Elastos Weekly Updates — 29 June 2018

“Hard times arouse an instinctive desire for authenticity.”
— Coco Chanel
“Perhaps something else will come along and fulfill for the age of cryptocurrency what the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, or TCP/IP, pair of protocols did for the age of the Internet. Something will emerge as a standard, base-layer protocol that dictates how all computers everywhere exchange value with each other. Will it be Bitcoin, Ethereum, or something else entirely, perhaps a protocol that allows computers with digital assets on any one of these competing blockchains to trade directly with each other without going through a third party?”
— “The Truth Machine” by Michael J. Casey and Paul Vigna

A presentation to the United Arab Emirates government. Co-hosting an IoT conference in Shanghai with some of the biggest names in the industry. Zurich. Berlin. Amsterdam. A meetup announced at PwC in London.

Elastos continued its forward momentum this week. Let’s recap.

Technical Dynamics

1. Completed the CAR version of SPV module package;

2. Implemented the java package CAR component tool in the Android environment. Java programming can now directly call CAR components;

3. Reconstructed the RPC code of the CAR component and merged the network implementation of p2p and socket;

4. Pushed the development environment image of ELA and Runtime on AWS;

5. The test environment deploys the main sidechain and the arbitrator node and performs system testing before going online.

6. Abnormal transactions and block tests based on P2P and RPC interfaces;

7. C++ SPV interface adjustment, bug fixes, mobile wallet bug fixes

Slightly Less Technical Summary

The team has made it easy for developers to start developing on Elastos by providing a development environment image of Elastos Runtime on Amazon Web Services. This makes it easier to set up your own environment and get started.

The testing of main chain sidechain and the interaction with the arbitrator node (for DPoS) is underway. We also implemented the Java package for the Component Assembly Runtime component tool to be used in an Android environment.

Technical News

Elastos is hosting a Challenge at Hack.Summit’s Virtual Hackathon July 6–8

Link: https://medium.com/elastos/elastos-at-hack-summits-virtual-hackathon-july-6-8-a70f22f00db8

Please check out our Github links:

https://github.com/elastos/Elastos.Community

https://github.com/elastos/Elastos.Community.Global

Community News

• Elastos is hosting an Infographic Contest that runs through August 15th. Info can be found here: https://medium.com/elastos/elastos-infographic-contest-a991829d4640

• Elastos is hosting an ELA 2018 World Cup Game Link: https://medium.com/elastos/elastos-world-cup-game-9d312598f548

• The Elastos Video Contest deadline is July 15th. https://medium.com/elastos/elastos-video-contest-final-version-5efb9fbebf19 https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=3089082.0#post_a2

• Elastos is still welcoming Community Writers: https://medium.com/elastos/write-for-the-community-ba7a1e75be59

June 20

Elastos ecosystem Committee Director, Dr. Dinghe Hu, visited Dr. Yinfeng Wang, the Chairman of Chongqing Grain Group Co., Ltd. They had a thorough discussion on collaboration opportunities between Elastos and Chongqing Grain Group. Chongqing Grain group Co., Ltd. is the fifth largest grain enterprise in China, and also Chongqing’s state-owned pillar enterprise where Dr. Dinghe Hu is a member of their board.

June 23

Elastos hosted a meetup in Zurich.

The Elastos community had a meetup at X Node in Shanghai. BIT.GAME attended the meetup. At the meetup, Elastos ecosystem Committee Director, Dr. Dinghe Hu, gave a presentation called “Blockchain Revolution.” He said “Blockchain has changed the society from a tree structure to a grid structure. Vice President Weipeng Li and other executives from CITIC Bank Shanghai Branch attended the meetup.

Elastos technical advisor, Jingyu Niu, introduced the Elastos technology infrastructure and unique features of Elastos from a technical point of view. BIT.GAME COO, Ding Wang, talked about opportunities in blockchain games, and shared his thoughts on, “Is blockchain game a false statement?” He talked about three advantages of changing games to blockchain games: 1. Data flow/traffic; 2. Gaming edge can be expanded by having users receive financial benefits in the form of tokens; 3. Connections in community interest.

