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[Transcript] Crypto Zombie Interview With Anonymous Komodo Founder JL777
Crypto Zombie talks about the interview at 13:30 of his video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTOdWcuuSFA Link to full text at pages 10 to 15: https://gallery.mailchimp.com/b1c805c050ef6fca080b9d888/files/cf42e52f-5978-4f4e-b45a-241b94af4638/12_BlockchainBrief_November.pdf ------- CRYPTO ZOMBIE: It is difficult to describe the Komodo Platform in just a few words. Often confused as simply a privacy coin, KMD, is actually an incredibly robust and intricate ecosystem. With Komodo’s unique spin on smart contracts, referred to as “crypto-conditions,” and the fact that KMD has already achieved 45,000 TPS (1,000,000 possible in the near future), this platform may actually be the first crypto to solve all four of blockchain’s major pain-points: privacy, scalability, interoperability, and security. In this much anticipated AMA, I got to chat with the anonymous founder of Komodo, JL777, via the Komodo Discord. Here is what JL777 had to say... CZ: So let’s jump into this directly with the MOST requested community question: Are you Satoshi Nakamoto? JL777: Happy to answer questions of a non-personal nature. That seems pretty personal. But I didn’t arrive in crypto until late 2013, so clearly I can’t be Satoshi. Maybe there are a lot of similarities in our beliefs, but he was gone before I arrived. CZ: Just starting off with some fun! Alright, so all jokes asides let’s dive in. What exactly is Komodo (KMD)? JL777: It has many different aspects, hard to make a single statement about it. I know this drives the marketing side nuts as they need these elevator pitch things. However, I can explain how it is evolving. It starts with the desired end solution: a crypto that can handle mass market scale, has privacy, is secure, and fast. Given that just getting two of those four usually requires making significant trade-offs to decentralization. You can imagine that it is not an easy problem to solve! So, KMD starts with Zcash privacy: the best available privacy tech. So, we can check that off the list. But, it needs to be secure. So I had to invent the dPoW [consensus] to leverage BTC’s massive hashrate. That allowed us to have a lot of independent chains, all secured by dPoW, which led to the runtime forking ability that lets you launch a chain from the command line without any source code changes. PoW, PoS, some hybrid, all types of premine and emission schedules. CZ: Could you briefly explain dPoW and why it’s so secure, for those who don’t understand? JL777: dPoW is dynamically creating decentralized checkpoints to the BTC blockchain. That means that once a block is notarized, it is like having it “write protected.” No need to worry about it being rewritten. Being rewritten is a very real danger! CZ: So in other words as long as BTC is not under 51% attack it would be impossible for Komodo or any of it’s chains to be affected? JL777: I wouldn’t say impossible, but it becomes order of magnitude (or more) difficult. I wrote a description of the reorg process and can post it here if you’d like. CZ: Sure we can link to it for further research. That would be great! JL777: https://github.com/KomodoPlatform/Mastering_CryptoConditions It directly applies to explaining dPoW. It is from the documentation on the channels CC (Crypto-Conditions), which implements an improved form of Lightning Networks and addresses the latency issue, as it provides dPoW protection to mempool transactions. With the privacy and security items addressed, the next thing to do was scaling. Along the way people kept asking for smart contracts. With the notarization process in place, it enabled us to create a solution that non-notarized chains are unable to do. That is creating a reference set of hashes that allow you to verify that a transaction on any chain has been confirmed, on any other chain. It uses a method that is very similar to SPV validation. It’s all about merkleroots and merkleroots of merkleroots from many different chains all being combined. This is sent back to the notarizer and ends up in the notarization data. Once it’s there, then any notarized chain is able to validate the raw data from a transaction that actually happened on a different chain. What that allows is a burn protocol to burn coins on one chain and recreate them on another. So, the total coins across all of the fungible chains are constant. That means you can have however many chains you need for the transactions per second (TPS) needed. Anytime you need to transfer coins from one chain to the next, you use the burn protocol. Reading it, it does seem pretty deep technical... sorry... I guess it can be summarized as using notarization to create a cluster of chains whose total coin supply is held constant. This forms our scaling solution. Instead of having to create some cutting edge networking protocol that can handle some crazy TPS, with our solution you just spawn a new chain. It is similar to building more roads if your existing roads are congested. No need for any magical maglev vacuum tube high throughput high ways. Just a bunch of normal roads, if you have a bunch of cars... Just a bunch of normal blockchains if you need a bunch of TPS. I much prefer the simple solutions, as I can fully understand those. CZ: Exactly! Such a simple solution, but yet you still see so many people going crazy over TPS! On the topic of tech, I’m curious what your thoughts are on some of these newer solutions, such as the rise of DAG protocols? JL777: When it gets so complex and you need some math jargon to prove that it works... well, how can I know that it does? Code isn’t exactly a math proof. I think there are many very interesting experiments. However, I prefer to stick with the tried and true Bitcoin protocol and extend it. Why reinvent the wheel? Especially when so much work has been done already to make Bitcoin work as well as it does. It only breaks down at high load and isn’t very easy to program. Though I did make an atomic swap system called BarterDEX, which does utilize the Bitcoin script. CZ: Yes! Let’s expand on that! What is the difference between atomic swaps and etomic swaps? JL777: Etomic swap was just my way of quickly getting ETH into the BarterDEX. BarterDEX uses the Bitcoin protocol to do swaps. ETH doesn’t do Bitcoin protocol so I made an ETOMIC coin and you swap that using the protocol. We implemented a 1:1 lock/unlock of ETH/ERC20 for the ETOMIC. It does add a new layer and with mm2, we will directly implement atomic swaps between ETH and Bitcoin protocol. CZ: With so many blockchains now switching from ERC-20s to their own mainnets (native blockchains), does this mean that some blockchains will never be interoperable through the BarterDEX? Or do you think it’s a possibility in the future? JL777: With there being so many totally incompatible new protocols, it seems unlikely that they will interoperate very well and will go off and create their own island. Isolated from the rest of crypto. Maybe some will be very big islands though. Unless they have enough usage on their “island” it would seem it will eventually become a problem... CZ: This does make you wonder if TRUE interoperability between all blockchains will ever be possible... JL777: I think if these islands wanted to be interoperable, they can add this, but I suspect some don’t want to be. They maybe have dreams of becoming the only crypto. Which, of course, is an unrealistic expectation when the barrier to create a new crypto is so low. You don’t need a nation state to create a crypto! Even with such a big barrier, we end up with hundreds of fiat currencies. There is no single global currency, so how on earth can anybody truly believe there will be some single crypto? I try to base my decisions on common sense and simplicity. It ends up being quite complex as it is, even if it is created out of simple components. Now that KMD is getting the CC extensions, it completes all the technical requirements. The Crypto Conditions is mainly for the scaling solution, but I started experimenting with it a couple months ago and it started surprising me with its power! CZ: This is true! I know you have a unique way of handling smart contracts. What are Crypto-Conditions and what makes UTXO-based smart contracts such a breakthrough for the future of blockchain? JL777: To call it smart contracts is really understating what it is. Consider that it is possible to have a single CC (Crypto-Condition) transaction type mean “run the associated smart contract using the interpreted language.” What the CC does is create a new vout type, like p2pk, p2pkh, p2sh, there is a new CC vout type. This is an output that needs to satisfy the specified CC script, which can handle the industry standard Crypto-Conditions specification. But I had it extended a bit so we can have custom functions that also need to be satisfied. By making it a custom function, it allows essentially anything to be implemented. And by anything, I mean ANYTHING. At first I wasn’t 100% sure of this, but my first four CC extensions I made were: faucet, rewards, dice, and assets. The faucet is a blockchain enforced faucet. Rewards is a blockchain enforced rewards plan. Basically what most people want masternodes for. Lock funds... get some extra percentage. Dice is a blockchain enforced real-time dice game, just to show that such things can be done. Assets is a token creation system that allows a user to create new tokens with a single transaction. I also implemented functions needed for a DEX. So, basically counter-party functionality. These were the first four and I did it in several weeks as I was learning about how to do it and doing them for the first time. My thinking is that after we get a critical mass of CC extensions, the vast majority of dApps can be created just via RPC calls. No need to code a new CC extension, no need to code a smart contract, just issue RPC calls (or just click buttons and forms in a GUI). The next iteration of CC, I came up with oracles, gateways, prices and channels. Oracles creates a market driven data market for “oracle-izing” data on-chain. Gateways uses the oracles and assets to automatically tokenize BTC to an on-chain asset and also allows for automatically process withdraws. Basically the proxy DEX model of trading BTC equivalents, but it will be protected with a multisig custodians and all the tokens are locked in a contract until released with a valid deposit. The prices CC will use the oracles and gateway CC to implement a cash settled BitMEX type of leveraged betting on the BTC price. The channels CC is being debugged by one of the new devs who just started last week and it will be a better form of Lightning Network, as it uses a backward compatible transaction format, doesn’t require nodes to be online, and is secured by dPoW. CZ: Thats crazy! Most people really have no idea the Komodo platform is this robust. Komodo seems like it has already achieved so many things: scalability, privacy, interoperability, and security. So why do you feel it often gets overshadowed by newer, more “flashy” tech, that may in fact be inferior? JL777: I think the problem is that it has too much for any “elevator pitch,” so nobody who makes decisions in elevators decides to buy KMD! I don’t think there is any flashier tech than KMD, considering it solves all the crypto issues that other projects are struggling to do just a couple aspects of, when we can implement the entire value add of some project with a single CC that takes a few weeks to do... If that isn’t flashy, not sure what is! CZ: So, I recently spoke with PTYX from Chainzilla. Will