Hashing It Out
Hashing It Out

Episode 64 · 2 years ago

Hashing It Out #64 – Plasma – Kelvin Fichter

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

If you know the show, you know we are very keen to see Plasma implemented as a technology. To discuss the progress in the past year, we have the great pleasure of bringing on Kelvin Fichter, former Plasma researcher with OmiseGo and the Plasma Group. We talk about the advancements made, and how the specification is gradually coalescing into a singular vision. We also get into some more heady topics such as the nature of trust in society and the role language in trusting someone.

Links:
– Kelvin’s Twitter

Entering work. Welcome to hashing it out, a podcast where we talked to the tech innovators behind blocked in infrastructure and decentralized networks. We dive into the weeds to get at why and how people build this technology the problems they face along the way. Come listen and learn from the best in the business so you can join their ranks. Welcome back everyone, to hashing it out. As always, I'm your trustee host, Dr Corey Petty, with My Trustee Cohost, Colin couchher. Say Hello everybody calling. Hello, everybody calling Nice. Today today we've got you going Nice. Well, I got to stop. Okay, my bad. Yeah, today you've got Kevin Fisher, a former plasma developer, now moving on to Calvin. Sorry, I said it right the part before we started to Calvin Fisher, former plasma developer, a corfelt bags, a plasma developer, now moving on to something else which will probably talk about during this interview. Calvin, why don't you give us a quick introduction as to kind of like I got into the space up and then where you're at now. Cool. Sure, so I got into the space a while ago, I think twenty sixteen, so not not too early but not too late, and I actually met someone who used to work for the theorem foundation at a hackathon in Berlin, and it was kind of random we were basically I was born in Germany but I unfortunately don't speak much German, but we were the only two people at this hackathon who did not speak much German. Happened to be on the same team together and I didn't know that this person had anything to do with the theoryum. I'd seen the project before but hadn't really looked into it too much, and we worked on a interesting mini smart contract project together and I think we got second place or something, and that really kind of spurred my interest and kind of through that connection, was introduced to a couple other people and ended up meeting the ORACLEIS team. I think they're not. I don't know if they're called orclies anymore. I think they might be. It's provable now, but I ended up working for them for for a couple months, going back to school, and then keep kept kept up with the space and then eventually I was offered an interesting opportunity to go to Thailand to work with Omsako on their plasma development. So mainly I was really interested on the resource side of things and at that point in time, this was the end of two thousand and seventeen and beginning of two thousand and eighteen, plasma still hadn't really been fleshed out very thoroughly and they were just starting to build out the first implementation. So there was plasma VP. I think that was the only thing that even existed at a hint of time. So so what you say? You got into the Theorem of space of two thousand and sixteen. What is your experience prior to that? What made you applied to this hackathon where? What's your background and why would plasma be a good fit for what you were what the background is? My background was actually pretty unrelated. So I at that point in time I was working at a coal fire power plant in the UK. It's very strange, but they there's a power plant. They had a software engineering division and so I was working on actually renewables, renewables inside of a coal fired power plant. Forty sure, but it was it was pretty random. I just had a...

...thing for hackathons at this point in time. So I would go to as many hackathons as I possibly could and really just to see what kind of opportunities are out there and I'd read the White Paper before I'd gone. I went to the specific acathon. So it was kind of on my mind, but it was kind of a vague interest, maybe fuel probably a little bit at the beginning by the idea of making a lot of money on it. But eventually it seemed like such a step up from what I'd previously seen in the currency space that it struck me as something sufficiently novel. I could say that I remember. I remember. You may not remember this, but I introduced you or watched them watch the panel and then led our host at the the like the plasma group at Devcon for and I remember at that point in time there was already kind of a myriad of different types of plasmas and so on and so forth and where things were going and my mind was a bit murky. We talked about kind of that state of plasma, you're involvement, and then where we are now? Yeah, for sure. So I think it's important to look at the history of this thing to kind of understand where that murkiness came from. When, when the plasma paper was first published, it was the paper itself isn't very clear about what plasma is supposed to be. It's kind of a high level idea of how you could maybe do certain things and it from my understanding, it was supposed to be a sort of block chain, of FID version of lightning, or payment channels, at least to start. So basically, if you take a payment channel and then you say, okay, what if we want to add multiple participants and then we want to all of a sudden, at a consense, this mechanism on top and then at a certain point you get you get plasma in the middle. So it hadn't really been developed at that point in time and then they soon, soon after the paper was release, people started thinking about how you could actually build one of these chains, because it the paper described it as a framework and so there was no code or there was no details about how you would build something like this. So all of a sudden you get, you know, the first iteration of plasma, which was that plasma VP, and you start to have this weird thing. I think it came out of the fact that plasma VP was was named as its own thing that every single time somebody came up with a construction that kind of generally fit within the realm of plasma. So within this framework that the original paper had described, you'd get a completely new name, even though in a lot of ways these different constructions are very similar. They're sort of there's certain fundamental, fundamental differences between them, but they share a lot of the underlying architecture. It's almost like saying, like every every blockchain network was called blockchains something. It's a part right, yeah, exactly, as instead of really what I was looking for the whole time was what if we can just have something that we call plasma and then kind of have a way to describe these different mechanisms, but it's never you know, it's not plasma VP and plasma cash and plasma whatever and all these different things, but just, you know, plasma, but with this feature added to it, right, and it was it was really hard to break through that for a long time, just because we had, I don't know, there must have been twenty different plasma flavors at some point. But of course a lot of these things were like people would work on them for a short period of time, then no one would follow up on them, or...

