AMA with Titan’s CEO, Ryan Condron
Our CEO spoke with the community and answered all their questions about the Lumerin Protocol
In this write-up, you’ll find Ryan’s answers to the following questions:
- How did you — Ryan — get introduced to the crypto space?
- What are the fundamental differences between Titan and Lumerin?
- What are some of the current plans for putting the Lumerin Protocol to work?
- Could you walk through what the motivation behind decentralizing hashpower is and give us an idea of what the current hashpower landscape looks like?
- Can you give us a better idea of what exactly the Lumerin Hashpower Marketplace that we’re building is?
- When will the hashpower marketplace deploy?
- How soon can hashpower begin to trade once the site does deploy?
- Could you walk us through what we can expect in regards to TGE as Q1 draws to a close?
- We’ll be using a clean website for the token claim. Can you explain a little bit about why this decision was made in regards to security?
- Will there be staking of Lumerin tokens at this time?
- How confident are you and what are your thoughts on Lumerin’s future, specifically pertaining to long-term utility?
- Where do you see Lumerin and its current use cases like the hashpower marketplace in five years?
- Do you see the larger miners taking advantage first and be the early adopters or do you think the smaller miners will have the chance to make more out of it?
- How long has the Lumerin Protocol taken to build?
- What inspired the idea for Lumerin in the first place?
- Is “brute-forcing” an appropriate way to think of hashpower? Like brute-forcing the SHA-256 algorithm?
- How do you foresee the adoption process unfolding once Lumerin and the hashpower marketplace are live?
Without further ado, let’s dive into the questions.
Q: How did you get introduced to the crypto space?
Ryan: I got involved in the crypto space in late 2012. My buddy Kyle came to me and told me about this crazy thing called Bitcoin. We used to go on long walks and talk about different projects that we had come across in different technologies that we were researching.
I was highly skeptical about it at first. I could have sworn we were brute forcing SHA-256 for a foreign government or something. But the more we started looking into it, and the more I started reading about it, I realized the ingeniousness of this peer-to-peer currency system.
I started researching more about mining, built my first mining rig in late 2012, early 2013. Through 2013, 2014, and 2015, I ran about 80 different mining pools. I wrote some of the original cloud mining software systems, some customizable profit-switching software, and just a bunch of different projects in the space.
We formed Titan back in 2018. The goal of Titan, from the very beginning, has been to make mining as highly optimized, scalable, and profitable as possible. And the focus has always been through better software. We originally worked with better management software, and then we moved over to writing pool software. That was about a year and a half ago.
Through it all, we saw the same problem popping up over and over in the mining ecosystem. And that was a problem of centralization. Not just where in the world the miners were located, but how they were controlled.
We saw this when we were writing the management software. We saw this when I was running mining pools early on. There has always been an issue with hashpower control, and that’s why I wrote the paper that ended up being the foundation of Lumerin: the decentralization of control. How do we remotely and anonymously control data streams from anywhere in the world? That was essentially how the network was born.
Q: What are the fundamental differences between Titan and Lumerin?
Ryan: Titan has always been a for-profit company looking to work with miners as a SaaS or software as a service provider. Originally, it focused on management software. Now, we’re working with at-scale mining pools.
With the Lumerin Protocol, the vision behind it is about working with data streams and hashpower to keep it decentralized. This also poses a question about the future of hashpower and profitability.
So, the real distinction between the two is Titan is a software company that has a clear cut product. Lumerin is an open-source protocol and a network that Titan is building.
In turn, as you look at these networks, they are essentially communities of people. That’s really what we’re building with Lumerin: a community of people and token holders that will drive the vision of the protocol.
Q: The possibility of different applications of the Lumerin Protocol are pretty vast. What are some of the current plans for putting the Lumerin Protocol to work?
Ryan: The important thing to remember about Lumerin is that it’s a socket routing protocol. It’s peer-to-peer nodes that are opening and closing sockets to stream data. It’s also data agnostic. The node doesn’t necessarily care what kind of data data you are flowing between the sockets.
What we’re building is what we call “validation modules.” The first validation module that we’re completing now is a Stratum validation module, and it’s for monitoring the flow of hashpower through the Lumerin nodes.
Eventually, there’ll be other types of validation modules. Depending on the type of data that you want to validate — whether it be video streams, audio streams, file streaming, decentralized compute, email, or whatever is going to be flowing through data streams — you’re going to have different types of validation modules.