June 25

Elastos hosted a meetup in Berlin.

June 26

Elastos was invited and attended the Dubai-Shanghai Smart City Innovation Conference. Attendees included the UAE Consulate General in Shanghai, the Watani Foundation, Smart Dubai, Dubai Electricity and Security Center, Dubai Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai Police Department, and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. Elastos and ioeX gave presentations to a team from the United Arab Emirates government and Watani. Elastos technology, blockchain and smart cities were discussed. Smart Dubai is a government initiated smart city project to overhaul Dubai with new technology.

Elastos co-hosted the “IoT + Blockchain,” Applications Summit in Shanghai. The Summit was co-hosted by IoT101 and was sponsored by IBM, Microsoft, and IOTAChina, China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, Prometheus Blockchain Application Union, Energy Blockchain Lab, Sugon Bilabs, and Shanghai Internet of Things Industry Association. Elastos Executive Advisor, Yuxin Zhang, shared insights about blockchain integration and how Elastos technology can improve IoT.

June 27

Elastos attended and hosted a booth at Blockchain Expo Europe 2018 Amsterdam. Rong Chen also gave a speech.

Link to Speech: https://youtu.be/MQ5znBD99jI

Meetups and Events

Amsterdam

https://www.meetup.com/Amsterdam-Elastos-Open-Source-Meetup/

Ghent

https://www.meetup.com/Elastos-Belgium-Open-Source-Meetup/

Paris

https://www.meetup.com/Elastos-France-Open-Source-Meetup/

London

Feng Han will be hosting an Elastos event at PricewaterhouseCoopers in London on July 10. The event is co-hosted by UK China Catalyst, London South Bank University, and Tina Ye, a Senior Auditor at PwC and a blockchain community organizer.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/meeting-the-elastos-co-founder-han-feng-at-pwc-london-tickets-47384218473

Manchester

Feng Han will be speaking at an event in Manchester on July 14th.

https://www.meetup.com/Bitcoin-Manchester/events/251952999/?_xtd=gqFyqTI0ODAzNzkyMqFwo3dlYg&from=ref

Community Contributions

Elastos Medium page published KP Woods “ELA Tokenomics” as part of our Community Writer Series.

Link: https://medium.com/elastos/elastos-ela-tokenomics-d3fc44791661

Kevin Zhang and KP Woods answered 16 community questions in a video series shot from Barcelona.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLoxCTwcUvvNtw9_T_pew670VhkFFRA8rv

Rong Chen’s speech from the London Meetup:

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=qYITOZVZ6A8

Tyler from Chico Crypto posted another informative video, this one focusing on the Elastos Runtime.

Link: https://youtu.be/x-NwHOlJ9Zc

Alex aka CryptoCandor posted an overall project review of Elastos.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OH0b-9f2uHw&ebc=ANyPxKrR2NSvlFdYz7PvotzProIh8rhqfXWK5fFEb4T4l9uv7YvGK8adlJ0OyG1qRR0dKDGucdlaRYR5a88jl24zLRBiVaBckQ

ChillZoneInternational posted an updated video of his “15 minutes or less” review of Elastos.

Link: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=obprlaqUQio&ebc=ANyPxKpDaWxd0fltaL0KE63KTHsbqBdnwnsIlZQS6P2xuGklC2DmjCwRiDv5WCQM7F6md2iYowaen32hPvx8gGawWFqWNCMhGg

Thoughts and Conclusions

“Blockchain technology could help achieve what some commentators are calling the promise of the “Internet 3.0,” a re-architecting of the Net to assert the core objectives of decentralization that inspired many of the early online pioneers who built the Internet 1.0. It turned out that simply giving networks of computers a way to share data directly wasn’t enough to prevent large corporate entities from taking control of the information economy. Silicon Valley’s anti-establishment coders hadn’t reckoned with the challenge of trust and how society traditionally turns to centralized institutions to deal with that. That failure was clear in the subsequent Internet 2.0 phase, which unlocked the power of social networks but also allowed first-mover companies to turn network effects into entrenched monopoly power. These included social media giants like Facebook and Twitter and e-marketplace success stories of “the sharing economy” such as Uber and Airbnb. Blockchain technologies, as well as other ideas contained in this Internet 3.0, aim to do away with these intermediaries altogether, letting people forge their own bonds of trust to build social networks and business arrangements on their own terms.”
“Blockchains point the entire digital economy toward something people are calling the Internet of Value. Whereas the first version of the Internet allowed people to send information directly to each other, in the Internet of Value people can send anything of value to each other, be it currencies, assets, or valuable data that was previously too sensitive to transmit online. If the first phases of the Internet created huge opportunities for wealth creation and new business models by helping people jump the fences and get on the playing field, the next one promises to remove the fences altogether. In theory, it means that everyone with access to a device and the Internet can participate directly in the global economy. Thus, the hope is that we will greatly expand the pool of open-source innovation from which all sorts of powerful ideas will emerge.”
— The Truth Machine

A re-architecting. An data-driven peer-to-peer economy. Decentralization. If blockchain is the Internet 3.0 and Elastos is blockchain 3.0….We really are on the cutting edge of what is coming. Yet none of that even takes into account the full breadth of Elastos. Blockchain is still in its infancy, an unknown concept for most of the world, and while many are currently questioning its value, this is a good time to look at it. This will be the first piece in a series that discusses blockchain: its history, effects and evolution and the future of Elastos as a world super computer. This week, we start with the history that led to blockchain.


Right now, all over the world, there is an idea at the heart of debates both educated and ignorant. This idea is…Disruptive. Controversial. Rebellious. Anti-authoritarian. Smart.

While some call it revolutionary, others call it stupid, a fad, and ironically, untrustworthy.

While some governments are for it, and openly taut its merits, other governments are desperately trying to suppress it and even make it illegal.

But no matter where one falls on this issue, if one has even the faintest idea what it actually is, no one can deny that the same power that this idea represents is both what attracts some to it and yet repels others by it.

The idea is really no less than the simple truth. An elegant, beautiful, modern version of the foundation of finance, transaction, exchange, and trust.

What is this idea?

It’s a ledger.

A bookkeeping method.

Sound boring?

It is. But when you understand its importance and potential to the foundations of our world, it’s really not.

There is a rich history of why the ledger has come back into the forefront of society, and this week that history will be explored. While much of the world currently doubts the current industry of digital ledgers, others understand the historical and very social evolutionary aspect to what is happening. A simultaneous purge of a false truth and an implementation of the true one can be a jarring, even cataclysmic event. Some of us may feel the tremors and even revel in them… but many have their doubts about the function of such an idea. Those who argue against this idea need only to turn to the pages of history to understand that it has been with us for centuries and it desperately needs an upgrade.

We begin with writing, money, and counting. These three things in combination with one another allowed human beings to expand business beyond a mere clan or kinship group and create much larger settlements. In today’s society, the average person is well aware of the benefits and necessity of writing and money, yet when organized counting, or a ledger is brought up, few are well versed in its history or function in how our world operates. We cannot talk about the future of ledgers if we do not understand their past.

Ledgers are not a new technology. In fact, they date back as far as Mesopotamia in 3000 BCE. Much of the archaeological artifacts that remain from this ancient civilization are clay tablets that were used as ledgers. They recorded things like payments, tax records, wealth, and wages. The Babylonian system of law, the Code of Hammurabi, was written on a ledger. These laws or code are some of the oldest in human history, and much of them deal with how to handle payments and exchanges.

Ledgers and accounting have a long history throughout society from antiquity, to the Roman Empire, up to the advanced civilizations in Asia and the Arab world. The appearance of ledgers themselves coincide with the appearance of the first recorded large civilizations. This fact points to the concept that the type of ledgers in a society is in direct influence to the type of civilization that grows out of that society. Ledgers are important. They are mirrors to the values and organizing principles of a society. How people treat their ledgers can say a lot about them.

Ledgers themselves allow for the exchange of goods and services and for different types of information to be recorded and this allows societies to expand. It seems like an overlooked function of society, something so basic that it is unnecessary to discuss, but really, it is absolutely essential, now more than ever. In a more primitive and smaller society, one could keep track of the goods and services that took place. If someone provided food for their village, there would be a record of all those who ate and benefitted and therefore this record was proof that the provider of the food was owed something in return by those who ate it. This system provides trust. If someone gives something, there is trust that they will be given back in an equal return. The concept is quite simple, and this is where its power lies. The record keeping is the trust that the complexity of exchanges and information can be simple and trusted.

Money itself can be used as a record keeping device. Gold and paper money have both been used instead of a written account to represent goods and services exchanged. In this usage, money is in the form of a token and this token is the record.

However, once society began trading across vast distances, the idea of money itself being a record keeper was highly inefficient. If one traded with another across a distance, the facilitator of the trade, or courier, had to be trusted. The expansion of modern society needed a solution to trust exchanges.

Up until the Renaissance, the Judeo-Christian tradition was openly against lending, using the Bible as precedent. “Thou shall not lend upon usury to thy brother.” While ancient civilizations had been open to systems of debt, with the rise of Christianity and its eventual coinciding Dark Ages of Europe, there was a prolonged period of mathematical incomprehension and an anti-lending philosophy. This lack of understanding numbers and the belief that lending money was sinful, staggered not only the economy of Europe, but the intellectual growth of its people.

During the Crusades, Europeans were finally exposed to the advanced math of Asia and the Arab world. By the 13th century, Fibonacci, an Italian merchant and eventual pioneer in mathematics, studied in Egypt, Sicily, Greece, and Syria, and published a book, Liber Abaci, that taught European merchants algebra that enabled them to calculate basic things like fractions and currency calculations, allowing businesses to expand.

But the real solution, the solution that led to capitalism, that led to the modern world as we know it, was popularized in Europe near the end of the 15th century.

Double-entry bookkeeping.

The concept is simple: on one side debt is recorded and on the other side credit is recorded. This allows money to move without physicality — with this, comes economic growth.

While the concept of double-entry accounting may actually have been developed in ancient India, and had been used in the Arab world for centuries, the lineage of the iteration we know today developed out of early Renaissance Italy. Although this bookkeeping method already existed, it was not until it was organized into the form of a published book, that the idea really took off.

In 1494, a religious man, a magician, a lover of puzzles, and a Franciscan friar, named Luca Picioli, not only wrote the first manual on accounting, but in turn became known as the father of modern accounting.

Double-entry accounting created the modern world by allowing banks to become payment providers and lenders of money. The issue of trust would now fall on the record keepers themselves, a massive solution and a massive problem for trust at the same time.

The Medici of Florence became prominent middle men and facilitated the flow of money across Europe. By being able to debit one person’s account and credit another’s, in a double entry practice, bankers could now move money without moving money. Out of this was born the Renaissance and modern capitalism. But that’s not all. Also out of this practice, bankers would become the arbiters of trust and cement themselves as an essential part of society by positioning themselves in a very centralized role.

From this, the ledger became almost religious in itself. Religious justification at the time came from the Book of Revelations.

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

The dead open their book. God opens his book. We have a double entry account of a person’s life. Now, we have Biblical justification for a society that is very religious.

Ledgers and record keeping took on a very important role for centuries. There was a certain sacrosanctity and trust mechanism built into this concept. The “books” as they later became known, were where the real truth could be found. Or so we thought.

2008, the now infamous zenith of distrust in a system put in place over 500 years prior, started with a Wall Street firm named Lehman Brothers reporting their gains for the prior year, 2007. Their revenue, 59 billion. Their earnings, 4.2 billion. These earnings were double what they had been only four year earlier and an exemplary look at just how impressive the firm’s book were. Impressive indeed…

Within 9 months, Lehman Brothers were closing their doors for good.

What Lehman Brothers represents is the most obvious example of how ledger tampering, or book manipulation, can cause epidemics in the financial systems worldwide. The world learned that year, the our trust in ledgers is only as good as the people overseeing those ledgers, and Wall Street, where much of the money in the world is managed, proved to be the opposite of trustworthy. The details of how these firms created fake wealth and manipulated the trust mechanisms with the public is vast and worth researching, but it is not nearly as important as the fact that very few saw it coming. In the aftermath of that crisis, trillions were spent by governments worldwide to help restore order to a financial catastrophe caused by ledgers and the people who maintain them, and yet, all of this restoration resulted in preserving the very same system that existed before it.

This breach of trust led to a devastating fallout. Political and financial mistrust became commonplace to the degree that America saw its own two party political system divide itself exponentially further apart, both in a direction away from the “system” that was once trusted to a much higher degree. Worldwide, trust is still at the center of debate and at historical lows in many sectors of global society, especially in America.

But before we arrive at Halloween 2008, at the now famous whitepaper that was released as a sort of trick or treat for humanity’s grim disguise of “Trust,” it is worth saying that digital ledgers were already in existence prior to Satoshi Nakamoto.

In the 1990’s, a Cypherpunk named Nick Szabo, developed something called the “God Protocol.” The idea created a spreadsheet that runs on a virtual machine or group of networked computers that enables transparency of information to all parties involved. With a combination of private and public data, users sent their information to a trusted third party entity, or deity, which Szabo envisioned as a way to enable trust in transactions. In 1996, Szabo coined the term “smart contract” in a paper published in a magazine called Extropy. In 1998, Szabo designed, although never implemented, plans for a digital currency that used a proof of work consensus algorithm to solve cryptographic puzzles. Solutions were processed through a Byzantine Fault Tolerant peer-to-peer network, followed by the creation of a cryptographic hash chain link. Each solution would become part of the next puzzle, creating a chain and validating blocks of transactions. The project was called Bit Gold. All of this has led some to believe that Nick Szabo is Satoshi Nakamoto. He denies it.

In 2005, Ian Grigg, a computer expert working for a company called Systemics, developed a prototype for a “triple-entry bookkeeping method.” Grigg was also a cryptographer, and his idea took double-entry bookkeeping and added an open ledger that was independent of the first two, and was immutable through cryptographic methods. Grigg used the idea of a time stamp to cryptographically sign each transaction and prevent fraud. If the first two ledgers did not match the third independent ledger, then there was a problem. In the era of Wall Street fraud, of men like Bernie Madoff, whose ledgers were able to be hidden and manipulated and literally demolish people’s life savings, their retirement, their lives…these ideas of digital ledgers were in the air so to speak.

When Satoshi Nakamoto released his whitepaper for Bitcoin, the world was in desperate need of a new system. Blockchain was the promise of a new idea. But if the world took thousands of years to settle on double-entry bookkeeping, and another 500 to find its way to the idea of an immutable ledger, this new idea was never the kind that would be implemented overnight. The truth is, he or she who controls the ledger, controls the money or the information. But what if no one controlled it? Even though the world’s institutions had proven to be corrupt, toppling them would take more than an idea. It would take people.

Let’s look at the idea first.

Working with a general definition of blockchain as used by authors Michael J. Casey, a senior advisor at MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative, and Paul Vigna, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, we can see what exactly began to rise out of the collapse of 2008.

Blockchain —

A decentralized, append-only ledger of provably signed, sequentially linked, and cryptographically secured transactions that’s replicated across a network of computer nodes, with outgoing updates determined by a software-driven consensus.

This definition may not seem overwhelming to many reading this, but it is assuredly written in a foreign language to the average person who may soon be using blockchain in their everyday life.

What does it mean?