...they would they would just propose them, they would get a name and then no one actually implemented them. So eventually, when I moved from Le Mesa go to plasma group, the priority was basically solve this problem. So develop a generalized plasma construction that would encapsulate all of these other plasma constructions. So you had you no longer had a need for, you know, MVP or cash or whatever, and the way that this works. Now at least, I actually need to talk to them now to see where they're at. But when, before I left plasma group, the idea was create a common base platform and then have these plugins for different kind of security models. So PLASMAVP and plasma cash give you different security models under different circumstances. So so you could kind of fluidly move between these models without too much effort. And so you no longer have this strong distinction between all the different flavors of plasma. So let's let's talk talk a bit about flavors, because these there are a lot, or there were a lot of flavors of plasma and they all, like you said, had very similar core but they offered something different. Can you go through some of the the the more primary, quote unquote, flavors and describe them and how they kind of differ from each other so that the audience kind of understands, you know, how he got to where we're going now. Yeah, for sure. So I would say the two biggest plasma flavors are MVP in cash. Right. So these are these are the only ones that I think are really being built upon. There may be things that are slight modifications to those who put those seem to be the primary, the two primary families, and without trying to think about the name, MVP is, basically you can kind of think about it like if, obviously it's expensive to put things on the blockchain, right, it's there's there's a limited amount of space. That's Bass not cheap, and so the idea there is, okay, instead of putting all of our transactions on this block chain directly, we can have, let's say, some Group of people wants to come together and they pool their money together and they keep their own log of transactions within this pool of money. Right. So you can only transact within the pool of money, but every once in a while you take a certain set of those transactions that have occurred, which is a block in this case, and you publish a commitment sort of like a compressed version of that block to etherium. And the point of this is that everyone within this kind of subpool of money can freely move money around between one another and it's really, really cheap, right, because you're not publishing every single transaction to atherium. You're only publishing very small piece of information to Atherium, in this case a commitment. I don't know if you've talked about crytographic commitments on this podcast before. I would assume that our audience understands that. Okay, cool. So you're publishing a commitment, right, you're creating a Merkletree of all the transactions. You get the route. You publish that, and the point of that is then you can you can point to a specific transaction that happened in the plasma chain and you can say, okay, in Block X, I received whatever it is, ten ee and you can then go ahead and attempt to withdraw that...

...money by basically saying, okay, I received Teneeth. But of course the block chain doesn't the main blockchain that you've have been publishing these condiments to, doesn't understand that you are doesn't know if you've spent that money later on. So what happens then is that, since you can't prove that you haven't spent it in the future, because it's too expensive to prove that, you start a waiting period. Background life. It's fine. So you start a waiting period where you the the smart contract, the plasma chaine mark contract, basically says if anybody can prove that this person spent their money, or this ten, for example, then this person isn't going to get their money out right. You're canceling that withdrawal. So the the critical or fundamental thing about plasma MVP is the fact that everyone has kind of pooled their money into one central sort of Bank of funds, which makes it really, really easy to send money to one another because it can be completely fungible. You can send, you know, any portion of your money at any time, any fraction of your of your owned assets. The fundamental problem that this introduces, though, is that it enables the we call the plasma chain operator, or really the consensus mechanism that is determining the contents of these plasma blocks. It enables that that consensus mechanism to potentially try to steal your assets, because they can. They can create a transaction output that has, let's say, the entire balance of this shared pool of money and try to withdraw it and you are forced to respond to that by withdrawing your money within a very short period of time, which is obviously not good for any individual. But if we're talking about let's say thousands of people on a plasma chain all trying to withdraw their money from this plasma chain, which requires a transaction on the theorem within a short period of time, that's it's a potential attack vector where those people might not be able to get their money out because it's just way too expensive to post that transaction, that withdrawal transaction. Yeah, and a larger guess mean there's like, you know, let's just say you get a hundred thousand participants, which I obviously would not be the ideal case, but you know, they can't all get their transactions through necessarily on the main net if they all have to individually post them and they there's no batching mechanism for them to do that. Because I could, and this is why I was thinking, things like court and rule would be a very important asset to the plasma ecosystem and that you can exit to something that was a higher plasma chain. So so the audience from remembers from the Plasma White Paper if they read it. I'm not everybody in our audiences, by the way. In etherium oriented developer the plasma white paper at his concept of cord and rule was basically plasma chains of plasma chains. So a plasma chain could then open up another plasma chain which would be kind of like us, another plasma chain underneath that and everybody it would inherit the security of the parent plasma chain and also it would inherit the security of the people below them because they'd have to validate all the way up. And this would enable a more a more throughput light way of scaling, I thought, as well as enabling possibilities of privacy in plasma, meaning that you...