That said, the vision for Lumerin is essentially being a decentralized router for decentralized networks. The way I often describe it is programmable piping that can lay underneath all the other networks, or data streaming systems.
Some people have called it a Web3 router, where you actually are issuing smart contracts for opening and closing the socket. In other words, creating your routes based on smart contracts.
These are just some ideas that we’ve come up with, internally. I’m really excited to see how the community plays with this in the future, what kind of validation modules they build, and what kind of peer-to-peer communication systems they’ll create with them.
Q: Could you walk through what the motivation behind decentralizing hashpower is and give us an idea of what the current hashpower landscape looks like?
Ryan: Yes, absolutely. First, an important thing to remember is that we often get confused. There’s two different words here. There’s decentralized and there’s distributed. Distributed does not mean decentralized and decentralized does not mean distributed.
The term Decentralized is typically focused on a decision maker, or a control aspect of a system. Distributed can mean geographically distributed, network distributed, etc. The idea is variety and foundation.
In Bitcoin mining, we have a lot of distribution. We have mining in Texas. We have mining in Washington. We have mining in upstate New York. We have mining in Kazakhstan, Venezuela, Mongolia. We literally have mining all over the world, so it’s highly distributed.
The problem is: when you start looking at the concentration of decentralization, and where does the hashrate flow, there’s a few things that you’ll notice.
First, the majority of the hashrate is controlled by under 100 individuals, or under 100 entities. In other words, the greater part of the hashrate on the Bitcoin network is actually pretty centralized around a small group of entities. When you consider the grand fabric of the world at large here, it’s not a lot of decision makers.
Now even worse than that is that these entities all have a common thing: they all sell their hashpower to what we call mining pools. If you look at the mining pool stats, you can take the top three or four pools, and you actually have a majority of the hashrate in the world.
Imagine you’re voting on a protocol update and you have a government that comes out and says that they want to blacklist services. All that government really needs is to have a handful of mining pools adopt their philosophy. And all of a sudden, you have censorship on the Bitcoin network.
That’s the problem with centralization in Bitcoin, and that’s a big part of why we are working on it, both on Titan side — focusing on the mining pools — and on the Lumerin side — focusing on routing the hashrate and decentralization of control. That’s why we need these ecosystems to take place and scale correctly. It’s for the greater security of the Bitcoin network moving into the future.
Q: Can you give us a better idea of what exactly the Lumerin Hashpower Marketplace that we’re building is?
Ryan: The concept behind a hashpower marketplace is this idea of a global, peer-to-peer, anonymous market system where you can buy and sell hashrate. That’s really the goal. We want to treat hashrate as a commodity.
In order to do that, we need to be able to do this anonymously, and we need to do this in a decentralized fashion. Now, there’s no other system on the face of the earth right now that can treat a digital data stream as an anonymous, decentralized asset.
That’s really where we’re focused with the initial rollout of the Lumerin Hashpower Marketplace: a miner being able to sell their hashrate and a buyer being able to buy the hash rate.
These two entities don’t need to know anything about each other. They don’t need to exchange KYC/AML information. They don’t need to know where the other person resides. They don’t need to even trust each other with the payments: it all gets locked up in an escrow inside the smart contract and it gets deterministically released from the buyer to the seller as the hashrate flows between the nodes. So the goal with the marketplace is to provide this open, decentralized structure for the moving of this global commodity.
Now, once we can get something like that in place, it will allow market participants to start controlling hashrate in a decentralized way. Anyone — whether it be my dad or a large bank of a foreign country — can purchase hashrate to secure transactions on the Bitcoin network. And they can do it from anywhere in the world. That’s really the goal: to bring more decision makers into the Bitcoin network.
Q: When will the hashpower marketplace deploy?
Ryan: The goal is to have the hashpower marketplace online within the next six to eight weeks online, fully deployed, and fully functional.
We’re deploying a series of smart contracts. The hashrate marketplace will run on another network in its first phase. It’s not going to initially run on the Lumerin network.
Currently, we have it set up on the Ethereum testnet. The problem is that anyone that’s worked with the Ethereum mainnet recently realizes that it’s very cost-prohibitive when it comes to transacting on a daily or even hourly basis.
That is why we’re looking at some other networks to launch the Lumerin Hashpower Marketplace on in order to transact hashrate through. We haven’t decided on which network we’re going to launch the actual marketplace on yet, but we will provide all the bridges and necessary instruments for a smooth UX through the whole process.
All that being said, we’re looking at about six to eight weeks out from the launch of the marketplace.
