Harmony Keynote: Scaling Privacy, Secure Staking, Radical Fairness

Stephen Tse
Sep 29 · 9 min read

[This is an extended transcript (summary tweet) of Harmony’s keynote speech at Wanxiang’s Shanghai International Blockchain Week 2019. ]

Today I’d like to present Harmony’s year-long journey into transcending the blockchain trilemma.

Our project vision is Open Consensus for 10 Billion. As infrastructure engineers who used to work at the world’s top companies, our approach is to bring the best research results into production.

For the last few years, the trilemma — decentralization vs scalability vs security — has sparked many advances in blockchain protocols.

To us, achieving all these characteristics is not an impossibility but an expansion of the triangle through great engineering.

But, here, let me present the blockchain quadrilemma, adding the fourth critical dimension, privacy.

I’d argue this pyramid will be one of the most important problems for our generation to solve in the coming decades: to understand what privacy means in terms of human rights, product design and digital economy.

And, to build an open platform without sacrificing performance, without delegation to a central entity, and with verifiable security.

Let’s not forget the most critical reason why we started: a permissionless network operated and governed by a large community.

That is, are we decentralized yet? Otherwise, we could have used just a few super nodes, reducing to what cloud computers would already better serve.

There’re now 1,000 Harmony nodes, 80% of them run by the community, in line with tens of thousands of Bitcoin and Ethereum nodes.

Remember: There’s no consensus without participation.

Harmony team spends significant effort on our node campaign called Pangaea, which represents the Origin of Nodes, from more than 100 countries and most of them have never run a node before.

Tools are the most equalizing force; with our one-click deploy, we are building a strong node community that is self organizing and highly engaged.

There’s no consensus without incentives or staking, either. That’s the economic security of a network.

Harmony presents a new staking scheme called Effective Proof-of-Stake, or EPoS. It reduces centralization while enabling delegation and compounding. With resharding and slashing, our model mitigates Sybil attacks without identity checks.

With thousands of seats, Harmony network allows far more market dynamics and participation than any staking blockchain.

Instead of quadratic voting, or taking the square root of stakes, as in Ethereum’s experiment on radical markets, Harmony uses capping after taking the median of the stakers.

With our EPoS, we solve two most critical problems: we prevent top stakers from overtaking the network; and, we boost bottom stakers out of voter apathy. Both actions incentivize more active and fairer participation in securing Harmony’s network.

On scalability, we’re among the first production mainnets with Proof-of-Stake and sharding, the top two goals of Ethereum 2.0. We have implemented state sharding, cross-shard transactions, view changes, and resharding against single-shard attacks.

We have solved the most challenging problems of the blockchain trilemma, and productionized the state-of-the-art research results.

We can propagate blocks in less than two seconds, support large shards with more than a thousand transactions per second in each shard, and gradually switch validators during epoch changes.

Our two key ingredients are failure-resilient network dispersal and secure network randomness.

We have implemented the verifiable random functions (VRF) as in Algorand but with BLS signatures. We have implemented from scratch the verifiable delay functions (VDF) as proposed by the Ethereum Foundation.

Beyond all these research and technical terms, let’s not forget why we are building: Harmony is a blockchain for humans.

Our mission is to scale trust for billions of people and to create a radically fair economy.

Machines do not need trust; for sure they don’t care about fairness. But we do.

Humans start with communities and dreams. They say “isolation is the dream killer”. So, I started a gathering of dreamers in Silicon Valley two and a half years ago. We gather every week, four hours or more every time.

Our community is called T-G-I Dreams, which stands for Thanks God It’s (Your) Dreams, in Google’s tradition for wearing ambition on your sleeve.

This community has kept us motivated during crypto winters. They have reminded us to stay foolish and hungry for the invincible summer.

We have forced each other to learn that market-product fit matters more than anything else, and there’s nothing more dangerous than founders climbing Mt. Everest alone.

Out of this community, we have recruited our founding team and now the full-time team of 20, including 7 engineers from Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook; 7 graduates from Stanford, Harvard, Berkeley, Penn and Oxford; and 4 PhD’s.

We share our culture of being empathetic to each other, being passionate about our mission, and being excellent in what we do.

Toward users, we are obsessed not only with products and adoption but loyalty.

Our official partner Lympo incentivizes healthy lifestyle and corporate fitness with reward tokens. They are fully integrated with Samsung Wallet; they have hundred thousands of users and millions of exercise challenges completed.

There are 140M profiles for mobile fitness alone. Lympo’s reward tokens will be exclusively built on Harmony and our data-sharing marketplace.

A few weeks ago, we have also announced that Harmony’s $8M joint acquisition with Animoca of Quidd.

Collectibles and digital assets are the best way to jumpstart bringing values to Harmony network. There are millions of fans and creativity in each community such as Marvel and Game of Thrones.

Quidd is a marketplace for collectibles. It has 6.8 millions of users and 2 billions of licensed items. Quidd has already achieved $10M user purchases and averaged 6 transactions/sec.

