Prediction 2020 | Harmony CTO Rongjian Lan: Public blockchains trending towards PoS & privacy technology
Our CTO Rongjian Lan was interviewed by Chinese media Huoxing24 arguing that 2020 will be the year of fruition for Harmony, while the interest for public blockchains will be focused on PoS & Privacy by Design.
As always with our interviews, the transcription has been tidied up for readability and the questions may be rearranged to keep certain topics together.
What is the next step for blockchain technology? Mars Finance invited 8 blockchain technology leaders to write down predictions and judgments on technology trends.
2020 has arrived and a new decade has begun. The Chinese government puts blockchain technology at a strategic height of “a breakthrough point for independent innovation of core technologies”, but we still see that the technology itself still has unsolved problems and may need to integrate with 5G, AI, big data and other technology frontiers. What is the next step for blockchain technology? Mars Finance APP (WeChat: hxcj24h) invited 8 blockchain technology leaders to write down predictions and judgments on technology trends.
This article is Part 3 of “Predicting 2020: Technology Megatrends in the Eyes of 8 Blockchain Technology Leaders”. We are honored to have invited Harmony co-founder and CTO Rongjian Lan.
Rongjian Lan was a search infrastructure engineer for Play Store at Google and he is a co-chair of ABC Blockchain Foundation, with more than 100 engineers from Google, Facebook, LinkedIn as members. Harmony is a high-performance public blockchain project based on state sharding and PoS. The founder Stephen Tse founded the mobile search Spotsetter with institutional venture capital(Apple later acquired the startup). Harmony’s goal is to provide the most secure and efficient infrastructure for global decentralized economies.
2019 can be regarded as the first year of public blockchain PoS and Staking economy. Many PoS projects have launched their mainnet, and Eth2.0 is also preparing to upgrade to PoS.
The public often mistakes PoS as a consensus mechanism, but in fact, both PoS or PoW are just node election mechanism used to prevent malicious sybil attacks. PoS or PoW has nothing to do with how to achieve the final consensus. They determines how the network participant’s interests are bounded to the network. PoS is to bind validator’s assets directly on the blockchain. Through the incentives and slashing mechanism of Staking, the interest of nodes is directly tied to the security of the blockchain . On the other hand, miners in PoW needs computing power to participate in the network, but the sunk cost of buying mining machines is not directly tied to the specific blockchain they are mining because they usually can use the same machine to mine for other chains. The fact that hashing power can be rented simply makes the connection between the miner’s interest and the well-being of the chain even weaker.
Because miner and blockchain are not strongly coupled, people with a large amount of computing power are motivated to attack the network without losing their assets. From this point of view, it’s good to see more and more public blockchain adopt PoS for better security of the chains. Looking forward, PoS and Staking will continue to be the dominant technologies in blockchain in 2020.
In this decade from 2010 to 2019, blockchain technology has made great progress, especially since the advent of Ethereum, it has attracted more attention and resources to blockchain industry. So far, many aspects of the blockchain technology has been explored and researched, including network, consensus, virtual machine, state structure, sharding, side-chain, cross-chain, state channel, rollups.
The whole industry is very focused on the underlining technology on the infrastructure level of blockchain, but I think more resources should be invested in technologies to enhance user experience in the future, including more convenient wallet experience, private key management, privacy etc.
In 2020, privacy will be the biggest topic in the industry. The issue with public blockchain performance has been mostly solved with new technology such as sharding and layer 2 solutions. However, user privacy have always been the important problem in the internet era. Due to the technological limitation, privacy and data ownership is still left unsolved and undefined in legal and regulatory aspects. But with zero-knowledge proof technology (ZK — SNARKs), it’s very promising to solve the privacy problem by achieving the separation of data ownership and data usage.
Zero-knowledge research has made a big breakthrough in 2019, including many research results such as Marlin, Sonic, Plonk etc, making the technology finally reach the stage of practicality and production-readiness. I believe in 2020, we will see more use case of zero-knowledge to improve the performance of public blockchain, enable new features to protect user privacy.
Finally, let me talk about my views on a consortium blockchain. The advantages of consortium blockchain are high performance, faster deployment, and easier compliance with regulatory requirements. It is a suitable solution for information circulation and value exchange between enterprises or between enterprise and government. Consortium blockchain may be the first blockchain technology to be implemented in actual business. After the Chinese government announced the focus on blockchain, the popularity and application of consortium blockchain in China will far exceed public blockchain.
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