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The Third Web

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Podcast by Arthur Falls


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The Third Web #17 - Arthur Brock, Holochain
Holochain has been a project simminging in the background of the blockchain space for several years now. The promise has been a panaceaic solution to the performance and scalability issues facing decentralised hosting platforms. It’s an oft heard claim, but, as founder Arthur Brock expounds in this interview, by giving up our insistence on global consensus in favor of discoverable and verifiable local state, a world of options is opened to us. This kind of discussion follows from the Secure Scuttlebutt and Urbit episodes. It raises, and offers answers, to questions of data vs agent based ontologies. But most interesting of all, it forces us to reconsider why we wanted to use a blockchain in the first place. Arthur Brock from Denver Colorado Interested in alternative currencies in 2001 Self organising companies are just a form of currency hacking Discovered what a huge leverage point for change currency is Change the business incentives and all business will reshape towards those incentives The Future of Money, Bernard Leotard 2003 alternative currency became main gig Metacurrency project 2004 Met Harris Brown Currencies as more than money - symbol systems that we use to coordinate at scale Out of metacurrency project came Ceptr 2006 Interact/transact with anyone else without intermediary Required a reinvention of most of the communications stack. Modeling on nature - biomimicry Prototyped for rewrite of computation, communication, commerce Took piece of Ceptr and built Holochain, completed in Go in 2017 Bitcoin neither blindsided nor felt like a culmination of work Seemed like a ham handed design Questionably successful Has captured a large following Has not achieved what Arthur Brock wants to achieve Not to dismiss blockchain - if nothing else it has prepared public consciousness and awareness for dealing with these problems. Blockchain has altered the discourse Pulled discourse in a crazy direction Recreates unhealthy patterns turbocharged Definitely need new money but need to do it in a manor that does not amplify volatility and wealth concentration Recreating old problems won't get us somewhere new Core issue is validation, not consensus Everyone must use the same validation scheme to participate in consensus [validation is more fundamental than consensus] Push for global state is a lazy way of modeling problems In reality there is no global state or time. Only relative state and time. Holochain uses an Agent Centric approach rather than a Data Centric approach. Each agent has their own chain for an application, only tracking the agents activity. Genesis block of each chain includes a hash of the source code of the application. #webscale #patriciatree
The Third Web #16 - Urbit, Your New Server
The range of third-web platforms in development today is greater than ever. From data-centric blockchain based approaches to agent-centric designs like Secure Scuttlebut, the potential futures of the third web are rapidly expanding. Today we look at another approach with the Urbit platform. Like Secure Scuttlebutt, Urbit is agent centric. It is a deterministic operating system designed to be the filter between a user and the online services they use. I last covered Urbit in 2016 and the project is now nearing public launch. Galen Wolf-Pauly explains. What is Urbit? A personal Server A secure computer that you actually own Stores an event log of everything that has ever happened to it That’s designed to live on any cloud server But be controlled by a private key that you actually own Your Urbit is meant to replace all of the consumer cloud software that you already use How can it possibly be better than all of the expensive software that has already been created? The basic thesis is that everything we use today runs on top of a unix of some kind. The reason we wound up in this centralised world of cloud-based software is that Unix is too complicated. Because the Unix is complicated, complicated layers between Unix and the application are needed. The Urbit solution is to rip all of that out and create a single, extremely simple, complex system. Urbit is a virtual machine, programming language, and operating system in 30,000 lines of code. For comparison, Wordpress, an application that runs on Unix is 500,000 lines of code Technical simplicity should turn into user interface simplicity. Additionally, by hosting your Urbit in the cloud you no longer have a middleman serving you applications, Instead you only need them to host your virtual computer. What does an Urbit future look like? A single platform allows tighter integration of, for example, productivity software like Git & Asana. As a designer, Galen looks forward to interface standardisation, -having messaging, documenting, code collaboration, task management and other consumer software working seamlessly as one system. Rather than interfaces built for many people. Do we need a new back end for a new front end? Hasn’t Wechat done this? Today we use many services that have unified UIs Google has both email and documents but do you really trust Google to have total control and visibility into your use of those services? What if Google goes away? Being able to run a server myself that I trust will be around a long time and is secure to me makes me feel alot better. [Platform Risk] Wechat is a really great achievement Apps are more like modules But you have given total power to a single company The decentralised Wechat pitch has gotten tired but Urbit is very much targeting that problem. The future of cloud computing does look like that but makes no compromises in privacy or durability.
The Third Web #15 - Edgeware & Parity, Infrastructure on Top of Infrastructure
What is Edgeware Edgeware being developed by an entity called Commonwealth Labs Built on Parity’s Substrate Grandpa finality tool On-chain governance Scripting built in. Using Web Assembly (Wasm) Building on Substrate People used to build their own web servers, now they use the cloud. People used to build new chains, now they can use Substrate. This enables builders to focus on the area of their expertise. One month after development began a test net was operational Three months the project was live. EOS was too centralised Ethereum was not flexible enough WebAssembly Being able to use Rust or C++ is great Still being experimented with The Polkadot and Substrate ecosystem Friendly and helpful community 20 projects underway 100 planned for the end of the year Platform still stabilizing People are building now planning to switch to the security of the Polkadot chain. Securing the edgeware chain Delegated PoS aiming to move to Nominated PoS as Sybil resistance mechanism Grandpa for finality Round Robin leader selection The ultimate goal is to rely on the security of Polkadot The problem of governance It’s a problem that has been pursued by humanity for all time Blockchains increase social scalability Improves legibility Enables new organisations These new organisations need new governance systems Blockchains are new so there is naturally experimentation and opportunity. Want to further this human endeavour in the blockchain world How does edgeware actually do governance? Allocate tokens using a “Lock Drop” of ether. One token one vote. Vote can be allocated Focusing on core changes to the network/protocol, allocation of on-chain treasury that is bootstrapped by the block reward. The Lock Drop Initial token distribution is the linchpin of effective network governance Require the belief in the economic value of the token Previous ways of doing this were an ICO or airdropping a token The Livepeer Merkle Mine was an interesting experiment Edgeware hopes to get the same effect of distributing tokens to people who want to actively participate without the bloat of a Merkle Mine. Ether tokens are locked in a contract that prevents the tokens from moving for a period of 3, 6, or 12 months. The registry of locked tokens is used to initiate the Edgeware chain with additional tokens allocated to individuals who locked their tokens up for longer periods. Infrastructure on top of infrastructure Are we locked in an infrastructure phase?
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Podcast Details
Jun 4th, 2014
Latest Episode
May 9th, 2019
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44 minutes

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