Care of DFINITY I was privileged to attend the Web 3 Summit in Berlin last year. While there I interviewed Aeron Buchanan, the Executive Vice President of the Web 3 Foundation and Gavin Wood, Founder of Ethereum, Parity, and the Web 3 Foundation. These guys are two of the individuals that launched the programmable blockchain revolution and these interviews plot a course from the founding of Ethereum to their vision of the decentralized web and give us a trajectory beyond.
A quick production note. These interviews were filmed in the style of the other filmed interviews on The Third Web, unfortunately the footage was lost to a dead Macbook leaving only the audio. As I usually cut myself out of the filmed interviews my contribution is less geared for production.
Visit https://web3.foundation/ , https://www.parity.io/ for more information
- Executive vice president of Web 3 Foundation
- Masters in Computer science with a focus on engineering at Oxford
- Worked in film
- Then completed a PHD in computer vision
- Became algorythm designer
Tell us about your time at Ethereum
- Ethereum was initial exciting
- Went from raising interest to actually delivering and things changed a lot
- Aareon ran most of EthDev
- Very stressful
Was Ming Chan hard to work with?
- Came later
- Eventually delivery of Ethereum was on course.
- A CEO or COO type role was needed.
- Eth foundation was not doing much at the time.
- The plan was to transition EthDev responsibilities to foundation
- After a worldwide search Vitalik chose Ming Chan
- Aeron transitioned out shortly thereafter
Web 3 Foundation
- Drives the development and deployment of polkadot.
- Parity is building the rust implementation
- The runtime of polkadot is Parity’s Substrate.
What is Web 3?
- Web 3 is different things to different people.
- To The Web 3 foundation Web 3 is the decentralized web.
- The Web 3 foundation aims to map out and build the technologies needed.
This seems very blockchain focussed
- Yes, and polkadot is blockchain platform
- The blockchain platform part is only part.
- There needs to be a large number of other components to build the decentralized web
How do you build decentralised messaging and storage?
- We are leaving that to others like IPFS.
- Proof of replication is something that people who looked at proof of storage instead of proof of work overlooked.
- Whisper and Secure scuttlebutt are interesting options
- Coordination can happen on the blockchain but messaging on the blockchain is a non-starter.
When will all this stuff come together to make a usable platform?
- We are not yet at a stage of maturity.
- The technologists building all of this know we are not at the end yet.
- We started with scripting
- Moved to scalability, reputation, messaging & everything else. We are not yet through the checklist.
- Polkadot takes us 95% of the way to scalability
- The next one is reputation. No clear solution yet.
Whats the challenge with reputation?
- Proposals look at the result rather than the approach.
- Reputation is different in different contexts.
- There must not be an originator. Reputation must be decentralised.
- Founded Ethereum
- Founded Parity
- Founded Web 3 Foundation
- Lead of Polkadot
You are also working on something called Substrate . . .
- Parity’s gift to the blockchain building community.
- Geared to creating new chains easily.
- A turbocharger for blockchain development.
- Moduralized toolkit.
- PoS mechanisms, DAOs, balances, governance & voting mechanisms.
- It is as if departments of a nation state. Parity are building the templated for those departments.
- The biggest advancement is the ability to upgrade itself
- Based on WebAssembly
- Run as a blockchain engine
- The blockchain’s code under substrate is compiled into Wasm.
How do you upgrade?
- There is a state transition function that describes how the ledger changes from one block to another.
- In the past it only applied to smart contracts and balances
- In Substrate the blockchain stores consensus information and a blob of Wasm code that stores the blockchain protocol.
- The transition function uses this to determine how transition should occur.
- The blob can alter everything and the blob itself can be updated.
What is the importance of these kind of systems for defending personal freedom?
- When the internet began, the user was free. – No man born into chains.
- This is no longer the case. Today we need to know who, why and how we are being controlled or manipulated.
- We know the who – Corporate interests.
- The why is more complicated – to make more money, but increasingly to capture more data for other purposes – learning, prediction, targeted advertising, memetic feedback loops, political manipulation.
How do you prevent that?
- Think how are they doing this?
- It comes down to centralization
- The fewer organisations that are used to access data and the less the individual control, the more they are able to control.
- We avoid this by reducing our exposure to these central points of control.
- We live in an economic world. This is fine on an individual level, but bad on a national scale.
- We need to restrict nexuses of power and make sure that power is transparent.
- This is what we are trying to engineer with these components of Web 3