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AMA Recap with Pantera Group featuring Colin Steil, COO at Cartesi

As of 2022 Descartes has now been renamed as Cartesi Compute.

28/2/2021 — We’ve recently conducted an AMA in Pantera Group’s Telegram, a leading Korean community. The AMA was held with Colin Steil, Chief Operating Officer at Cartesi.

Note: Some of the text may have been edited for clarity and grammar.

Pantera Admin: Please introduce the project

Colin Steil: Sure! I’ll do a short intro of myself and then Cartesi.

I’m Colin, Co-Founder and COO of Cartesi. I come from a background of venture capital as well as start-ups. I have a huge passion to make blockchain a reality. I have expertise in execution and years of experience in community building and business operations across the globe. It’s a pleasure to be here and take part in the AMA!

Cartesi is taking smart contracts to the next level. It is solving the urgent problem of scalability and high fees on blockchains by implementing a variant of optimistic roll-ups. Most notably, Cartesi is revolutionizing smart contract programming by allowing developers to code with mainstream software stacks.

Noether is Cartesi’s side-chain that’s optimized for ephemeral data, providing low-cost data availability to DApps.

Q1: Questions about the Cartesi core. The Cartesi core goes to the off-chain for calculation. Actually, I don’t know the difference between on-chain and off-chain. And why does Cartesi core work off-chain, and what are the advantages of the project?

Colin Steil: On-chain means that everything happens on the underlying blockchain itself (for instance, Ethereum or another layer-1 platform), this is what we call “on-chain.”

Off-chain is anything that happens outside of the blockchain, where Cartesi shines as because of the Cartesi Machine (our Linux VM), we are able to maintain all of the security guarantees of the underlying blockchain.

What gives Cartesi a competitive edge as a layer-2 and optimistic rollups solution is that it allows developers to code their smart contracts and DApps directly with mainstream software components and Linux OS resources. That represents more than an incremental improvement to decentralized applications. It is a necessary step toward the maturity of the whole blockchain ecosystem. Allowing mainstream programmability means that DApp developers have an entirely new expressive power to create from simple to rather complex smart contracts. It also means opening the doors for extensive adoption of regular developers who have never programmed for blockchain, as they will create decentralized applications with a coding experience similar to desktop or web.

Q2–1: Question about token compensation. According to the data, 25% of the total CTSI supply (250 million) was allocated to mining. Please explain how to allocate to the miner. Also, is there a system where early miners can make a bigger profit?

Colin Steil: Sure! Yes that’s correct, 25% was allocated to a “Mine Reserve.” The Mine Reserve allows us to bootstrap Noether — our sidechain without the need for inflation.

The consensus mechanism of our sidechain is Proof of Stake. Ultimately those who stake and are participating in Reserve Mining receive rewards that are proportional to their stake over time. This selection of block producers utilizes a very efficient mechanism that reduces fees and race conditions on the underlying blockchain.

You can learn more about how it works here:

We’ve recently seen significant organic growth on CTSI Reserve Mining, so if you want details on how to join, check out the website: https://cartesi.io/ko/mine/

Q2–2: Comparing CTSI Dapp development platform and other existing platforms, what is CTSI platforms competition factor? How is it different?

Colin Steil: Thanks for the question, as mentioned above, what gives Cartesi a competitive edge and advantage as a layer-2 and optimistic rollups solution is that it allows developers to code their smart contracts and DApps directly with mainstream software components and Linux OS resources.

This allows us to give a tremendous improvement to blockchains and their DApps. We view it as a mandatory step towards the maturity of the whole blockchain ecosystem. Allowing mainstream programmability means that DApp developers have an entirely new expressive power to create from simple to rather complex smart contracts. For example, they would have the ability to even open a file now!

It also means opening the doors for the adoption of traditional developers who have never programmed for blockchain, as they will create decentralized applications with a coding experience similar to desktop or web.

Q3: What do you think are the issues that Dapp developers are facing today? Is that a reason for you to develop Linux infrastructure like Cartesi?

Colin Steil: We believe DApp developers face a number of problems today, they are essentially having to reinvent software stacks for blockchain that have already existed and which have been maturing for decades.

This is exactly one of the reasons we are building Cartesi. No software application is built in isolation. Mainstream mobile/desktop/web Applications today depend on multiple software dependencies that took decades to mature on operating systems like Linux.

Cartesi brings all this software infrastructure to blockchain applications. Whereas without Cartesi, blockchain applications cannot use mainstream software, libraries, and services, unless they sacrifice decentralization in some way.

