Razor.network AMA with Hrishikesh Huilgolkar
Eric: Hi @hrishikeshio we ready to rock?
Hrishikesh: Let’s do it 🤟🏽
Eric: Welcome to the AMA room. we have Razor.network’s CEO today. So @hrishikeshio can you first introduce yourself?
Hrishikesh: I am Hrishikesh. The founder and CEO of Razor network.
I have worked in various positions such as data scientist and product manager before discovering Bitcoin and Ethereum at the end of 2015. I found the technology fascinating and decided to start working as a blockchain developer in this field in 2016. I have worked with various companies as a blockchain developer including ConsenSys. I have made open source contributions to projects such as the Ethereum and Raiden network.
Eric: yes, you got a very good track record.
So tell us, what is Razor Network?
Hrishikesh: Razor Network is a decentralized oracle network with a focus on Maximum game-theoretical security, complete decentralization, and being fully permissionless.
Razor achieves this while still being fast and practical for applications such as Decentralized Finance. Razor network uses a sliding court mechanism where any result of the oracle can be disputed iteratively. This can thwart any attack that can happen on the oracle.
Razor network utilizes proof of stake consensus algorithm. To participate in the network as a validator, you will need to “Stake” your Razor tokens.
Eric: What was the inspiration for this oracle project @hrishikeshio?
Hrishikesh: In early 2019, I was exploring real-world applications of blockchain. At that time DeFi was in very early stages but was slowly proving to be a promising use-case.
But as I did more research I quickly realized that this space was limited due to the centralized nature of the oracles used. This will always be a limiting factor of DeFi unless the oracle problem is solved.
Oracle problem is a very well known and notoriously difficult problem. I loved the challenging nature of the problem and started designing and analyzing different mechanisms for a fully decentralized and secure oracle.
Over the period of a year, I continued to research and develop Razor to make it the most robust, secure, and fast oracle network.
Eric: I heard this project was inspired by a concept Vitalik posted about. can you explain to us what that is simply?
Hrishikesh: Vitalik posted a series of blog posts about an oracle mechanism called “Schellingcoin”. The mechanism basically works in the following way.
The validators stake their tokens. Then they report what the value of a certain data is. Whatever the majority believes to be the truth is assumed as the truth by the network and they are rewarded. The minority is penalized, assuming they are cheating.
However, after further detailed analysis, I found this mechanism to be flawed and insecure. We modified this algorithm to be more secure and robust. This is the basis of Razor network.
Eric: interesting. So there’s a bunch of oracle project that’s been gaining traction. What makes Razor Network different from a Chainlink or Band?
As can be seen from the table above, there are two kinds of decentralized oracles:
1. Oracles which are fast but insecure
2. Oracles which are secure but slow
Razor combines the best of both worlds to provide a secure and fast oracle.
Razor network is designed from the ground up to provide maximum game-theoretical security without compromising speed. This means its impossible to profitably attack the oracle. Apart from that, Razor is fully decentralized, permissionless, and fast.
Eric: What is the status of the project? @hrishikeshio?
Hrishikesh: Our whitepaper has been released and can be downloaded from razor.network
Our testnet has been live for a few months and can be explored on razorscan.io
Our in-house synthetic asset project deltaone.finance is on testnet. We are planning to bring our oracle live on mainnet in the coming months.
Eric: How does the Razor Network achieve decentralization?
Hrishikesh: Decentralization is an important goal of the network. This is because centralization puts a high amount of power in a small group of entities, which makes a lot of attacks feasible and, jeopardizes the trustworthiness of the protocol.
Razor network is fully decentralized and does not have centralized bottlenecks. Anyone can become a validator in Razor by staking RAZOR tokens. It does not require permission from us or anyone else.
We encourage decentralization in the protocol through the following ways:
1. A fair and wide distribution of tokens
2. The protocol is permissionless. We, or anyone else, don’t have the power to decide who is allowed or otherwise, to participate in the network.
3. Queries are pseudorandomly assigned to the validators, making collusion and bribing difficult
4. Commit-reveal scheme for reporting data and dispute mechanism makes it secure from bribing attacks
Eric: Very good designs here. How does Razor achieve maximum game-theoretical security?
Hrishikesh: Most of the oracles use the Schellingcoin mechanism. The mechanism is flawed and is vulnerable to various attacks such as bribing, collusion, p+e attacks.
Razor uses a modified Schellingcoin algorithm with a sliding court mechanism. This includes an iterative dispute resolution mechanism which makes it robust against all kinds of game theoretical attacks.
This makes it impossible to attack the oracle profitably.
Eric: How does the dispute mechanism in the Razor Network work?
