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Project Update: Authorities, DSAs, AMAs

I’m Andrew Levine, the CEO of Koinos Group and this is our regular project update on Koinos.

Koinos Core

Koinos Authority System

As you probably know, we’re wrapping up our work on test net V3 (v0.3.0 of Koinos). This included work on the authority system which to our knowledge is now the most flexible authority system of any blockchain! Steem and EOS, for example, implement hierarchical multi-sig authorities in the blockchain’s business logic. If you want to leverage that authority scheme within your dApp, that’s great. But what if you don’t? Or what if someone comes up with a better authority design? When making design decisions for Koinos we always ask ourselves, “What if we’re wrong?” We assume we’re imperfect and the last thing we want to do is bake our mistakes into the system where everyone has to live with them. That’s why the Koinos authority system is designed to empower developers to implement the authority scheme they want, not what we believe is “right.”

Technical Details

The authority system allows smart contracts to override the default authority (a single private key mapping to the address). Once overridden, the user’s contract will be called on a special entry point when authorizing from a contract, using mana (or “rc” in the case of the Koinos Blockchain Framework), and/or uploading a contract. It’s a simple and elegant solution that maximizes developer freedom with respect to how they implement authorities.

This allows users (primarily dApp developers) full control and customizability of exactly how they want to secure their account now, and in to the future.

Quantum Resistance!

We have also generalized the DSA (digital signature algorithm) related system calls. Currently, only secp256k1 is supported, but the calls are designed for new algorithms to be added later; first upgraded in-band as smart contracts, but later optimized via hard fork with native implementations. The combination of features means that Koinos is prepared for the future of cryptography and allows users to upgrade as they see fit.

To be clear, this means that Koinos-based blockchains (like main net) can be made quantum resistant without a hard fork!

This is a great example of how we expect hard forks to unfold. Thanks to this implementation, support for DSAs can be added without hard forks, but this is precisely the kind of thing that will likely consume a lot of network resources and could therefore benefit from a native implementation, which would require a hard fork. If a DSA is added and proves itself both secure and useful to developers, it will begin consuming a large amount of network resources, increasing the cost (in mana) of using the blockchain. This would negatively impact user experience and impede the growth of the network, which would motivate all stakeholders to support a native implementation.

We are faced with a choice; continue using the DSA in the resource intensive manner, or hard fork in a native implementation and free up those network resources, but bear in mind … we are using the DSA! We don’t have to wait for a hard fork to gain access to the feature. Instead, the hard fork is a straightforward, apolitical decision. Implementing the signature natively would make the network objectively more efficient and scalable. But if the hard fork never happens, that’s ok, the DSA is still available as a smart contract. The point is not to eliminate hard forks altogether, but to ensure that hard forks are never (or as rarely as possible) a requirement for getting a potentially valuable feature added to Koinos.

Bridges!

Another DSA that might prove incredibly valuable in the future are Boneh–Lynn–Shacham signatures (“BLS”). These cryptographic signature schemes allow users to verify that a signer is authentic which is useful in inter-blockchain bridges. BLS signatures are proving useful, and are extremely resource intensive, but in our opinion they have not been sufficiently tested in the “wild” to justify a native implementation at this time. But the same logic applies again. This work allows BLS signatures to be added without a hard fork so that they can be used where the value is sufficiently high. Then once demand for this feature is proven, and the security guaranteed, a native implementation can be hard forked in to free up network resources.

It’s important to highlight that the objective of modular upgradeability is not to eliminate hard forks altogether, but to design the system so that hard forks become regular (e.g. every two years), apolitical, and uncontentious. If demand for certain DSAs are high, and the network can be made objectively more efficient through a native implementation, there is no reason for anyone to oppose this hard fork. But as always, if for some reason they do oppose it, the feature can still be added to the system as a smart contract meaning that users are still able to take advantage of it.

BLS could be the KEY to enabling a future filled with evolving, fee-less, interconnected Koinos blockchains, but it is the modular upgradeability of Koinos that creates a fast and secure upgrade path for integrating this technology or something even better that we haven’t even thought of yet.

Community Update

Kui (aka motoengineer) has launched koinosforum.com as a source for community driven information and a place to talk about all things Koinos.

Luke Willis published two great episodes of The Koin Press podcast, one with Jonathan Stark about the opportunities created by blockchain technology, how to think about value, running businesses in a decentralized environment, and the other with Joe Walker about Stablecoins and Economics.

Kui has teamed up with Luke to bring back the Koinos AMAs, the first of which was held on Wednesday, February 2nd. You can listen to a recording of that here.

Community developer, Julian Gonzalez (developer of the Kondor wallet and Koilib), published a GitHub sponsorship page which means you can now help reward him for the amazing work he’s already done on Koinos and encourage him to do more. Please consider showing your appreciation for all the hard work he’s doing!

Cointelegraph

Cointelegraph published an article of mine explaining why Ethereum and Steem failed to deliver social applications with mainstream adoption (and why Koinos can).

Did I Miss Anything?

Things are really heating up in the Koinos community which is making it hard to keep track of everything that’s going on! If I’ve failed to include something important in this update or acknowledge an important contribution by a community member, please don’t hesitate to let me know so I can include it in next week’s update.

Developers, Developers, Developers

If you’re a developer or entrepreneur interested in building on Koinos you can connect with us on the Koinos discord server, telegram channel, or by e-mailing contact@koinos.group.

As always, thank you for being a part of the Koinos community and helping to accelerate decentralization through accessibility!

Andrew Levine, CEO of Koinos Group

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