...can use plasma to sort of create little private plasma chains which only have sub subgroups of people where you know, you know what's in what's going on underneath that umbrella. That's something that enterprise really look for. These are all things that I thought would be great with the quarter rule. But then I hear from Georgia's on our our podcast with him that cord and rule has been thrown out. The window and that generic smart contracts on plasma is hard and that these kind of things probably will never happen. So, you know, maybe you could talk a little bit about how he came to that conclusion and whether or not you agree with them. Yeah, okay, I don't know how long you had George's how long ago was this? I can check one second. It was about nine months ago, at least nine months ago. Okay, Oh, wait, it had to be actually, no, because I met him in person at SBC in January, so I had to be like almost a year ago. There's fifteen. Okay, cool. Yeah, so I think at the time that George was was talking about this. He's probably completely correct. There was on the topic of these sort of nested plasma chains. Of actually written written a block post about this, and it's they turned out to be more difficult than originally thought. There's just some things that you have to think about where if you can't, for example, get a dispute into the parent chain, that you need to make sure that there's enough time to get in a dispute into the chain on top of that, and on top of that at least different things. So there's kind of these weird things about timing. It's my my feeling around this is it it's doable, but that it requires a lot of effort and that the really important thing is just to get the base layer a plasma chain finished before you can even start to think about these things. I don't think it's necessarily out of the window and put the cart before the horse and a lot of ways. Yeah, exactly, and it's it would take a lot of unnecessary work because you can't you can't even use that until you've built the base layer chain out. And this ties into the idea of these generalized plasma chains or the plasma chains that can support more arbitrary smart contract logic, because the in order to do a lot of these complex arbitration situations or to deal with these situations, you really need to support interesting logic right. Otherwise it's just going to be a nightmare to hardcode all of these things into your plasma chain and then you know if you if you made a mistake with any part of the the whole system becomes very, very difficult to change those things right. There's this was a fundamental issue with a lot of the early plasma efforts was that they were basically hardcoding transaction logic into the plasma chain itself, so you would only have let's say, three or four different transaction types, which again looks very similar to the to the reason why we have something like a theoreum today anyway. Right, we want these, we want people to just be able to deploy their own transaction types and that was something that within the last year so, so certainly after George's was on this podcast, it was really developed a lot of that by plasmic group in the form of what we were calling predicates. So this, this really enabled not not perfect smart contracts, like not something like you could see on etherium, but certainly very, very complex contracts that you couldn't have even, you know, a year ago or I think this was really fleshed out after East Denver, so seven months ago, eight months ago. So...

...in your opinion, based on your experience with how things have moved, where they're going and maybe fundamental constraints of the idea plasma chains, are they going to be useful in the future and a so with like within what context? So I certainly think they'll be useful in the future. I think there are still a lot of really, really difficult issues to tackle around the UX of layer two up of layer to anything right, this is just a, yeah, really hard problem. Even just something as simple as signing things, you'd have to maybe take your existing wallet and Sign Arbitrary Data, but this data all often isn't clean data to sign. I mean layer one has problems with UX, little alone layers know exactly I mean. It's taking the UX problems layer one and it's already way worse on layer two. So as far as seeing it's useful, I think it is. I have a feeling like eventually something will exist that looks like plasma. I'm not sure if it will be under the plasma moniker, but it will work and it'll be useful. I'm really seeing it. It's eat being useful, certainly in the context of these sort of private private chains that you were talking about before. Is something I've always really wanted people to use them for. If you want just a small group of people to have transactions between themselves and you don't want that to be public at all, you can completely do that. I've definitely ends used like this this whole like when plus I first started to being calling. I think are on the same page here. was viewing plasma chains as the intranets to the Internet. You have kind of a group of people that care about specific things with a less constrained security, like the interacted each other for cheap, fast and then, but it's rooted into something that was much, much more trustworthy in a lot of ways, which allowed kind of it allowed the concept of intranets to coexist on more global Internet and I think that's still kind of what they're probably going to be used for, which don't know how it's going to work. Yeah, I think. I think they're certainly going to be used for that, but that targets a specific audience, for a targets of kind of enterprise audience, which means that you need to really work on your UX before you're going to be able to get to that point. But I think the other or using sap software, it's pretty crafty. Yeah, true, I've had the misfortunate dealing with it for, I think the other kind of obvious bike use cases, just any of these decentralized exchange platforms. It just makes sense. or just generally speaking, plasma is really useful when there's a reason for a lot of people to be transacting within one another. With within a group of people, but not necessarily needing to transact outside of the group of people. And when you're entering a venue for transacting, this makes a lot of sense. If I'm saying I'm going to enter into the, you know, plasma decentralized exchange, I put my money in there, I expect to be trading within this group of traders and then I'm going to exit that situation so I can continue to do other things. I'm not really expecting to go from this venue to whatever it is buying groceries the next day. Yeah, I like the Word Covenant. You know, you enter a covenant with anybody participating in this chain. You know the the anybody can enter that covenant. You can just join it, sign your name on the dotted line in blood, but the devil, and then subtly you are remember the covenant, and then you could go ahead and do all the dark things you want in there. But you have to obey the rules and if you break the rules, then the Covenant Penal As as you or you know the or whatever, or you can't get your money out or but the covenant itself should not...

...be the one breaking the rules, and that's kind of the thing that also bothers me about plasmas that you know somebody has to really be on top of their game, and there's an availability problem with the plasma model, meaning that if you are unavailable during a time period where you need to contest and you are bone, and if you don't notice or if you just don't notice, let's just say you have something that's supposed to alert you and that thing fails, which is another type of Availabil a problem, then you are also bone. There's absolutely no way to retrieve your funds. Now, in a typical real world scenario, what you would do is you'd go to a lawyer and you would file a lawsuit and you get your money back. But in this particular case we're assuming a level of anonimity that's a little greater than than, you know, your typical real world application. So maybe it's not reasonable to expect this kind of level of service from a protocol like this. But at the same time, if if you can't get that level of service, we're not going to see the dollar amounts we're hoping for for true global adoption. So I'm a little I'm a little conserve with the model itself. And that you know, just as this you know at testation contestation, kind of model doesn't necessarily really work really well in the real world and it kind of curious. Sorry, I went a little bit of a lecture mode there. Maybe I don't know are I can let on my pulpit like I do, but would you say that you have the same concerns or am I being irrational or putting on do expectations on something that should just be a very simple, basic mechanism? No, I don't think you're being rational at all. I think these are completely valid concerns and certainly something that I spent a lot of time thinking about when I was working on this stuff. It's the idea that I could just go offline and all my money is gone. It's kind of a nightmare and and it's you know, honestly, when people say, okay, we want to have people online every let's say two weeks or something, that's not really a great model. I mean there are times when I'm not checking, you know, x social media for two weeks or whatever, or I'm not checking my emails for a while. So even even something like that, it's it's not unlikely that somebody could go offline for that period of time. So if you're dealing about value, yeah, you could maybe apply a little more rigor to how to how often needed to bring someone online, because email and social media while I have some type of social value or something like that. Yeah, your bank account of a different story and a lot of the stuff is more it's closer to a bank account than it has social media, at least at this point. Yeah, I still do think that if, let's say, there was a requirement that you had to check your bank account every two weeks, you'd hear plenty of stories of people, you know, accidentally forgetting to check their bank account, which that's certainly true. It's gone. It's not a great salute situation, but I think, I'm hopeful that you could have this idea of watch towers. Right, have people be in cinema is to watch on your behalf, which is certainly more useful than you going to check every two weeks by some little around. Your delegating trust of them, right exactly. So that is, of course, the other thing. You are trusting them to behave in a certain way, although you in certain instances you can kind of provably punish them for misbehaving. So you could honestly, if you talk about watchtower in this particular situation, the the use...

...case of a watchtower tower is on proof of proof that they exited you properly, properly, right. Yeah, so that means that you can just submit another proof that they didn't write and in which case still funds that you pay them. Let's just say you pay them on a biweekly basis. Whatever. They don't get get it. They don't get those funds, and so then it becomes an economic problem. Do they want? Do they want to get paid by their users, or do they want us, you know, ignore this thing, which, by the way, they should have zero benefit over to to not do a good job as a watchtower and not do their job? Really, all it is is incentivizing them to have availability so that you don't have to write. And it is a difficult problem because this requires that the watchtower, let's say you want to punish them for the full amount that you've lost and they have to have that money available and locked up as a bond that you can or you can take from, which then means that if you want them to keep that money as a bond, you're basically paying them the interest rate on that bond to keep to keep watching your money. So you're paying them let's say five percent of years. Yeah, or there could be a maximum withdrawal amount on plasma chains and then you have to invest in the watch tower a stake of the maximum withdrawal amount, which, yeah, I don't know, that's actually even weirder. Yeah. So it is a complicated problem. Cheese. Yeah, it's real. There's so many issues. And then, of course there's like this this looming thing that I've always worried about with I don't know if you've read Phill Dian's somewhat recent front running paper. I think it's filled Dian and a few other people and a recent one, but I know he keeps put them out. Yeah, I miss I guess willn't too recent, be seven, eight months ago, not up. Yeah. But part of this was this idea of minor extractable value, and this is a massive issue in these plasma chines, that if I could stall a blockchain for two weeks, right, if I could, if I could capture blocks for let's say two weeks and just completely prevent any withdrawal transactions from going through, I could theoretically, or I could, I could, let's say, post a transaction taking all of the money out of a plasma chain and then block anyone from submitting challenges to my withdrawal. And so then there's a lot of things you have to think about it, like, is this at all profitable for a minor to do? You know, we're seeing these weird these weird things where there are miners who could be extracting value from from these on change. You centralized exchange is but they don't, and so there's there's so much unexplored and material here, generally speaking, with these layer two constructions. And it's the same issue with with payment channels. It's not this is an exclusive to plasma chaines, but it's certainly could be bigger with plasma chines, because I assume that the the average value of a plasma chain will be higher than the average value of the single payments going for it's for it's meant to generalize across the number of users as opposed to us to write right. So it's there are so many kind of unexplored things in the world of plasma. I think the shift within let's say the last year or so has been to go from this theoretical standpoint where there's just so many unanswered questions to why don't we just build the first iteration of it and get people to use it for small values and start to just see these effects in practice and see what happens, which is I think it's been a very useful shift. So...

I just feel like there is kind of an echo chamber for the first that's a year so of plasma research where, without actually having built something, it was really difficult to see those problems. And finally that approach changed where it was kind of start building at first, then review it for problems, then keep doing research, then keep building, instead of just trying to tackle all of these problems at once, because they're I think, their ton of issues that haven't been resolved yet. So, speaking of like the early, the early build stuff and whatnot, I mean these MVP calls, I think started or maybe may last year or maybe earlier than that. They were the the the there's a lot of people in those call alls. Is the current development like ecosystem surrounding plasma? Are Groups bailing out? Are we consolidating to people who are really dedicated to this cause? What is the State of research? Is it going more academic? Is it still trying to prove with you know, basic minimal viable products sort of maybe what is what is the what is what is the school? What is the ecosystem around this development looking like? Are you guys still funded? Like, what's going on? Yeah, so, so. Well, I'm no longer part of plasma group, but they were still certainly funded when I left, and so plasma group was kind of the big consolidation in this research and this was this was an effort by a couple other people and myself sort of towards the end of two thousand and eighteen. Where the the problem before this was that people were too were. There are a bunch of projects that wanted to use plasma right. They wanted to build these these chains out and they each have their own specific use case for these chains, and so for each individual chain they were building it completely from scratch and they were adding their own transaction types, kind of on a you know, our chain needs this, so we're going to add these specific transaction types and we're going to be specific exit games to be able to handle these transaction types and all that. And it became really clear after a while that this was just not a good way to approach a research problem like an infrastructure level research problem. It made no sense that have ten different companies or whatever. It was twenty different companies working on their own plasma chain of their own transaction times, and so plasma group was was this effort where we basically took some of the people from a bunch of different projects and consolidated it into a single organization, nonprofit organization. So there was no, you know, we didn't have any specific project that we were working on. The only goal was build the base level infrastructure out without kind of prejudice for for one transaction type or one use case or together. You know, it's really interesting you say that and I'm sorry to cut you off real quick. Ere this mirrors what I'm seeing an ftpointo ecosystem from an outsider's perspective. This is exactly kind of what's going on. There's a billion people making different clients. They're all talking about different like this or that. They literally had to fly people to Canada us to be in a cabin so they could get all their clients to talk to each other. Recently, like decentralization, does it work when you're trying to build something that's needs coordination. It's from generality. Did Not what's gotta be in it when it's just far low in the infrastructure. It has to be incredibly general to account for all the different use cases people want to use...

...it for it and that's really hard to do. Writing. And it seems like all these teams just want to build their own thing and then expect it to just work together. It's like or you know, but they it takes. It takes like takes an authoritarian approach to build a single vision. You know, I hate to be that guy, but like, yeah, I feel like history's almost kind of proven this point. You know, like every democracy is overthrown by a dictator and it's really kind of strange, but then it winds up going back to democracy. But it's almost like a clean up period where sh it just gets too crazy and if people just need to kind of like fix stuff because things are broken and we can't all agree anymore, and so somebody just says, I'm just going to grief for you, and I feel like that's kind of keeps happening over and over again in the etherium spaces that we see these like ideas of these desperate teams across the world interacting in different time zones and trying to, you know, bridge language barriers and Zel just building their own clients and different languages. They come up with all these like implausima different transaction formats, right. But then he's there's anything, somebody needs a code, you know, it needs a coalesce at some point and I think it's interesting to see that plasma kind of did that. Is Now just a plast work group and it's working towards that end. There as Eve Typeos, because only now coming to that realization. Sorry, it's just just like for clarity there there are still other organizations working on plasma outside of Plasma Group. Plasmaphi was just sort of the effort to take it, to kind of create a something that other people could coordinate around, and specifically the idea of making a nonprofit was to signal publicly that we had no specific interests in making the plasma, the plasma plantation work one way or another. Right, and other people are still going to want to build their own plasma chains. But what we've seen, and I think this was a really good outcome, was that people from other projects kind of came in and contributed back to the more general plasma work that we were doing and then now going back and and applying these ideas that we developed to their own projects, and now we can kind of have a common base for these plasma chains. In a my hope is that we can have a common, let's say, transaction format where so that it allows all these different plasma chains to interact with one another or that you could, let's say, to take the same client and interact with any plasma chain that's following the standard right or eventually, if something that can be integrated directly into like guess where it comes. Basically part of the standard for sad or somebody's hammering in the background, because part of the standard for the gift note itself to just have some sort of Plasmia, but the implementation built in such that, you know, people can start playing with it and you know. But I also know a little phraate, it's going to go kind of the way a whisper, where I don't feel like whisper was ever really flushed out or ever finished or ever kind I had one guy on it. I mean, yeah, so maybe it's true. It's they've had a lot of different no more about the history of whispered than I do. So go ahead. Yeah, whisper was sold as an idea, that's one of the three prongs of etherium, and then they didn't put a lot of money behind it because probably the ICO boom and that's where like and then that became basically a series of putting out fires and trying to make things work and which put a lot of focus and development onto the blockchain space. And the same thing happened with swarm and I'd say a lot of the talent of people who could do decentralized storage with swarm move to IPFs or C or store as storage as the RJ and so on and so forth. And so what we saw...

...was like the knurriginal promise of etherium delivered the etherium blockchain and not much else. And but I don't see that happening with plasma because there seems to be a lot of disparate people wanting to scale and potentially, with respect to you know, privacy, as having a somewhat autonomous organization, I hate to say those two words together, working outside of the blockchain but rooted into the blockchain. So that's something happened within it, they could leave and have a valued asset. That is more more general, right, and that's kind of the whole idea. Is A lock funds up, interact our cells within a given context, whatever that context is, is the organization or cohort or covenant, whatever the Hell you want to call it, a group of people doing shit, and then when that, when you don't, when you want to leave that or you'd like to leave that or something goes wrong, you can. And that's the whole idea. Plasi chain, which is much was, a much more general, slash prioritized thing needed now and the context of blockchains, and so I don't see it going the way of whisperers swarm. Yeah, and I don't either. I think there's a there's this kind of thing building around plasma where there are a lot of interesting ideas coming out of it, a lot of kind of fundamental tools that other people can use to build their own projects, and plasma is, in a weird way, not well defined. It's really difficult to say this is plasma because it's more of it. It's more of an idea, a high level idea, and that can be implemented in different ways. And my honest guess is that the way the plasma will go. Is it for the there are probably be a few projects that call them sells plasma and they, you know, end up going into production, let's say, on probably not not within a few years, but like an a minimum, at a minimum three or something right, and then there's going to be other projects that don't call themselves plasma but that actually follow all of the core concepts, that probably take a lot of the research from what we officially called plasma research and make valuable products out of it. So it's little weird, but I think the the really valuable thing that quote plasma and quote has has given us is just this fundamental research about what these layer two systems are, and we've done a lot of work trying to describe in a more formal way what the difference is between these different layer two constructions and how you can analyzing the security properties of these different things and how you can apply certain properties to get this result certain properties that result. So that's really where I think it's going to shine long term. You see a lot of differentiation between general state channels with smart contract capability and a general plasma with smart contract capability. Number of people. Yeah, I mean number of people are certainly the the most important thing there that you could if you're just going to have a state channel, you'd have to have everyone agreeing on every on every transition, which is kind of a mess sometimes. Passing around messages that way is not an efficient way of doing things. Yeah, I certainly think there is a value to doing this both ways. I think it's just about finding the specific use cases for them. I'd agree. YEA, because there's a time period where people were arguing whether or not, if one was available, the other was necessary, and I always kind of saw just again, I'm leading back to I still think court and rules the the lynch pin that makes plasma the the the key feature of the makes plasma awesome, minimally viable. Like,...