The word decentralized represents that the ledger is not merely in one place anymore, but in many places all at the same time. Each computer, or node, is now a bookkeeper, and each bookkeeper is required to update this ledger independently and responsibly, and to coordinate with all the other bookkeepers or computers. When a bookkeeper updates the ledger and proves that it is correct, all of the other bookkeepers update their ledger with the same information. This process keeps the ledger continuously updating, except now, the information has been deemed to be true by many bookkeepers and there is no one master or centralized ledger anymore, but many decentralized copies.

The term append-only means that information can only be added to the ledger and that nothing can be removed. This is a key feature. One cannot go back anymore and change the ledger. Once it has been agreed to be the truth, it remains the truth forever.

The term provably signed refers to users of the ledger having one publicly viewable key, and one private key, that when combined, or signed, allows that person or entity to unlock information or value on the ledger. A key is a string of numbers, letters, or words. When someone signs their public key with their private key, the rest of the users of the ledger know that the person signing has authorization to access that part of the ledger, and can then move that information, or digital currency, to another part of the ledger.

The term sequentially linked and cryptographically secured refers to how the information on this ledger is formed in a chronological order and secured using cryptography. Each entry on the ledger is protected by a sort of mathematical lock, and because each entry was already verified, this chain of blocks of information on this ledger is very hard to ever alter, thus making it immutable and secure.

The term replicated refers to the ledger being copied and spread out across all of the nodes or computers that make up the ledgers integrity.

Finally, the term software-driven consensus refers to a program that all bookkeepers run independently. This program guides everyone to reach agreements using requirements and incentives so that each bookkeeper can agree on which transactions should be on the ledger and which transactions should not be. Reaching a consensus allows ledgers to harmonize and keeps the process of updating the ledger moving along.

Blockchain is the technical implementation of the immutable ledger. Its potential and variations are vital to understand, and many will be looked at. While this week focused on the history that led to blockchain, subsequent articles will focus on the current state of blockchain, its future, and how Elastos is the evolution not only of blockchain, but the internet itself.

The quote that opened this week’s report ends with a fascinating question.

“Perhaps something else will come along and fulfill for the age of cryptocurrency what the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, or TCP/IP, pair of protocols did for the age of the Internet. Something will emerge as a standard, base-layer protocol that dictates how all computers everywhere exchange value with each other. Will it be Bitcoin, Ethereum, or something else entirely, perhaps a protocol that allows computers with digital assets on any one of these competing blockchains to trade directly with each other without going through a third party?”

That something else has come along and this mini series will explore how we got there and where we are going. We need to look at Bitcoin and Ethereum and other blockchain projects, and we need to look at what blockchains can do for the world, and then we need to look at Elastos in this grander context. Because Elastos does exactly what the authors prophesies will come along. It is trying to fix all of the problems that the TCP/IP protocol currently has. Elastos does away with IP addresses and even disables the http/https protocol on this new decentralized internet that it is pioneering, that it is creating. On Elastos, applications request a resource (data) instead of a URL and the Elastos Carrier goes out into the vast Elastos Smart Web and it grabs the data and brings it back. All of the data from every website and every application is decentralized and distributed with no central authority and information is exchanged via a peer to peer network. This is that something that “will come along,” that will, “emerge as a standard, base-layer protocol,” and use blockchain to change the internet by not over-relying on blockchain but understanding that the internet itself also has to change. These are the concepts that people who do their research understand are integral to a very large scale overhaul of the way we currently access and operate in our fundamentally flawed internet infrastructure. Blockchain has a long way to go — and so does the internet. We need to think about what projects offer actual innovation and solve real problems that actually improve upon the current internet and systems of trust and organization. The ledger is very old, but the internet is very young. We need to anchor the internet with an immutable foundation of society — something that has never really existed until now. But we cannot stop there. We need to re-architect how we access the internet and how we exchange value and information on the internet. We need to understand the one project that can put so many of these pieces together at once and interlope with other projects that are also emerging to create a very smart, very secure, very decentralized version of the standard form of transfer and communication in our world. We need to keep looking at the big picture and keep looking at where Elastos rests within it. Stay tuned.

Onward! Upward! Elastos!

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