The Gordian Knot is said to have been a Turk’s head knot, which has no ends exposed, making it appear impossible to disentangle.

The Gordian Knot called “The Oracle Problem”

Burak Benligiray
Oct 8, 2020 · 2 min read

During our years working on oracles, a dissatisfaction slowly brewed at the back of our minds. This oracle technology that was supposed to remove the middlemen, in fact, only supplanted them with other middlemen. The API services available on the blockchain were being served by third-party oracle node operators, who were in turn being hand-picked by a centrally governed authority — the meta-middleman.

It’s one thing to be bothered by a problem, it’s quite another to be able to accurately define it. In our case, once we came up with the solution, we were able to see the original problem with new clarity. Current oracle implementations depend on third-party oracles; that is, oracles operated by entities who don’t own the data or services they provide. The solution is to use first-party oracles — oracles operated by the API providers themselves.

In the ancient legend, Alexander the Great arrives at Gordion where he is met by an ox cart tied to a post by the late King Midas of Phrygia. Upon hearing the prophecy — whoever unravels the knot will be the ruler of Asia — Alexander attempts to untie the knot, but to no avail. His solution then is to cut the knot into two with his sword, and carry on to fulfill the prophecy.

This tale is the embodiment of our approach. While everyone is playing within the illusory rules and constraints of the oracle problem, we realized that we have the means to cut the Gordian knot and must take this simple yet daring step: use first-party oracles.

Alexander the Great Cuts the Gordian Knot, fresco by Donato Creti at Palazzo Pepoli Campogrande, Bologna (© Web Gallery of Art).

API3

Extending the capabilities of blockchain applications. API3 builds blockchain-native, decentralized APIs with DAO-governance and quantifiable security. Learn more: api3.org.

Burak Benligiray

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Making first-party oracles happen at API3

API3

Extending the capabilities of blockchain applications. API3 builds blockchain-native, decentralized APIs with DAO-governance and quantifiable security. Learn more: api3.org.