...without that it's just like a side chain. Maybe it's a payment channel basically. You know, it's like, I mean Kinda. I mean it's multi participant payment channel base. Yeah, but that's valuable on a lot of contacts. It doesn't have to be a panacea, I think. Well, I think what's going to happen in terms of scalability as well. Have scale, like we'll have better scalabut at the base layer and then we'll have a period of layer two solutions for various contexts, depending on the use case, and some of those use cases will be a combination of those things. Right again, I wasn't. I was saying like from a from a form the perspective of, you know, whether when this gets really interesting to me, still around off round court and rule like. That's where I was like, Oh God, that's the key feature that I think a lot of the people I had talked in to and like say two thousand and seventeen, especially in the enterprise space, we're just like really interested, like worried about privacy, worried about control, like they wanted to have control all over the assets of the they're flowing. They wanted, you know, they wanted that kind of thing going on, and that's me made sense for them. Not for everybody, but for them. So, yeah, that's that's kind of still the key fee chosing for. So I'm actually really hoping that plasmic come does like deliver eventually, because I think it's absolutely necessary and also, you know, no matter what system, if they solve this problem in etherium, it can be solved anywhere. Else, and that's the that's the end of the bit. That's basically showing once you've done something, the world looks at it and goes, Oh, now I know that's doable. I'm going to do it too. Or I can improve upon this because we don't have the constraints you do. But you know, right now it's still still in that what I consider the mostly theoretical. Can we get the feature set we need to make this interesting kind of space? So yeah, anyway, Kelvin, what what are you doing now? What's going on with a with you said you left the plasma group, so what's what's got you interested in life at the moment? I have been up to a lot of random things, I really I was working on Plasta for a long time and I think plasma specifically is one of these problems where the general topic doesn't change when you're working on it. You still have the same overall architecture and even if you're coming up with new ways to do certain things, you're kind of working on the same problem and it got pretty tiring after a while. I think you need some sense of just variety in your life to do things interesting and something overall that interests me is just getting a perspective of how systems work at scale. And so in this case, understanding why the cryptospace is the way that it is is really fascinating to me. Right there's so many strange things happening in the cryptospace. For it's like, is anything happening? is nothing happening? What are these projects? Why are they you know, why are these decisions being made the way that they are? Because it just looks so confusing from the outside. And so since I left I've been spending a lot of my time studying this. So I usually get on phone calls with people, are meet with people in New York City and just talk to them here here out where they're coming from and what they're working on, why they're working on it, with their kind of opinions are on the Cryptospace, and I've been kind of just trying to build a better picture of how this whole thing works. And then, on the side, I've been doing a lot of random things. I you know, I bought this mainframe that I've been working on and I'm going to turn it into a kind of art installation, which has been a very big project of mine. Yeah, big is a real world for you built a you got a big old mainframe. So yeah, I got it four thousand...

...pound. I be a mainframe from an University of Connecticut. I spent a bunch of time, I cut my teeth and working with supercomputers, high performance. It's as computations I have. I have an affinity for large machines that need a lot of cooling and are very comfortsome indeed. Indeed. It's been a bit of a nightmare moving this thing around, but it's finally in a semi permanence state. Do you think a blockchain or some sort of decentualized network can replace the functionality that mainframe financial system mainframes in financial systems currently occupying? Do you feel like we're going to reach the scalability level and the speed necessary for replacing a majority, if not all, of those kind of machines with protocols now? And I I mean I don't think so in the current the way that people currently think about these systems right like Colin, you and I have talked about this before, but I think there's a there's something fundamentally wrong with how we're building these things and until that changes, I don't think it's going to replace much of anything you can you listenate a little bit about what your guys talked about and why? Why? That's sure. So. So I feel like the way these black systems have been built is kind of been this idea that we want this global financial system. Right, and I agree with the underlying concept, but the approach has been let's build one big thing that everybody uses, which is completely wrong, right. It just go it just flies against the phase of everything that we've learned about how people work, the way that we build ironically socialized it is, yeah, and it's I mean it's this is why you see all these problems with governance around these things, because you can't govern at that scale. You can't have people make agreements at that scale on something that impacts people from so many different walks of life. So we've seen that the way that people work. We have these circles, right, we have have a small circle that I immediately transact with and I have a larger circle I mesh with other circles of people, and that model of these like network of networks just makes more sense for pretty much anything around human coordination. And I think until people kind of internalize that and really start building these systems with that in mind, but also with the fact in mind that we're talking about systems of people and that people should be able to make decisions and change, you know, change things about their their reality when they they decide to do that. So kind of a plug here for for more subjectivity within these bloshing protocols by default. I don't think it's really gonna take off until these things are recognized. I've got a lot to say about that. Calling you got something? Yeah, I don't know where to start, though. That's the problem. I think it kind of probably have a whole entire other hour of conversation really good and so, like here's the problems. I don't want to spiral too far out into like law and like, you know, idea, but you know, this kind of lends back to some observations I've made about human history and the idea of, you know, democracy and authoritarianism and how one seems to replace the other, replaces the other, replaces the other. I feel like a lot of what we're seeing in the spaces and attempt at gross like democracy, like you said, but really...