Komodo platform continue offering services to premiere partners or will you be “passing the torch” over to other Blockchain-as-a-service platforms like Chainzilla? JL777: I just write code, so no idea what will happen regarding the non-coding side of things. I also don’t do GUI, so no idea when any of that will be done. I am just a simple C programmer. So I write C code to solve the deep tech issues that are otherwise unsolved. CZ: Gotcha... But you know that’s VERY important, especially for user adoption. JL777: Ideas by Nature I am trusting will solve the GUI issues. Much, much better than I could. I have to rely on others to get such things done. CZ: Yes I’m excited to see how that turns out! Let’s discuss adoption. You always hear people speak about “mass adoption,” but what do you feel it will REALLY take in order for this technology to reach the masses? JL777: Games. Realtime crypto games. That is why I did dice CC. We also have plans for a lotto CC. But, really any sort of game can be made blockchain enforceable now by using the CC tech. And, being UTXO-based, it is much more secure and so far it is much faster to code and debug. CZ: I’m so glad you said that because I feel games will be a huge proponent as well! Are you guys looking to also be able to deal with non-fungibles? For example ERC-721s? JL777: Already done. We just need a lot more coders, domain specific CC, to take the reference CC I am making and customizing it into some specific dApp. My role is to show the type of things that can be done, but we really need a big ecosystem with projects doing the various games and specific use case dApps. CZ: Do you make any decisions outside of just the coding? How does the governance within Komodo work? JL777: People like to ask me for my opinion, even on things like colors and such things, but I try to stay out of it as much as possible. Let each person with expertise make the decisions. If there is some deadlock, then maybe I let my opinion be known. But, I don’t have any special powers, other than the common sense thing, and people when they hear a good common sense solution to a problem they are battling with, it is usually adopted. But, I stay out of the team meetings and let them do their thing. Things are centralized around me too much as it is, so I try to reduce it as much as possible CZ: That’s good to know. Seems quite fair. Everyone has a say and anyone can expand on the ecosystem how they see fit to the best of their abilities. JL777: Yes, totally open community. CZ: So, this is another community question: What is your relationship with ØCryptoUnion? JL777: There is no formal relationship. They are working on some sort of gateway project, like several other projects. But, there are dozens of projects in the ecosystem and no formal relationship. This is old style crypto, not the new style corporate. At least that is how I am “managing” the open source side of things. There is a different side, that I am not involved in, so I can’t speak to how things are done there. CZ: You bring up a good point, however, given the reality that we live in a world that is controlled by few (governments, institutions, etc), do you think a truly decentralized future is realistically possible? JL777: A much more decentralized future is possible. But, it is also possible for a global totalitarian state. We already are close to a global surveillance state... very dangerous CZ: I think the biggest problem is getting people to actually CARE. Most people just want the easiest, most convenient thing and often are willing to sacrifice privacy over convenience. JL777: Well, when it comes to MONEY, people do CARE. Especially in the parts of the world where basic survival is not easy. But yes, privacy has been sacrificed a lot, to the point where people think you must be some sort of extremist if you just want to keep some privacy. But, a lot of writers of novels used pen-names. Nobody went accusing them. When the police can’t be trusted to be fair, then everybody cares about hiding as much as possible, since anything can and will be used against you! And we know we can’t trust criminals, since they ignore the law.. So why advertise to the world who you are? CZ: I agree. People always say “well if you have nothing to hide, then who cares?” I think thats the wrong attitude. So, before we go I just wanted ask one final question. Ultimately, what is your grand vision for the Komodo Platform and what can we expect in the near future? L777: Like you said, mass market adoption will need nice GUI. The low level tech in my mind is basically done. We just need to do a bunch more CC, which can, and will be done. Then people can make dApps via RPC calls. So with the easy to use GUI that gets mass market adoption, that achieves the goal of the scalable, secure, private and fast crypto. Likely KMD will be the first to achieve all four and have an atomic DEX to interface with many other cryptos. It has been a long journey, but within a year or so, I think I will become much less important. Things shift into the “GUI-zation” side of things. Maybe I can take a vacation... CZ: I have no idea how to code but I can only imagine that vacation will be WELL deserved! JL777: Just imagine writing a novel where if you make ANY mistake it crashes! Not just spelling or grammar, but character development, plot, or any error and BOOM! It’s DEAD! CZ: Great analogy! Well, thanks so much JL777 for taking time out of your busy schedule to have this chat. You are clearly an intelligent person and I’ve really enjoyed this. There is so much more we could talk about, but unfortunately there is only so much time! JL777: It was fun to chat! Feel free to stop by the Discord anytime. There is an “Ask-JL777 channel” here. Just post there anytime and I will answer.
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