Blockchain for the Real World

Cardstack’s approach to decentralization.

Cardstack founding director Chris Tse stopped by Tokyo to participate in the Beyond Blocks panel “Real World Applications of the Blockchain.”

Here are the top takeaways, with quotes from Chris:

Decentralization Will Happen in Steps

The “all or nothing” approach that many blockchain enthusiasts promote will only take us so far in terms of breaking into the mainstream. The reality is that decentralization will happen gradually, and we need to build for that reality.

Cardstack’s composable architecture lets blockchain-curious users dip their toes into decentralization — and swap out their centralized apps and services with the decentralized equivalents over time, when the time is right.

“We don’t need all the blockchain technology to work from day one. We can start with things that have been proven to work.”

Let Users Orchestrate

Today’s centralized tech superpowers deliver their seamless experiences by aggregating and controlling data. If we want to decentralize the Internet, we need to offer users a cohesive experience across all the different apps and services they need while leaving them with full control over their digital lives.

Cardstack does this by putting orchestration tools into the hands of users:

“There’s a lot of talk about two blockchains working together autonomously, without you touching it. We take an approach that the cross-chain interaction really should go through the user, or at least the user agent under the user control.
“You can automate that agent, you can write your own AI on it, but it’s not really something that’s autonomous, programmed once and never changed.
“We see ourselves as a client of the blockchain, and not an overlord of the blockchain.”

Decentralize Analytics

If we think of blockchain only as a database for payments, we miss the opportunity to use it as a powerful new way to orchestrate decentralized computation at scale.

Cardstack’s Tally Protocol is how we can supercharge decentralized apps: by using currently-deployed mining GPUs to perform complex analytics—so that we can deliver the kinds of user experiences people want, without depending on Silicon Valley tech giants.

“In the last 10 years, what drove the most innovation in analytics? It’s GPUs. GPUs in machine learning, in aggregation, in accelerated database that runs on memory. The question is: Who has the most deployed GPU in the field? Crypto!
“Can the blockchain provide new raw resources, taking a portion of the GPU capacity deployed and making better use of it?”

Plan for Utility

Software and services is a huge business, and the emerging decentralized Internet will be no exception. Cardstack’s design anticipates a decentralized Internet where blockchain projects are delivering real utility and not just speculative value to users.

“We are going to wait until we can say “You can redeem software and services with the Cardstack Token, as you would with a web-hosting company, on the day the token is unlocked.’
“It’s a utility that you would have paid your registrar or Google or a hosting company that you’re now paying the token economy — that’s now not controlled by a single company’s terms of service, that’s now governed by a community-driven smart contract.
“We need to accelerate that and reduce the gap between the promise and the delivery.”

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Illustration: Chris Gardella for Cardstack.