Q: How soon can hashpower begin to trade once the site does deploy?
Ryan: The buyer will need to have a form of payment that will convert to Lumerin to transact on the marketplace, and then the seller is going to need the hashrate. Anyone can deploy a contract in the marketplace as long as they have a Web3 enabled wallet, and then anyone can come along and purchase that contract.
The actual Lumerin nodes themselves do the hashrate routing. So, you will need to download and have the Lumerin node running in order to receive the hashrate and forward it on to your mining pool.
If you do not want to receive the hashrate directly, you can actually have the buyer send the hashrate directly to your mining pool. There are some caveats with that setup, though: on a more technical level, you’d be bypassing your own internal validator since your node does the validation for you for the data stream.
We highly recommend the first interaction between a buyer and a seller, especially with unknown sellers, as you always want it to go from one Lumerin node to another so you’re not bypassing the validator modules.
Q: Could you walk us through what we can expect in regards to TGE as Q1 draws to a close?
Ryan: As I said, we’re planning to have the hashpower marketplace online in the next six to eight weeks. Before the marketplace comes online, we have to have a transactable token that’s live. The token itself has already been generated. It’s in the ERC-20 contract. We have the token address, which has been made public.
We are currently getting the marketing tranches, community tranches, and and all the wallets set up correctly. We have a lot of community outreach programs that are in the works and going to be launching very soon. We have development programs we’re working on, like grant infrastructure, and really lots of different community building items to make sure that we have all the support we need not only on the development side, but the marketing side, and even in the forums.
That being said, we’re looking to the next four to five weeks to have the token generation event and the token launch done. We don’t have it nailed down yet, there’s still a couple pending items that will help support the token in several different arenas that I can’t publicly say right now.
All in all, in about four to five weeks, we should have the token launched.
Q: We’ll be using a clean website for the token claim. Can you explain a little bit about why this decision was made in regards to security?
Ryan: It’s a matter of security and simplicity at the same time. Our public and private sales involved a bunch of different lockups and tranches. There’s a lot of complexity in that.
We can’t just do a straight airdrop with all the vesting, tranches, and lockup conditions. Remember, we took about a year and a half to two years to design the tokenomics for this system.
The idea is — and there’s a lot of complexity there — you can’t just drop a bunch of tokens all at once on an ecosystem and expect it to survive or flourish correctly before you have the community support elements in place.
Thus, I would say point one is planning the tokenomics out to make sure that this token survives, and the community builds in a healthy way and in a scalable way.
Point number two of why we did a claim website rather than an airdrop is literally just gas fees. Unfortunately, it’s not possible right now on the Ethereum network to do a massive airdrop to four or five thousand different purchasers. It’s cost prohibitive. In addition to that, where we find ourselves in the Ethereum network right now is a highly congested network.
On the other hand, we have all these side networks now that are working on scaling mechanisms, and we’re looking at the side networks now for potentially a hashrate marketplace and other value added and awesome products that we’re gonna be building on top of Lumerin.
However, when it comes down to just doing an airdrop versus a claim website, it is not only security, but simplicity too. It was just way easier for the development team and the community to be able to claim their tokens rather than doing an airdrop.
Q: Will there be staking of Lumerin tokens at this time?
Ryan: Not at this time. We are working on a game, if you will, that will have a staking mechanism in it that will involve Lumerin. It is something I’m pretty excited about.
We’ve had an idea early on — and this was actually included in the original whitepaper for Lumerin — and it’s this idea of a hashrate or hashpower NFT. You could actually take an NFT and bind it to an actual physical mining device. Then, if you own that NFT, you actually own that mining device through your Web3 wallet. It’s sort of a virtual ownership.
The vision we had was like this: Bitmain could sell 50,000 NFTs that would represent 50,000 S20 miners or whatever their latest model is, and they could actually host those in a secure facility with crazy-cheap power costs. And it would be more profitable to actually buy rights to a miner that’s in that hosted facility in the form of a virtual product, than it would be for Bitmain to pull it off the shelf, stick it in a box, and ship it to you.
That was the vision of this evolution of hashrate ownership and device ownership through NFTs. We wanted to build a proof-of-concept around this: not just owning a mining device using NFTs but owning a chunk of hashrate and controlling it with an NFT.
That’s when we decided to build a gamified layer on top of it to make it more user friendly. We were looking for a name for it, and we played the name game for a really long time. We ended up landing on the name Turnip, so we are calling it Turnip World.