Q4–1: In addition to the Creepts announced last year by Cartesi, there are additional games under development. When will there be an additional announcement?

Colin Steil: We’re really glad that you enjoyed Creepts as much as we did building it! It was exciting to see how our community loved to play the game. Creepts was special as it showcased an early version of Cartesi, building a DApp that was coded with a mainstream software language and goes well beyond the limits of Ethereum.

We have mentioned a couple of times that we have a new game in development. We are hoping to make more information on this public in early Q2, but that’s all I can say for now.

Q4–2: With the launch of Cartesi’s VM / Cartesi Compute, Cartesi is committed to implementing the most efficient Rollup. If this technology is implemented, what will happen?

Correct, we recently released our article on Cartesi Rollups:

Essentially once this is implemented, it means that developers will be able to code scalable smart contracts with mainstream software stacks.

Q5–1: How will Cartesi play a role in implementing software services without affecting decentralization, in a situation where the blockchain cannot be completely changed and modified?

Colin Steil: As we are a layer-2 solution, Cartesi does not actually rely on changing any of the underlying blockchain, so there is no need for modifications. With our virtual machine, we also maintain all of the security guarantees and decentralization of whichever underlying blockchain it runs on.

Q5–2: With the link between Cartesi and Truebit, we know that both technologies would be more efficient to move intensive computation off-chain and then use validation games within the blockchain to solve computational results. What exactly differentiates these two technologies, and how effective are they?

Colin Steil: In regards to competitors, Cartesi is a unique project in a certain way. TrueBit and Offchain Labs both have a similar protocol for off-chain computation that involves an interactive dispute resolution (verification game).

In fact, Offchain Labs is much closer to Cartesi as they are also implementing a format of optimistic rollups.

However, in our case, we have different choices of virtual machine architecture and cryptoeconomic incentives in order to fulfill our vision. Namely, to provide DApp developers with a wealth of software infrastructure already available for Linux. In that respect, there’s no project that is similar to Cartesi currently.

Q5–3: We were told that the final step in our staking infrastructure would be CTSI’s innovative staking auction system. How does this auction system work and what do you think are the benefits of this system?

Colin Steil: We are really excited about the macroeconomy system that will be released in 2022. It is a staking system that overcomes the major issues of Proof of Stake systems (including recent problems about the opportunity cost of DeFi).

It essentially gives no assumptions about users’ risk preferences and the rewards are always known instead of varying with the total funds staked in the network. The system allows stakers to express and apply different risk preferences while acting as a balanced method to minimize inflation and maintaining the security of the network.

You can read all about it in our article for more details:

Q6: Cartesi contributes to blockchain by allowing what happens in off-chain to be done in a Linux environment. By the way, isn’t the problem with the current blockchain ecosystem not the speed of the offchain problem, but the problem is that it is handled slowly when transactions occur on the on-chain? Is it meaningful that cartesi runs in a linux environment in this environment? What do you think?

Colin Steil: This is another reason we are also integrating Rollups with the Cartesi Machine. With rollups, all transaction data is bundled up (rolled up) and made available on Ethereum itself in a cheaper way than they would typically be for a regular transaction on the blockchain. Besides, the bulk of the computational load goes off-chain, making for large gains in throughput and transaction cost-efficiency.

Regarding the Linux environment, this will bring an entirely new paradigm to DApp development. To state this is the simplest way, developers will no longer need to re-invent the wheel each time they want to build a DApp. They’ll be unrestricted and be able to use all of the software that exists today and is used in mainstream applications. We can’t wait to see what can be created!

In fact, we’ve already seen a number of very cool products built on our Cartesi Compute SDK (https://cartesi.io/docs) which is live. We have 3 projects from our DApp Incubation Program in IoT, NFT’s and Tooling and are currently running a matching round on Gitcoin as the last phase, you can check them out here:

Q7–1: The 2021 roadmap states that you will be conducting a test net on Cartesi Rollup. What exactly is Cartesi Rollup? Is this a system for scalability?

Colin Steil: Yes! We are really excited to release this as soon as possible. The implementation of Cartesi Rollups will be Cartesi Compute Rollups. It will enable scalable smart contracts built with mainstream software stacks

Cartesi Compute Rollups is a variant of optimistic rollups with interactive dispute resolution. Instead of Solidity, developers will be able to use countless mainstream software components to code smart contracts that run on a Linux VM.

If you want to dive deep into the details, you can read about it here:

Q7–2: The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Cartesi is the Creepts game. We held various events through Creepts last year. Many people were very interested. In particular, the NFT platform is attracting attention in 2021. Will Cartesi be preparing for NFT?

We think the NFT space is very exciting and there will be lots of opportunities for Cartesi in it as well. We are looking into it.

Regarding current projects on NFT’s, you can read more about our DApp Incubation Program Project, SimThunder here:

This includes an interview we recently did with the founder.

SimThunder is using Cartesi as a way to ensure a marketplace for NFT’s while keeping control of privacy for items that have been shared. With our Cartesi Compute SDK, the SimThunder marketplace will allow a party to securely share private content with another party upon payment, without disclosing it to the public.

Q8: As far as I know, Cartesi was built with python. Ethereum is built with solidity. Cartesi is an erc-20-based token. I wonder why it was built in a different language than Ethereum.

Colin Steil: Cartesi itself is actually built with a multitude of languages. Cartesi is a layer-2 infrastructure for blockchains that allows developers to code highly scalable smart contracts with mainstream software stacks on a Linux VM.

There are no modifications required to Ethereum itself when using Cartesi, we however need to use Solidity in the development of our own smart contracts that make Cartesi possible on Ethereum while maintaining all of the decentralization and security guarantees that it provides.

To familiarize yourself more, you can start at our website: https://cartesi.io

Q9: Even though most people don’t use Linux OS, Are there any specific reason for Cartesi to try connecting Linux and Blockchain?

Maybe MS, MAC OS woule be more popular for people normally. Why does Cartesi choose Linux instead of other popular OS?

Colin Steil: This is a good question to clear up, as what we are building can sometimes be misinterpreted from the users’ perspective.

To clear up any confusion, Cartesi is able to run on any kind of computer.

The operating system itself (Linux OS) is emulated to develop DApp logic on for developers.

As to why our virtual machine and emulation supports Linux, Linux is the most relevant OS nowadays in many aspects. Also, Cartesi and public blockchains have an intimate relationship with open-source software. Linux and RISC-V are very good representatives of the open-source and open standard worlds with more and more adoption, for example, even Microsoft is embracing open-source and Linux, which is an interesting factor to consider.

It’s important to note that in principle, Cartesi’s architecture and platform can also easily support other OS’s. But at this point, we don’t see a need to invest in or promote this possibility.

Q10–1: Cartesi introduced a PoS system on the mainnet this year. Is there a reason why we used PoS algorithm? There are various consensus algorithms such as PoW / DPoS / PoA. How is the PoS algorithm used in Cartesi?

Colin Steil: We have chosen a PoS system to run our sidechain on as it is a consensus mechanism that has been proven over the others when you factor in considerations such as strong consensus, thoroughly tested, secure, while also providing a very high level of decentralization.

Cartesi’s sidechain is officially called “Noether,” Noether is Cartesi’s high-performance side chain for data availability. Why do we need Noether? Data stored on blockchains are persistent and kept forever, making them unnecessarily expensive for most DApps’ needs that only require temporary availability of data. Noether is a novel temporary storage data ledger that will open new efficient and cost-effective venues for applications on Ethereum.

If you want to read more into this, check out our article on the Cartesi Network:

Q10–2: Cartesi supports Linux. The advantage is that you can eliminate the limitations of developers’ solidity and EVM. However, Linux is not very accessible. It’s a project designed to address scalability, but wouldn’t this interfere with scalability?

Thanks for this question, I am assuming there is also some confusion here in the same way as the previous question (Q9).

To clear up this confusion again, Cartesi is able to run on any kind of computer. The operating system itself is emulated to develop DApp logic on (for developers).

As to why our virtual machine and emulation supports Linux for development, Linux is the most relevant OS nowadays in many aspects. Also, Cartesi and public blockchains have an intimate relationship with open-source software.

As mentioned, Cartesi’s architecture and platform can also easily support other OS’s. But at this point, we don’t see a need to invest in or to promote this possibility.

Thus in principle, this does not interfere with scalability at all.

Pantera Admin: This is the end of the CARTESI X PANTERA ICO AMA SESSION

Thank you for participating.

Colin Steil: Really hope to see you all in one of our communities!

@cartesiproject for English

@cartesiKR for the Korean community!

If you are more technical orientated, don’t forget to join our Discord:

https://discordapp.com/invite/Pt2Nrn

Cartesi’s Ecosystem Links:

Website: https://cartesi.io

Explorer: https://explorer.cartesi.io

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cartesiproject

Telegram: https://t.me/cartesiproject

Telegram Announcements: https://t.me/cartesiannouncements

Discord (Development Community): https://discordapp.com/invite/Pt2NrnS

GitHub: https://github.com/cartesi

Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/cartesi/

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