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Adrian Eidelman AMA Replies

On this post, RSK´s CTO Adrian Eidelman, answers the questions from June´s AMA.

What are the next major development milestones?

We’ve recently shared with the community the RSK roadmap that includes the upcoming milestones: https://blog.rsk.co/noticia/development-roadmap/

The updates are mostly targeted to security. We’re also in the Testnet rollout phase of Wasabi 1.0.0, RSKj next version, which includes several new features and improvements like Unitire, new VM opcodes, transaction tracing methods, among other things. Once the rollout is completed, we’ll have achieved the first few milestones in the roadmap. More information about Wasabi 1.0.0 can be found here: https://blog.rsk.co/noticia/wasabi-release-v1-0-0/.

We are already working on Q3 milestones, which include very important features like meta-transactions and node sync improvements, both aiming for a better user experience.

 

What are the functions of RSK Ambassadors?

RSK Ambassadors are people that share our vision: Bitcoin, Blockchain and decentralised technologies are enablers for building a fairer society. They help us spread this message across the world. Different ambassadors focus on different activities, some are oriented to promote the technology among developers, others advise companies and governments about the usage of RSK, others work on incubation programs but we all work hard to make the change happen.

 

How many milestones of the roadmap did RSK achieve this year?

So far, we have released 4 different versions of RSKj during 2019, starting with ORCHID v0.6.0 and the recently released WASABI v1.0.0 Preview. Although there is no predefined release frequency, we aim to release new versions often, always including new features, bug fixes, security updates or performance improvements.

Some of the features that have already been released (in Mainnet, or already in their final testing stage in Testnet) include: new VM opcodes (STATIC_CALL, SHL, SHR, CREATE2), new JSON RPC methods (eth_gasPrice, debug_traceTransaction), new VM precompiled contracts (HDWalletUtils, BlockHeader), Unitrie, among others. A complete list of RSK releases, with a detailed list of changes introduced, can be found in https://github.com/rsksmart/rskj/releases.

 

Hi, do you plan to have a staking mechanism in the future? If yes, when approximately will you release that feature? How many rif will be required for staking? 

RIF Marketplace is the service that will facilitate all the collaterals and staking mechanisms for the other RIF services. In the RIF Marketplace, all RIF service providers will offer their services and share their track record and reputation with the users. These reputations will be enhanced by the collateral/insurance they are willing to offer in RIF tokens to ensure the quality of the service.

On top of this, all RIF services will be consumed using the RIF token. RNS domains are currently acquired using RIF tokens. RIF Lumino technology is available for every RSK token and the RIF token is already deployed on Lumino and users can already open off-chain payment channels with collateral in RIF tokens. Besides, RIF Payments will use RIF staking as collateral for its cross-token and cross-blockchain payments. RIF Storage and RIF Communications will use RIF payment channels as an incentive mechanism for their networks. RIF Gateways will also be consumed using RIF tokens and its oracle providers, will ensure the quality of their service with collateral in RIF tokens in the RIF Marketplace.

 

Are you planning to join more movements like Blockchain for Humanity?

We believe that Bitcoin and DLTs have the potential to set the foundation of a new decentralized and programmable network of networks for the store and transfer of value, an Internet of Value that could possibly change the lives of a billion people over the next decade. We’re constantly seeking for projects that can drive the adoption of use cases aligned with this vision. So far, we have collaborated with several projects with this vision, not only Blockchain for Humanity but also Circle of Angels, Didi and Bitgive, to name a few.

 

How many projects do you see being developed on RSK?

Some relevant use cases that are currently working on RSK can be seen on our website (https://blog.rsk.co/partners/). The page does not list every use-case running on RSK, there are other projects related to government, banking, gaming, logistics, dev tools and other industries that are onboard or will be launched on RSK that will be communicated soon. A good example is this use case from a municipality in Argentina: https://es.cointelegraph.com/news/an-argentine-municipality-launches-blockchain-platform-for-neighbors-and-businesses-developed-by-koibanx-with-rsk-technology. With that being said, we have launched many initiatives this year like the opening of the RSK Innovation Studio in San Francisco, the Ecosystem Fund or the launch of the operations in Asia that we expect will boost adoption of the platform.

 

How do you think RSK would compare against other projects like ETH or IOTA?

Ethereum is RSK’s closest relative. It’s proof of work based, as RSK, and it shares a similar virtual machine and application interface. There are however key differences. 

From the economic point of view, Ethereum has a native speculative token, Ether, and network effects are currently pushing for Bitcoin to become a single strong cryptocurrency that can serve as a store of value for the ecosystem. If this trend of market consolidation continues, the value of Ether may degrade. 

Also, Ethereum is a generic smart-contract layer tailored for dApps having their own tokens. These dApps can only grow to be used by millions by removing the friction imposed by Ether as an intermediate token. This force in the community will push Ethereum (and any other smart-contract platform) to a dynamic where transactions are paid in tokens, and users connect to third party relayers that receive micro-payments in tokens to pay the transaction gas in ether for them, something known as de-facto economic abstraction. Therefore the value of ether may be in jeopardy. While smart contract staking is an opposed force, some of the largest Ethereum projects, like MakerDAO, are now allowing staking in tokens, so ether is also losing the exclusivity as a staking mechanism. RSK, on the contrary, uses Bitcoin as its native token, and does not need to incentivize its users to hoard the coin. 

Finally, Ethereum is rebuilding itself as PoS blockchain, mainly because it has reached its end-of-life in terms of scaling capacity. The migration to Ethereum 2.0 carries an enormous technical risk, and the migration, if successful, will take several years. Meanwhile, its user base will strive to run applications in a costly environment that has already priced-out standard PCs as full nodes. RSK has a different scaling plan that is based on the conservative expansion of its onchain layer using compression and aggregation techniques, together with better resource allocation using storage rent. This layer will be ideal for 2nd layer scaling solutions, and we are encouraging these developments on our platform. The many teams working on 2nd layer networks need a stable onchain layer that they can rely today and tomorrow. 

IOTA tries to solve the consensus centralization problem by making every user a miner that provides proof-of-work embedded in their transactions, and these little proofs in mass secure the past transactions of the ledger. Therefore, IOTA security depends heavily on its continuous use as a payment mechanism. Decentralization is a noble goal but more important is having a solid strategy to achieve it.  Satoshi created a positive feedback loop when he added a block subsidy to the blockchain. On the contrary, IOTA has an unsolved bootstrapping problem. It could not bootstrap even adding a centralized coordinator during years. It could not achieve a minimum level of thermodynamic security. Recently, they implemented a completely new consensus protocol to fix this. Maybe it works, but analyzing the project technical track record I wouldn’t count on it. Anyway, from the technical point of view, the use of partial order consensus precludes the “tangle” to be used for stateful smart contracts, so it has limited functionality. Finally, using PoW in every transaction precluded the possibility of SPV-based public verifiability, like FlyClient or NiPowPow methods, as you need all transactions to verify the blockchain proof-of-work. 

 

Is there any talks with new exchanges to help them implement RSK?

We do not seek out, control, or comment on the potential integration of our assets on digital asset trading platforms. Our continued focus as an organization, is on increasing network adoption and building uses cases and applications that tackle financial inclusion and other problems.

 

What’s the aim of RSK at the moment, along with RIF (because I believe it’s related)?

Bitcoin started a revolution that set the foundation of a new Internet for the transfer of value.

RSK built upon Bitcoin capabilities, enabling smart contract execution. And RSK Infrastructure Framework Open Standard (RIF OS)  takes the vision even further by making decentralized technologies accessible to traditional developers, organizations and innovators in order for them to create the applications needed for a prosperous and inclusive society.

Financial inclusion is something that touches our hearts deeply and motivates us every day, in part because all of us come from corners of the world where we have experienced first-hand the challenges that successive economic crises and inefficient and incompetent governments present to the less-favoured. This picture is shared across most emerging economies around the world, where only a small fraction of the population has access to proper financial services and consequently, the opportunity for improvement is massive and global.

IOV Labs operates as a purpose driven organization focused on promoting and developing the next generation of open blockchain-based infrastructures that will enable worldwide financial inclusion and bridge the gap between this nascent technology and mass adoption. We believe that Bitcoin and its distributed Blockchain technology have the potential to be the foundation of a new decentralized and programmable network of networks for the store and transfer of value. An Internet of Value that could possibly change the lives of a billion people over the next decade.  

 

Do you think Crypto community needs more regulations? If yes, what kind?

Regulations in general are indeed a very complex subject matter.  More so in Blockchain and clearly is not my area of expertise. So I rather defer this questions to the lawyers and regulators who I am sure are thinking about this.  I might only add that finally, I believe that probably the market itself will determine what are the key regulations needed in the space.

 

Is there any incentive to run a Lumino or RSK node for non-miners?

By running an RSK node, you not only check the validity of your own transactions, but also that the rules of the system cannot be changed by any minority group. Therefore, it’s in RSK users best interest to run full nodes of their own. Having said that, we’ve designed -and we’re currently under development- the first decentralized system for proving you’re a full node, so in the future we’ll be able to incentivize full nodes (see our Devcon3 presentation on Proof of Unique Blockchain storage). This technology, will allow the economic reward of full nodes in the future which could be used to reward RSK and Lumino full nodes.

 

Is there a correlation between BTC addresses and RSK addresses despite of them looking like ETH addresses?

RSK addresses are similar to ETH addresses. To avoid users to mistakenly send funds to ETH addresses or vice versa, we’ve implemented an address checksum mechanism that can be implemented in any Ethereum-like network. Although this is not enforced in the node itself, it’s important to consider it at the client level (e.g.: wallets). The checksum mechanism is described in the following RSKIP: https://github.com/rsksmart/RSKIPs/blob/master/IPs/RSKIP60.md.

 

Care to go into detail about what RNS is all about?

RIF Name Service (RNS) was designed to make the user experience more friendly by providing an architecture which enables the identification of blockchain addresses by human-readable names or alias. It can be used to identify other personal resources, such as payment or communication addresses.

Centralizing the access to multiple resources associated with a human-readable name, improves the blockchain platform user experience. Along with the “ease of use” by adding a name resolution service, or “alias”, the probability of errors is significantly reduced. As resource names may change over time, the system needs to be flexible to support frequent changes. Up until now, RIF Name Service only supported addresses built on the RSK Network but currently, users can manage multiple types of coins and assets. 

For more information about RNS visit https://www.rifos.org/rif-name-service/

 

Is there going to be an easier (more automatic) way to convert from BTC to RBTC? Ideally without going through an exchange.

The native mechanism for converting BTC to RBTC and viceversa already exists and it’s called 2-Way Peg. In practice, when a user intends to convert BTC to RBTC, some BTC are locked in the Bitcoin blockchain and the same amount of RBTC is unlocked in RSK blockchain. When RBTC needs to be converted back into BTC, the RBTC get locked again in the RSK blockchain and the same amount of BTC is unlocked in the Bitcoin blockchain. A security protocol ensures that the same Bitcoins cannot be unlocked on both blockchains at the same time. This requires transaction finality, and that’s the reason the peg required hundreds of block confirmations for transactions that unlock BTC or RBTC.

Since not every user is willing to wait for the required number of block confirmations, exchanges offer a faster mechanism of getting BTC/RBTC, while charging users with exchanges fees. 

This blogpost explains in detail RSK’s 2-Way Peg design: https://blog.rsk.co/es/noticia/sidechains-drivechains-and-rsk-2-way-peg-design/. Additionally, more information about how to use the 2-Way Peg mechanism for converting BTC to RBTC can be found here: https://github.com/rsksmart/rskj/wiki/BTC-RBTC-conversion

 

Have you considered buying back undervalued RIF tokens from exchanges given your massive balance sheet and that RIF trades at 0.1x vs BTC?

We are always analyzing what we believe is best for helping us achieve our long term goals and objectives.

 

Is there a step-by-step guide for mining and node configuration?

Some upcoming mining blog posts are currently being written, and we expect to have them released in the following couple of weeks. In the meanwhile, this is a list of useful links for users willing to understand more about merged mining and setting up mining nodes:

What is merged mining: https://github.com/rsksmart/rskj/wiki/Merged-Mining

Configure an RSK node to be used from a merged mining pool: https://github.com/rsksmart/rskj/wiki/Configure-your-RSK-node-to-be-used-from-a-merge-mining-pool

 

How can I recover my token from my jaxx wallet which was the only one that had RSK addresses, when the RSK faucet existed?

Although it doesn’t happen very often, we periodically do planned fresh restarts of the RSK Testnet blockchain. This means that all account balances go to zero. A Testnet reset has been recently executed, so there is no way to recover Testnet funds once this is is done. Faucet still exists and you can get Testnet RBTCs there: https://faucet.testnet.rsk.co/.

 

Does RSK have any focus on improving the current system of cryptography for the benefit of humanity? 

Modern cryptography is an incredible difficult and formal scientific discipline. Some new cryptography schemes such as zk-SNARKS, zk-STARKS, or zk-SHARKS, have enormous potential for 2nd layer scaling of RSK. However, they are still immature and it would require years of peer-review and analysis to use them safely. This analysis would be best performed by the top cryptographers around the globe that generally work in the academia, and I think our role at IOV Labs is to encourage research and eventually create grant programs to help them expand their teams. The cryptography we perform at IOV Labs is applied: we combine the best existent tools in innovative ways to achieve new improved trade-offs between bandwidth, computation and space. For example, we developed the technique of double-signing transactions for signature aggregation which achieves the lowest resource consumption in space and computation for historic signatures. 

 

How does RSK plan to be a reference in terms of smart contracts? 

For starters, we are the most secure smart contracts platform in the world and we recently reached an all time high of 51% of hashing power on the Bitcoin Network. So security has been and will continue to be one of our key competitive advantages and we will keep working at it. Secondly, scalability which is one of the obstacles for blockchain mass adoption has been  and will be one of our key strategic objectives. In RSK research lab, we evaluate new proposals and work on scaling methods frequently and we have been working hard at developing solutions to tackle it. RIF Lumino Network has been a key milestone towards this end and we are developing as well a generic and innovative framework to scale blockchains called  shrinking-chain scaling. It’s based on the insight that the blockchains can be compressed, and also that the compression technique used can involve interactions with the users to rewrite past parts of the blockchain. This means that a block can be compressed after it has been mined. This is specially powerful for blockchains with VMs, when compressing transactions means providing proofs of executions that are expensive to generate.

 

RSK recommends to learn to program smart contracts, to a person with knowledge of beginners or null? 

Smart contract development has its particularities and things that need to be taken care of, specially related to security and decentralized environments in which they are executed. Also, and although a lot of work is being done in this direction, smart contract developer tools are still in their early stage of maturity.

Having said that, it’s absolutely possible for a person with little programming knowledge to learn how to create secure smart contracts. Our recently launched San Francisco Innovation Studio will be working on better materials and developer tools, hoping to contribute to make things easier for beginners.

 

Are there incentives for mining pools to join RSK? If so, could you tell us about them?

Of course, miners earn a high percentage of the transaction fees from every RSK block they mine. These incentives will become more and more interesting while the RSK platform drives adoption, and the number of transactions in the network increase. We are currently looking for other ways to incentivize all RSK key players -including mining pools- to better align incentives while the network is bootstrapped. 

Mining pools interested in starting to mine RSK can contact us at mining@rsk.co.

 

As a non-that-techie part of the community, I’ve been wondering: are you planning on making guides for those like me who doesn’t have a lot of experience on blockchain? Since I’m still learning, I think this would be really valuable for newbies.

I absolutely agree with the need of creating more and better material for people willing to enter the blockchain world, and help them learn faster and easier. We’ve recently launched an Innovation Studio in San Francisco that has -among other things- the goal of developing better content (guides, tutorials, etc) to make it easier for both beginners and more advanced users to start working with blockchain and RSK. We will have news about this very soon.