Hrishikesh: An attacker can bribe the majority of the stake in a trustless way and can compromise the results of the oracle. To prevent this, Razor Network has an in-built iterative dispute resolution mechanism.
Any result of the oracle can be disputed by paying the “Dispute bond”, which can be paid collectively. The disputers win a fixed reward of 50% of the dispute bond if they successfully dispute around.
If the bond is successfully paid within the dispute period, the result enters a dispute round. In the dispute round, the stakes are higher, the amount of penalty for voting incoherently is higher and the queries are answered manually by the validators. The results of the dispute round can be further disputed. The amount of participating stake, and the dispute bond amount is doubled every round. If the disputer wins the dispute, their dispute bond is refunded, else it is confiscated and rewarded to the honest validators.
Due to this mechanism, even if an attacker compromises the oracle, the result will likely be disputed by an honest actor. The attacker will have to pay double the bribe to compromise the dispute round. Even if they are successful in doing that, that round will again likely be disputed and so on. This can go on till the whole network participates in the dispute round. If that round also fails to resolve the dispute, the network and the token forks in two versions, and the market decides the honest fork. Since this round is impossible to profitably attack, it makes it futile and unprofitable to attack all the previous rounds.
Eric: Wow. so can u list all the utilities of the RZR token?
Hrishikesh: RZR is the native ERC20 token of the Razor network. Razor network is a proof of stake network and RZR is required to be staked to become a validator in the network. The validators are rewarded with RZR to honestly participate in the network and report data accurately.
In the future, RZR may be used for governance purposes. Also, it may be used as collateral in our in-house synthetic asset project deltaOne.
Eric: What is Delta one?
Hrishikesh: We have built an in-house synthetic asset platform called deltaOne which will utilize Razor oracle. Using this application, users can mint synthetic assets or stablecoin based on any asset in the world.
This will bootstrap a userbase for Razor oracle. And since it uses RZR as collateral, it will increase utility for RZR tokens.
deltaOne is currently live in alpha at deltaOne.finance
Eric: What is the go-to-market strategy of Razor Network?
Hrishikesh: Razor Network will not only target applications on the Ethereum mainnet, but we have also partnered with multiple L1 and L2 chains to offer a fully decentralized oracle on their platform. We have confirmed partnerships with SKALE, Matic, and Persistence. More partnerships will be announced soon.
We have also built an in-house synthetic asset platform called deltaOne which will utilize Razor oracle. This will bootstrap a userbase for Razor oracle.
We are also part of the Association of Decentralized oracles, where we are collaborating with other oracle projects to standardize oracle integration. We believe that many projects will prefer to use multiple oracles instead of just one. This partnership will enable projects to easily integrate multiple oracles in their project.
Eric: Can you share the list of Advisors and VCs — Razor has?
Hrishikesh: Our advisors include
Chirdeep Singh Chabra — Co-founder, Ocean protocol
Nathan Sexer — Head of growth, Sandbox
More advisors will be announced shortly.
Razor is backed by major well-known VCs in the space. The full list of VCs will be made public shortly.
Eric: I will let the community post their questions for 2–3 minutes. please chill out and start replying soon after
Q: Data can be falsified. Which reliable oracle services will Razor Network use to source for trusted data?
How will your partnership with Matic boost Web3.0 DApps and support developers?
A: The Razor network is a fully decentralized and permissionless oracle. That means we do not choose data source, data providers, etc. Rather than using a centralized control to secure the data, Razor relies on carefully designed proof of stake consensus algorithm and on-chain incentivization to encourage honest behavior and prevent malicious behavior. Providing false and incorrect data can attract severe penalties to validators. Hence such behavior is prevented.
Matic is a promising plasma-based L2 scalability solution. Many dapps have already started building on the Matic chain. We will provide our oracle services to dapps on Matic to enable fast and secure defi applications based on Razor. This is why it is a mutually beneficial and strong partnership.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about how Clément Lesaege (from Kleros) and Vitalik Buterin (Ethereum) helped a little in the conception of the project? Tell us the story.
A: An earlier version of our whitepaper was reviewed by Clément and he provided us with detailed feedback. His feedback has influenced a lot of the design of the current version of Razor and it helped me correct a lot of mistakes in the design.
I have had a conversation with Vitalik in Devcon Prague about his Schellingcoin mechanism blog posts and the vulnerabilities present in the mechanism. The discussion helped me design the sliding court mechanism which fixed the issues with the Schellingcoin mechanism.
Q: As Being permissionless, doesn’t this imply that any one can do anything on your ECOSYSTEM AND thus expose you to security threats, sybil attacks, and 51 % attacks #razornetwork
A: There are already other permissionless networks present such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. As you can see networks can be fully permissionless and still be secure against all kinds of attacks. Razor is carefully designed ground-up to be fully permissionless and still be secure and safe against such attacks. The combination of the iterative Schellingcoin mechanism and proof of stake makes the network secure against such attacks.