Essentially, it’s an interactive NFT where you can buy this turnip character and as you interact with it, it acquires different features and functions that actually represent hashrate behind the scenes. And as you do certain actions with the turnip, it actually is mining crypto behind the scenes.
That said, by owning the NFT in this game, you actually get passive income from the mining that is backing the turnip. So, as you plant or harvest the turnip, you’re actually beginning a mining process and harvesting the payout from it.
Now, we’re going to be including a staking mechanism with Lumerin in the NFT interactions. We’re also going to be including Lumerin bonus payouts with certain interactions with the turnip to help build the community. But we’re really seeing this vision as kind of a first step and proof-of-concept of using gaming tied to visual data flow.
We’re really, really excited about this. If you want to know more, you can join the Lumerin Telegram channel. I know some of the developers that are working on the project are in that channel. We’re also going to be doing our main announcement and grand unveiling of all this at Bitcoin 2022 in Miami. If you happen to be there, stop by the Lumerin booth and we’ll have plenty of information, concept art, and ideas around what this game is going to look like.
Q: How confident are you and what are your thoughts on Lumerin’s future, specifically pertaining to long-term utility?
Ryan: So this is a whole other rabbit hole as well. If we go back to recognizing what we’re working on, it’s literally a node that brokers the opening and closing of sockets or communication with it based on smart contract rules.
I had a thought exercise with some of the engineers and one of my co-founders back in October about this. It played out like this: there’s this heated debate — maybe not even heated anymore — in the crypto ecosystem on what is identity.
You have some people saying it’s this biometric indicator, whether you’re using your heart rhythm or your fingerprint or a retinal scan. Other people are saying it’s the sovereignty of owning your private key, so your identity can be tied to an HD wallet type of system.
I’ve even heard you know, people saying that your identity is just you, because everyone else around you agrees that you are who you are, and the moment people stop agreeing that you are who you are, then you cease to be you.
There’s a lot of philosophical things going on here. What we’ve stumbled upon with Lumerin is this idea that when you have a node that’s running, opening, and closing sockets based on smart contracts that you issue, what you’re actually doing is actually brokering access to you. You’re brokering access to your node.
So, in the future, if you’re running a Lumerin node on, say, your phone, you can actually broker and you get to decide and set up rules on when someone can open up a socket to the node on your phone.
It would be something like VoIP — Voice over IP — where someone can only call you if you give them an NFT saying that they can call you. That NFT is assigned specifically to their private key or public key address. So they can’t actually transfer that NFT to anybody else. That’s like giving someone a business card or giving someone your phone number and they cannot go share it with anyone else.
That’s transactional permission to communication, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. When we start thinking about email addresses, spam, SMS messages, robocallers, and everything else that violates this idea of access to the sovereign individual, we start realizing the scope of the problem is that we no longer control access to ourselves.
Now, if we consider identity to be linked to you controlling access to you, we start realizing that we can actually create programmatic rules using the Lumerin Protocol to broker access to you — as an individual — electronically.
That’s where we see a huge use case for Lumerin in the future. Whether it be web traffic, telephone traffic, SMS traffic, emails, it’s you controlling access to you. And you get to decide when, how, where, and why someone can access you through smart contract engagements.
Q: Where do you see Lumerin and its current use cases like the hashpower marketplace in five years?
Ryan: I’d love to see data being treated as a commodity, whether it be hashpower, video, or decentralized compute. We can treat data streams as a commodity. We can broker the buying and selling of them through smart contracts.
We’ll have real-time hashpower exchanges. We’ll see real time exchanges popping up like that on the Lumerin network. We’ll see what they call “edge routing” and transactional permissioned communication, where we can have a phone that no longer has a phone number, but it has a Lumerin node and access control.
We can obfuscate email addresses and SMS messages. We can start seeing data streams being tagged to NFTs, which we’re currently working on, where you can have hashrate or data streams backing certain types of mechanics in other software or games.
There’s a lot of different things you can do. I even talked to Zooko of Zcash recently about the idea of doing anonymous block distribution. There’s an issue when syncing a new blockchain node with where you’re receiving your blocks from. You could buffer any other network node for syncing the blockchain through a Lumerin node, and actually broker the opening-closing the sockets or streaming the blockchain of another network.
That’s a whole different use case, a privacy layer for digital piping. So when you really consider what we’re building is this type of piping that can underlie every other network, it’s up to the imagination and creativity of the community.
Q: Do you see the larger miners taking advantage first and be the early adopters or do you think the smaller miners will have the chance to make more out of it?
Ryan: That’s a hard one to speculate. There’s different ways to play it. Larger miners, knowing that we’re going into a bear market might want to hedge their risks. So they can put up 10, 20, or 50 petahashes for sale in a single contract, and another miner might want to take up that risk.
So it really could be large scale miners buying and selling between each other. One hedging the risk into a bear market, the other taking up that risk.
It could also happen that smaller miners with a few devices want to put their hashrate up for sale for, say, 30 days at a time. That looks more like a NicHash style model, where it’s individual miners selling at CBC type markets.
We also see a scenario where you might have a massive financial institution that needs to KYC/AML certain transactions and then push all those transactions through in a single block for compliance reasons. In that case, they might need to purchase a certain amount of hashrate over a very short time to secure a single block and make sure that their transactions are the only ones in that block.
So initially, we really think it’s going to be more larger scale miners putting together a series of contracts as a test case to sell to more consumers, so more of a B2C model. Eventually, we’re going to see B2B models where people are hedging the risk and other people taking up the risk.
Q: How long has the Lumerin Protocol taken to build?
Ryan: The original paper was written in 2018. We started development on it about a year ago, so we’re about a year into the actual node development.
Over the past year, it’s been a pretty wild ride. In January, there were three of us. And currently, our team is over 30. So we’ve grown very, very quickly. Our community has grown fairly quickly over the past year as well.
We’re just getting started. In the grand scheme of things, we’re still very, very young. But we’ve been working on the node for about a year now.
Q: What inspired the idea for Lumerin in the first place?
Ryan: The need for greater decentralization and transparency in the mining space. I got into mining in late 2012 and we’ve seen these trends happen year after year after year.
It’s really playing out the way we’ve expected it to, and it’s not going to get better until we have better software layers in place to provide an alternative.
The trend in any ecosystem tends to be from decentralized to centralized because as things scale, individual people and communities quickly realize that centralization provides better optimization. That’s just a reality that we can’t really get around.
We see mining pools being centralized, more and more hashrate being centralized. Our goal is to provide an alternative and more decision makers in the process in order to provide another layer of decentralization to counteract the centralization around optimization over time.
Q: Is “brute-forcing” an appropriate way to think of mining? Like brute-forcing the SHA-256 algorithm?
Ryan: Essentially, it’s making guesses. When you don’t have a deterministic transfer function, and input versus output, or you don’t know what the transfer function is — which is the case for SHA256.
We have this thing called “clockwork math,” where we actually lose information as we put it through the SHA-256 algorithm. You never really know what the output is going to be with SHA-256 until you actually run the algorithms.
To answer it straight: yes, we’re technically, by all sense of the term, brute-forcing to find the nonce, but the reality is that for every block, there’s a very, very large number of nonces that would solve a block.
By the very core concept of brute-forcing, yes, that’s essentially what proof-of-work is doing. It’s not really useful for anything else other than hashing on the Bitcoin network.
Q: How do you foresee the adoption process unfolding once Lumerin and the hashpower marketplace are live?
Ryan: That’s a hard question. It’s hard to predict something like that because you can build the most perfect system and everything would be pointing towards people going to use it and the community going to use it. But just because of being the best and the first doesn’t always mean it’s the one that gets adopted.
What we’re focused on with the hashrate marketplace for Lumerin is a proof-of-concept. Something saying “This is what you can do with the Lumerin Protocol.” I don’t think it will be the last hashrate marketplace built on top of Lumerin.
In fact, all of this is open source, so anyone can take the contracts that consist of the hashrate marketplace and they can copy it, fork it, tweak it, and optimize it. They can add features and functionality to it, and they could deploy their own data marketplace.
The idea is that this is the first type of ecosystem built on top of Lumerin, and on top of a data flow through the Lumerin nodes. So, eventually, if some of the major miners in the world decide to build their own hashrate store or their own hashrate marketplace, or if some of the large manufacturers want to issue their own series of NFTs over time, we want to enable them to do that.
Our goal is really to build this community, to build the infrastructure to see that the Lumerin network is utilized the way it was built and designed to be utilized.
So, long answer to a short question, that hashrate marketplace that we’re building, we’re seeing it as a proof-of-concept. Now, I could be wrong, but I don’t think that this Lumerin hashrate marketplace is going to be the one that scales to be the global commodities marketplace for hashpower.
It could be, but typically, what you see is other companies or other entities coming in partnering with community members and building out a different type of ecosystem.
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