it, and you need protocol developers on hand and to basically fix bugs in the network. And also when it comes to security and usability- like the security is very complex, and the usability as far as- you know you wanna get more developers on board. I think that’s going to happen in the next few years, because more and more people are getting on board, like we have hyper-ledger phase 2 which- is written in java, and we think that’s a strategic position because there is a lot of Java developers out there, and I was talking to some principal former developers from Amazon and Google. People who have absolutely- just a few months ago they absolutely never even bothered to look at blockchain, which is just their experience, and they are very skilled people. And you talk about Block-headers- all this other stuff, you kinda- then they kinda get zoned out because they are used to the traditional environment, but then you tell them like “hey this is the service, and you can interface it with JSON-RPC” and then they are like “Oh I get the whole thing now! I can just run it and interact with it, where is the user guide”. Right, there you go, now I can build on blockchain. So sometimes it comes to the communication to get more developers to start building and eventually they start to get into the fray and whatever they don’t have they will try to interoperate- through interoperable solutions and also like when we think about security, are we open to saying that a centralized solution as security or decentralized solution as security. I would argue both, but depends on what the users want, and I would say more and more users want the peer to peer because of the underlying fundamentals. And we could definitely do a better job with usability because when we think about- you know when bitcoin first came out, and it’s still here today, but I would say most people they see that “hash” of their address and they get very scared, they probably don’t even look at their bank account numbers like something that they are never use too. And one time I talked to a retired fire fighter, absolutely not technical, he is absolutely not technical at all and he’s like this blockchain stuff, he agrees with the philosophy of it but he is scared of it because he doesn’t know how to use any of it. And my grandmother can’t even use an iphone, so how do we create usability to those people in a secure way? And in my opinion, I think a lot of centralized solutions are going to provide to all those people, like when we think about exchanges. You know exchanges offer- you could say security or not security, but they are offering a reasonable amount of security for people who don’t know how to do things in a more decentralized fashion. Maybe they don’t know how to store their key store file, or their private keys, so there's- I don’t know, I’d say security is kind of a spectrum and I would say the centralization and decentralization have their own security aspects, but it’s always going to be a spectrum. And it even comes with interoperability, interoperability like, yah we could wrap tokens in a decentralized manner but you know your exchange has its centralized exchange and you don’t even have to interact with the smart contract on chain or set gas you can just click the transfer button and it flips the token, but the whole back end is complex you just completely hadn’t come up. That's kinda my thoughts on that.
Diego: Great, thanks Stevan. We are all already past 2 minutes from the original time. So, we can end here or we can do a round of final thoughts, if you have the time, I will leave it up to you.
Diego: Yep, yep. I agree with you Gabriel, Paul, Daniel, any final thought on this topic?
Paul: No final thoughts for me other than I appreciate you for having me, and appreciate the other folks on the panel for the good discussion.
Diego: Great, Daniel?
Daniel: Well again, thank you very much for having me and I really enjoyed this discussion as well. And as a final thought, I might add that interoperability I think is intimately linked too scalability. Because different solutions reach different people and if we want to reach all of them, then interoperability is the only way. Stevan: Just a last thought, I guess a lot of us are not meeting, we are not necessarily going on meet-ups and we are not necessarily- um… you know sometimes conferences is when we see a lot of our partners or something like that during covid times, when it comes- when you want to have interoperability and collaboration, if you see a project, just reach out to them and ask them for a sit down with coffee. Just get conversations going because while we're all cooped up from lockdown, or some of us are locked inside now, but we have air-phones, we can still have these conversations going with one another. And you know that’s how- that’s one of the ways we can all collaborate.
Diego: Yes, I agree on that. So thank you very much for having me here with you, I learned a lot, and I enjoyed this time discussing this topic. So hope to see you and too collaborate with you in the future. Bye guys!