Harmony also experiments with the next generation of blockchain games.

On launch, Harmony Puzzle featured 16k users in a day, 192 countries and 10-minute sessions.

We store the game states and moves in Harmony’s blockchain, and provide native tokens for staking and betting of each game level.

Beyond games, fairness is also critical for lottery, matching and tournaments. These mechanisms are building blocks of the radically fair economy Harmony is creating.

We use verifiable delay functions (VRF) for randomness to ensure transparent and unbiasable fairness.

Throughout the year, we have been building products and expanding our community nonstop.

Not only did we launch our mainnet in 12 months, execute Pangaea campaign with a thousand nodes, and partnered with the most visionary projects.

We also got on Coinbase Shortlist, oversubscribed 128 times on Gate exchange, and honored with Crypto Briefing’s Pick of the Month.

Through Binance Launchpad, it’s not just about the token price but a tremendous opportunity to bootstrap our evangelists.

As a young startup, we’re very fortunate to attract close to 700 million dollars trading volume in a day.

Investors and exchanges anchor our community. We raised a $18M private round last year, a $5.5M node round to key partners including Binance Labs and HashKey. We had a $5M public sales in June this year.

To build an open but also sustainable platform, Harmony has committed to 6-year foundation and ecosystem funds.

Decentralized finance is a key part to Harmony’s ecosystem. Liquidity providers, also known as market makers, are key to a healthy financial system.

With our partner Hummingbot, ONE makers are the world’s first decentralized algorithmic trading for arbitrage, market making, exchange bridges.

Harmony already has over 100 market makers and they support 8% of our Binance volume.

Most importantly, Hummingbot’s code is open source, its services are institutional grade and do not carry any custodial risks.

Another key partner of Harmony is Qokka, who is becoming our Decentralized Intelligence Agency. That is our D-I-A, instead of C-I-A.

Qokka is a machine learning startup that mines almost 50 billion Telegram messages for community voices on projects.

We called this process social mining. Harmony’s actively channeling these opinions and engagement from our community into network value.

Over the long term, we’re becoming a self-governed community that embraces influencers and competitors.

We do not have an extended roadmap or a fixed strategy.

Our strength is the speed of execution, or the dedication of “996”. Harmony’s team has committed to this work-life style with consistent time and effort over more than a year.

In this Q4 quarter, we’re committed to bringing assets including collectibles and brands to Harmony network.

Our virtual machine and toolings are fully Ethereum compatible. We will develop an one-click migration of many dApps, especially the DeFi showcases of MakerDao and Compound.

Next year we’ll be building a confidential layer for these assets more suitable for compliance and business use cases. In particular, Harmony will facilitate data consortia for alternative lending credits.

To enable easy migration and quick adoption, we are excited to announce Carbon will be our official partner for fiat integration.

With Carbon, Harmony dApps can enable any purchases in ONE tokens using Apple Pay and credit cards in a few lines of code. The user experience is a flawless and painless fiat on-ramp that can easily be done under a minute.

Stablecoins are cornerstone to any financial applications on crypto. Carbon is helping issue a FDIC-insured stablecoin native on Harmony.

Our goal is to decentralize world’s financial infrastructures. We’re experimenting with cross-border payments and undercollateralized lending with alternative credit data.

The future of privacy is already here but unevenly distributed.

A fellow project, Findora, invents the memorable term auditable privacy for everyone to understand data sovereignty in terms of consumer’s rights vs business uses.

One example is a short computer proof that does not reveal your account books but guarantees your solvency to repay loans.

Another example is a single private key with multiple public keys that unlock different capacities such as audits and authorization.

Like other sufficiently advanced technologies, these primitives feel like magic but are already being demonstrated in practice.

Like Moore’s Law for transistor density, the algorithmic complexities and prototype speeds of these privacy technologies are improving by the month.

The market timing fits perfectly for Harmony’s approach of engineering for production.

Lastly, we’re launching libunison, a developer initiative that serves the foundation of new network applications besides blockchains.

Our libunison is solving the critical problem of data availability for end-to-end networking. In particular, this library of the new networking primitives is essential for consensus algorithms and light clients.

Similar to libp2p, we’re abstracting Harmony’s erasure coding for block propagation, HIPv2 for discovery and traversal, and Quic, also known as Google’s UDP, for session and congestion control.

Join our team if you’re excited about our vision of Open Consensus for 10 Billion!

You may find this keynote’s deck, transcript and video at harmony.one/keynote. Here’s the tweet thread for summary.

Thank you, everyone.

Stephen Tse
Harmony CEO

Read our keynote, news, team, culture, deck, research, milestones, tweets.

harmony.one/newsletter

Harmony

To scale trust for billions of people and create a radically fair economy

Stephen Tse

Written by

https://harmony.one, Open Consensus for 10B. To scale trust for billions of people and create a radically fair economy. https://twitter.com/stse

Harmony

Harmony

To scale trust for billions of people and create a radically fair economy

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade