In an Ask-Me-Anything, members of our top team answered questions on the project’s progress, developer-driven momentum, layered architecture benefits, and more.
The AMA took place in a private Telegram group last month, moderated by Spencer Noon and transcribed by Messari. We are excited for our community to have this opportunity to learn more about Nervos, so we have selected highlights from the detailed discussion with two of our founders, Jan and Kevin, plus core developer Xuejie. Enjoy the insights!
Overview of Nervos
Kevin Wang (co-founder, researcher, token economics): Nervos Network is a layered network built to support the crypto-economy. The layer 1 protocol of the Nervos Network is the Common Knowledge Base (CKB), an open, public and Proof of Work-based blockchain. The CKB is not optimized for transaction throughput or performance. But like Bitcoin, it is designed to be maximally secure and censorship-resistant to serve as a decentralized custodian of value and crypto-assets. It includes a crypto-economic design not just to facilitate transactions, but also for long-term value preservation.
Nervos Network layer 2 protocols leverage the security of the Common Knowledge Base and provide unlimited scalability and allow tradeoffs for application-specific concerns such as privacy and finality.
Kevin: We started engineering early last year and just launched our Testnet a few months ago. We expect our Mainnet to launch by the end of this year. Outside of engineering, we’ve published our crypto-economics design as well. All high level protocol designs are also published via the RFC process here.
Proof of Work
Jan Xie (co-founder, architect and researcher): the reason we choose PoW is because we’re building a layer 1 blockchain, which must be decentralized and neutral like the Internet.
The problem with PoS that may even be bigger than the technical one is it is not as open as PoW. By ‘open’ I mean anyone in the world should be able to participate in the consensus process, there should be no limit in the protocol to stop that. It’s true for PoW but not for PoS. PoS requires you to hold some resources internal to the system to participate in the consensus. If you have to deposit before being a validator, current validators will be able to censor your deposit transaction to stop that. If you have some positive probability to create a new block by simply holding some coins, large stakeholders can always ignore your block. This is different from PoW because mining hardware and energy are resources external to the system, they can always be added if needed. New miners don’t need the permission of existing miners to participate in consensus. In PoS if the validators monopolized the system there’s no way out unless you hard fork.
I believe PoW is the best fit to layer 1 blockchain because we must keep layer 1 a decentralized and neutral network just like the Internet. I think PoS will shine on layer 2 blockchains.
Store of Value
Kevin: Our Common Knowledge Base is designed with economics that’s designed to be long-term sustainable independent of transaction demand, have sound value capture mechanism, and provide an “inflation shelter” so that holders of platform tokens can capture the network’s overall value. We believe all the design tradeoffs above are necessary to be a true Store of (monetary) Value / Store of (non-monetary) Assets platform.
Our layer 1 protocol is designed not to be a transactional platform, but a platform to secure, preserve assets and cryptographic common knowledge. Similar to how Bitcoin is positioned to be a SoV platform and doesn’t try to compete in transactional cost and efficiency. Such a platform for general-purpose assets other than money is very necessary to serve as the foundation, or “value layer” of the crypto-economy.
Kevin: Layer 2 solutions will be on the rise and will be able to provide near unlimited scalability with minimal cost. High TPS (transaction per second) layer 1 platforms are going to be out-competed and the platforms that complement layer 2s are going to win. As layer 1s are getting more mature, innovation is going to happen more on layer 2s. The layer 1 platform with best support for layer 2s is going to have the best transaction liquidity and will attract the most assets in custody.
Token Tax Analogy
Kevin: The platform token has to be able to capture the value of the ecosystem to raise its own security budget as the value of the assets on it appreciates — otherwise it’s going to be increasingly profitable to attack the platform’s consensus to double-spend the assets on top of it. This is analogous to how a country can raise tax to pay for a military to protect its borders. When there’s no central government to send out tax men to knock on doors, this tax collection has to be very effective, otherwise there’s no way to pay for the ongoing cost of the military — and value in the country will be looted. Therefore, as more assets are secured on the platform, the token captures the value. Going back to the “country/military” analogy, as the military becomes stronger, the platform becomes increasingly attractive to high value assets.
Xuejie Xiao (developer, CKB-VM): Nervos CKB VM is built on the open source RISC-V ISA. We believe that to serve a blockchain better, a flexible VM is needed. And the most flexible one we can get to is one modeled after a real processor.
One unique aspect of CKB, is that we don’t pack any cryptographic algorithms in the contract side of CKB. All the signature verification algorithms, including the official shipped one, are implemented via CKB VM as a separate contract. And if you want to use a different algorithm than what we ship, you are free to do so.
So we believe CKB VM is flexible enough to work with different layer2/interoperability solutions. We don’t expect there will be any roadblocks for supporting different chains. In fact, we believe working on top of CKB could make layer2/interoperability solutions even easier.
Developers from the Community
Kevin: It’s helpful that our founders are all experienced engineers and we’re very visible in the crypto engineering scene in China. Early members of the team are almost exclusively personally recruited from who we know are the top engineers. As we’re building up the community in China and Asia and events in particular (we’ve organized and attended nearly 100 meetups worldwide, with most of them in China), we’ve seen experienced engineers take interest in our project and come to us to talk about opportunities. So what worked best for us is the community-based approach and deeply technical events and online discussions that appeal to experienced engineers who’re seeking to work in this space.
Read the full transcript of the July 1 AMA here.
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