...we only care about this immediate circle around us. So I'm not trying to expose too much about what I'm currently working on. Other than I think it actually lends well to the model you talked about, and I'm not trying to Shill on my own show, but you know, I think we're going to share on something might as will chill on your own show. Yeah, I feel like. I feel like the idea that the people can have this, this like one protocol to rule them all. If that protocol isn't super freaking thin and absolutely freaking flexible, then it's lost already. That protocol needs to be super super super super super super super tight. It's a protocol of what. What are we talking about? We just need to come to agreement, agreement, agreement on what is a cure? Agreement? That's no actually, what we need to come to agreement on is is this true or not? And that's it. Binary Consensus. Can we say that this thing is true or not? It's literally just a way to say is this effect? If we could come to on that basic level, you can build out any sort of individualized system that you want, and that's what I think is just the only thing we really actually care about. All these other features, and you know, kitchen sync, design mechanisms, and stuff and the idea of like even just like when you say, Hey, we need to degree agree on what is true, but we're going to also degree agree on whether or not it's, you know, times correctly or in this sort of like these are all different questions and it's separate from the concept of consensus. At the end of the day, consensus is about one thing, true or false, on one piece of information, and I think I think a lot of these protocols kind of go too hard on what consensus means and they went up coupling their data with their consensus model and as a result, they make it clunky when really that clunkiness is sort of better left to the sub networks that we kind of building. So yeah, anyway, I don't want to get into that too much, but you know, I think I see what Kelvin seeing. But it doesn't necessarily mean that we don't have to have the same language and that language, just like we have the same language in math. You know, math is basically a universal language. We can model in a different ways, but it's always going to be axiomatically kind of true and and and that's kind of what I think we need in as a protocol like base level layers, zero protocol level is what can we decide on? Much true? Other than that, everything else is a governance decision and you can, you can build your own networks around those communities in the rules within them. That's adjisted that. In my opinion, it's like if you can have that and you just build communities and the rules within them and then you move in and out of different communities based on what you want to be a part of and how you do that is basically what all these different blockchain ecosystems are trying to do in different ways. They're trying to build different infrastructures of doing that same thing and attaching value to it, because most of the innovation that happened with blockchain systems is just digital scarcity, well, like trustless digital scarcity in a lot of ways, and that helps community grow so that you can assign value to what people are doing within that community. Yep, so I again, like we all, we idealized about the idea of one protocol to rule them all. I and I think the problem isn't that that's not the case. I I see where Kelvin would say that's not the case. Like Kelvin's being Collie at that right now. But like, I see where, Kelvin, we get that. You know, I don't think that's necessarily case because we individually care about different things. But the same time, when I say protocol, I don't think I mean the same thing as like a theorium or eos or bitcoin or, I don't know, Manaro or Z cash. You know, I'm talking about a language, a basic math almost mathematical language of how we communicate. And if we can do that around just truth, then that's the base protocol, rollball, and that's all we need. Yeah, that's I completely agree there and I think that's it. I've looked, I've been talking...

...to a couple people about this recently, and that's kind of the end result that you land on, where you just need some basic language so that these circles can communicate with one another. And it doesn't matter how the circles work. Right, if you want to participate in them, you can, if you want to interact with them, but not participated within with not participate in them, you just kind of have to understand how they work. Right, if I'm going to a different country and I want to participate in that economy. I'M gonna go and exchange whatever it is my currency for theirs. I'm going to start spending money in there. But that relies on those two circles having an agreement between one another that this interaction is going to behave in a certain way. Right and honestly, that could be non controversial. That's the part. That's the part I'm trying to get just to saying that this, this is this is a thing and this thing will exchange for that thing is literally nonco controversial, in my opinion. Like and what winds up happening is we build these thick proto thick, you really fat, protocols for for, for you know, the behavior of a blockchain system, with their own transactions, Blah Blah, blah, blah, blah, and and absolutely no way of communicating between each other. Because really, all they care about at the end of the day is is this true? Am I willing to accept this is truth? Is everybody else willing to accept this is true? Okay, if that's the case, then you can do an exchange. If not, reject it, fuck it totally. All right. Let's wrap up on that Calvin aszer's is there something that you wish we would have talked about that that we didn't, or is this? Has this brought on some some thought process in your head that you'd like to get out before we get we close here. Oh, I have a minor one. I guess it's not some minor I've been writing a mini essay about trust, the concept of trust. HMM, very it's not a clean topic. It's really confusing actually, and so it is interesting when you, when you talk about trust, this note before, and I have a lot of feelings about this special maybe I have about our slack and talk, because we all flack's not going to cut it. I need I need real world conversation. I might just come to do art for a week. That be awesome. We actually considered making a documentary series on the concept of trust. I think I mentioned that to you. Yeah, it's still on the table. It's just like, unfortunately, life takes over sometimes and we couldn't quite close on the idea, but it's still on the table. Let's trust and delegation of it. That's yeah, I want to history, the story of trust. Like to me that the history of trust starts very early and human you know, cognitioning, even then it's part of animal nature as well. It's just that interesting, interesting topic that. Can people realize how so many subtleties? Okay, people read this essay as in that ready? When will it be out? It's not ready. I don't have a date right now, but I will let you know as soon as it is ready. But a lot of it goes into sort of linguistics around trusts. Right. It's strange that we can have sentences like I don't trust you, but I have no choice sort of but to trust you. Right there. They're kind of these two different concepts around trust, where there's trust that you have in somebody and there's trust that you are required to place into somebody. Yeah, which is two completely different things and they're not quite you know, it's trained. It's strange that we call them both trust because they're they're actually representing something very it's contextual, close sort of faith that's contextual. It depends on what you're discussing and what framework you're you're discussing it in totally and I think that makes it really, really difficult to have productive conversations around what trust is, because this language is just so it's so delicate nuance. Time. That means that makes trust and a virgin property of something else. In my opinion, it's just, well, yeah, risk, but that risk comes from something at risk is also an emergent property to something else.