Q: The greatest threats to DeFi is that of Security, so can you explain how secure Razor is, do I need KYC to enjoy all the awesome features?
A: Razor offers maximum game-theoretical security. That means its nearly impossible to attack profitably. Razor is permissionless and decentralized. It does not require KYC and anyone can participate anonymously.
Q: Can we say that smart contracts not having access to external data is an important problem for the industry? Can Oracles do this exactly for decentralized applications to work?
A: Oracle problem is and has been a very important and challenging problem for the industry for a long time.
Currently, DeFi has proven to be the best and biggest use case for blockchain. And almost all DeFi apps require some kind of external data. Due to the lack of a fully decentralized and permissionless oracle, projects end up using a centralized or semi-centralized alternative. This has created a systematic risk in the entire ecosystem.
This is why the Razor network is important and it will solve this problem by offering a fully decentralized, permissionless secure, and fast oracle.
Q: What is the consensus algorithm used by Razor Network?
A: Razor network uses proof of stake consensus algorithm for sybil attack protection.
And it uses iterative Schellingcoin mechanism for determining the “truth” from a large group of anonymous stakers.
Q: Razor Network prioritizes the provision of economic security. How often do you carry out Security audits? Any plans to launch a DAO to promote a decentralized and transparent ecosystem?
A: Economic security is important for proof of stake. Several design decisions have been made to encourage higher economic security. Just one of them is self-adjusting staking APY. The APY increases automatically if the staking participation is low, attracting higher staker participation.
We are in talks with leading security auditors and will be getting a thorough audit once we have finished the development of the first version of the oracle.
Governance is currently inactive research and we may use a DAO or a novel in-house Oracle-based governance in the future.
Q: Can you list 1 or 2 deadly features that make Razor stand out from its competitors? What competitive advantage does your platform have that make you feel the most confident in yourself?
A: 1. Razor is the only oracle that is both fast and secure. Other oracles are either fast or secure, but not both.
2. Razor supports data feeds as well as “manual queries”. An example of manual queries is prediction market-style textual questions like “Who won the 2020 US election?”
Q: why the Razor network chose to use the ERC20 which is known to be expensive and slow and what are the advantages
A: ERC20 is widely supported by a large number of apps. It is simple, well audited, and cheap compared to other standards.
It is not expensive or slow. That is the limitation of the ethereum blockchain and not the ERC20 token standard.
Q: What kind of data is supported by Razor Network?
A: Razor can be used to make two kinds of queries:
1. Automated mode queries
2. Manual mode queries
This allows Razor to cover a large number of use cases.
For automated mode queries, the client must provide a URL, specify how the response should be processed to get the result. The assigned validators will automatically fetch the URL, parse the results, and report it to the network. Since no manual intervention is necessary, the automated mode queries are answered relatively faster.
EXAMPLE OF AN AUTOMATED MODE QUERY:
The manual mode queries, on the other hand, do not require a source URL. The assigned validators must manually fetch the data and report it to the network. Such queries are suitable for applications such as prediction markets, where the stakes are high and a longer resolution period is acceptable. Also, a precise URL may not be available for such a query at the time the query is formed.
EXAMPLE OF A MANUAL MODE QUERY:
Query: Who won the 2020 US election?
Data Source (optional): US Mainstream media and common knowledge.
Q: Trust is very important in business, what makes investors, customers, and users feel safe when working with Razor?
A: I have worked in this industry for a long time and have worked with reputed companies such as ConsenSys. The project is backed by several well known VCs.
But I would suggest trusting the code rather than the people behind it. All of our code and research is open source on github. Our network has already been live on testnet for quite a while.
Q: DeFi is one Topix in the blockchain. Can you share opinions on DeFi with us? Do you think that DeFi will disrupt the existing financial system? What is the approach toward the DeFi sector?
A: I believe DeFi is the only proven usecase for blockchain so far. This was the case back in early 2019 when I started Razor and still is the case today. Defi has grown tremendously since then and will continue to grow. However, a truly decentralized and secure oracle such as Razor is a must for the industry to grow further. But I think we are still many years away before seeing the true disruption of the traditional financial industry by DeFi.
Eric: okay. so that’s a wrap!
@hrishikeshio please invite everyone to your tg and twitter for any more questions.
Hrishikesh: Thanks everyone for your time!
Please join our telegram to continue the discussion https://t.me/razornetwork
Join our announcements channel https://t.me/razor_announcement
and follow us on twitter https://twitter.com/razor_network
For more exciting updates 🙂🙌🏼
Thanks, @ERCSU for organizing this awesome AMA.