It's like it's a it's a, it's a it's a subject, it's subjective to something that is human communication of value or of something valuable in a lot of ways. Right, there's so many weird things about this, like how how can we stay that we have like a trusty tool. Are we trusting the tool or we trusting the people who all that's the tool? That's well, a little bit of both. I mean, you're just it's like you you have you have assumptions and expectations, right, and you're saying, I'm going to do this thing using this thing, and I trust, I'm expecting it to work as as expected, and so I trust that how I'm doing this, it's going to work. I'm it's going to have the outcome that I predict and I don't want to spend a lot of time thinking about it. And then more you do it, the more trust you place into it, unless you think about up more trust you place into it, and like that, that confine it can be put into a myriad of different circumstances, whether it be like the movement of trust from people in traditional and traditional companies to finance or value to machines and decentralized networks that are blockchain networks and value associated with those, like trust it and go away. It's not trustless. You're just trusting the network to take care of some of those situations, whereas beforehand you're a trusting people. And so it's always kind of relative to something, but more often than not it's I'm expecting an outcome based on an action I'm going to do and I'm trusting the way I do it gives me the outcome. So I love this because I've been recently thinking a lot about this by self, because just where I just started working, we talk a lot about this f salon value, the EPSALON value of our consensus protocol, right and like in that's basically the possibility of error, essentially, but it's really just a it's equivalent blotching to the possibility of Hash Collision. Okay, it's it's like yeah, the protocol works, except under this weird scenario, and I feel like a lot of the words we use around trust. Are just talking about the probabilistic chance of being fucked and like we're living in a world where we are where in our everyday personal point of view and our lives and the lives of our family members and etc. Etc. Because we're trying to reduce that epsalon value. And I feel like the FSALON has a power to it that impacts our decision making process. And if we really knew what that epsalon value was for most of the decisions we make in our life, we would probably make very different decisions. And so I'm really I really feel like trust is almost the reason we use the word trust is it's an imprecise word for describing something extremely mathematical about risk and about our ability to manage it and our ability and and and I feel like we only have an intuition and that's why the word is so crappy, because we can only ever have an intuition about trust, because we can never really get to that true episong value of our existence. And for that we'd even have to define what failure looks like, and we don't know. Most of us don't know what our own failure looks like. We don't know what success looks like. We don't know a failure looks like. I think that's the thing that experience in life brings. It doesn't necessarily make you smarter. In fact, I think experience tends to make you care less about intelligence and more about the ability to determine what good and bad is, or at least have an opinion on it. And and and trust kind of surrounds that topic in a weird way, and that it allows you to know where not to step. Yeah, it's a very strange topic and it certainly does have to do with how bad people are actually performing these mental calculations. And and it's it's weird because these blockchain protocols go ahead and they try to make these really absolute statements about trust. They try to make these just UN unreal statements about you know, you can always trust...

...this. This is trustless right and it's it's trying to convince people that these things work in a certain way, and I think in a lot of in a lot of ways it's succeeded, but I think that success is actually detrimental. Right. I think people are it's caused people to forget that every single thing we do is based on this concept of trust, right, that I can walk down the street and not get punched in the face, not because I necessarily trust the people on the street not to punch me in the face, but because I say, okay, we have a legal system in place that I trust to probably prevent or incentivize people not to punch me in the face. Problem. It's probably unlikely, it's statistically unlikely. Right. So there's this there's this mental math I'm doing, and I just think that people, if they accepted the subjectivity of this, they accepted how bad people are making these terminations, that they would end up building better protocols than rather trying to just go into this world where nothing ever changes, because that's that's not how people function, and I don't I think they're going to be very afraid to interact with these systems if you approach it like this, because it's not human at all. Right, it seems it's very mechanical. Yeah, people don't like to interact with the magic box. Yeah, all right, that's let's wrap this up. Calvin. How can people get ALP to get to touch you, for the like to I'm on twitter or yeah, that's probably the best way to get in touch with me, so twitter. I'll make sure to add that to the show down so that I'm not that sent to how you spell it. Yeah, sounds good. All right, bad. Thanks for should I really like this. I'm hoping I can come out to New York for a couple days and we can just we can, we can go them deeper into what we just talked about, because that's a whole other can of worms. Absolutely, I'd love to. Awesome. Thanks covering. Thank you,.

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